Keith—“kids-will-be-kids”—Keasbey will retire from Greeley this summer
Monday, June 17, 2013
by Brett Klein
Anyone who has driven through Horace Greeley’s parking lot on a school day or through the never-ending line of traffic morning and afternoon will recognize Keith Keasbey. A Greeley custodian since 1985, Keasbey is retiring after 28 years on the job, leaving behind the parking lots that he forcefully patrolled each morning.
For a senior driving to school or a parent dropping off kids, it would be unusual to see anyone but Keasbey directing the complicated flow of traffic in front of the gym. Even more recognizable than his face, however, is Keasbey’s hands-on, no-nonsense style of enforcement that will keep him in the minds of Greeley students and parents long after his retirement.
Before being hired to work at Greeley in 1985, Keasbey worked as a security guard at the Fielding Protective Agency in Yorktown. In the Spring of 1986, he began his reign over the parking lot that would become his stomping grounds for the next quarter century.
And each morning for about the last ten years, Keasbey has been stationed where the gym parking lot intersects with the main lot, a place through which each car leaving the campus must pass. In that intersection, Keasbey was the law, and the law was not to be broken by anyone.
He made sure that the buses, which come out from alongside the gym were able to pass through efficiently and drop off their students. Without the right of way given them by Keasbey, the buses would be stranded at the stop sign for several minutes, “I’m there for the buses,” he said.
While some students feared his wrath if they ever tried to advance out of turn, Keasbey saw his role as simply establishing “safety and common sense out in the parking lot.”
He does, however, have a method to his madness of strict control.
“How would I want someone to turn around and talk to my kids?” he asks himself. “This is high school, it’s supposed to be a learning experience.”
Ruling the hectic Greeley parking lot for nearly 30 years, Keasbey has just about seen it all. And more often than not, he is right in the middle of it all by his own doing.
He recalls September 11th, 2001, when the school went into lock-down after the attacks one the World Trade Center. Lock-down, which was instituted at Greeley after the Columbine High School shootings in 1999, means that no one is allowed on or off the campus.
A parent came to Greeley and wanted to pick up her child, but was informed by Keasbey that the school was on lockdown and she could not enter the campus. In the midst of the terrorist attacks, however, she was intent on not cooperating.
“I said ‘Ma’am you can’t go on campus,’” Keasbey said. “And she’s bouncing her truck off my chest. I still have the [Lincoln] Navigator sign imprinted.”
Keasbey also remembers an incident in the early 2000’s in which a senior gave a freshman his car keys and told him to go bring the car down from the senior lot. “The senior had a bad reputation for putting freshman upside down into garbage cans,” Keasbey said. “But I wouldn’t know if that was true.”
The school had recently put up stanchions in an attempt to prevent people from parking on the sidewalk leading up to the senior lot during events that packed the lot to capacity. The stanchions, though, didn’t last long, as the freshman, with zero driving experience, mounted the sidewalk in the senior’s car. “He was taking down stanchions every eight to ten feet,” Keasbey remembers.
Meanwhile, the students on foot were packing the sidewalk heading up to their own cars, and had to jump every which way to avoid the out of control car driven by a 14-year old.
When the car was finally halted by a stanchion, Keasbey approached the car and demanded to know what the freshman was doing. The student replied that he didn’t know how to drive. “That shows,” said Keasbey..
Keasbey chalks up such incidents with students as simply in the nature of teenagers. “Juvenile jocularity will always remain the same,” he said. “Kids are kids.”
After 28 years, Keasbey believes it is as good a time as ever to call it quits. “The job is changing,” he said. “It’s time to get out.” Despite feeling that he has made the right decision to retire, Keasbey called it a bittersweet goodbye.
Greeley will be losing a consummate professional, someone who came to work each day committed to doing his job the right way and making a tangible difference.
Next year, Keasbey plans to apply to become a substitute teacher in several districts. The father of six also plans to travel the Appalachian trail, which runs from Maine to Georgia, with his daughter.
Brett Klein, HGHS Class of 2012, is a rising sophomore at Villanova University where he writes for The Villanovan, the school newspaper.