[Editor’s note: The following essay submitted by Plains High School student Rebecca Madden was selected as the winner of the 2017 Valley Press Reporter Contest.]
By Rebecca Madden
Plains High School
Who would chose a supporting role when you could be the star?
Truthfully a few months ago I would have wanted the leading role. This last summer I had an opportunity to serve behind the scenes at Camp Bighorn, an adventure camp near St. Regis.
My experience gave me a unique perspective on the importance of supportive roles. With the start of school this fall, I asked myself: Who are the unsung heroes that play a role at my school, Plains High School?
Bill Hayen is the Plains school custodial engineer. He immigrated to Plains from Naples, Italy in 1974, during his sophomore year. After graduating in the spring of 1977 he took part-time jobs at the school until he became a janitor.
I met Mr. Hayen one day when I was waiting outside of the art room. He was carrying a mop and bucket — something that I had to do often this last summer — which reminded me of my time spent as a facilities worker. I couldn’t help but admire how he did such a labor-intensive job every day.
I asked Mr. Hayen some questions about what he was doing. As we started to converse he told me how he came to be a janitor, and that it was not always what he wanted to do. However, you could clearly tell that he loved his job. Mr. Hayen was putting his whole heart into what he was doing.
The inspiration of this action has had a tremendous effect on not only me, but others as well. I recently caught up with Jake Lile, a Plains High School graduate, and asked him about his interactions with Mr. Hayen. “He understands that caring for the parking lots, putting up the flag and keeping the school clean is for the good of the kids and their education,” said Lile.
“You can see that interacting with the kids is the reason Bill loves his job,” further explained Lile.
This is why I think people like Bill Hayen are the true stars — not only does he have a good relationship with students but also with friends and family.
Mr. Hayen and his friends even have regular jam sessions. “The only reason I got into music was because of them,” he said.
Mr. Hayen plays four musical instruments: the harmonica, violin, accordion, and the mandolin.
What we need in this world are more people like Mr. Hayen. Hardworking citizens, dedicated to doing their job well and with a smile on their face, people just like Bill Hayen.
“Working is getting my meat and potatoes. Working with the kids is my cake after the meal,” said Mr Hayen.