So Fresh and So Clean


The custodial staff works behind the scenes to keep our school clean

Custodians are the ones who work at all hours of the day and night, on weekends and on snow days, to keep our school clean and running smoothly. From cleaning after sporting events to keeping the courtyards looking nice, the custodians do it all just to keep up with the maintenance.

Whether it’s shoveling the sidewalks or mopping the floors, keeping the cafeteria tidy or the bathrooms clean, working on snow days and through the summer, the custodians love their work and their team.

“[Over] 1600 students a day eat in our cafeteria; that’s a lot of trash to take out, and they do so with a smile,” said Assistant Principal Mari Estrada.

The work is divided among nine custodians who focus on specific jobs throughout the school. About five years ago, the entire team took on the job of glorifying the courtyards around the school.

“The courtyards were in bad shape and had been neglected,” said Estrada.

They began by replanting dead plants and getting the coy pond running again. Now, the team works together to re-mulch these areas to make sure they stay nice year round. K & H Landscaping also helps design and maintain the exterior of the building.

“Our custodians do a spectacular job and are some of the hardest working people I have ever met. The exterior of the building is so important because that is the first thing you see when you come to our school,” said Principal Dr. Brandon Wolfe. “If it is unkempt and littered with trash, that frames your opinion of the school and puts you in the wrong mindset leading into school. If the exterior is clean, the plants are complementary to the school, and everything is well maintained, you then expect more positive things out of the school.”

Said Shah, the head custodian, not only works five days a week but also puts in time on the weekends doing a full building check, including checking plumbing and making sure the campus is secure. If there are weekend activities happening on campus, Shah makes sure they are covered.

During the week, he helps with almost everything including dusting, moping, and trash pick up, among other jobs.

“We have quarterly checks of building-cleanliness—we are the cleanest building in our cluster due in part to their teamwork, dedication, willingness to be self-directed and the pride they take in our building,” said Estrada.

Being the head custodian, Shah has additional responsibilities including helping to evaluate the team and coaching them throughout the year. “Sometimes [the job] is hard sometimes it’s easy, but [that’s] the job. [I] don’t complain,” said Shah.

Joe Pettit, the maintenance director, takes care of every athletic related duty, indoors and outdoors.  Outdoors, he maintains the fields by mowing, painting the lines, and filling holes. Indoors, he cleans the wrestling mats routinely and keeping the health trailers spotless. Joe, Carolina Bove, and Karen Guardado all help Shah raise and take down the flags routinely.

Shah emphasized the importance of teamwork among them. “If one [of us] is absent, we work together to clean the other’s sections,” said Shah.

Guardado and Bove work together to get things done inside and outside the school. Outdoors, they work on mowing and edging the front, side, and back lawns around the school. In the courtyards, they work on keeping them looking beautiful by mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, and sweeping the sidewalks.

“Since our custodians do such great work here at Potomac Falls, they deserve recognition and support,”  said Estrada.

Indoors, Guardado and Bove clean the large windows showing the courtyards, prepare and clean the cafeteria tables, and clean up student accidents and injuries. They are trained by LCPS every year on how to safely clean and dispose of bodily fluids without the spreading of bacteria or disease.

“They really are giving of their time and energy to make our school the best for kids and staff,” said Estrada.

A picture of the team right when you walk into the school, celebratory dinners, and an honorary “custodian of the month” are just some of the ways that the school shows appreciation to these hard working individuals.

“They are the silent rock stars of our building and keep everything clean and functioning as it should – the building engineer plays a big part in that as well. Together, they keep our building looking and feeling pristine,” said Estrada.