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Morgan Elementary Custodian Acts as Mentor for Students

KAYSVILLE, Utah — If you ask most kids to help you mop, clean tables or take out the trash, many may want to run the other direction. But at one elementary school in Kaysville, there is a group of kids who stay in at recess to do all of that and more.

They say they do it because they like to hang out with the elementary school’s custodian. He jokes with them, he listens to them and, above all, acts as their mentor.

On any given day at Morgan Elementary, you’ll find them helping the school’s custodian, Howard Pate, set up for lunch and clean up afterward.

“Sometimes our school is very difficult to take care of because of all the messes that we have, a lot of them from sixth-graders,” sixth-grader Robee Nielson says.

Fifth-grader Quinn Flitton says he realized what a mess he used to make.

“I used to be one of those kids make a big mess while eating, used to be. But until I started noticing the mess, I sort of stopped.”

Now, with other kids, he helps pick up those messes.

“I like just staying inside for recess to help him put away tables,” sixth-grader Honovi Warriner says.

Most of these kids give up their recess to hang out with Howard, as they call him.

Why? Because he listens — he asks about their day, and he laughs at their bad jokes.

“It’s been a joy to work with him. The connection he has with students, which you can see from talking to the students is phenomenal,” Principal Alisha Johnson says.

While the kids get a High 5 for being awesome, we wanted to give Howard a High 5 for being the mentor he is.

He says he doesn’t deserve it, but we disagree.

This High 5 may have been a surprise to Howard, but there was even bigger one to come: a $200 gift card from American Fork Credit Union.

“He’s kind of a celebrity around here. He walks into a room and everyone yells, ‘Howard!'” parent Alecia Finlinson says.

He may be a celebrity, but he sure is a humble one.

“I’m just trying to do a good job for the place and make everybody feel like they deserve to be here. I’m grateful for the recognition,” he says.

And this school is grateful for Howard.

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