Words: Celina Wong
Captions & Photos: Jordyn Blanken, Liam Lovering, and Keith Hitzelberger
The Story Behind the Story: Photojournalists Reflect
Three photojournalists, Jordyn Blanken, Liam Lovering, and Keith Hitzelberger have recently conducted a photo essay that detailed the daily work of Centennial High School’s head custodian, Allen Anderson. Following the publication of this piece, these photojournalists detail the motivation and background behind this essay, as well as what they hope the school can learn from it.
“We [needed] someone to photograph and follow, and we chose Mr. Anderson,” Blanken explains. “We followed him for the full day and recorded everything he did and everyone he had contact with.”
Lovering also addresses the inspiration behind choosing Anderson as the topic of their piece.
“His job is fairly unique because he interacts with teachers, the faculty, and students, but at the same time, he helps maintain the school, and acts as a security officer,” Lovering explains. “He’s kind of like a Renaissance man at the school.”
Hitzelberger adds what challenges they faced as they were conducting this day in the life.
“We had to figure out who could miss what classes— and of course— who could show up at six in the morning,” Hitzelberger mentioned. “After that, we had to figure out how to capture his main job, which is keeping the school running.”
The team also documented the aftermath of vandallism within the school.
“We saw vandallism in the bathroom and someone might not have thought about it, but [Anderson] has to take time out of his day to clean the bathroom,” Lovering said. “He wanted to go home early to Christmas shop for his kids, but instead he had to clean up after [some student].”
After publishing this essay, Blanken explains what she hopes the school will learn from this.
“I want people to realize that the school is not a trash can,” Blanken said. “We have to take care of the school that we walk into every day. I want people to have respect for the building and for Mr. Anderson.”
Arriving at 6:12 in the morning, Mr. Anderson is one of the first people to enter the building. During this time, before many people enter the building, he completes his morning routine of the school security check and ensures that the temperature of the school is acceptable. He also spends time unlocking all of the classrooms of the teachers that are absent.
As students begin to arrive at 7:10 AM, and the day begins to unfold, Mr. Anderson uses this time to fix any minor issues that arise, such as checking the temperature and replacing a chair. He also checks his schedule for the day, signs off for packages in the front office, and returns a student’s pass for absence that was found in the hallway.
At 9:25 AM, Mr. Anderson prepares the cafeteria for lunch, ensuring that all tables are in place and that facilities are working properly. During lunch, he stays in the cafeteria and monitors all students, while also performing any and all tasks that are needed.
After lunch until about 12:45 PM, Mr. Anderson is in the cafeteria cleaning the tables and floors. At 12:49 PM, he goes to student services and the culinary arts rooms to be sure that nobody needs any assistance.
While Mr. Anderson is monitoring the hallway, he receives a call informing him that he will be getting a dog. He quickly shares the good news with Principal Dillon and Resource Officer Carneal along with showing them a picture of the dog.
Mr. Anderson heads back to the cafeteria to finish cleaning. At 1:03 PM, he receives a call telling him that there was an act of vandalism in a bathroom. He goes to see the damage and finds that someone has draped paper towels around the bathroom and has partially torn out a metal plate from the wall that protects high voltage wires.
Mr. Anderson spends the end of his day sweeping the floor, wiping down the tables and taking out the trash. He then waits for his night staff to arrive for their daily briefing regarding after-school activities and what needs to be completed that night.
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