MHS Custodial Staff: the Unsung Heroes of the School


Photo by Lia Koski

A late night shift: at 10:47 pm on Jan. 20, MHS custodial members were cleaning the A-Wing bathrooms. This was during their 4pm to 12pm shift.

Lia Koski, Staff Reporter

   A candy wrapper crumbles to the ground and is immediately swept up by one of Mundelein High School’s custodians. These are the people who move swiftly from room to room, hallway to hallway, picking up after students, setting up for events, and ultimately making MHS a better place. Unfortunately, they are often only seen, but not truly recognized. 

   For some custodians, the day begins at 6 a.m., and for others, it ends at 12 a.m. Kevin Quinn has been the Director of Facilities at MHS for six and a half years. He oversees maintenance, construction, and custodial contracts. Quinn stated, “Making sure that the cafeteria is clean after students come through in the morning and once again after lunch periods” is one of the major responsibilities of the custodial staff who work during the day. They also are responsible for replenishing bathroom necessities and cleaning up after any spills. “In the evenings, the custodians go through every classroom and office and clean,” Quinn said.  

   There are a total of 16 custodians who work diligently in the school. Even when school is not in session,  “[they] support the programs and events at the school, so whenever there’s a play, a game, or any co-curricular activities, custodians make sure that the spaces are clean and that the bathrooms are kept clean for visitors,” Quinn said. 

   Two specific members of the custodial staff at MHS are Benjamin Castillo and Hilda Escalera. They each have different roles in helping the high school run smoothly.

   Escalera has worked at Mundelein High School for 10 years. She explained how her main responsibility is to receive and deliver any packages that come to the school. After that, if she has time, she will check the bathrooms and is sometimes called to clean up after a spill. Escalera works from seven in the morning to one in the afternoon. 

   Like Escalera, Castillo has been working at MHS for a long time, specifically for 22 years. Castillo stated that his “main job is to help the teachers with what they need and to maintain the building.” He described his typical day as “busy.” 

   Many of the custodians live busy lives in general. Some have second jobs in addition to working at MHS, and some have families to take care of as well. For instance, after Escalera’s shift, she goes home to sleep for only five hours before having to get up again. 

   The custodians face difficulty with the intensity of their job and with student treatment as well. “Not everyone has the same respect for our facilities as we should,” Quinn said, meaning that some students neglect the custodians’ efforts and continue to make messes or damage school property. Escalera added that graffiti and throwing food in the cafeteria are some of the main challenges the custodians encounter on a daily basis. 

  Nonetheless, Castillo and Escalera understand that these students are kids and therefore are still learning and making mistakes. 

   “We are here to support the students and sometimes they make messes. But for the most part, the students are understanding. A lot of students will thank me, not everyone, but some show thankfulness for the work that I do,” Castillo said. 

   “There’s not a lot of people clapping hands for them, for the work that they do. [Often] they are here when the building is empty, so the opportunity doesn’t really exist,” Quinn said. 

   Nonetheless, both Castillo and Escalera said that they do feel appreciated, especially by other MHS staff members. Escalera stated how “sometimes people will ask me if I’m coming for a specific event. It is nice to have a community here.” Castillo also said that the MHS staff and directors like Quinn are his “second family.” 

   In order for more students and staff to show their appreciation for these diligent workers, Quinn suggested that even a wave, “thank you,” or “hello” can make all the difference. 

    “It’s almost like being a shadow person. You’re kind of absorbed into the behind-the-scenes. But the reality is that it is all out in front, a lot of the work that takes place,” stated Quinn. So perhaps the next time you see one of these MHS custodial staff members, you show your appreciation for them, helping them to emerge from their shadows.