Summer maintenance crew gains experience, appreciation

Classroom spaces may be empty during the summer months, but work doesn’t slow down around campus. Residence halls are cleaned, painted and remodeled. Mowers frequently buzz across the Quad. Landscaping is continually manicured to maintain the beauty of Hanover. All of this is made possible by the dedicated Hanover College facilities team and – this summer – a group of hardworking Hanover students.  

A group of six students is gaining hands-on work experience and helping the College at the same time. The inaugural “flying crew” is living on campus and spending their days painting, moving furniture and assisting with living unit set up and tear down for camps. 

Chandler Cole ‘24, a double major in kinesiology and integrative physiology and business, enjoys working with his hands. His family’s construction business exposed him to building homes and introduced him to his calling.  

Chandler Cole paints a windowsill in Coulter House.

“Construction, all that kind of stuff, I love it,” Cole explained.  

He is gaining experience while forming new relationships. He plans on attending construction management school after graduation. 

“It’s been really nice to be able to meet people from various backgrounds,” Cole said. “Learning different ways of doing things and learning from the older guys at the physical plant has been really enjoyable.”  

When the workday ends, the students can enjoy the solitude of campus that isn’t always available during the academic year. 

Jayan Kent has enjoyed the experience.

“It’s been a good challenge for me to see if I could do it on my own and being away from family,” said Jayan Kent ‘24. “It’s been a great experience.”  

The results of their efforts have come with feelings of gratitude, but it’s also led to increased admiration for the College’s facilities crew, whose volume of work increases May through August.  

“It’s really hard work that they [facilities team] do,” said Rio Takagi ‘23. “I’ve enjoyed learning more about them and the work that they do. It’s been a good chance to know more about the College itself.” 

Cassandra Lutes ’24 thoughts closely match Takagi’s as the experience has increased her understanding of the innerworkings of the College.  

Taiga Yamawaki paints in Coulter House.

“It’s been really interesting to see the behind the scenes of everything,” said Lutes. “You don’t think about it until you’re the one doing it. It’s made me much more appreciative of the work they [facilities team] do throughout campus.” 

Taiga Yamawaki ‘23 has enjoyed the opportunity to explore other areas of campus. 

The team is supervised by Willie Liter, director of operations and grounds. Figuring out how to best tackle a project, how to work efficiently and the satisfaction of completing the project are ultimately where Liter sees the real value of the experience. 

“[For them] to have that smile when asked by another student, ‘What did you do this summer?’ They can say I worked for the College and painted this classroom we are sitting in,” said Liter. 

Manny Otchere-Danso and Chandler Cole move a desk out of a room in Coulter House, while Cassandra Lutes holds the door.

Strong workmanship wouldn’t be possible without a cohesive team. All six students have deepened their ties with the College and their fellow co-workers throughout the experience. Rising sophomore Manny Otchere-Danso ‘25 marks the relationships that he’s developed as the pivotal part of his experience. 

“People like Ron [Wells], Bob [Slade] and Willie [Liter], they treat us like family,” expressed Otchere-Danso.  

Faculty and staff members have helped promote a sense of home on campus as they have hosted the students for meals and fellowship. Liter would like to see the team expanded next year and be open to more students.

For Liter, it ultimately comes down to one key theme: “Being proud to give back to Hanover College.”