Mr. Bruce spreads his holiday spirit


Asha Lewis

“Bruce is kind of like the Santa of our school, making people happy and doing stuff to help others,” Nic Carlson ’22 said.

If you’ve walked the halls of our school, there’s no doubt you’ve been greeted by one of East’s most friendly faces, the custodial supervisor, Bruce Towne. Most of us know Bruce, but not everyone knows how incredibly hard he, and the custodial staff work to keep our school running smoothly, especially during the difficulties of the winter months, all while keeping a smiling face.

Bruce has been working at East since 1997, and it’s hard to imagine how different our school atmosphere would be without him.

“I didn’t realize what I was getting into when I came here, I knew it was going to be a good spot to come to because I heard all about East Grand Rapids, but as fate would have it, it was a leap I decided to take. There are no regrets whatsoever.” Towne said.

Winter weather brings elements like snow and ice that Bruce and the custodial staff must tend to so that everyone can get to school safely and efficiently. “It depends on how mother nature corporates. I could be in as early as 3:30 or 4:00 in the morning, and stay ‘till 3:00 or later. I never leave early, normally to get set for things like basketball and such,” Towne said.

Even with all of the demands Bruce must meet on a daily basis around the district, he somehow manages to remember the name of every student he meets, and always stops to ask us how our day is going. What Bruce believes fuels his drive to spend every day doing what he does are the students and staff here in our community.

“It always has been and it always will be,” Towne said. “I know how hard school can be. You guys are getting crammed with curriculum, you’ve got tons of stuff going on, so I try to do everything I can to make things better for you all.”

Bruce also says he wouldn’t be able to do what he does without every single one of the members on the custodial team. “I wouldn’t be where I’m at without them,” Towne says. “Same goes for you guys, too. You are all kind of like the custodians as well. You do such an amazing job at keeping the school clean, and you really respect the building. It’s fantastic to see.”  

Bruce’s drive to constantly be at his best for the benefit of everyone around him is something that inspires the rest of the staff to do the same. “Bruce is the most upbeat person I’ve ever known, his enthusiasm is contagious. He definitely embodies the spirit of East Grand Rapids,” Anne LaGrand said.

Not only does Bruce inspire everyone to be at their best, but he also lights up the mood of everyone he talks to, which has such a positive chain effect on everyone in the building.

“I love Bruce. He’s always there to help with anything, whenever you need it. He just always has such a positive attitude. He was probably one of the first people that ever learned my name when I came to East. There’s never a time where I’m in the hall and Bruce doesn’t greet me and ask me how I’m doing,” Bill Westers said. “He’s one of those people that when you see him, you just get happy inside. You want to sit and talk with him and say hi to him. He just has that joy.”

Keeping up holiday spirits is also one of Bruce’s greatest strengths, “He always loves to help out with any special events we have going on, and it’s really fun to see when he gets excited about supporting anything the students are doing, like the holiday concert, or spirit assemblies” Nic Carlson ‘22 said. “Bruce is kind of like the Santa of our school, making people happy and doing stuff to help others.”

Bruce’s natural joy is also something that keeps students getting through the day. “A lot of the times I’ll be having a bad or stressful day and then all of a sudden Bruce will come around out of nowhere and he just brings so much happiness with him,” said Minnie Darr ‘21. “I think, if Bruce can keep a positive attitude with everything he has to get done, so can we all. He’s a great inspiration and role model to have around.”

Bruce is a special individual who makes the school what it is. He is an example of the morals, such as kindness and compassion, that our schools and community values. There’s no question about it, Bruce captures the true essence of what it means to be a pioneer.