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The Singing School Custodian

Hear the voice that puts a smile on students’ faces

Wilbert Knight's official job is school custodian, but to students at an eastern Ohio elementary school he also is the school singer who is there to brighten their days. For more than 20 years, the 61-year-old has been singing in the halls.

“I want to touch their hearts,” Knight told WTOV-TV. And he has done just that. The impact he has had on students at Pugliese West Elementary School in Steubenville, Ohio, is apparent. 

“You see happiness and joy in the students when he sings,” school principal Lynnett Gorman shared with AARP during a phone interview.

Wilbert Knight with students at Pugliese West Elementary School

Courtesy of Pugliese West Elementary School

Wilbert Knight shares a special connection with students at Pugliese West Elementary School in Ohio.

With the holidays upon us, Knight can be heard singing Christmas carols. Jared Robinson, a teacher at Pugliese, recently posted Knight’s rendition of Silent Night to Facebook, writing: “With the holidays approaching let's let a little positivity shine through. Please share and spread some good news and happiness through our land.”

Knight’s connection with students goes back decades, and it has had a lasting impact. “He’s a man with a good heart. We’ve had kids who have since graduated, but still remember his voice,” Gorman said.

Knight has sung in his church choir, but never professionally. He makes regular appearances as the opening act at the school’s winter and spring music programs. And, he helps end the year on a positive note, performing at the annual staff-appreciation event.

When recording a recent video — knowing it would be posted to social media — Knight said he hoped it would send some positive vibes out into the world. And it sure has! The video has been shared across Facebook and in the national media.

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