TAMPA ó For Richard Gonzmart, Jesuit High School wasnít just the place he went to study as a teenager in 1971. Jesuit was where he lay the groundwork for his life and what helped him gain the values young men receive when attending the Catholic high school for four short years.
"I always wanted to go to Jesuit," Gonzmart said. "When I attended I was helped along and had people to guide me in the right path. I received the values all young men receive here and I wanted to help other achieve their dreams in the way that I have."
Jesuit recognized Gonzmart, the president of the Columbia Restaurant group, on March 2 for a $2.5 million donation that aided in the building of Gonzmart Hall, a two-story, 32,000-square foot administration and student servicescenter.
"Itís an emotional day," Gonzmart said. "It makes me think back to the sacrifices my parents made for me. Helping others is so important, and I believe education is most important."
Jesuit kicked off the groundbreaking of the campusí newest edition two years ago. This is the first major structure supported by Jesuitís $40 million For Greater Glory capital campaign. The project aimed to provide more resources and create a dynamic learning environment for present and future students.
Seeing the project come to fruition overwhelmed Joe Caballero, Jesuitís board chair and a 1986 graduate.
"This was planned and supported by the generous alumni who lived the transformational experience at Jesuit and who believe in the mission of the school and the impact it has on men," Caballero said. "The core and the heart of the school hasnít changed, but this is a step toward another 100 years."
Nick Suszynski, Jesuitís director of development, echoed Caballeroís sentiments, saying Gonzmart Hall will help embody the education Jesuit offers and be a step towards enhancing resources to help further future generations.
"Itís hard to put into words, but itís inspiring and remarkable to see this (Gonzmart Hall)be open to the public," Suszynski said. "This was a road of hard work, but weíve received a positive response. Iím very excited to see this shared with future generations."
Jesuit senior and student council president Tyler Peterson also spoke at the ceremony and introduced a time capsule comprised of different items and news pieces from the present. It will be opened 100 years from now.
Peterson also wrote a letter reflecting on the current school year and recent events such as the Parkland Stoneman Douglas shooting. As one of the students working for the schoolís television station, Peterson said heís excited to find a larger studio in Gonzmart Hall.
"Itís momentous to be a part of the occasion," Peterson said. "(The building) will offer a better newsroom, especially since weíll have the equivalent of three classrooms now versus our one small class."
Reflecting on how far he has come, Gonzmart hopes the new building will help young men achieve their dreams and take advantage of the education they receive at Jesuit.
"My life is a dream and I hope Iím taking advantage and creating an example for children and helping others," Gonzmart said. "I know I have done everything I can, but Iíll always ask what else can I do?"
Contact Katelyn Massarelli at [email protected]