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Students let custodians know they are appreciated

Honorary Alpha Wolves

Wyoming The custodians and maintenance crew at Wyoming High School always aim to keep floors, windows and tables sparkling, school grounds flourishing and athletic fields ready for play.

When everything goes seamlessly, they’ve done their jobs, crew members said. They blend into the background while vacuuming floors, cleaning surfaces and maintaining school grounds. 

Yet, it’s nice to be recognized – especially by the students whose building they are maintaining. Wyoming High School students recently named the school’s 12–member custodial and maintenance crew as honorary Champions of Character during their Alpha Wolf 11 ceremony. 

Wyoming students awarded the custodial and maintenance team as honorary Champions of Character

Each semester, Alpha Wolf 11, which started in 2016, honors six students – voted for by their peers – for demonstrating kindness, compassion and graciousness. In February, along with the chosen six, students honored the behind-the-scenes staff members who provide them with shiny classrooms, who make sure the gym gets cleaned after basketball games, who even set up and disassembled everything for the Alpha Wolf ceremony itself.

“For us to be honored is overwhelming, I think. I am very grateful for our kids and our community and that the kids thought about recognizing us,” Jeff Frick, supervisor of transportation, maintenance and grounds. “It was a humbling experience. Thank you to all the kids.”

During the pandemic, the crew has stepped up to the added responsibility of extra cleaning and following COVID-19 protocols. Due to staff shortages, some of them also work as bus drivers.

“I thought it was really cool that we got recognized because we do a lot of stuff for the school. There are a lot of times after basketball games that we have to stay until 1 a.m. because it gets messy,” said custodian Sara Moore. “They appreciate us and all the stuff that we do – that we keep this school clean.”

Front row from left: senior Zab Garcia, senior Tajuan Parks, junior Lesvi Garcia, junior Joel Brookhouse, sophomore Anh Nguyen and sophomore Dailian Raybon are joined by middle row from left: Sara Moore, Joe Cambell and John Farris, and back row from left: Andy Kallemeyn, Rich Wildey, Tony Radeck, Don Hudsn and Jeff Frick as Champions of Character (courtesy)

Student Planned and Delivered

History teacher John Doyle, who heads the program, said students planned the event during an Alpha Wolf Leadership Retreat in October. Each ceremony includes an honorary Champion of Character. “They came to the conclusion that we should honor the school custodians and our maintenance team… because they never get any recognition,” Doyle said.

The ceremony – delayed since December due to the pandemic –  was the first completely run by students. More than 100 were involved in everything – planning, speaking, playing in the band, singing in the choir, presenting gifts and shout-outs to teachers, parading with flags from the countries they come from, and introducing the winners (including the custodians).

They chose the theme, “You Belong – Welcome Back Home.” A crew of students even cleaned up the confetti they threw during the ceremony, to the relief of the custodians.

“This was amazing, but it doesn’t surprise me because that’s the kind of kids we’ve got … It’s such a pleasure to watch these students do what they did,” Doyle said.

The 2021 Alpha Wolf Champion of Character student winners are seniors Tajuan Parks and Zab Cruz, juniors Joel Brookhouse and Lesvi Garcia, and sophomores Dailian Raybon and Anh Nguyen. 

“It feels nice to be noticed, honestly,” Tajuan said. “For the custodians, they deserve it a lot.”

Said Zab: “It felt very nice to be awarded. I don’t have the best grades and I’m not the most athletic person, but to be thanked and honored for being a nice person shows how cool our school is. For the custodians, it was special to me for them to get the recognition they deserve.”

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio

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