TOWNSEND — “It’s like little elves come out at night and clean, repair and do the maintenance required for our schools. Most often the teachers hear the thank-you from parents, but I don’t think people realize how much and what custodians do around our schools” shared Christine Morassi, principal of Squannacook Early Childhood Center in Townsend.
Although Squannacook doesn’t have a full-time custodian, they receive lots of help from custodians who work within the school district.
“They come within five minutes and drop everything to help,” added Morassi.
Oscar Hills, also known as Santa, director of Buildings and Grounds, is proud of the work his elves have been doing around the North Middlesex District. His positive, upbeat attitude and focusing on the good that his crew does on a daily basis is reflected in their dedication and how hard they all work for him and the community.
“They have to be Jacks of all trades and masters of many. They keep the boilers running, all sports fields maintained and ready to go for activities, clean the schools, set up for school functions and cleanup afterwards, maintain all equipment, handle snow-removal, oversee playgrounds, have built seating in school projects, moved schools, they do it all and do it well,” said Hills.
Hills is a 1976 graduate of North Middlesex Regional High School and completely supports the team he has built.
“I don’t think people realize what it takes to keep the heat going in these older buildings, keep the lights working and the time and energy it takes to do all the groundwork. The maintenance needs have changed in these older buildings” explained Hills.
His crew is dedicated and works diligently for the schools and he is grateful to his staff and for his own job which he enjoys. There are 29 custodial staff positions for the district, some full-time and some part-time. They also receive some part-time summer help form high school students and throughout the year, who are a great help. Hills feels he couldn’t do it without them.
The North Middlesex Regional School District is made up of the Ashby Elementary School, the Spaulding Elementary School, the Squannacook Early Childhood center, Hawthorne Brook Middle School, Nissitissit School, Varnum Brook Elementary, North Middlesex Regional High school and Peter Fitzpatrick which houses the Academic Support Center for the district and some state school programs. These schools are maintained by the custodial staff and they work wherever they are needed at any given moment.
“We are a district; everyone works everyplace as the needs change,” said Hills. The day shift is in by 5 a.m. and the night shift out by 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday and buildings are always being constantly checked.
Andrew Brown has been a custodian for the North Middlesex School for about 21 years. He emphasized that the children really do appreciate what they do. Brown also feels the support of Director Hills and knows he wouldn’t ask them to do any job he wouldn’t do himself. Al Beauchemin, also a custodian with 16 years of service, enjoys the positive feedback.
“The kids walk in the first day of school and can’t believe how clean it is and we continue to hear such comments throughout the whole year” said Beauchemin.
Frank Fernandez works primarily during the day at Spaulding Elementary School in Townsend.
“Frank is just wonderful, the best. I am always calling him for things; a child is sick in the bathroom or the sidewalks need care and he is right there to help and take care of it immediately. He is constantly checking on the classrooms and adjusting the heat, he takes care of everything,” said Cheryl Wozniak who works in the office at Spaulding Elementary School. Principal Becky Janda of Spaulding Elementary School is also very grateful for the job the custodians do around her school. They all work hard and meet the needs of the students, staff and school.
Hills remains optimistic about where the School District stands and believes the worst is over and knows we are fortunate to have the schools and the school system we have.
“You have to focus on the positive things; our children, our heath, the ability to have a job and to work and enjoy it,” said Hills. With the holidays fast-approaching, Hills is very thankful for the work his elves accomplish within the school district.
“The only guarantee we know is that we will always be able to clean it tomorrow.”