Gotschewski donation aids woodworking program

Tommy Barrett, staff reporter

The children and widow of long-time Glenview resident Paul Gotschewski made a donation to South’s Woodworking Program to commemorate their late father’s passion for woodworking.

Gotschewski was an avid woodworker who wanted to preserve the value and interest in his trade long after he was gone. The donation was a way for his family to honor his passing, according to Stephen Silca, the primary South woodworking teacher.

“We have a really strong and flourishing woodworking program here and it was really important for him and his family to support local woodworking,” Silca said.

Silca says that the woodworking department is expensive to maintain, so the donation will make a huge difference to the woodworking department.

“We spend a lot of money on lumber,” Silca said. “We have some very expensive machines. That’s why I always cringe when students screw up, because I know what wood costs.”

Normally, the class relies on grants and support from the school, according to Silca. Recently, however, the donation allowed the woodworking program to have more available funds than they typically do.

“[The donation] was huge, because we had already spent most of our budgeted money for this year, so this allowed me to buy three medium sized machines that really helped the shop out,” Silca said.

Hoping to continue the Gotschewski’s spirit of giving, Silca explained how the Woodworking program does not limit itself to a structured plan. High-level woodworkers are given the freedom to do or build what they please, be it for themselves, the school or some other charitable reason.

Jeffrey Mitchell, an experienced South woodworker, said, “Being able to make things is a good feeling, but then being able to make things and give it to other people and know that you’re giving them something that they need and want makes you feel like the stuff you’re doing is not for yourself.”

According to Mitchell, he is currently building lockers for South’s Gymnastics team. Like Mitchell, many other high-level woodworkers exercise their freedom to build with South in mind. According to Silca, their products can be viewed anywhere around the school, from Radio’s mahogany broadcasting table to the display cases in the old pit.

“We can help the school out, but it’s also cool for the kids to see how they can use their skills to help other people.” Silca said.

Silca hopes that the extra money will allow the Woodworking department to continue teaching its current curriculum in a more efficient and accurate manner. He believes that the donation will help continue two legacies: that of South woodworking and that of Paul Gotschewski.

“In some small way, his woodworking spirit, if you’ll call it that, will live on through the shop,” Silca said.