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When school's out, cleaning crews are in

Photos by Dana Pavek/WDC Schools As the sun pours through the windows, Chris Wegscheid cleans the windows and the air conditioner in a Wadena-Deer Creek Elementary classroom.1 / 2
Kevin LaBarre puts down a fresh coat of wax in one of the elementary's hallways.2 / 2

While teachers enjoy a summer break and students make the most of their freedom, the Wadena-Deer Creek School custodial staff are busy cleaning, repairing and sprucing up the schools.

"Every inch of our schools gets cleaned, scrubbed and dusted, from top to bottom," said Kevin LaBarre, head custodian at Wadena-Deer Creek Elementary School.

The summer cleaning projects are generally larger and too disruptive to do while school is in session. A team of custodial, cleaning and grounds staff complete the projects at the preschool, elementary and Deer Creek School. The cleaning begins the day after school is out, up to the week before school starts in the fall.

Some of those larger projects include refinishing the gym floor, getting the football and sports fields in tip-top shape as well as painting, stripping, buffing and finishing floors, shampooing and vacuuming carpets, cleaning blinds, desks/furniture, vents, light fixtures, washing windows, and maintenance on HAVC systems and boilers, among other tasks.

To add to the challenge, school does not shut down completely for any length of time during the summer months, so oftentimes, LaBarre and staff have to schedule cleaning around summer school, summer camps, community events and other activities.

It's been a year since the June 17, 2010 tornado, and the custodial staff are relieved to have a somewhat "routine" summer of cleaning. However, LaBarre said projects still crop up as a result of the tornado, such as building racks for the choir gowns or finding space to store items for the new school. Storage space is an ongoing challenge for WDC Schools.

In addition to LaBarre, the custodial staff at WDC Elementary School includes: Dewey Imdieke, Bob Lund Jr., Linda Paulson, Mel Pulju, Sharon Schultz, Roland Tomford, Chris Wegscheid and Larry Wegscheid; Deer Creek Junior High (which includes cleaning and maintaining Leaf River Academy located in a portion of the school): Richard Brandner, Leonard Finch, Curt Rentz and Gerard Lehmkuhl; WDC Early Childhood Center (St. Ann's): Terry Andrie and Becky Reinitz; Grounds Department: Mike Kenney and Terry Andrie; and summer helpers: Eliah Anderson, Nathan Carlstrom and Ryan Nelson.

Shiny hallway floors, fresh restrooms, clean desks and classrooms will leave a good impression on students, faculty, parents and the public when they enter WDC schools on the first day of classes on Tuesday, Sept. 6. There's no doubt, WDC custodians take great pride in their work.

"We do take great pride in our work, every day. It makes us feel good when people notice how clean our schools are. I guess that means we're doing our job," said LaBarre.