Augie, play “Despacito”

A boy picks up the microphone. He tests it out. “Hello.” His voice echoes throughout the mostly vacant cafeteria, drifting over to the large glass windows that face the snow-covered courtyard. Remnants of red paint and smudged sponge marks dot some of the windows; wet, pinkish-black, soapy water drips down others. Standing on a ladder, sponge in hand, another boy calls out to the first, telling him to use the mic as a speaker. A few beats pass. Then the opening bars of “Despacito” flood the room. Welcome to the 2019 Post-Chinese New Year window cleaning.

Three officers plus a few other Chinese Club members gathered in the cafeteria after school on February 14 to clean the windows they had decorated for Chinese New Year the week before. The event had started out with removing ceiling decorations and window decal that had been hanging around the school. The window cleaning came afterwards. By 3:30 p.m., half the windows were clean and only four people remained: officers Andy Wang (‘20), Augie Jurva (‘20), Shweta Panda (‘20) and dedicated member Brandon Lee (‘20). The entire endeavor took over two hours, from gathering supplies and setting up the ladder to cleaning up remnants from the aftermath of washing windows (paper towels, paint residue). The length of the event was an unpleasant surprise for some. “I expected it to be a quick 30 minute in and out clean up, but then it turned out to be two hours of tedious scrubbing,” said Wang.

Window cleaning began with window cleaner and paper towels. When that proved only to be somewhat effective, sponges soaked with hot, soapy water were used. The sponges got rid of the majority of the paint, but has excessive dripping, creating pools of water on the windowsills that needed to be wiped up by paper towels afterwards. It was a messy experience, as evidenced by tables covered in wads of paper towel. Getting his hands wet with paint and water was Lee’s least favorite part. He tried to make the best of the situation though with his constant commentary and encouragement. When he first received the sponge, Lee exclaimed “This is really fun!” as he discovered the ease of it. He was also standing on a ladder at the time, a feat some may consider risky but had become the ‘norm’ for Chinese Club when it came to putting up and taking down decorations, window paint included.

To liven up the event, music was played throughout the cafeteria about 75% of the way through. (This was accomplished by carefully positioning the phone’s speaker by the microphone). The playlist began with “Despacito”, then Sean Kingston’s “Beautiful Girls” (accompanied by Jurva’s vocalization), then Toto’s “Africa”, and some classic Chuck Mangione. For Jurva, the music was definitely a highlight. “The music was unsurprisingly very good. I particularly liked Chuck Mangione’s Feels so Good.” Lee agreed, summing up the entire window cleaning activity with “I like Chuck Mangione. While we were cleaning, we were listening to Chuck Mangione, and he’s a really great jazz artist, and that’s what I was thinking.”

At one point, Jurva was hard at work removing the letters ESE from CHINESE on one of the higher windows. He worked backwards, starting from the last E. Then he stopped, realizing the new word he had created: CHIN. It was a work of art that all present officers and members took a moment to appreciate. Shortly afterwards, the window cleaners received the highest possible form of praise, direct from Principal Gruetzmacher himself. “Looking good guys,” he remarked as he passed through the cafeteria. A custodian also expressed his gratitude, having not expected the members to see the task through to its end.

The complimentary recognition was well deserved. By the end, the windows (save for one that Chinese Club had decided to preserve) looked as if they had never been painted. With this success, the event is likely to become a Chinese Club tradition. Still, there is room for improvement. Lee suggests using different paint in the future. “I don’t know why it was really hard to get it off. The paint seemed to smear a lot so maybe get a different type of paint could probably clear off better.” On the cleaning side of things, Wang favors a more aggressive approach. “If I could, I would bring a pressurized hose similar to one from a firetruck, and obliterate the entire wall of windows with scalding water. But realistically, I would bring a lot more soap buckets and sponges”

As the only non-officer member that stayed to the end, Lee’s dedication to Chinese Club and its endeavors shined through. Lee gave a statement on this subject: “As a member, it’s [my] obligation to come and help.” This is not to say, however, that Lee had fun cleaning windows. “I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it, but it was bearable. And I would do it again.”

Though some events, like this one, are not as “fun” as others, Jurva encourages students to partake in the club. “Any participation is greatly appreciated, even if you can’t make it to every event. Chinese Club is a lot of fun, and there are lots of opportunities to learn about the Chinese culture and good food.”