Our Cleanest Heroes
Jhanessty Vaye Bautista | Maui High School, Class of 2024
I never believed superheroes could truly exist. People we can depend on and trust with our lives. People we look up to and believe in when times get hard. Up until this last year, I never truly saw the heroic actions of these people who seemed so normal to me.
Janitors. That’s who these people are. I always see them around my school: riding around in their golf carts, relentlessly watering the dirt in hopes that grass will bloom, doing some heavy lifting as they haul 50-pound tables on their own, interacting with teachers and students, and so on. Although they are the people who keep our school clean and fresh, that is not all that they are known for.
I appreciate our janitors for their hard work but furthermore, I appreciate them for being adults who treat us like family, to treat us in a way where we can truly appreciate our youth. I distinctly remember three janitors in my time at Maui High where I felt supported, cared for and recognized.
The first was an experience that recurred often, a janitor driving up to me and my friends at seven in the morning. She talked about the puppies she raised, showing us photos, and also encouraging us to do our best in school but reminding us to make sure we experienced life as well. The second was a janitor who I always saw with a bright orange flower tucked behind her ear. Me and my classmate went up to her and complimented her flower and she gave us the most genuine smile. It warmed my heart. We talked about her grandchildren and I remember her complimenting my name, a rare occurrence for me. We ended the conversation with a hug. The last was not as sentimental but it got me and my friends home safely. When my friend’s car broke down, this janitor came back to school when he was not on the clock to help fix her car. He did it with a smile, not even caring he had to come back to school to help us. He joked around with us but ended the event by giving us helpful advice so we stayed safe.
These three experiences may seem very miniscule in my life, compared to the long 17 years I have lived. However, they are embedded in my mind and my heart, filling me with appreciation for all the hardworking janitorial staff around the world. To further show my appreciation, I gathered students from the Maui High Filipino Cultural Club to come together to share their favorite interactions with our cleanest heroes who have impacted their lives.
Henynalyn Balisacan and Rucella Bianca Magliba both relate, as their favorite memories with our lovely janitorial staff stem from the positive interactions they have with them. “They often tell us to stay safe and wish us a great day, they are also really funny,” Henynalyn comments. Rucella recalls a memory made with a janitor from her middle school, “I remember most of the janitors said good morning to me daily. It would make my whole day because they always took time out of their busy schedule to say that to me.” And as they work hard, they are helping us in more ways than just keeping us clean and safe.
Meilina Tabon and Micah Mangisel have received help more than once from our favorite janitorial staff superheroes. Meilina mentions “One of the janitors used to pass my friend group every day. As we shared hellos and small conversations, they also offered to hold onto our volleyball so we didn’t have to take it to class.” Micah then explains, “When I was on the way to the bathroom, I didn’t see the wet floor sign because it was hidden. One of the janitors stopped me to tell me to be careful so I didn’t slip and fall.” They help students avoid the tragedy of a runaway volleyball and save them from a detrimental fall. Moving forth, their kind actions are not the only things helping these students.
Kaley Alconcel and Kealen Coloma both felt a strong connection to our janitors, as they helped them push through some hard moments of their lives. Kaley Alconcel was having a terrible day and as she found comfort talking to a janitorial staff, they gave her a bag of chips and told her “You’re too pretty to be crying and dealing with these problems and I don’t know if this will help but please eat.” That small comment brightened Kaley’s day. Kealen also shared a similar experience but instead of words, it was just a smile that brightened her day. Furthermore, Kealen received recognition from a janitor in a way that motivated her to keep going. “The janitor who always cleans our club advisor’s classroom during our Tinikling practices always would tell me she enjoys watching us practice. She says she hears the bamboo sticks a lot, and to her surprise, we were getting the steps down fast. I can see she was smiling from her mask and it gave me so much joy and motivation.”
From a routine of interactions, to acts of service and most importantly, those once in a lifetime memories we make with them, our janitors become more than just janitors to us. All these students agree that without our janitors, life would be quite messy, both literally and figuratively. It is important to voice our appreciation to them, respect them and also do our part and clean up after ourselves so they are not doing everything for us. These are the true superheroes of our community whether we have realized it or not. Maraming salamat po, to all the janitors in our community. We love you, we see you, and we appreciate you.
Google® Is Not Everything is a monthly column authored by high school students. The title of the column emphasizes education is more than just googling a topic. Google® is a registered trademark. This month’s guest columnist is Jhanessty Vaye Bautista, a Senior at Maui High School. She is a President of Maui High’s Key Club, Vice-President of Maui High’s Filipino Cultural Club, Executive Secretary of Maui High’s Student Government, a member of Blue Thunder, Maui High’s Robotics club, and member of the National Honor Society. Jhanessty is in the ACOM Pathway at Maui High, focusing on graphic design and entrepreneurship. In her free time, she reads books of any and all genres, sketches out designs for her new graphics project, sings karaoke alone or with a group of her close family and friends and loves anything with the popular videogame’s Minecraft Bee. She is the daughter of Vanessa and Jhon Boy Bautista.