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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Midvalley, school district says goodbye to beloved custodian, others who will retire

Apr 30, 2022 09:34AM ● By Julie Slama

Midvalley head custodian Jim Sheely turned over 10 school keys on April 15 upon his retirement, which were just a few compared to the 136 keys for the former school building he carried for decades. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

For nearly 40 years, third head custodian Jim Sheely carried around 136 keys for Midvalley Elementary. Since the new building opened in 2020, he had only 10 keys, which he turned over April 15 upon his retirement.

During his 41.5 years as a custodian, he remembers watering saplings in front of the former school building’s entrance with five-gallon bucket since there were no sprinklers, then watched them grow into mature trees to being pulled out with the construction of the current building.

He constantly fought rusted galvanized pipes, refinished floors removing more than 20 years of built-up wax until carpeting went in, replaced tiles and fixed leaks, and nursed the “Great Dragon,” a nickname given to the old school’s boiler, until it finally quit in 2015. He climbed the metal rod ladder to the roof to throw down countless balls, cleaned up from thousands of school lunches and knew “every brick in the old building,” according to a former colleague.

Sheely, who had mounted a framed Intermountain Contractor magazine cover featuring the old school building as well as a 1958 dedication ceremony program to then the “Home of the Chipmunks,” now Junior Huskies, in both his old and current office, was on hand for the school’s 60th anniversary, the forming of the new school district and the ribbon-cutting of the current Midvalley Elementary.

On his final day, he managed to keep his eyes dry despite the numerous hugs and high-fives he received from students during his clap-out.

“I did it for the kids,” he said. “They’re all good kids.”

Now, Sheely and others school district teachers, staff and administrators who are retiring can hang up there “gone fishing” signs after being honored at a Canyons School District dinner on May 12.