Randy Vorwalske has worked at Catholic Memorial High School since 1986. (Submitted photo)
Even though he toils in relative anonymity at Catholic Memorial High School, Principal Laura Anderson said Randy Vorwalske runs the school as if it were his own.
“Everyone here loves him, and in the summer, he works with student workers as well as performing his regular duties. Students can earn half of their tuition money by working in maintenance during the summer,” Anderson said of Vorwalske, the school’s maintenance manager since 1986. “He takes on a couple of students each summer, and he guides them along. It is a good service program.”
Vorwalske said he enjoys working with the students because they want to work and learn new things.
“I have them work on painting, fixing different things,” he said.
When the pandemic happened, Vorwalske helped develop a plan to keep the school clean and sanitized during the 2020-21 school year.
“He also took lots of time in the planning and setting up of our various events so our CMH community could still have some experiences, such as Masses, open house and lunches that made us feel like a family,” Anderson said. “These events would not have happened without Randy’s leadership and many, many hours of work.”
Quiet and self-effacing, Vorwalske quickly gives credit to others for bringing the school together during the pandemic.
“It was a team event. We came up with a plan, and then we executed it,” he said. “The hardest part was setting up our gym and turning it into a café for social distancing. Setting up 55 tables each morning and then taking them down at night for practice was a bit tough, but I give thanks to the players and coaches for helping set them up for the morning.”
Anderson said no matter what task Vorwalske is given, he takes it on without complaint, whether cleaning up after a sick student or fixing a boiler, he doesn’t complain or want any recognition.
“He just goes and does them and can turn around on a dime and do something else we ask him to do,” she said. “We had this 9/11 memorial service that a teacher took on with her class. The teacher had this vision of things to set up on the roof. I couldn’t understand the teacher’s vision, but Randy understood it, had a plan for it and worked it out with her. All the guests who came to the memorial ceremony were able to see this big rope hanging from the roof with ribbons our students tied on that represented the 3,000 who lost their lives in the attack. He is so willing to help with things like this.”
Each year during homecoming week, Vorwalske spends a night at the school to make sure individuals don’t come into the school or partake in any pranks or ruin the homecoming displays set up around the school.
“It is important to keep the property safe from non-CMH students who might want to do some pranks at the school,” he said. “It isn’t a difficult task, but it does make for a long Thursday and Friday — it ends up being about a 30-plus-hour day.”
Vorwalske has enjoyed his 35 years at CMH and appreciates the friendly environment and being surrounded by students and co-workers.
“I like what I do, as there is a variety of things to do, and it isn’t the same thing day in and day out,” he said. “The most challenging thing, of course, is to try to keep things running smoothly and keep the building safe with a limited budget.”
Anderson appreciates Vorwalske’s positive attitude and willingness to help anyone at any time. Whether it is figuring out how many sanitizing wipes to purchase, how many disinfecting spray canisters to have on hand, unloading a shipment of 80 chairs or rekeying locks, he is always available.
“He has a rare skill for these days in that he is also a locksmith,” Anderson said. “If we need him to adjust a key fob, or open a door, or have a school lockdown due to something happening in the community, he is right there to do it. He easily takes doorknobs apart and rekeys the locks and teaches others to do it too. Catholic Memorial is an old school with old locks, but he has exceptional skills and takes the time to do what needs to be done. I just think about all of his behind-the-scenes work. He is humble, doesn’t get stressed out, takes minimal time off and calls us to see if we need anything when he does take off. He is amazing.”