The Secret Heroes of San Marcos

The Secret Heroes of San Marcos

Students, we are fighting a war. Our enemy is not human. It is – wait for it – TRASH!  Today, I want to recognize a few outstanding soldiers of the War on Trash – our secret heroes – the Green Berets of San Marcos High School, our Custodian Crew!  How many of our custodians can you name? One? Two? Did you know that we actually have a total of 10 custodians on campus every day? Most of us can’t even put faces to the people that are essential to keeping our school running, and I intend to change that! 

Group picture with some of the custodians, Carlos Solis (center)
Image courtesy of Kian Strenn

Most students who have been at San Marcos or even Junior High for a few years know that trash was much less prevalent on campus before COVID.  “I think it’s much worse this year than my Freshman or Sophomore year,” says San Marcos Senior and Commissioner of the Arts Anna Muñoz. But what can these changes be attributed to? Well, COVID brought many physical changes to how lunch is served.  For one thing, the cafeteria is no longer open for students to eat inside, pushing everyone into the quad and further from trash cans.  Lunch was also made free for everyone, which has immensely increased the rate of kids getting school lunch. We’ve all seen those kids who grab lunch and immediately throw it at their friends instead of eating it.  Finally, the containers themselves are unnecessarily bulky, which causes more trash to accumulate quicker.  But I think COVID and the year-and-a-half of isolation has also made an impact on us students, causing us to forget some of the social responsibility we had a few years ago.

However, have you noticed that no matter what happens, rain or shine, the quad is clean as a whistle the next morning?  Ever wondered why that is?  It would be amazing if the quad had the ability to clean itself overnight, but that’s not it.  Instead, our custodians clean up every last piece of trash to make it nice and new the next morning.  But what happens next?  Instead of honoring that by making sure it stays clean, we dump our trash back on the ground, undoing all their hard work!

Scan this QR Code to watch their full interviews, courtesy of Kian Strenn

I decided to investigate how these custodians did it, and also learn more about our heroes as people.  So, I interviewed a few of them to find out.  Our head custodian, the war general, is Mr. Carlos Solis (unrelated to Aaron Solis). Some of our soldiers I interviewed include Mr. Jaime Navarro, who has been working here for 14 years and loves South Coast Deli; Mr. Jonathan Santos, who went to DP (but ultimately chose the right school), and has been here for 2 years; and Mr. Salvador De Luna, who’s been helping fight for us for 23 years, and still enjoys it every day.  There were many more custodians that I met, all giving me a warm welcome.  I was shocked by the sense of community our custodians felt with San Marcos, and how passionate they were about keeping our home clean.

The magical privilege of having a clean school is no longer so magical; now we know that every time we leave a piece of trash on the floor, one of our amazing custodian soldiers has to pick it up.  But we cannot win this war with just the custodians helping, in order to win the War on Trash, we need everyone’s help.  You can become a soldier too!  Every time you throw your trash in the garbage can instead of leaving it on the ground, you are helping lead San Marcos to victory over the trash problem at school.