Head custodian keeps Cal clean

Roberto Manrique and his team work hard to ensure the campus is always looking its best


Californian file photo by Nima Pendar

Head custodian Roberto Manrique buffs the commons floor. He has worked at Cal High since 2007. Before coming to Cal, Manrique was a postal worker in his native country, Peru.

It’s a dirty job at times, but Cal High head custodian Roberto Manrique has been doing it for 16 years.
Manrique and his team of custodians work tirelessly to clean up the constant mess students leave strewn around Cal’s campus.
But that’s not the only job for Manrique and his team. Their other duties include maintaining, cleaning and disinfecting all areas on campus. They also have to remove harmful graffiti and vandalism thats spread across campus.
Each time an act of vandalism occurs on campus, Manrique has to record the incident and send a report to the district before erasing all the acquired evidence.
Manrique has a very sentimental motivation to do his job.
“I like to see when people are happy when people appreciate what we do when they’re happy about having everything they need, or expecting that everything is clean and working,” Manrique said.
Before he was Cal’s head custodian, Manrique used to work in a postal service company back in his home in Lima, Peru. After moving to the United States, he needed a new job and soon took the opportunity to apply to Cal.
“I applied to every school district around this area, and many of them interviewed me,” Manrique said. “But I decided to be here.”
Manrique’s day generally starts at 2 p.m., half an hour before students without B periods are dismissed from school.
In the 16 years that Manrique has been working at Cal, he has witnessed a number of impurities. Manrique is in charge of sending out the other custodians across campus to clean up messes and clutter that have been left by students.
Fellow custodian Ricky Galvao works alongside Manrique and other members of their crew to maintain the cleanliness of the school.
“Manrique and I work together to set up the cafeteria for lunch, clean up the campus before and after school, and other duties that we’re assigned,” Galvao said.
Junior Sumedha Varanasi is grateful for the work Manrique and his team do to keep the school clean.
“I believe that custodians here at Cal are underappreciated because no one really thinks about the people who clean up their messes after they’re done eating during brunch or lunch,” Varanasi said.
Sophomore Sahishnu Venkatesan is also grateful for the work that the custodial staff do. He is critical of the messes that students leave behind during brunch or lunch.
“Students don’t respect the custodians with the respect they deserve by leaving their messes everywhere,” Venkatesan said. “It’s disrespectful of the students to think they can leave stuff lying around.”
Manrique wants students to take better care of the school.
“Take care of the school, pick up garbage and put it in the trash cans,” Manrique said.
Varanasi shares the same sentiment as Manrique.
“Students tend not to be bothered cleaning after themselves since they think someone else will clean it up for them, which is why the school is so messy and why custodians are taken for granted,” Varanasi said.
Manrique hopes students can see past themselves and understand that the custodial staff is here to help them. Their job is to maintain the campus’ cleanliness, and the graffiti and littering across campus make their jobs even more stressful.
“This school is for [students],” Manrique said. “We’re just trying to clean and maintain the campus, but don’t vandalize things that are here for you.”