Every single day, Santa Barbara High School (SBHS) gets piled up with trash upon trash. There are toilet paper wads in the bathroom, empty milk cartons left behind in the quad, littered chip bags, and more. Yet when students arrive the next day, it is like the trash wasn’t even there to begin with. Students have the custodial staff and groundskeepers to thank for this. They come to clean up the mess students make everyday yet they are rarely appreciated by the student body.
SBHS has three custodians that start working from early in the morning until the afternoon. Then at 3pm, about seven more custodians come and work until 11 pm at night. They clean all the classrooms, offices, bathrooms, and locker rooms. Although students don’t see them work most of the time, they are still there helping keep the SBHS campus clean and beautiful.
Not only do the custodial staff help keep the campus clean, but the groundskeepers play a huge role as well. The SBHS groundskeepers help take care of the grass and the outside of the campus. Immediately after lunch ends, they cover the whole campus, picking up all the trash left behind by students. This may seem like the main part of their job, however, Assistant Principal Mendoza shared the many other critical tasks their job consists of. “You can imagine that if we fix this littering issue, now we have our groundskeepers and custodial staff able to focus on more of the important things like trimming back trees, painting, cleaning, or just things that need maintenance throughout the day or throughout the week. And instead they have to spend maybe an hour, hour and a half, just picking up trash everyday.” Emmanuel Diaz, head of the custodial staff, also addressed this issue. “It takes us away from completing our other tasks like deliveries for classrooms, restocking restrooms, and making the classrooms clean again.”
Most of the littering on campus occurs directly after lunch. Although some of the trash is found inside classrooms and hallways, the majority is outside in predominant eating areas. These include the quad, the front of the cafeteria, the front of the school and more. According to Mendoza, student’s littering is a moderate issue but he would like it to be a non issue. “That’s going to take everybody doing their part and everybody remembering the theme I kept bringing up at the grade level assemblies which was, ‘How would you feel if somebody just dumped a bunch of trash in your home?’ said Mendoza. When asked about why he thinks students litter, Mendoza responded, “I think it’s three things. It’s laziness. It’s a level of disrespect because maybe they’re allowed to do it at home where they just leave stuff and people pick up after them. The third one is maybe they forget sometimes. I try to be very tolerant of students that are sincere about being forgetful or something but it’s a big issue for me and I think we can all agree that we want a clean campus.” Diaz also shared his thoughts on why students litter. “Disrespect, laziness, we feel like they don’t care.”
SBHS administration has many ideas to help the schools’ littering problem. One of which will be starting around the end of September: Beautify SBHS. Every two to three weeks on Saturday students can come to the campus and help the custodial staff pick up trash and even plant trees. Another idea that Mendoza brought up is having students from ASB or an athletics team going around campus and cleaning up. “It’s a strategy I’d like to use down the road but we’re not there yet,” said Mendoza.
The custodial staff and groundskeepers put in an enormous amount of their time and energy to keep the SBHS campus pristine. As Assistant Principal Mendoza said, “It is a little bit too routine for students to just leave trash around and not remember that people have to pick up after them.” So next time the bell rings and you are heading to class, remember to pick up your trash and throw it away so someone else doesn’t have to.
[Image Credit Willa Stuart]