Official Student Newspaper of Henry M. Gunn High School

Dylan Sperandino

Luciano Hernandez

From 6 a.m. to late in the evening, an essential team of custodians works tirelessly to keep the campus clean and running. The team splits up into night shifts and day shifts. Head Custodian Luciano Hernandez’s workday starts at 3 p.m. “The first order of the day is making sure that if anybody called in sick, I have a replacement,” he said. “Then, after I’ve made sure the rest of the team is here, I submit work orders.” If something on campus is broken that custodians cannot fix, like windows or soap dispensers, Hernandez submits work orders to PAUSD employees to get those items repaired. After that, he and his team clean the buildings. “Usually that takes us all the way until it’s time to go home at 11 p.m.,” he said.

Hernandez has been working at Gunn for 23 years and finds his long tenure unsurprising. “Honestly, it’s rewarding,” he said. “For the most part, kids appreciate what we do. To me, it’s just the people I’ve met along the way: fellow custodians, teachers, students. That’s my favorite part.”

Hernandez’s least favorite part of his job shouldn’t be a surprise. All students know that going to a bathroom can be a hit-or-miss affair. One might happen upon some graffiti, toilet paper strewn about or even the absence of a soap dispenser. Hernandez and his team work to maintain order within facilities. “There was a time where almost every single day there was graffiti in the bathrooms and broken soap dispensers,” he said.

These types of situations still happen frequently, but there have been worse times, such as after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted. “At one point, I just asked them to bring me 30 cases of dispensers so I could change them,” he said. “I used to change about seven or eight daily.”

According to Hernandez, the entire student population shouldn’t be held accountable for messes. “Ninety-nine percent of students do a good job at keeping the school clean,” he said. “It’s just that 1% that doesn’t try. At the end of the day, we clean for you guys.”

The team looks after both building cleanliness as well as student health. “We care,” Hernandez said. “Most of us are here because we’re making a difference, and that’s why we’re here every day. We’re here to not just clean but to help and protect.”

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