New Rubik’s Cube mosaic honors Kennedy Junior High School custodian

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“Toby took me in there and said, Rick, I need you to look at this wall. There’s something wrong with the wall. So I’m looking at the wall, and I’m like, I can’t see anything wrong, and then I looked at the cubes and said oh that’s me,” said Kennedy Junior High Custodian Rick Perez. 

Rick Perez recognized at Kennedy Junior High

What Perez spotted was a new mosaic in his image on the walls at Kennedy Junior High School – built using 400 Rubik’s Cubes. It was constructed to honor and show appreciation to Perez, the school’s head custodian, noted as an unsung hero.

Perez has spent seven years at the school, and over thirty in Naperville School District 203.

“Rick has given his heart and energy to our district in our school for so many years.  Just think how messy one junior higher can be, he and his crew take care of our school full of almost 1,000 junior highers and keep it clean and operating every day,” said Kennedy Junior High Learning Commons Director Tobey Sanford.

Perez is only the second District 203 employee to have his face shown on the wall at Kennedy, with principal Patrick Gaskin being the first. However, other heroes have been on  display in a similar fashion.

“We’ve featured a lot of heroes in the past, so we’ve had Martin Luther King Jr out there, Anne Frank, Malala Yousafzai, and Rick Perez as a local hero.  So we wanted to recognize him on the Rubik’s Cube mosaic,” said Sanford.

“There’s a tool online, a website where you can upload an image, giving you different options for how the Rubik’s Cube mosaic would look. It’s taken some practice to get used to using that, but it’s rewarding when you step back, and you see the real thing on the wall,” said Sanford.

New Rubik’s Cube mosaic ready in a few days

Sanford had the pattern set, and a group of Rubik’s Cube-loving students worked their magic to match the masterpiece.

“The Rubik’s Cube murals come together pretty quickly. It’s amazing how fast some students can do a Rubik’s Cube. So it only takes a few days of having the Rubik’s Cubes out for the kids to adjust them in the right way to form a picture,” said Sanford.

The unique tribute means the world to Perez.

“It’s an honor, it seems like, to finally get recognized, you know, that somebody finally sees you as you and out of, he’s just a custodian or somebody that’ll clean this or fix this, you know? So it’s an honor to be on the wall,” said Perez.

Naperville 203 unsung hero

Sanford and the students change the mosaic every few months, but say the Perez mosaic will always be a standout.

“It’s special when it’s somebody who’s part of our community who means so much to us to recognize them on our wall, to see their smile so that means a lot to us,” said Sanford.

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