Brenda Zwicker adds yet another coat of wax to yet another classroom floor at L’École Phoenix Middle School as she and the other custodians, information technologists and contractors go about the annual business of getting the district facilities whipped into shape over the summer to welcome the students back in September. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

Mike’s Musings: The unsung heroes of the school district

Let’s all take a second to think about what ‘cleaning a school’ entails

In this week’s Wednesday edition of the Mirror, you may have noticed a pull-out section called “A Day in the Life,” where myself, Alistair Taylor and David Gordon Koch spent a day cruising around the community looking for everyday people doing everyday things and taking photos of what we found.

The idea was that there is so much happening in our community on any given day that just goes unnoticed. We wanted to celebrate those little things that make our town tick, as it were.

I stumbled upon a super nice dude just going about his day, washing his truck in his driveway, had a great chat with a pair of ladies in town from Vancouver as they checked out the carvings from this year’s Transformations on the Shore carving competition, watched some kids learn the fundamentals of a sport I love out at Storey Creek Golf Club and checked in at MusicPlant to find they were reorganizing the entire store that week.

It was fun just exploring our community on a regular weekday and seeing what everyone was up to.

But when I got permission from the school district to check out some of the work being done in one of our local education facilities over the summer – when everyone thinks they’re empty – I couldn’t convince myself just to take a photo of someone washing a desk or mopping a floor. I wanted to see exactly what goes into getting a school ready to welcome a few hundred kids.

RELATED: Getting Campbell River schools ready to welcome the kids back in September

Thankfully, operations and safety supervisor Paul Reid was happy to show me around.

You see, even if you know that the schools “get cleaned” over the summer. You have no idea what that really means.

At least, I didn’t.

Let’s do a mental exercise.

Think about your old elementary or high school. Like, not the jerk kid who was mean to you or the teacher that made you read things you didn’t care about or the pummeling you took in dodgeball. Think about the physical space you were in.

How many desks were there in the entire building? How many clocks were on how many walls? How many chalkboards (or whiteboards, for those under a certain age), stairs, handrails, pictures on the walls, shelves, basketballs, light fixtures, fish tanks, phones and floormats were there?

Every one of those things in every school across our district get cleaned over the summer. Every summer.

Meanwhile, some classrooms are becoming computer labs – and vice versa – so IT staff is in there running new cables and wiring while the custodial staff is doing their thing.

Oh, and sometimes there’s also a major reconstruction of a roof – like what is currently happening at Timberline and Pinecrest – or major equipment refurbishment or replacement like the boilers or HVAC systems. Walls come down or go up or get big holes punched through them, new coats of paint are rolled on in various places where it’s needed and five coats of new wax are put down on most of the floors of most of the classrooms and halls.

And it all happens over two months.

So I would just like to personally thank the people doing this work.

They’re making the spaces our community’s kids spend a whole lot of their time in safe and clean for them to do so.

And they’re doing it on the other side of the walls we all drive by every day over the summer, thinking that those buildings are “empty.”



miked@campbellrivermirror.com

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