Every year, Roncalli Catholic selects a graducate that has gone above and beyond in the RCHS community. Each awardee is selected for their involvement and service to Roncalli Catholic. The Alumni of the Year celebrates an individual who has paid it forward to impact the next generations of students. This year’s Alumni of the Year is 1997 graduate, Tom Worthington.
The oldest of four siblings, Tom knew Roncalli Catholic would be his home from early in his grade school years.
“I ended up at Roncalli Catholic because one of my best friends at St. Pius / St. Leo’s grade school, Ben Miller, his father was the athletic director, Dave Miller, at RCHS at the time. So, I spent many weekday nights and weekends out at Roncalli Catholic setting up for games and sitting on the sidelines watching soccer, football, basketball and baseball. Roncalli Catholic just felt like a second home. By the time I was in junior high, it wasn’t even a choice for me, it was, ‘That’s absolutely where I’m going to end up!’”
While at Roncalli Catholic, Tom was involved in different clubs and activities. His freshman year he played football but soon realized how not tough he was. He transitioned over to cross country for a fall activity and basketball for the winter. However, his favorite activity was soccer in the spring, which he played all four years. Tom was also a member of Student Government, Student Ambassadors, and took part in the National Honor Society.
“The thing that hits me the most this far down the road is how special it was to be pushed hard by the teachers and the administrators,” says Tom. “It’s crazy to think about how many people they had to look after. It was just an exceptional level of personal attention that you got for your education and a lot of expectations that went with it. That’s pretty unique and it was fantastic.”
After graduation he spent a year and a half at the University of Nebraska – Omaha, eventually transferring down to Lincoln to finish his Political Science undergraduate degree. Tom says, at that point in time he had made up his mind to become a lawyer, so he moved back home to Omaha and attended Creighton University School of Law.
“One of the things that I thought was pretty great about Roncalli Catholic was the number of times that, especially as a junior or senior, you were forced to be up in front of people to make presentations and defend your thoughts on something,” he says. “During Mr. Mueting’s morality classes my junior year, we spent a lot of time making presentations and defending our positions on things one way or the other. So that was pretty impactful. My junior and senior year, between Mr. Schlueter and Sister Margaret, the number of times we had to get up and discuss things in front of an entire class was another thing, maybe I didn’t realize at the time, but it prepared me to become a lawyer. It was forcing you to think more analytically than you probably would have in a lot of other environments.”
Tom believes the diversity, which he says has increased since his years here, makes RCHS a rich experience for the students.
“I think that can get lost in the wash of ACT scores and all that kind of stuff. However, you’ve got kids that are from totally different backgrounds at RCHS; I think that’s so important from an experience perspective. It’s such a benefit to be able to work and interact with people that don’t look just like you and don’t come from the same household type you do. Roncalli Catholic was a huge blessing to me in that respect.”
Currently, Tom is employed at McGarth North, a full-service law firm located in Omaha, where he helps people buy and sell their businesses, or help them get them up and running.
“What I do is pretty exciting because when people are at a point in their lives when they’re making big decisions, maybe they’re looking to take their life savings and start a business, I get to be there to help them. And I think that’s pretty fun,” says Tom. “It keeps things different from day to day. On the flip side, someone has spent their life building a business and now they’re at a point when they’re ready to transition it to somebody else or sell it to somebody else, and I get to help them do that. That’s a big part of people’s lives, and something they think long and hard about and they need good counsel and advise on it. I’m fortunate to get to be a part of that process for many people. That’s something I take pretty seriously and have a ton of fun doing it. It’s a different type of practicing law, but it’s a type that’s been a real blessing to me and stuff that I’ve enjoyed doing for the last 15 years now. I hope I get to do it for another 25 or 30.”
“One of the big things I took away from Roncalli Catholic was how fortunate I was to have instructors that really pushed you and whether or not it was good enough for a particular grade wasn’t always good enough for some of my professors. It was okay, yeah, this is fine, but you can do better. So, pushing you to get that out of you, I think it was something that I knew I wouldn’t have gotten elsewhere. I mean, RCHS said, ‘look, you’ve got to do your best, you’ve got to do it every day,’ and if you did less than your best, someone was going to call you on it. I think that was important.”
Tom has been a part of the Board of Education since 2007 and the Finance Committee since 2004, as well as serving on the hiring committee in 2008 and 2015 to find the President of RCHS. He has been involved in Festa del Leone, Swing with Pride, serviced on the Alumni Board, and participated in the capital campaign Worth Fighting For.
Tom and his wife Hollie, have been married since 2004 and have four children: Ava, age 13; Sam, age 11; Reese, age 8; and the youngest, Charlie, who just turned 3. His family follows RCHS sporting events, even though other schools are closer.
“I love taking my kids to watch athletic events. So we’ve caught the girls play a couple of games. We’ll make it to a couple of basketball games a year and a couple of soccer games, just because I want my kids to go and see RCHS,” he says. “We live right in the shadows of Skutt Catholic and it’s a great school. But, I like my kids to know where I got to go to school. They get to see what a great environment it is and how exciting it is to be around the kids that go to RCHS.”
“Dear Alumni, I want to encourage you to look back to the experiences we had there and to really focus on how special that really was. With a little bit of separation, I think it becomes clearer what an absolutely unique and special environment it was to be part of Roncalli Catholic and for us to remember that none of us paid our full freight to go to school there. The school requires support, and that requires involvement and it requires time, talent, treasure. I mean anything, anything you can give to support. Make RCHS’s many opportunities available for the next group of people that are coming through, because they deserve to get that same shot, that excellent education and high school, that growth, to experience what we received.”