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Mark Koski ’86 Gives Back in a Variety of Ways

Much of what has made Mark Koski ’86 who he is today can be attributed to his time at McDonogh. He’s an early riser, a hard worker, and one who is grateful for the opportunities he’s been given.

Koski arrived as a freshman, and like all scholarship students at the time, he was required to live on campus and help with daily chores. Each morning before breakfast, a faculty supervisor assigned the students to one of many tasks, including trash removal, sweeping, cleaning, or horse stall mucking—when deserved. It was a daily requirement that in retrospect he appreciates. “It wasn’t difficult,” Koski remembers, “just a responsibility that got you out of bed in the morning and made you feel like you were contributing to the school and earning your scholarship.”

The transition to McDonogh was tough for Koski, a self-declared smart-aleck who was suddenly independent. But thanks to the teachers, coaches, mentors, and dorm parents who guided him, he quickly learned that independence came with the responsibility to be self-disciplined and respectful. Before long, he was all in. As Koski adjusted to student life, he became more involved on campus. He played football and joined the wrestling team, sang in the chorus, and formed many close friendships with his classmates. He looks back fondly on how special the social environment was, saying, “It didn’t matter what you were into—science, arts, sports, or whatever—everyone got along with everyone, especially in the dorms.”

Longtime math teacher Ceil Millar, who first met Koski when he was applying to McDonogh, recalls, “Mark made the adjustment to the academic expectations through hard work and persistence. He was a big fan of McDonogh School from day one and became a significant school citizen and leader. He also had a great heart and lots of school spirit; he couldn’t have been more proud to be a McDonogh student.”

Koski’s scholarship experience had an incredible impact on him, which has inspired him to give back to McDonogh as well as other organizations. “I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back, I really appreciate the experience,” he admits.

Today, he is an active mentor with the Scholarship Program, and he faithfully attends the annual Scholarship Luncheon, declaring it the best event of the year. “The stories from scholarship students really hit home and make you understand how important it is to sustain this program that impacts so many people in so many ways. It makes you want to participate, give back, and support the school any way you can,” Koski says, adding that he not only contributes to the program now, but also has a long-term plan to provide support.

In the meantime, his construction company, GYC Group (founded by Gary Clark ’60) has recently had a more hands-on role at McDonogh as the builder responsible for the construction of the new Head of School house. Koski was thrilled to accept the job, especially with the knowledge that the first resident would be his friend, Head of School Dave Farace ’87, with whom he also shares the legacy of being a scholarship student.

In June 2020, Karson Koski ’20 will walk across Childs Memorial Terrace at Commencement—the last of Mark and wife Debbie’s three children to follow in his footsteps. It will be a poignant moment coming nearly 40 years after his introduction to McDonogh and the opportunity that made him who he is today.

Published in the winter 2020 issue of McDonogh Magazine.