The Unseen Latine Building Service Workers



From left to right: Victor Henriquez, Elsa Henriquez, Lucy Ayala, and Marsela Ventura

While students come to school to learn, many may not think about what happens behind the scenes to make Rockville High School a proper learning environment. Building service workers devote their time before, during, and after school to ensure the building is clean for not only students, but staff as well. Despite their dedication to Rockville, many students and faculty members may not even know the names of our building service workers. 


Elsa and Victor Henriquez are siblings from El Salvador who have worked in Building Services at RHS for years. Along with other building service workers, they constantly have their radios on listening for possible emergencies to prevent further accidents, tackling messes and spills. 


“[Our first purpose] is to focus on making sure everything is in the best condition,” says Building Service Manager Victor Henriquez. “Our second purpose is to have the parents, teachers, and principals happy. That way we are happy too.”


While their jobs can be underestimated, cleaning and disposing of trash prevents diseases from spreading to the entire school. Not only would the building service workers get sick, but so would students and staff. That’s why it’s so important for them to ensure every room and hallway is clean.


“I focus on doing my job one hundred percent. [I] give my best,” Henriquez said. “The idea is to excel. We came here to excel.”


Victor came to the United States to receive better opportunities than those available to him in El Salvador. He started working in MCPS and at Rockville High School in 2015. His sister Elsa has been working since 2016. His children grew up in MCPS, and Henriquez mentioned he is glad that MCPS not only allows him more time to spend with his family, but is made of kind staff who support him.


Like many other immigrants, the majority of our building service are Latine workers that came here for better opportunities, taking the jobs many don’t want to take. While some may view it as “miserable” work, the Latine building service at RHS are proud of the work they do because they are helping others.


Elsa and Victor both mention that the faculty always treats them with respect and care. Neither Principal Rhoshanda Pyles nor the students undermine their work. Contrary to the common stereotype that building services are looked down upon, the staff here at RHS makes the building service workers feel content and safe.


“Ms. Pyles is a person who always has a smile for everyone. Even though we’re building service, she takes us into consideration,” Elsa Henriquez said. 


While cleaning the building is hard work that’s often unappreciated or overlooked, the Henriquez siblings agree that they feel consistently supported by Pyles, security, and staff at RHS. 


As students, it’s important to be mindful when throwing away items like our lunch. Rather than giving no thought to the trash we see on the floor, we should properly clean our areas and dispose of our trash. It may be the building services’ job to clean up after everyone in the building, but that doesn’t mean students can’t help lessen the work. The next time you see a custodian at RHS, make sure to thank them for their hard work.


“Even though it’s just cleaning, it’s also about helping other people,” Elsa said.