As the grand marshals of the Novi High School homecoming parade Sept. 29, the Novi Community School District Maintenance Department employees show off a variety of the equipment they use to maintain the school grounds.

As the grand marshals of the Novi High School homecoming parade Sept. 29, the Novi Community School District Maintenance Department employees show off a variety of the equipment they use to maintain the school grounds.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


NHS honors maintenance department as homecoming parade grand marshals

By: Charity Meier | Novi Note | Published October 4, 2023

NOVI — The student council at Novi High School voted to honor some of the district’s unsung heroes in this year’s homecoming parade, which took place Sept. 29.

The council selected the employees of the Novi Community School District Maintenance Department to serve as the parade’s grand marshals.

“You don’t get the opportunity to highlight unsung heroes very often in such a public way, so this seems like a really perfect way to do that,” Katie James, one of the student council sponsors, said.

According to James, the students look for someone who supports the community, especially at the high school. They also look at the city and the district as a whole. This was the first time they selected an entire department to be the grand marshals rather than one specific person.

“This year, when we think of the construction that’s been happening and how many major changes are happening to district buildings, the people we thought would really deserve a moment in the spotlight is the maintenance department,” James said.

Mike Dragoo, director of the NCSD Maintenance Department, said that the department has definitely been receiving a lot more kudos lately. He recalled that the Board of Education acknowledged the department publicly last year and even threw the employees a pizza party.  He said the district has been “pretty fair in spreading the love.”

He said he was surprised when he was asked about the maintenance department being the grand marshal, and initially he was going to say no, as it’s not his style, but his wife convinced him otherwise.

“‘When have you been asked to be a grand marshal? When would you ever get this opportunity again?’” he said his wife asked him. And he also thought it would be disrespectful to decline, so he accepted.

“It’s a neat opportunity. So, I thought, ‘Let’s just do this,’” Dragoo said.

Dragoo said his department consists of 12 men who wear many hats and often work long hours to accomplish things, as many necessary repairs or treatments cannot be done when students are on campus. He said they are responsible for fixing pipes that break in the middle of the night, and they have to shovel the snow at 2 a.m. so that school can open on time. They are based on a 40-hour workweek, but according to Dragoo, his men put in a lot of overtime and average more than 52 hours a week.

“We have a real good crew who are super dedicated,” said Dragoo. “They are really excited. They get a kick out of stuff like this.”

Participating in the parade were Jim Fular, the grounds manager; Bob Coolman, an electrician; Ted Mech, a senior maintenance technician; Russ Nesmith, Eric Hettel, the assistant director of maintenance and operations; Dragoo; and Chris Jordan, a heating, ventilating and air conditioning technician.

The maintenance department chose to drive several different pieces of equipment in the parade and tossed candy to the children. The equipment included a frontloader, a John Deere Gator, and a maintenance truck.

“We said, ‘What can we do to be creative?’ And we said, ‘We got all sorts of cool vehicles,’” Dragoo said.

James said the students were excited to have an entire department as grand marshals rather than a single person. She said it made it more entertaining.

“The parade is all about community engagement, and what little kid doesn’t want to see a big bulldozer in the middle of a parade?” James said. “It added an extra fun element to the parade, and our high school students loved that, and they loved seeing all the kids in the parade route smile.”

James said the kids loved it so much that they are thinking about having the maintenance department participate in the parade every year.