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Kids Trade In Books For Tools
A trio of Escalon High School students have gotten a bit of a unique education this summer, spending several hours a week on the job at the Escalon High campus.

Financed through a federal stimulus program, the work experience put three EHS teens to work, helping the custodians at the high school with a variety of tasks. Working there this summer were Dylan Hansen, Maria Albor and Juan Hernandez.

Hansen, 17, will be a senior this year while Albor is 16 and will be a junior, Hernandez is 15 and will be a sophomore.

"They have been of great assistance to our custodial staff," District Superintendent Dave Mantooth said.

Work hours varied, with all three students able to put in 240 hours during the summer.

"They just did everything," noted Escalon High School lead custodian Kelly Kellett. "They painted, they shampooed carpets ... it was a real positive experience for everybody here."

From helping move furniture out of classrooms to clean floors to assisting with cleaning at the pool, there wasn't much that the kids didn't have a chance to do. They usually worked with at least one other custodian and Kellett said she was impressed with the work ethic and dedication shown by each of the three.

"Not one day were they late," she pointed out. "They worked hard, all the custodians here appreciate the effort."

An incoming senior, Hansen recently had a birthday and said he adapted pretty well to his summer schedule of getting up at 4 a.m. to be to work by 6 a.m., putting in a full day.

"I thought it was very cool, everyone was so nice and helpful," he said. "The experience was pretty cool but what made it a lot better was all the co-workers."

Hansen's last day on the job was July 23, so Kellett said they brought in a birthday cake for him and hosted a potluck lunch for all three student workers that day.

"We so enjoyed him," Kellett said of having to say goodbye to Hansen first. "He had a great attitude, was willing to do whatever we asked of him. He was nice and tall so he could reach things that other people couldn't."

He spent time almost each day at the pool, helping with the filter cleaning and pool sweeping, before moving on to whatever else had to be done.

Hansen said when school resumes next month, he can go knowing he did his part to get the campus ready.

"A feeling of pride, knowing that I helped do something," he said of what he took with him from the experience.

Albor said she learned about the summer job opportunity through a teacher and applied.

"I learned a lot of stuff, it was fun doing everything," she said.

Hernandez, busy on Friday morning raking up some branches and debris, agreed that it was at times hard work but overall was fun.

"He's a hard worker," Kellett added. "Any task we gave him, he completed it. He did a lot of graffiti removal, he painted lockers in first hall and first hall extension, he's learned how to use a shampooer and extractor."

All three got instruction on the use of the shampooer and extractor so were definitely involved in giving their campus and its classrooms a face lift this summer.

"Some of the things we would not be able to do without the kids here," Kellett admitted. "We took the mini blinds down in classrooms and cleaned them, we wouldn't have had time to do that without them."

The three helped supplement the normal staff of five, in addition to Kellett, and a grounds crew of two, plus one custodian who splits time between Escalon High and El Portal.

Hernandez said, for his part, he learned a lot about what it takes to keep the campus in top shape.

"I learned something, it's nasty," he said, "putting gum under the desk. I'm not going to do that anymore."

That was a sentiment echoed by Albor, who said she plans to tell all her friends "to not stick gum under the desk" since part of her job this summer was to remove it.

Cleaning white boards, prepping classrooms for the return of students, wiping down all the equipment in the weight room, those were just a few of the areas where the kids stayed busy.

"I think they'll have a new appreciation for their school," Kellett said. "With the budget cuts, we're hoping that they don't stop this program, because it has been a real positive experience for all of us.

"We're short handed and it was nice to have the extra hands and hard workers."