Behind the Scenes: Faculty Features

Iman Zafar, Reporter

Mrs.Fleury, Main Office

    If you’ve ever been in the office or walked through the vestibule while entering or leaving the school, chances are you’ve either seen or met Mrs. Fleury, one of the office clerks here at West Side. She is one of the first friendly faces you’ll see as you enter the school. Her voice is also one of the voices most often heard over the intercom system, making announcements and calling students down to the office.

     Mrs. Fleury is originally from Santa Barbara, California, which is a small beach town ninety minutes north of Los Angeles. She has been living in the Pioneer Valley for twenty years, and decided to settle here because her husband is from West Springfield. “I started working as a clerk at West Springfield High School in May of 2016. Previously, I substituted in various public schools and was a parent volunteer for many, many years.” Some of Mrs. Fleury’s many jobs include producing report cards and putting together student submissions for the weekly District Spotlight. Mrs. Fleury is kind to everyone that she meets, and believes that, “sincerity and genuine warmth make even the slightest difference with any institution.” She makes it a point to greet students and visitors that pass through the school doors. Mrs. Fleury also enjoys being around students and co-workers and finds it heartening that so many students are leading inspiring lives, while balancing academics and sports, and are active citizens in their community.

     Mrs. Fleury went to school for journalism and remembers when everything was done with paper, light boxes and X-Acto knives. Her experience has been helpful when putting together student submissions for the District Spotlight. She creates the electronic layouts and graphics weekly.

     Mrs. Fleury is a person who makes West Side brighter and more cheerful, one “Good Morning” at a time.

Onyx Cruz, Custodian

     During lunch, the cafeteria is the most popular place that head custodian, Onyx Cruz can be found working and interacting with students. Cruz grew up in the city of Bayamon, Puerto Rico and immigrated to the United States with his family in 1989.

     “We came here to the United States looking for something better and hoping for changes in our lives,” Cruz recalled. Cruz and his family went through a share of financial as well as social struggles after they got to the United States and settled in Holyoke, Massachusetts. “We came to this country looking for opportunity because we were having a rough time in our country. We got bullied from the beginning because we were the new kids on the block. We got jumped many times for months until we stood up for ourselves. My mom had to work hard to get me a pair of shoes. I starting working at 16.”

     With time and hard work, Cruz worked to establish and secure himself. Before being hired as the head Custodian at West Springfield High School, he worked as a custodian at Coburn Elementary School in West Springfield for 14 years. At the high school now, Onyx makes sure the whole building is in shape, from the bathrooms, to flies in the classroom, to every detail you can imagine. Cruz also supervises custodians at night. “Every complaint comes to me,” he explained.

The best part of Cruz’s job for him, are the interactions he has with students; the mutually beneficial conversations that ultimately help him as a person. “Listening to everybody, to the kids. I think that’s a skill that only gets better every year, and I learn how to become a better listener. Especially with the struggles I have myself, with ADHD, it helps me to concentrate better,” he explained. When Cruz isn’t at work, he likes to spend a lot of his time with his son. “Being a father is out of this world. That doesn’t mean that I do right the thing all the time but it has taught me so much. Being who I am, not falling to be a number or a statistic of the system. I am another hardworking person who is proud of where I come from and who I am.”

The biggest lesson Cruz has learned is, “To appreciate what you have now even if it’s not a lot and love it. I try to appreciate every single thing that I have as well as help in any way that I can with the kids here. I try to put a positive brick in the foundation of your life, if I can.”

Onyx Cruz carries a positive philosophy with himself everyday, in an effort to spread more awareness, and appreciation to others.


Elizabeth Bonafilia(right) and Linda Albano(left), Nurses

    When it comes to attending the needs of students at West Springfield High School, the nurses, Elizabeth Bonafilia and Linda Albano, are in charge. Elizabeth Bonafilia grew up in West Springfield, Massachusetts and decided to pursue nursing after seeing her mom in the field and volunteering at hospitals. She went to Elms College and Western Governors University for her masters in nursing. Before working at WSHS, she worked at Mercy Hospital, the Springfield Visiting Nurses Association and Providence Hospital. Working with the medical, surgical, orthopedic and neurological departments, she gained experience with home health visits, postpartum and nursery floors.

     Linda Albano grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts. Her father was a pharmacist and she decided to pursue the field after working for a nursing home. Albano went to American International College and Western Governors University for her masters in Nursing. Before working at West Springfield High School, she worked at Baystate Medical Center, the Springfield Visiting Nurses Association, and Fausey Elementary School for 9 years.

     School nursing is much more involved than people realize. Many students have complex and long term health needs and need specific assisting in school. Albano and Bonafilia deal with kids who are diabetic, suffer from seizures, have asthma, allergies, chronic illnesses, sports injuries, and mental health issues. Many students suffer from anxiety and depression, and the nurses work in collaboration with the guidance department to make sure the students are supported. The nurses also work to get a lot of other testings done, like sports physicals, screenings for hearing, vision, scoliosis, height and weight, substance abuse and suicide.

     The best part of the job for Bonafilia and Albano is the interaction with kids and being able to teach health education and practice health guidance with high school kids. During her free time, Bonafilia likes to read, cook, and spend time with her family. She has been married for 32 years, a nurse for 35 years, and has 4 children who all went through West Springfield High School. Linda Alvano likes to hike, cook and spend time with her family during her down time. She has been married for 33 years, a nurse for 36 years, has three children and one granddaughter. Both Bonafilia and Albano play a vital part in the functioning of West Springfield High School: taking care of students, listening to their concerns, advocating for them, and coordinate care.

Janis Sawyer, Athletics

     If you are a student athlete at West Side High School, you’re sure to have encountered the assistant Athletic Director, Ms.Sawyer. Being involved with the high school for almost twenty years, she’s more than instrumental to the everyday life that goes on within our building. Sawyer currently works in the Athletic Department, can be found talking with athletes, rescheduling games, and taking part in the many tasks needed to keep the athletic program running. Although she works primarily in athletics, this was not always the case.

     “I started working in the office in 1998 and at one point, I moved to guidance part-time,” said Sawyer. Though not having lots of background beforehand, she seemed to fit in quite nicely into the West Side family. She works closely with our Athletic Director, Glenn Doulette, “We’re a great team,” she states. Together the two help to organize all sports seasons, including each team’s schedules, transportation, equipment, as well as making sure all sports fees and physicals are up to date. Ms.Sawyer plays a vital role in allocating sports information for the athletes, adults and anyone else who wishes to know more. What she likes most about her job, is the ability to work with the student athletes everyday while being able to see them play in all their games. “It’s always fun to see everyone play I really enjoy that,” she said adamantly.