Head custodian retires; day shift leader to take over


Laura Olsen and John Keenan walk through the hallways before students arrive for the school day.


John Keenan and Laura Olsen
John Keenan and Laura Olsen walk through the hallway before students arrive to school.

After nine years serving the students and faculty of Bellevue West as head custodian, John Keenan has decided to retire.

He worked at Bellevue East for 13 years, and has been in the custodial services for a total of 25 years.

As head custodian, there are a number of duties to fulfill, such as overseeing both the day and night shifts and shoveling snow from the circle drive at 5:30 a.m.

Activities Director Jon Mauro explained his admiration for the time and commitment Keenan put toward his job.

“[Keenan is] a guy who gets here at 3:30 in the morning, works 10, 11, 12 hour days consistently and is always around to help,” Mauro said.

Principal Kevin Rohlfs also expressed his gratitude towards Keenan’s responsibility and expertise.

“What I appreciate most about him is he takes ownership of this building. He cares about our facilities, and if things aren’t working right, he takes it personally and wants to make sure it’s fixed and it’s ready to go,” Rohlfs said.

Alongside Keenan’s enthusiasm for his work, his upbeat personality will also be missed.

“First of all, he’s got a great sense of humor. He’s always teasing me. He’s just a wonderful person with a lot of great energy that he brings to his job,” teacher Marya Lucca-Thyberg said.

Although Bellevue West is sad to see Keenan go, a smooth transition will be ensured when former day-shift leader Laura Olsen takes on the role of head custodian. Olsen has been a part of the custodial services at Bellevue West for 7 years. She has a National Pool Operators certification and Pesticide Applicator license.

“Personally, it’s been a goal since I started. I’m on my 17th year of being a custodian, and this was my ultimate goal, to become a head custodian. It’s quite an accomplishment,” Olsen said.

Olsen has been working with Keenan to prepare for this job, learning essential skills such as how to navigate the computer system. With Olsen’s drive and Keenan’s experience, everything is expected to run smoothly.

“[Olsen] knows the building in and out. She has a great attitude, great work ethic. She’s going to be terrific,” Mauro said.

Keenan’s last day is Friday, Aug. 29. He and his wife plan to move to Lincoln in the near future to be closer to their children and grandchildren. Olsen will begin her debut as head custodian immediately. She is ready to make the transition, and the faculty are anticipating a successful changeover as well.

“While we’ll miss Mr. Keenan, she’s going to be ready and able to step up and fill his shoes,” Rohlfs said.

Emma Larson