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Wax off, wax on

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Matt McCormick, night engineer at the Fort Dodge Senior High, stands in the hallway among desks, chairs and computers placed in the hall to give the custodial staff access to the room’s floors for the summer stripping, cleaning and waxing, as well as a top to bottom cleaning.

Some of the halls at the Fort Dodge Senior High School are stacked with desks, chairs, computers, boxes, bins of books and the occasional globe or two.

It’s everything that can be moved out of the classrooms.

Each of the doorways has a piece of tape across it with a sign on it that reads “Wet Wax Stay Out.”

The fresh, shiny floor finish is the result of the custodial staff’s hard work. Once it’s all dry, they will put all the furniture, chairs and the odd globe or two, back in.

Matt McCormick, night engineer at Fort Dodge Senior High, said that while the students and teachers may be gone for the summer, there’s plenty for the staff to do and their biggest summer project is lots of floor waxing.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Matt McCormick, night engineer at the Fort Dodge Senior High, walks past desks and chairs placed in the hall to give the custodial staff access to the room’s floors for the summer stripping, cleaning and waxing, as well as a top to bottom cleaning.

“They strip all the wax and sealer,” he said. “Then reapply. Before we can do that, they pull all the furniture and put it in the hallway. It’s our primary duty through the summer.”

But wait, there’s more.

“Every space gets tackled,” he said. “We clean from top to bottom.”

That means dusting, washing, touch-up painting and even cleaning the screens on the windows.

The complete corner to corner, floor to ceiling cleaning is done during the students’ vacation. During the school year, each room is cleaned every day, too.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Fort Dodge Senior High custodian Danny Lockman works on spot cleaning the carpeting in one of the music rooms Wednesday morning. Building maintenance and cleaning goes on year-round in all the district’s buildings.

“We wash the whiteboards, take out the trash, sweep or vacuum,” he said.

The school has many bathrooms. During the summer months, some might be closed for repairs, others see little use. Those that are, still get cleaned, though.

Regardless, one noticeable change for the staff is the amount of toilet paper that gets used.

Consumption drops sharply.

“We typically don’t have to order any in the summer,” McCormick said.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
A freshly waxed floor in one of the Fort Dodge Senior High’s classrooms comes with a warning sign. Stripping, cleaning and waxing each room’s floor, as well as a top to bottom cleaning, keeps the custodial staff busy during the summer months.

Some years also find the staff, typically about eight workers, dealing with the dust and other debris from construction projects in the school.

During the summer, they’re all on the same shift. During the school year, typically two are on duty during the day and seven work at night.

This year, they’re getting a break from construction.

“It’s not so bad,” McCormick said.

For the staff, summer work is a nice break from the daily routine of the school year.

“It’s pretty much the same thing day in and day out,” he said of the school year.

His days do vary a bit also as one of the building engineers. One of his duties includes mowing the lawn in the school’s courtyard. The rest of the school’s lawn is contracted out.

“Since it’s inside the building it’s still our responsibility,” he said. “I mow it about once a week depending on how it’s growing.”

He also gets to work a regular day shift.

A building as large as the high school keeps him plenty busy.

“This morning there was a leak and an air mover acting up,” he said. “I also spent two hours in the tunnels helping the plumbers.”

He said that the staff custodians at the high school and the middle school stay there and work during the summer. The custodial staff at the elementary schools form a single crew and then go school to school.

Yes, they too, wax off and wax on.