by: Amelia Passer
Direct morning traffic: Check. Fix Mrs. Hedgepeth’s Promethean board: Check. Disable fire alarm: Check. Change light bulb in the cafeteria: Check. These are just a few of the many responsibilities Mr. Conrad Preston has to accomplish day to day. For Preston, being the Warriors’ maintenance guy is not only a job but also a responsibility.
Preston is in charge of all maintenance required at the school. Whether air conditioning or lights – basically, anything electrical – Preston knows how to fix it. Because of all of his many responsibilities, Preston is on-call for repairs even after he goes home in the afternoons. Every morning from 7:45-8:15, he directs traffic, and then he’s on call for various tasks throughout the day. “Each day is different,” he said. “You can’t plan a day here. You never know what’s going to happen.”
We’ve all seen Preston roaming the halls or in classes, working his handy man skills. No matter what he’s doing, though, he’s doing it with a friendly smile. “He’s so professional that he never let’s what’s going on in his life affect his work,” Mrs. Shauna Hedgepeth said.
“He’s the type of person that does things without receiving credit. He does what he does because he loves it, not because of the money,” senior Chris Franovich said.
When Preston has even a minute of down time, he’s looking for something he can do. “Sometimes he’ll poke his head in my class, look around, and make sure there’s nothing he can help me with,” Hedgepeth said. “I’ve known Mr. Conrad since I started Oak Grove, and I can confidently say he is one of the most selfless people on campus.”
Born and raised in Sumrall, Preston started his job as the maintenance guy at Oak Grove in 1996 after finishing his job in the military working with maintenance. When he first began, he was at the primary school where he handled maintenance until he switched up to the high school in August 2008, after 12 years. Because of this, Preston has been able to see kids from when he worked at the Upper and Lower elementary schools grow up. This will be his fourth year at the high school, making the class of 2012 the first and only year that Preston will be with a class all 12 years. He says that’s his favorite part about Oak Grove: “It’s like I’ve followed them up here,” he said. It’s true – Preston knows everyone. Anytime he passes a student, he can’t stop without smiling or saying ‘hello’. “He’s one of the select few individuals that have been with us and watched us grow,” Franovich said.
Outside of his work at Oak Grove, Preston is a freelance photographer, one of his favorite hobbies. When he needs a break, he enjoys riding his motorcycle.
Whether working at Warrior territory, shooting pictures, or taking a ride, Preston is always smiling. The class of 2012 has been greatly impacted by Preston’s presence throughout their 13 years of school. To students he’s not only the maintenance guy but also someone who can always be counted on. “He wants everything to work for the kids, and it’s those little things that make my job easier,” Hedgepeth said. Since his first day on the job, Preston has been a huge asset to the faculty. Whether he is working on the light fixtures in the main hall or changing the air conditioner filters in classrooms, Preston will continue to enrich the lives of everyone at Oak Grove. Be a role model for the students: Check.