Sophomore volunteers to clean Sunny Hills campus

With+a+trash+picker+in+his+right+hand+and+a+trash+container+in+the+other%2C+sophomore+Adrian+Ramirez+demonstrates+on+Tuesday+how+he+helps+out+after+school.+

Asaph Li

With a trash picker in his right hand and a trash container in the other, sophomore Adrian Ramirez demonstrates on Tuesday how he helps out after school.

By Alexxa Berumen, Sunny Hills High School

Earbuds blasting music and a bucket full of trash in hand, sophomore Adrian Ramirez oftentimes gets mistaken for a student in after-school detention.

He has taken a household chore to another level by helping declutter the 42 acres of the Sunny Hills campus.

“As I was picking up trash while listening to music, I would see someone I recognize kinda staring at me with their mouth moving, then I realized they were talking to me,” Ramirez said. “I stop my music, and they say ‘You’re doing community service? What is this?’”

Almost every Tuesday and Thursday since the beginning of October, the sophomore picks up trash around campus in hopes of making the custodial staffs’ jobs a little easier and the campus cleaner. 

With viral trends becoming a bad influence for students, like the devious lick challenge that gained nationwide momentum in October, Ramirez was motivated to better the school instead. 

“I felt like it occupied a part of my head that I just needed to do this,” he said. “It could seem like I’m trying to set a good example, but I just wanted to do my part.”       

After speaking to assistant principal Hilda Arredondo, he learned the steps to become an on-campus volunteer. 

“It was great to see a student that was taking interest in the cleanliness of our campus, especially since we started our school year with the devious lick TikTok [challenge],” Arredondo said. “So when Adrian came by, it was really heartwarming that he [wanted to] help the custodians.”

Head custodian Daniel Rodriguez shared Arredondo’s sentiment, as Ramirez was the first student to offer help to the custodial staff, Rodriguez said. 

“He seemed like a really good, honest and genuine kid, and our relationship has flourished into something more than just a traditional custodial to student because you can appreciate someone like Adrian, who gives to the community,” Rodriguez said. 

Ramirez starts his duties after school and heads to Room 6 to pick up his bucket, but if it’s not there, he meets the head custodian. Usually volunteering for two hours, the sophomore scans the outdoor sections of the campus, clearing through the hallways and quad, picking up neglected debris along the way.  

“In the quad, I am always seeing bags of leftover lunch,” said Ramirez who plans on continuing to volunteer throughout the rest of the year. “…I have always disliked littering, and I thought most people were against it, but seeing how people just leave trash everywhere instead of picking it up makes me feel like they don’t actually care.”

Once he’s done, he returns his bucket and grabber to the side of the locker room by the gym and proceeds home. 

With hygiene being a priority during a pandemic-ridden school year, the sophomore’s assistance has relieved the growing workload of the staff. 

“Especially right now with COVID, we have a huge demand for cleaning protocols that we must follow, so that’s added a lot to our custodians,” Arredondo said. “Having Adrian set an example for students helps [the custodians] focus on their tasks.”

As students returned back to campus, custodial staff were strapped and Rodriguez appreciated how the cleanliness of the campus was preserved with Ramierez’s help. 

“We don’t have enough manpower, so when we get someone like Adrian who says, ‘Hey, I don’t mind picking up trash,’ to us, that’s like a true treasure because it’s one less thing we have to worry about, and we can focus on other important things,” Rodriguez said. 

Coming onto campus for the first time after the end of distance learning, this experience gave Ramierez more insight about the campus and the amount of trash to expect from different areas. The most common item that he sees left out are leftover lunch bags from the cafeteria area, as well as candy wrappers and occasional chip bags, he said.   

Many of the students were unaware of Ramirez’s work, like sophomore Joseph Murillo. 

“It makes a good impact because it shows that anyone can pick up trash,” Murillo said. “It’ll show others that it’s a good thing to do and more people should do it.”

Ramirez hopes that more students will join him in supporting the SH community.  

“People should try to do what they can to be happy, but they should also try to help out the community to make others happy too,” he said.

This story was originally published on The Accolade on December 2, 2021.