Hard work recognized

Head custodian Raf Diaz award Custodian of the Year over the summer


photo by Mark Hilburn

Head custodian Raf Diaz celebrates with Mina Jasic after she was named Employee of the Month

Seth Defreece, Staff Reporter

Over the summer, head custodian Rafael Diaz was awarded for his dedication to his work and Millard West. Receiving the custodian of the year award during the summer of 2022. His contribution to the school has made many students and staff’s lives easier, and cleaner. 

Working as a custodian at West has not come without a few challenges. The vandalism of the school bathrooms as a result of the “devious lick” trend, which took place in early September 2021. Returning to school after covid, requiring custodians to be more thorough with extra precautions whilst cleaning tables, windows, etc. Being understaffed the whole time, certainly did not make those experiences any easier. However Diaz persevered and continued to perform his job to the best of his ability. 

“I was very grateful when I was presented with the award,” Diaz said. “I’ve worked here for many years and have always enjoyed my time here at Millard West, the staff have always been friendly and have tried their best to make my job easier, and receiving the custodian of the year award made me feel like my work paid off.”

For district leaders, staffing difficulties add another layer of chaos to the already challenging task of keeping schools running, especially during a pandemic. What often gets overlooked, though, is the impact the workers who fill these positions have on students and their learning experiences. Members of those positions have had to work hard both inside during and outside of school hours to meet the expectations of students and staff. The spot of the custodian has also remained understaffed forcing Raf and his coworker, custodian Mina Jasic, to work extra hard. 

“Raf and I have had to work hard with one another so we can accomplish our work,” Jasic said. “We don’t have enough people to get things done quickly, so it often takes us two or three times as long to get certain things done that would be completed much faster if we had more custodians. However, Raf has always done a great job with his work, so he deserves this award. ”

In past years, COVID-19 had drastically changed the standard operating procedure of the custodians’ day-to-day tasks. The shift in responsibility that comes with keeping the campuses clean had brought the custodians to the forefront in the struggle to bring students back to campus.

“I felt as if the custodians were trying to do more to take care of us, ” sophomore Lucas Johnson said. “They would ensure that before we sat at a table during lunch, it was disinfected and wiped down. The custodians wanted to make sure that the building was super clean every day so that we are all safe and didn’t get sick.” 

Despite all these experiences of the last few years, Diaz has come through repeatedly. Diaz has reported to Millard West every single day, cleaned the lunchroom, emptying trash and recycling bins around the school. Making every person’s life at Millard West a little bit easier making him the unanimous choice for the custodian of the year award.