By: Jen Russon
Earlier this month, Coral Glades High School marked the somber one-year anniversary of their custodian, Mark Rissky’s passing, finally holding his memorial service the pandemic had placed on hold.
A 2018 employee of the year, Rissky’s death by suicide on March 2, 2020, sent shock waves through Coral Springs. He was hired when the school first opened its doors over a decade ago, and the people who remember him want to create a lasting legacy in his honor.
Now, administrators at the school have taken steps to do just that.
“The school board voted unanimously on Wednesday to rename our cafeteria in his honor. We will live by the motto: Work Hard-Be Kind,” said Principal Mark Kaplan.
Before the school board voted, Kaplan entered a heartfelt statement into the record, which included his thoughts on Rissky’s work ethic.
“There isn’t anything he wouldn’t do to help students, staff, or parents. In fact, a few years ago, the graduating class voted him to be the Grand Marshall at graduation,” said Kaplan.
In detailing the 59-year-old’s life, Kaplan said Rissky would often leave kind notes or gifts to the staff that were later discovered on their desks.
Rissky’s sixth sense when it came to how others were feeling and how they might need a compassionate ear was well known at Coral Glades High School. His death drew both current Jaguars and alumni to a memorial event ultimately canceled due to COVID-19.
A portrait of Mark Rissky was rendered by the school’s art teacher, Nathan-Eldrid-Banks, and will hang in the renamed cafeteria, where the late custodian could often be found connecting with others.
“He never, ever said ‘no’ when someone asked him for help,” said Kaplan, breaking down the custodian’s kindness into the literal steps he took each day,
Rissky walked an average of 40,000 steps per day on Coral Glades expansive campus, the equivalent of 16 miles; to do that required Rissky to report to work at a time when most people are still asleep.
“We renamed the cafeteria after him because this was the place he interacted with students daily — they loved him. We all did. And we miss him,” said Kaplan.
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- Jen Russon has been a staff writer for Talk Media since 2018. She is also a novelist, copywriter and editor at Swallow Publishing, LLC.
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