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Bernie Skubak, a 1969 Bishop McCort graduate, recently donated $1 million to the Bishop McCort Centennial Capital Campaign. Posing with a ceremonial check on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022, are (from left) Tim Clark, school board president; students Joshua Goins, Shakilen Ferguson, Megan Lee and Kirsten Way; and Tom Smith, Principal/CAO.

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – Inspired by the culture and dedication to in-person education throughout the COVID-19 pandemic at Bishop McCort Catholic High School, Johnstown native Bernard Skubak has donated $1 million to the institution.

“I don’t know if I’d be in this position if I didn’t go to Bishop McCort,” he said.

Skubak, 70, has worked in the accounting, oil and natural gas, and real estate fields since graduating from McCort in 1969.

He earned his undergraduate degree in accounting from St. Vincent College and headed to Columbus, Ohio, in 1973, where he still resides.

The alumnus said that he’s done very well for himself and has donated to other organizations and groups before but has been searching for another cause to give a larger amount to.

Skubak and his wife began looking around Columbus, but after recently returning to Johnstown, where he still has family and regularly visits, his attention turned back to his alma mater.

During that time, he got to know McCort Principal and Chief Administrative Officer Tom Smith, and the idea was solidified.

“One thing led to another, and I just talked to my wife and said, ‘I think this is something I could sink my teeth into,’ ” Skubak said.

He also visited the school and was impressed by the classroom dynamics and how friendly the administration is with the students.

“It was just a really good experience for me,” Skubak said.

He settled on $1 million after talking to Smith and Tim Clark, chairman of the board of trustees, regarding the school’s Centennial Capital Campaign.

The fundraiser was quietly started in January 2021 and will enter its public phase with the announcement of Skubak’s gift.

There’s a goal of $4 million, and McCort is about halfway there, Smith said.

He and those at the school are thrilled to receive Skubak’s gift – the largest pledge given in the past 10 years.

“This is a game-changer,” Smith said.

Smith said he was floored by the news, which he received around the Christmas holiday.

“We’ve been working really hard here, and he recognized that,” he said.

The money will be used for financial aid programs to help more students attend McCort, as well as upgrades to the 100-year-old building and other areas of need.

Smith said Skubak’s gift will help cement the future of Bishop McCort, adding that he and everyone at the institution are “so thankful” for the generosity and are humbled by it.

Skubak hopes more people are inspired to give to the school after learning of his donation.

The alumnus credits his education from McCort for his success and is thankful to those that provided him with a free education through donations 50 years ago.

“Somebody did it for me ... and I just want to help,” he said.

To donate to the Bishop McCort centennial campaign, call Smith at 814-536-8991.

Joshua Byers is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 814-532-5054. Follow him on Twitter @Journo_Josh.

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