Students will take a rare mid-week day off while faculty members interrupt their usual schedules to clean out the building. With a number of new construction projects set to take place on the school grounds, the unnecessary hodgepodge could become an obstacle when it comes to moving parts on campus. The administration decided the time to address unpurposed overflow was sooner rather than later.
“It comes to a point where we have very little capacity to do legitimate storage when there’s artifacts from ten, 20, 30, 40 years ago,” said Gibbons. “People have long since departed, and no one even knows what that is and why that’s here.”
There were a few different factors that went into the decision to set this date for the big event. New president Alan Carruthers initiated the project.
“It’s always good in an institution to have new sets of eyes and perspectives. I think Mr. Carruthers helps to bring some of that,” said Gibbons.
“Mr. Carruthers came in as an outsider, and he’s seen other environments, and he sees ours with fresh eyes,” said Assistant Principal for Missions, Jim Linhares.
The date was chosen strategically to interrupt as little as possible. By making the cleaning a day while seniors are off campus on Senior Project, the school avoids cutting down on instructional days for a class already missing the first 18 school days of the second semester.
“(Carruthers) and Fr. Gibbons leaned together and looked at the calendar and figured it can’t be (too long into) the second semester, we need to start fresh,” said Linhares.
The items meant to be dealt with are relics of SLUH’s past. Participation trophies, decades old papers, and books untouched since the 1990s are among the clutter slated to be addressed.
The cleaning responsibility falls largely to each department. The ties to these things belong to the faculty, though some articles predate even the earliest arrivals of current SLUH faculty.
“Our process of doing this isn’t just go in and throw everything away,” said Gibbons. “We’re going to be categorizing everything in a series of columns of where it would best fit.”
Things used with measurable frequency will be kept. Things that are not will be reviewed for the archives or trashed.
A committee which includes Carruthers and Gibbons, has been meeting for the last few months to organize the day logistically.
“They said alright, how are we going to bring trucks in here for recycling. They started working with maintenance on how we are going to disassemble some of these desks, what kind of categories are we going to go with (for the valuables),” said Linhares. “They really started engineering it.”
A big part of this operation involves the faculty, who are required to be at school on this day. They are currently in the process of sorting through all of their items and deciding what they use, what they should use, and what can go. The tasks vary from department to department, however, as every subject provides different equipment and tools.
The English Department, for example, is going to tackle the annex and purge unused books.
“We have something called the annex, which is a big storeroom across the hall from the office, and that is the main focus,” said English teacher John Kavanaugh. “We have probably 50 or 60 years worth of mainly just paper and books that is in (the annex).”
“What has happened is we have what is like this second library,” said English teacher Chuck Hussung. “There is this massive collection of books that have to do with our subject, but we don’t have a departmental librarian to clean them out.”
The art wing teachers are going to determine which pieces should be taken out to the new space that will come with the new construction projects in the future, and what can be recycled.
“Ever since I came with Mr. Powers, we have been looking around and determining what can go,” said Ceramics teacher Sarah Rebholz. “Anticipating
our move in the next few years, this is a good opportunity for us to look into everything and see what needs to be taken with us.”
The art teachers have not started talking specifics, as they are waiting for the arrival of art teacher Joan Bugnitz, who has been on sabbatical this semester.
Another goal of the day is to purge the unnecessary clutter. Recycling of books and papers and proper disposal of other litter are a main focus of the operation.
“I want the Sustainability Club to tell us what to do with old textbooks … which are made to turn obsolete after a couple of years,” said Hussung.
With this day comes an opportunity for faculty to get together and make a difference around their workplace.
“I suspect it will be fun at the start, by late morning we’ll be tired, and by early afternoon, I will be looking forward to the end of the day,” said Hussung.
“When I heard about an all school day of cleaning, I thought it was like Christmas because I love cleaning,” said campus minister and math teacher Stephen Deves. “This is the best day ever. We all get to tidy up, and it will be glorious.”