Tom Koski

A high school is much more than brick walls and classrooms. A high school is the embodiment of all the students who studied there, laughed there, cried there, made friends there, and crossed the bridge from childhood to adulthood inside its walls. The historic Sarasota High School building closed more than a decade ago, but if you stand in the main hallway and listen carefully, you will hear the quiet echoes of bells ringing, locker doors slamming, and hundreds of young voices calling to one another. One of those voices belongs to Tom Koski, Sarasota High School Class of 1978. 

After graduating, Tom left for college and began a life and career in New York and Connecticut. A few years ago, Tom and his wife Sherry decided to make Sarasota their winter home and Tom began to rediscover his boyhood town. He was sad to see the once vibrant high school building standing empty and forlorn. “I have great memories of high school, so I have a love for the building,” he says. “Its best years were behind it, but it still had character.”

When Tom met Wendy Surkis, Ringling College of Art and Design trustee, and president of the Sarasota Museum of Art (SMOA), he learned about Ringling College’s plan to turn the historic building into an arts education destination with SMOA at its center. Tom was excited about the idea of giving new life to the old building and knew immediately that he and his fellow Sarasota High School alumni should help. But he was astonished when Wendy told him that, of the $12 million that had been raised at the time, only $5,000 had been donated by high school alumni. 

Tom decided to take action and launch a campaign to encourage alumni to donate toward the renovation of the building. “It would be a crime to miss this opportunity,” he says.

“The goal is to put a stamp on the building for alumni—we need to keep the name and the pride going.” Leading a committee of fellow alumni, Tom is working toward raising funds to name the building’s auditorium in honor of all the students who spent their high school years there.

To show their commitment to the future of the historic Sarasota High School building, Tom and Sherry made a generous $250,000 donation. They look forward to other high school alumni joining them in honoring the past and embracing the future. 

“We hope alumni will give to the best of their ability,” says Tom. “The legacy of our high school will continue as a teaching institution. My fellow Sailors must be a part of it.”


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