On any given day, Leo Zaverukha’s booming voice echoes through the Mountain View High School halls that he mops and across the fields that he mows.
Some days it’s Russian folk songs. On others, he serenades students with American classics or Christian hymns. Either way, he’s tough to miss.
A Ukrainian, Zaverukha came to the United States in 1996 after his parents fled from Russia as refugees. He first settled in California before getting the job at Mountain View in Meridian in 2005. He’s been a fixture ever since.
Know of any other Treasure Valley residents who are worth meeting? Let Joe know: like everything. I like people around me. I like school. I like positive things. And I like flowers — there are plenty of flowers here because I am the groundskeeper, and my little hobby is to plant the bushes and flowers, too, that you can see outside.”
In Sacramento, he sang to nursing home residents. In Meridian, high school students get serenaded on their birthdays or other random times throughout the day.
“He’s just a roving superstar. … He is as pure as the driven snow,” said John Rollins, Leo’s friend, occasional singing partner and history teacher. “There probably isn’t a teacher or administrator here who wouldn’t have him and his wife over for dinner.”
Leo is universally loved by students, teachers and administrators for his buoyant spirit and relentless positivity, Rollins said.
“Leo is the epitome of all the good qualities you can have in a man,” he said. “He’s one of those people who, no matter how your day is going, he can lift you.”