Unsung heroes run school

Pranav Ram, Staff Writer

When people think of school, most of their minds go towards teachers, principals, or even counselors. However, there are a multitude of other workers keeping LZHS running behind the scenes.


Heather Kinsey, school nurse, has been working in the medical field for 24 years.
She wasn’t always a school nurse though: before working at LZHS, she was the director of nursing for a home health agency, but left the position because it was not practical for her.
“[Working as a school nurse] just fit right into my schedule since I have six kids, and the last two are going through high school here,” Kinsey said. “At the time I was the nurse for St. Francis, so once the last [kid] came over here, this position opened up and Sandy Helfer [the other school nurse] asked me if I was interested, so I just kind of transferred over.”

Over the course of her time as a school nurse, Kinsey has gotten used to treating staff and students’ minor injuries.
“We have students and staff coming in and out every day feeling dizzy or with cuts, blood pressure problems, concussion issues, you name it, we got people coming in,” Kinsey said.
These types of situations are not the only thing Kinsey responds to as a school nurse; according to Kinsey, she is the first to respond to serious, “scary” medical situations such as staff with high blood pressure and severe allergic reactions, Despite the harder parts of her job, Kinsey says that she still loves what she does.
“I like interacting with the young adults here” she said. “I love being able to help them and use what I went to medical school for in a way that still allows me to see my kids, and I plan to be here for a while”

One of the newest members of the LZHS staff, Alicia Cruz, security guard, loves her job.
“We all enjoy a job that gives us a sense of purpose and accomplishment and as a security guard my job is to make sure students and staff feel safe at LZHS.” Cruz said.
Cruz’s job as a security guard is challenging; in a single day, she and her 8 coworkers have to check every single person entering the building, monitor the hallways, and inspect each and every area of the school for damage or concerning items. However, she still finds the effort worthwhile, she says.
“Back when I was in high school, I always looked up to the security guards that we [had], since they always made me feel safe. Now, I get to do that for all of the students here,” she said.
But before working as a security guard for LZHS, Cruz worked as a guard at a treatment facility, which she described as being very different from working at a school.
“When I worked as an officer at the treatment center, I dealt with individuals who had mental health issues, so I had to make sure they did not harm themselves or others,” Cruz said. “Working at a high school the atmosphere is a lot different. It is calm yet you are working at a fast pace.”
Cruz said that the transition from working at a treatment facility to working at a high school was smoothened thanks to her coworkers help, and found a pleasant suprise when she started working at the building.
“Everyone here has been so good and kind,” she said. “You would think that most of the kids would be rude, but most are actually really nice, and it feels good to know I am helping keep them safe, so I am happy.”

A custodian since 1994, Edwin Cartagena, head of the custodian staff, has a demanding job.

“We have two different shifts. The first starts at six, and goes till 2:30, then the next comes in from 3:30 to midnight. Somebody always has to be here from six on Monday all the way to midnight,” Cartagena said. “We’re still here when staff are on site as well, during the weekends, from 6:30am to 11:30pm.”.

With such hours, Cartagena doesn’t get a lot of time to spend outside of work and consequently doesn’t get a lot of time with what’s most important to him: his family.

“I would like to have more time with my family, since my position takes a lot of time. That’s one thing I’d change if I could, is to just have more time with my family because this position takes a lot of time that I could be spending with them,” Cartagena said.

That time is cut even shorter when students decide to vandalize bathrooms, since the custodians are always pulled out to clean them, even when in the middle of other jobs.

“There’s a lot of vandalism of bathrooms, and this thing takes a lot of time from us. When the kids do graffiti in the bathroom it takes a lot of time which we could’ve utilized to go and do something else,” Cartagena said. “So every time we have a call like that it’s taking time from our normal schedule to address this issue.”

These incidents are few and far between though, and so most of the time Cartagena enjoys what he does for a living.

“I’m so happy and I love what I do. I like to support my people, not only the other custodians, but the school staff [as well],” Cartagena said. “I like to work around students and I love everything we do for our kids to make sure they [can] learn in a clean environment.”