Illustration by Will Rinkoff
There are people who work at this school, spend hours in the walls of the buildings, and are an essential part of the community. However, these people still stay on the periphery of the student vision of school community. The people working behind-the-scenes, making the school functional without attracting a spotlight, have stories that students don’t often know, nor do they seek them out.
The technology team at SPA works most, if not all, of the technological programs in school with the exception of teachers who were hired for tech help in the classroom. From coordinating senior speech audio, troubleshooting computer bugs and working with students for theater and musical performances, the individuals of the tech team simply keep students afloat. Not to mention the overwhelming number of gadgets in the Schilling Center, photography room, Huss Center, and the list goes on.
Our security teams’ faces are familiar. We pass them daily both in the hallways, and while the work their shifts at the desks in Davern and Huss lobbies. But do students know them? Or at very least, their names? Do they smile at them in the hallways, or ask them how their day is going? The members of the security team work every day to make the school a safe place – a task that becomes more and more important with the influx of school gun violence.
The lunch staff works hard not only to make sure that all the students and faculty have lunch to eat, but also that there are multiple options for students with food restrictions. The cafeteria is tidy; the dishes are cleaned. The faces of the lunch staff are familiar, but while students may recognize them, it’s rare for students to say hello to them, learn their names, or even make eye contact.
There is also no doubt that everyone sees the cleaning and maintenance staffs on an almost-daily basis. Although they often go unnoticed and unacknowledged, they are responsible for keeping our school looking as nice as it does and as sanitary as it is, and the least we can do is pick up after ourselves, push in chairs, and say hello when we pass them.
Appreciation of them does not just mean gratitude. It means connecting with these individuals as humans who interact with each other because we coexist. Wave in the hallways, get to know the people in the same space, help clean up the spaces we use. Acknowledgment doesn’t mean overpraising them for the job they get paid to do. That’s condescending and has the opposite effect of showing gratitude.
The disconnect between some of the staff and the students could be lessened by an effort by students to see everyone here, which is a simple but profound way to show gratitude for someone in a community.