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South High Commons

The time was 1:15 p.m. on September 14, 2009. Parkway South High School was at one of the quietest times of the day. There was barely anyone in the halls, including all three levels of the commons. An eerie feeling of silence and vacancy surrounded the air in every direction. The workers were like zombies roaming around, but the lunch ladies looked happier than I had ever seen them.


The custodians were working extremely hard at all three levels. On the bottom level, Tony was sweeping floors and cleaning tables. Tony was an African American custodian who stood at about 6’3 and probably weighed around 220 pounds. He mainly would joke around with people that walked past and would always have a smile on his face. He did not look to upset about cleaning up high school student’s trash and tried to have as much fun as possible while cleaning; he would have to, in order to take his mind off what he was actually doing. In the middle floor, Bobby was stacking chairs and working hard as usual. He was moving pretty slowly, but he knew how to get his job done quickly because of his experience. Bobby was an elderly male who moved slowly, but efficiently. In the upper commons there was another custodian doing the same type of work as the others. He seemed fairly angry, and was doing whatever he could to do in order to go home quickly.


In the lower level of the commons all of the lunch workers were eating their afternoon meal. They were all eating together and talking at the same table. Each and every one was dressed in their white aprons and white pants. The races of the lunch workers ranged greatly. Many were Asian, some looked native to Latin America, and some were Caucasian. It seemed like they were having a good time and excited that their work day was over. I wondered if they ever got sick of eating the school lunch before the students eat, and in the afternoon after the students eat, everyday.
Every few seconds a student or two would walk by, strolling along, taking their time to get back to class. There were a lot of kids walking by taking photos of weird things on the walls and out the windows. An entire class suddenly came walking through the upper commons heading towards the lower level and outside. Some of the students were running ahead and some were straggling behind of the pack.
The walls were covered in mostly every direction with many types of decoration. On the windows of the art department there were numerous different kinds of art pieces made from students. Flyers about upcoming events related to sports or other school sponsored events covered the hallway walls in most areas. The windows weren’t covered with anything so there was a clear view out to the sunny day. The sun was shining bright with a few clouds in the sky around it. There were trees standing tall and still around the patio right outside the doors. The birds were swarming around low to the ground near the patio looking for leftover food from lunch. There was still trash on the tables and some bottles and wrappers scattered on the ground on the patio.
Back on the inside, the custodians were now near ending their work day, as they stack up the last of the chairs and head for the mops. One of them got the zambodie-type machine to clean the floor on the upper commons. Bobby and Tony got mops and cleaned their section the harder way. Soon following, Mr. Oldenburg and Mr. Mazzola walked by and seemed to be talking about something important.
The commons was quiet and would most likely remain that way until the bell rang. The custodians were about to leave and the lunch workers would do the same. It was a quiet and typical afternoon in the Parkway South High School Commons on a sunny afternoon.



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