The Inner Workings of an Athens Drive Custodian


Fernando Ruiz smiles after talking with students in the hallway. Pictured wearing an Athens Drive T-shirt, he is always representing and supporting the school.

Imagine walking into class at the beginning of the week, settling into a seat and looking around. Instead of the polished, neat-as-a-pin classroom environment students are accustomed to, there is still gum under the seats, overflowed waste bins and sticky tables. This would be the school students attended everyday if it weren’t for our dear custodians. Fernando Ruiz, a man never without a smile, is a great example of the kind of people that bring brightness into students’ lives everyday. Ruiz is an Athens Drive custodian and is loved by so many at Athens Drive High School.

Custodians do so much around school and often go unrecognized for how much they do to keep school clean, but also how much they get to know students. Ruiz is constantly involved in school activities, varying from attending and commenting on sports games, practices and always making time to chat with students.

“Fernando always talks to students and asks me about the volleyball team. He makes us feel special and seen,” said Olivia Reeves, sophomore..

Before he became a custodian of Athens Drive, Ruiz was born and raised in Mexico City and lived there for 27 years. As a kid, Ruiz loved to be around other people and make the most of every day.

 “Life was so exciting, beautiful, because I was a happy kid,” said Ruiz. “I loved playing soccer.”

After marrying his wife in his home country, Ruiz moved to the U.S. in Oct. 1989 to Tustin City, California. Before working at Athens, Ruiz worked as a custodian in Santa Anna at Kennedy Elementary School. 

“My oldest son is 32 and my youngest is 29. I raised my children in California; it is a great place that gave my boys lots of opportunity,” said Ruiz.

Ruiz and his family moved to North Carolina in April, 2022. They have enjoyed their experience in the U.S. and are still growing as people. Ruiz prided himself in buying his first car in the U.S. in 1996, a brand new Honda Accord. He enjoys spending time with his family by watching TV or movies and says his biggest accomplishment is starting a family.


Ruiz is most known by the student athletes at Athens, due to the fact that he attends almost all of the sports games. He enjoys working at Athens and considers the students here to be very talkative and nice.

“I like to watch The Drive’s practices and games and I also love talking to the athletes to know the inside part of sports,” said Ruiz.


Students around the school respect Ruiz and often wave and indulge in conversations with him in the hallways. He’s always open with them, listening to their problems and reassuring them.

“Fernando asks me and the team interesting questions that other teachers don’t bring up, and he’s also very funny,” said Reeves.

Custodians play a huge role in keeping the school clean, and maintaining a safe environment for students and staff. Ruiz’s job ranges from vacuuming, sanitizing restrooms, taking out trash, and much more. Without custodians Athens would be a mess, and too unsanitary to have school.

Athens continues to show their appreciation for Ruiz and all that he does. At the end of the volleyball season Athens Drive varsity team gave Ruiz a gift card and thanked him for his continuous support throughout the season. All of his cheering and engagement with the team during the year improved and motivated them to do better and have a well-played season.

Fernando Ruiz is a very valued individual at school and Athens Drive deeply appreciates everything all of the custodians do to keep our learning environment safe.

 “I like to talk to people and interact with students, I am very sociable and definitely enjoy my job.” said Ruiz.