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Solo act: At Archbishop Neale School in La Plata, keeping the building clean and making sure everything is in proper working order is a one-man show, handled by Charles County native Andy Edelen.

Originally from Bryantown, Edelen now lives in White Plains. He spends his days year-round maintaining the school’s facilities, a job he has held since 2001. Prior to moving into his role as a maintenance man, Edelen worked as a janitor at the school.

“I do so much I can’t really say what I do, you know?” Edelen said. “I fix lights, I clean the cafeteria. … It’s basically a little bit of everything. If they need me, I’m there.”

Edelen, known to students and teachers as “Mr. Andy,” moved into his position after the school’s former maintenance man, Donald Lee, needed to take an extended leave of absence for a surgery. Edelen was hired by the school’s former principal, Sister Helene Fee.

“Donald and I worked together; I definitely helped him out some,” Edelen said. “But I think when they saw that he wasn’t going to be coming back to work, they had also seen how I’d done, and thought I did well with helping out around the school so I think that’s how I came to hold this job.”

Beyond the closet: Edelen’s duties occasionally go beyond the halls and into the classroom.

“My office is in the school’s gym, so when school is in session I often have to walk through when a gym class is in session,” Edelen said. “I’ll mess with [the students] some, help them out, play around … things like that.”

When events are held at school, including religious services and plays in the gym, Edelen is also in charge of setting up for the event and striking it the next day.

Most of ANS’ faculty and staff members are female, and Edelen tries to provide what he describes as a “strong male influence” for the school’s many students, who range in age from prekindergartners to eighth-graders, which he said he finds rewarding.

“One time, I saw a particular student being disrespectful to a teacher, and I just didn’t think that was right at all,” Edelen said. “So I took him aside and I told him, ‘Look, you have to show some more respect.’ I wasn’t mean to him, just firm. The next day, he came by my office after school was over and told me his dad wanted to talk to me. I got scared. I thought I was in trouble, or that his dad was mad at me, when really, he wanted to thank me for the talk we had. That wasn’t what I expected, but it was nice.”

Good, clean fun: To entertain himself on the job, Edelen said he often plays pranks on the other staffers, which he describes himself as “really good at.”

“I’ll turn the lights off on people, move their desks, hide things,” Edelen said. “It’s all in good fun and no one ever really gets mad about it, so that’s good.”

When asked what he enjoys the most about working at ANS, Edelen did not hesitate.

“It’s the atmosphere here,” Edelen said. “The teachers, the kids. … They keep me busy and I like that. The kids respect me, and I try to be a role model for them. I just like being here and being around here.”

Conversely, Edelen said his biggest challenge comes from trying to keep up with having many demands placed on his time.

“I’m the only one, so there’s no one to help me out,” Edelen said. “It can get busy, but I get everything done.”

The only thing Edelen refuses to deal with are snakes, something he is emphatic about.

“When Sister Helene was still here, she called me to her office one time to help her out with something, and so, like I was supposed to, I went down there. When I got down there I asked what was wrong, and all she said was ‘Snake!’ and that was all I needed to hear. I was out after that,” Edelen said with a laugh.

Lindsay Renner

Got an idea for someone to profile in On the job? Send your suggestions to Angela Breck at abreck@somdnews.com or 7 Industrial Park Drive, Waldorf, MD 20602. Call 301-764-2847.