Every day, countless pieces of trash are strewn around Berkeley High School (BHS). Students leave their pencils on the ground, their gum wrappers inches from the trash can, and minuscule pieces of paper scattered around the courtyard. However, each day, students return to a spotless campus. This vital job is done by 16 admirable janitors who clean BHS from 3 PM to 10:30 PM, Monday through Friday. They do everything from cleaning the bathrooms, to raking the leaves. This work is crucial for BHS to function. If there was no one to sanitize the bathrooms, unhealthy bacteria would grow and students would not be able to use the restroom. However, everyday the clean bathrooms are then disheveled, and the janitors have to repeat the same cycle.
Either the roll of towels are popped off, the soap dispenser is punctured, or the trash from the hallway is thrown into the bathrooms. On January 10, another bathroom was vandalized in the second floor C-Building boys’ bathroom. There were paper towels in the stalls, trash from the hallway on the ground, and a wagon, traffic cone, and stapler. “We did it because you usually don’t see a wagon in the bathroom everyday,” said a BHS student who participated in vandalizing the bathroom who wished to remain nameless. “I thought it was hilarious,” he said.
It may have seemed funny to the students involved, however, according to BHS custodian Jeff Rindels, something like that can add one to two hours of extra work. Rindels, who has been working at BHS for five years, has learned to be patient with high schoolers. “You’re striving to be adults, but sometimes you still act like children,” said Rindels.
Abdoul Edmond, another BHS custodian agrees with Rindels. Edmond said “[He] understand[s] that kids, children, [and] teenagers, are going to be just that rambunctious,” and admitted that as a high school student he also did crazy things too.
However, Edmond also said that the destruction of any part of the school is inappropriate and unacceptable. Don James Sr., the BHS custodian that cleaned up the bathroom, thinks that the students responsible “went a little bit overboard.”
When students waste school supplies, such as paper towels or soap, this doesn’t just have a negative impact on the janitors, it affects the whole school. BHS is forced to spend extra money on new resources for the bathrooms and classrooms affected.
The recent vandalization wasn’t the first occasion that deliberate destruction of a bathroom occurred. Not long after the aforementioned bathroom trashing, a similar event took place in the same bathroom. Students covered the floor in soap, making a homemade “Slip ‘N Slide.” One can only imagine how long it would take the janitors to mop up all of the soap.
Respect between students and staff is a classic challenge in the high school environment, whether it’s janitors, security officers, or teachers.
Students often feel a need to test boundaries and alleviate the stress of school, but the janitors hope that BHS students become more conscious of the impact destructive behavior has on their work. The custodial staff has already made efforts to increase student cooperation.
Rindels brought up the example of students throwing their papers on the last day of school. It used to be a BHS tradition, however, after awareness spread about the extra amount of work it creates for the janitors, the habit ceased.
The students who participated in the vandalizing apologized for disrespecting the janitorial staff the incident. “It was wrong, and it won’t happen again,” one said. James Sr. wanted BHS students to remember this as they go about their day: “Treat Berkeley High like you would treat your home.”