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LEAN, (NOT) MEAN and CLEAN

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More stories from Elisa Polson

Powell High School's custodial staff shares their feelings on their job.

%28From+left%29+Delia+Carbajal%2C+Linda+Tilley%2C+and+Jan+Castro+pose+for+a+picture.+They+serve+as+Powell+High+School%27s+evening+custodial+staff.+
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LEAN, (NOT) MEAN and CLEAN

(From left) Delia Carbajal, Linda Tilley, and Jan Castro pose for a picture. They serve as Powell High School's evening custodial staff.

(From left) Delia Carbajal, Linda Tilley, and Jan Castro pose for a picture. They serve as Powell High School's evening custodial staff.

Elisa Polsen

(From left) Delia Carbajal, Linda Tilley, and Jan Castro pose for a picture. They serve as Powell High School's evening custodial staff.

Elisa Polsen

Elisa Polsen

(From left) Delia Carbajal, Linda Tilley, and Jan Castro pose for a picture. They serve as Powell High School's evening custodial staff.

Who cleans the bathrooms in our school?  Who clears the boot scuffs in the hall, or mops up when your friend hurls their lunch all over the table?  The Custodians.

There are currently six custodians at our school.  They are: Schelley Argento, Delia Carbajal, Jan Castro, Carl Cottonware, Dennis Schiermeister, and Linda Tilley.

Each of them have different lives and personalities, but they all agree on one thing: Powell High School is awesome.

“We have a good group of kids for the most part.” Powell High School Head Custodian Mr. Dennis Schiermeister said. “I was kind of warned when I was coming into it that I wouldn’t get very much respect, but I haven’t felt that way at all.

“I feel that the kids here are pretty respectful. Very respectful; hats off to you all.”

Mr. Schiermeister retired from his last job and needed something to keep him busy. He has not even been working here for a full year yet.  On his free time, he enjoys fishing and dirt bike riding.

Most people confuse custodians with janitors. However, there is a difference. A janitor’s job is just to clean around the school, and do what they are told to do  A custodian has many more responsibilities. They clean, make sure the doors are locked and make sure that things around the school are safe, such as lights or refrigerators. The word “custodian” comes from the Latin word “custos,” which means guardian. The custodians are the guardians of this school; they aim to keep Powell High School a safe place.

Most people like things clean, but do not enjoy cleaning themselves. The custodians are willing to do the hard, tedious work that everyone else is reluctant to do.

“I would say scrubbing toilets or cleaning the vomit from after somebody barfs [is my least favorite part of the job],” Associate Custodian Mr. Carl Cottonware said. “I just enjoy working here.”

Elisa Polsen
(From left) Carl Cottonware, Schelley Argento, and Dennis Schiermeister pose for a picture. They serve as Powell High School’s morning custodial staff.

Mr. Cottonware has been doing this kind of work for 15 years, four of which were spent at PHS. He lived as a handyman for 25 years in Idaho before switching. He enjoys raising high-end quarter horses, fishing and hunting, but mainly anything to do with horses.

“I clean the office, the library, the art room and I clean up after breakfast out in the commons,” Associate Custodian Mrs. Schelley Argento said. “I clean the glass, I vacuum out there and cleaning up in the art room is a challenge, and kinda gross some times.”

She’s had her own kids come and go from the high school, and she enjoys spending time with the students. Argento also believes that getting up at 4 a.m. is tough. She has been working at PHS for nine years.

The schedules for the custodians vary from day to day.  Usually those who work in the morning start 5 a.m. Those who work in the evening start at 4:30 p.m.-1.a.m.  This is a brief look at their schedule; they work more or less based on what activities are going around in the school.

“I’m responsible for what we call the green pod,” Associate Custodian Ms. Linda Tilley said. “[I really like] the camaraderie that we have here at Powell. I think it’s really good that we all try to work together as a unit.”

Ms. Tilley is an “all-nighter” who works until 1 a.m. daily, and has been working here since 2011.  She has an associate’s degree in art, and she enjoys doing anything involving art or design. She also raises goats and sheep.

Some paths to being a custodian are not as typical as one might think.

“When I was a junior in high school, it popped in my head and I thought ‘hey that’s something I might like to do,’” Associate Custodian Jan Castro said. “I wasn’t really planning on it, but when I got married, and moved to Powell, they needed subs, so I started as a sub, and I just liked it.  I enjoy it.”

Castro is mainly responsible for cleaning the purple pod, and has been working as a custodian for 28 years.  During the summer, she enjoys spending her time camping outdoors in nature.  

Gym Night Custodian Delia Carbajal says that her favorite part of her job is “meeting different people and getting to know them.” She cleans mainly around the gym, and has about eleven and a half years of custodial experience under her belt. Carbajal has cleaned everywhere, not just in the school district, she did a lot in Idaho. When it is warmer outside, Carbajal likes to walk five laps around Homesteader Park with a coworker on Sundays. She usually does weightlifting as well to keep herself in shape.

Sometimes having having a career as a custodian is underestimated.

“Most people think its [being a custodian] picking up after kids, and cleaning up after students all day is ikcky, or not fun, but to me it’s enjoyable because I know that I’m making a difference for somebody else,” Castro said.

Added Ms. Argento: “I just love this district. I think it’s amazing, just the teachers, the staff, and the kids.”

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