They cleaned, swept and vacuumed. They polished, waxed and burnished.

And when Seabird Island Community School students returned to class April 5, their floors were smooth enough to skate on.

Seabird Island Band Custodial Staff, along with staff members of nearby First Nations communities, recently took part in a Building Service Worker (BSW) course facilitated by Ridge Meadows College.

“The importance of me being here is to teach all of these students how to be proper custodians – how to clean properly, how to do things right so you don’t hurt your body, and to take care of cleanliness so it’s clean for the school, the students, teachers, and anyone who comes in here,” said instructor Taania Flahmeri.“It’s just learning proper commercial cleaning.”

Students were in session from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day. Most days began with an hour or two of class time, which focused on the pages inside the BSW manual. From there, students hit the floor, learning a variety of techniques which will save them time, and allow Seabird Island Band to be more efficient with the operation of its custodial services.

“It’s about efficiency. People will measure to know how many square feet, and how much time it will take to clean, so it’s learning time management,” added Flahmeri.“It’s not just a job. It’s a profession. You’ve got chemicals. You’re using heavy-duty equipment. It’s teaching them how to do it properly, and how to do it efficiently. We do it for people in the community and people who use this place.”

The Seabird Custodial Staff can really focus its attention on an area when there are few people around – which is why they accomplish a good cleaning of the schools during summer break, Christmas, and now, in spring.

“We wipe down everything, and get the dust off, because you breathe that in. Doing the floors is very important because they use them so much, and that’s always the first thing people look at is the floors,” said Flahmeri. “We really cleaned each room from top to bottom. The dust comes down on the floor. We wipe down desks and counters. Everything is being disinfected. Glass is being cleaned.”

Flahmeri worked with students on a comprehensive list of duties during the in class instruction.

“We dry-mopped, so we sweep the floor. We use the side-by-side machine and it strips off some layers of wax. We re-wash the floor again to make sure it’s pristine. Then we’re going to put down three or four coats of wax. Then we’re going to burnish it, which burns the wax and makes it harder and really shiny like glass,” she explained.

“I’m going to teach them that and show them that this is how good it can get. You should be proud of what you do because it looks really good. Then we’ll put everything back in order – and it will be just brand new again.”

According to Flahmeri, there’s a routine with day-to-day cleaning.

“Everybody touches everything – your door handles and desks – so it’s very important for safety and health reasons that everything is disinfected and cleaned every day. The course also teaches them that,” she said.

“We’ve also done the daily routines – how do you do them properly and efficiently. A secret of our industry is – make sure your corners are clean.”

The Seabird Custodial Staff is a busy group, having prepared for 48 events the past fiscal year. Flahmeri says the students have been a pleasure to work with during the course. “I’ve been teaching for a number of years, and every now and then you hit on a team that works like a team. I’m really, really lucky this time,” summarized Flahmeri.

“I’ve got an awesome team. They jump in, they joke around, but man do they ever bust their backs working. And I’m happy to be back out at Seabird teaching. I really enjoy it here.”