Custodian trades school hallways for cruises

Alice Bell has been a familiar face in the hallways of Clarksville Middle School for the past 14 years, but after working as a custodian in Howard County schools since 1983, she said it's time to leave.

"I know it's time," Bell said. "Twenty-eight years is just enough."

Bell, 62, began her custodial career in the county at Centennial High School, where she worked for 11 years. After that, she said, she was on "the floaters," going wherever she was needed. Then, in 1997, she was placed at Clarksville Middle.

"I've been here ever since," she said.

A typical day for Bell is 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., doing whatever it is she is asked to do, she said.

"If someone sees me and they need something, I go ahead and do it," she said.

At Clarksville, she said, everyone is pleasant, from the other custodial staff to the teachers. They're what she's going to miss the most, she said.

"There are some nice people here," she said.

Even the students are nice, she said.

"They're good students. We really don't have trouble out of them. If they do get into trouble, it's only for an in-school detention. They're really good kids."

Bell said she didn't know if the students knew if she was leaving or not, but the teachers definitely knew.

"They didn't want me to go," she said. "They're going to miss me. They say, 'There won't be nobody like you.' "

Bell, who lives in Sykesville, has big plans for her retirement: spending more time with her great-grandson and traveling. A lot.

"My sister-in-law and I, we go on cruises," she said. "They're so much fun. I've been everywhere on a cruise. We've been every place.

"I don't care where they go, I just love it," she said. "You get waited on. You don't have to get up and fix anything and they wait on you, hand and foot. You can get too used to it."

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