In the nearly 77 years of her life, a faithful school janitor had never had a birthday party. However, her life was about to change once she heard the intercom calling her to the auditorium — and it was all captured on video.
Frances Buzzard selflessly worked behind the scenes at Belle Elementary School in West Virginia. Beloved by both students and staff members, the cherished custodian always completed her duties with a smile on her face, despite her difficult upbringing, Charleston Gazette-Mail reported.
Although few knew her backstory, Frances had grown up in poverty and never experienced the joy of having her own birthday party. Her family did attempt to give her a party once, but she says that “it was so icy and cold, nobody came.” When the faculty at her school learned this secret, they devised a plan to change all that for the adored employee.
Back in those days, “they didn’t do things like that,” she said. “We didn’t have Christmas parties either. They would get us fruits and nuts when they could afford it.”
Shortly after the lunch period had ended, Frances and her coworker, Rendell Heater, heard an unexpected announcement over the intercom. As the office called the custodians to the auditorium, Frances expected that a mess was waiting for her to clean.
“Rendell and Miss Frances, could you please report to the cafeteria?” speakers requested, crackling throughout the school.
As she turned the corner into the cafeteria, more than 200 students and staff members burst into applause, cheering “surprise!” for their unofficial mascot. Shocked, Frances grinned from ear to ear, completely caught off-guard by what would be her first birthday party in her 77 years of life.
Principal Amanda Mays presented Frances with a “Happy Birthday” sash and tiara before directing her to a chair in the center of the crowd. After she had taken her seat among the giddy students, the stage curtains opened and a projector lit up a screen to show a video honoring the beloved custodian.
Proudly wearing her tiara and sash like a birthday queen, Frances enjoyed her treats, opened gifts, and hugged countless students as they filed back into their classrooms. Throughout her party, she simply couldn’t stop smiling. She even shed a few tears.
Frances Buzzard was hired at the school just a year earlier. To everyone’s surprise, her age didn’t stop her from fulfilling her janitorial duties. In fact, she goes above and beyond to serve the children and educators.
“When they said we were getting a custodian who was 75, 76 years old, I thought ‘Oh, great! That’s just wonderful,’ because we already don’t have enough custodial help,” said school counselor Chelena McCoy.
The school knew there was something special about Frances immediately after they hired her. One day, the elderly janitor came into the office and announced she’d be polishing up to make everything “shiny.”
“I’m, like, ‘Well, that’s not your job, Miss Frances.’ She said, ‘Oh, yes! That’s our job.’ And I’m thinking, ‘You know, I’ve worked in this school forever, and nobody ever said anything about polishing,'” Chelena said. “So, this lady is twice our age, but she does three times the work. She’s something else. Everybody just loves her. You can’t get her to stop.”
It took 77 years for Frances to receive her first birthday party. However, she couldn’t be more elated over the love and admiration she received.
“I can’t believe it,” she said, marveling at the day’s events.
The students and educators at Belle Elementary recognize what a treasure Frances is, and they were not about to let her go unappreciated. Here’s to hoping that there will be many more birthday parties in Miss Frances’ future.