Whitefish Bay pays tribute to associate principal Chuck Orvold

Published on: 10/22/2012

Whitefish Bay - The late associate principal at Whitefish Bay Middle School Charles "Chuck" Orvold gave meaning to the words "going above and beyond."

If you ask his colleagues, that is what he did every single day in order to bond with students and ensure not a single child went unnoticed.

Orvold passed away on Oct. 8 at the age of 54 due to complications with cancer. He served as associate principal since 1990. Before coming to Whitefish Bay, he taught math at Shorewood Intermediate and Shorewood High School from 1981 to 1990. Orvold was not only a shining example to his students, but also to the educators at the middle school.

Middy Froemming, secretary to the associate principal, worked with Orvold for 15 years. She said the students called him "Mr. O," a testament to the bonds he formed with students at the middle school.

"He had to discipline a lot of students and he was really good at connecting with kids who are hard to connect with," Froemming said. "He had a way of reaching them and made strong connections that lasted for many years."

Orvold did not view his job as being from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. He would spend weekends going to students' band concerts or attending night basketball games, supporting the children any way he could.

"He would go out in the band rooms, play instruments with the kids, wander through the lunchroom, talking to kids. He was always searching for a positive connection with the kids because they could be sitting in his office some day and he wanted to see them in a different light," said Middle School Teacher Joe Wieland, who worked with Orvold since 1990.

Wieland said he could also consult Orvold when he had education-related questions because Orvold was a math teacher first.

Superintendent Mary Gavigan said it is the positive and meaningful relationship he developed with everyone that people will remember.

Fundraising for memorial

While the students cope with the passing of a beloved educator, "O-bands" are being sold to honor his memory. Proceeds from the sale will go to the American Cancer Association. Some funds will also be set aside as the Student Council chose to build a memorial somewhere in the middle school to remember Orvold, said Student Council Adviser and middle schoolteacher Patti Lynch.

The type of memorial will not be chosen until a respectful amount of time has passed.

This is not the first time the Student Council has rallied around Orvold. When Orvold was first diagnosed with cancer in May, there was an "O-week," where every day was dedicated to Orvold and money was also raised.

"The love and the respect the kids had for him and the love and respect he had for them was a two-way street," Lynch said. "Kids always knew where they stood with him."

A time to celebrate life

On Oct. 12, the Student Council's third annual fundraiser was dedicated to Orvold with proceeds also going to the American Cancer Association. More than 300 people attended the event. Whitefish Bay alumni, students, parents and teachers attended to remember Orvold, Lynch said.

"It was a nice place for kids to go and pay their respects and grieve in a happy setting," she said. "To me, that's the kind of tribute he would have wanted - a happy celebration of his life."

The catered event also had a silent auction. Two tables were dedicated to Orvold: one a Harley-Davidson table, the other the "O-table." A notebook was provided so attendees could write messages to his family.

"There were a lot of tears, laughing and dancing, it was positive place for people to go," Lynch said.