It’s not hard to find the coolest guys on campus. You’ll see them around school, on foot or driving around in the Cleanmobile. They are often seen picking up after forgetful students’ messes, restoring facilities like bathrooms and gyms, and simply enjoying what they do.
Most of the team works a bit more than 8 hours, from 2:45 PM to 11 PM. They’re in charge of making sure that the machine that is our school runs smoothly; they oversee everything from the basics of maintenance, security, and sanitation to the little jobs, such as helping with carrying heavy packages, checking up on classrooms, and opening doors endlessly for anxious students who forgot their things. Not to mention that they have a pretty sick ride.
Alvin Jones, Melvin Jones, Tony Camarena, James Reggie, Martin Aripez, and Marious Villarreal comprise our La Cañada High School custodian team – but they are so much more than that.
To find out more about their identities and personalities, we set up and enjoyed a cordial encounter.
Despite the late hours, they really do love their job. The team was eager to praise the LCHS community: “It’s a good job- the students, the parents, the teachers respect us,” said Melvin, accompanied by affirming nods from the rest of his crew.
“They actually know your name over here- you aren’t just a number,” James Reggie added, who also used to work part time at Pasadena High School. James, without hesitating, describes LCHS as a much better environment to work in than Pasadena.
Alvin, who goes by AJ, continued his compliments of our school community: “Nobody’s perfect, but the teachers and administration are real good. They know, and we know, that our students are the future.”
Alvin remembers a particularly rainy day a while back when he and his team were desperately trying to scoop water out of the buildings and La Canada High School Principal Ian Mcfeat joined in with them, with no second thought that he was in nice clothes.
“There he was, in his dress pants and dress shoes, getting his hands dirty and getting soaked with us. That’s a pretty cool story, and I have much respect for the man,” Alvin remembers. Melvin added, “It changed our perspective. We felt like we were cared about and respected by the higher-ups.”
In terms of athletic school pride, they probably have the most. AJ remarks, “We got good sports teams over here. Water polo, track, football- all of them. Football is struggling with rebuilding, but the kids work hard. They’ll get a win soon.” As veterans on this campus, they’ve seen the highs and lows of all the teams here. “But I’m just saying, I run faster than all of them.”
But what keeps them together, for some as long as 20 years on the job, are the bonds they form with each other. Their positivity is infectious, and you can’t help but join in with laughter.
“We get along. We click. We’re like the fabulous six. Being able to laugh everyday and our brotherhood- it’s what makes the job one like no other,” says AJ. *He and his crew fist bump and start high fiving each other as we desperately try to keep the interview serious*
Outside of school, their lives are quite eventful. AJ plays all forms of percussion, from keyboard to drums. Melvin likes playing bass, acoustic, and electric guitar and is also skilled at harmonica. “I’m like Jimi Hendrix, but better,” Melvin jokingly comments. Tony likes playing guitar as well, but also enjoys flying drones in his free time. Martin likes making costumes and enjoys cosplaying, and Marious is an artist. James likes gardening and hanging out with his family.
They have but a simple request to us students: put your trash in the trash can.
“It’s always around, to the side, or underneath it. Just put it in the trash can. It’s not that hard. We’d really appreciate it,” says Melvin.
In a school famous for being stressful, these 6 men are a reminder that you really just need to love what you do. We have only the deepest respect for them.
“Hey- put this in the paper. ‘We all work hard, but AJ works the hardest,’” says AJ himself.
“And talks the most,” added Tony.