When Key Peninsula kids head back to school on Sept. 3, every classroom, auditorium, gymnasium and office space will be sparkly clean from floor to ceiling, thanks to Peninsula School District’s custodians.
At Vaughn Elementary, head custodian Carol Sicotte and a couple of helpers have spent the summer going from room-to-room detailing every nook and cranny.
“It’s like spring cleaning,” Sicotte said. “We dust the ceilings, wash the walls, strip the floors and re-wax them and shampoo the carpets.”
Stripping the floors is usually step one, she said. She and her crew spend the first three weeks after school lets out on that task. Then they re-wax and polish them.
“We also spiffy-up the outside and get things looking the best we can before school starts again,”Sicotte said.
In all, there are 24 classrooms at Vaughn, ”and I think we have 34 rooms all together, not including the gym,” she added.
Sicotte, who lives in Lakebay, has been head custodian at the school for eight years. Before that she worked at PHS and even at Gig Harbor High School for a while.
“I love living here on the Key Peninsula,” she said. “It’s country. You see all these animals. You’ve got deer that go through the yard, rabbits, the occasional coyote.
“And the people are good for the most part. They stick together and they all look out for each other.”
Sicotte has two helpers, both of whom work the night shift during the school year. “I have one eight-hour night guy and one four-hour night guy –– Don Worley and Troy Romo,” she said.
“We’ve got a really good team and everybody does a great job.
“We try to make sure the school is as clean as possible and looks great when the kids come back. We take pride in our building and we want the public to come in and say ‘Yes! This is our school,’” she said.
By the middle of August, most of the work is finished and the schoolhouse is ready for summer school to begin.
But a couple of years ago, when there was “a lot of vandalism at Vaughn,” Sicotte and her crew had to spend a great deal of time cleaning up debris.
“The school didn’t get as thorough a cleaning as it’s getting this year. When you have outside things happening, that influences what you can’t do inside,” she said.
Custodial work isn’t just about cleaning, however.
Custodians are always on the alert to what’s going on with the kids.
“Sometimes the kids need to talk and sometimes they just kind of open up to us, when they won’t talk to some other adult,” she said.
“And we’re also kind of security. We’re keeping our eyes open and we try to keep it as secure as possible.”
She loves her job and she loves the kids. “Most kids are respectful and they’re good kids out here,” she said. ‘But there are a couple who are just ‘…this is your job. You’re getting paid for this…’”
Sicotte has her fingers crossed that voters will approve the district’s levy request on Aug. 5.
“We’re really hoping the levy passes,” she said. “It reaches the whole district. There are things we really, really need. There’s playground equipment the kids need because we can’t get (replacement) parts any more, and we need a new HVAC system and some other upgrades.”
Still, she said, the school always does the best it can with what it has. “At Vaughn, we all work together here for the benefit of the kids –– from the principal and the parents on down.”