It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost a year since the passing of Tom Zinck, Wellesley High School’s building manager, and a town employee for more than 32 years. Zinck was a proud WHS Class of 1972 graduate and was well known in the school and beyond for the connections he made and relationships he built with students, his custodial staff, and pretty much everyone he came in contact with.
“Almost immediately after Tom died, friends and family started talking to me about how we could keep his legacy and spirit alive,” Diane Zinck, his widow, and secretary to the principal at WHS, said during an interview by phone. “It was too soon for me to think about last year. But I got so many cards, emails, and Facebook messages from kids who were inspired by him and the way Tom had helped in both small and big ways.”
Gradually, as the shock subsided, Diane and her and Tom’s two daughters felt ready to move forward with an idea—The Above & Beyond Memorial Award. The award will be given to commemorate and celebrate Tom Zinck’s devotion to the entire Wellesley High School Community. The award will be given to the student who most exemplifies Tom’s gift for helping and uplifting others, and making the school a kinder, more welcoming place.
“One kid in particular was our motivation,” for the award, Diane said. “This student, who’s since graduated, would come into the cafeteria every morning as soon as the school opened up, to study. He was a gentle soul and a hard worker, and he’d always help the custodial crew out with setting up the tables, or just with whatever needed to be done. You know, there’s aways a kid like that every year, and it’s the custodial staff that sees behind the scenes those kind of kids who help out. That’s why the custodial staff will have a lot of input into who gets this award. Because they’re the ones who really see the kids with the kind of spirit Tom had.”
The monetary award, which will most likely be presented at the senior awards ceremony in May, will go to a graduating senior, and be presented by representatives of the Facilities and Maintenance Department. “It’s not a school award. It’s not tied to academic performance or college attendance,” Diane said. “It’s a celebration award.”
Donations to fund the award are being collected through the Wellesley Facilities Department. All donations (checks only) will be held by the Wellesley Municipal Employee Federal Credit Union in an account earmarked for the purpose of the Above & Beyond Memorial Award. Checks can be sent by mail to Wellesley Municipal Employee Federal Credit Union, 1 Hollis St., Wellesley, MA 02418
It seems everyone has a story about Tom. Here’s ours. We remember a holiday season a few years ago when WHS was in a competition with area schools to see which school could collect the most donations for Toys for Tots. In a dramatic last-minute push, WHS came from behind for a big win, collecting over 2,000 toys to be distributed as holiday gifts to families in need. Multiple tables in lobby area of the high school were covered with every kind of toy imaginable. Then everyone went home. Everyone except Tom and the custodial crew, that is. They rolled up their sleeves, got to work, and loaded every toy onto a truck. From there, they drove to the delivery point in Boston, unloaded the truck, and made their way home. All their time was volunteered, and many, many holidays were made brighter thanks to their efforts.
“For Tom, absolutely getting to know the kids was his favorite part of the job, that and being with his team. The work could be hard at times, but the team would get the job done, and Tom had a way of making work fun. It was the relationships that fueled him,” Diane said. “And I’ll never forget this past year, the outpouring of support from everyone.”
TBB Scholarships, previously known as Tau Beta Beta, is accepting applications for scholarships from young women who will be graduating from high school this spring. Applications due March 1, 2022.
The Wellesley Hills Junior Women’s Club (WHJWC) is accepting scholarship applications for 2022-2023 through March 1, 2022.
Town-wide college scholarship applications are due March 1, 2022. These scholarships funded by town organizations such as the Wellesley Scholarship Foundation (fund both merit and need scholarships), Wellesley Kiwanis, Wellesley Hills Junior Women’s Club, Wellesley Patrolmen’s Organization, War Memorial and Wellesley Historical Society. Common app here. Merit app here.
Wellesley Educators Associations scholarship applications due April 1, 2022.