Forest Park’s elementary school district continued to keep the memory of Marian Kosciarz, a beloved P.E teacher, alive as faculty and district families gathered to “Walk a K for Mr. K” this past week.

The event was hosted Thursday, June 1 at the Park District of Forest Park and organized through a partnership between District 91 teachers, District 91’s PTO, the Student Leadership team and the Park District of Forest Park, which showcased the wide range of influence that Kosciarz had. 

“Because he touched the lives of so many students in all of our buildings, we would make it a district wide event,” said Susan Bodgan, principal at Field-Stevenson Intermediate Elementary School, 925 Beloit Ave., Forest Park. 

Bogdan said the event was a way to honor him and help students grieve the loss of one of their favorite teachers. 

“P.E. was a lot of kid’s favorite subject,” Bodgan said. “They weren’t a huge fan of their academic subjects; they loved the specials. They loved the games they played in P.E. so going to P.E. weekly was a favorite of a lot of our students.” 

Kosciarz, who was affectionately known as Mr. K by staff and students, tragically died on Jan. 7, 2023, on a diving trip in Florida. According to his obituary, Kosciarz found his passion for scuba diving at the age of 17, which led him to dive across Poland, his home country, and joining diving clubs including the Skorpena Diving Club in Olsztyn, Poland. Kosciarz and his wife immigrated to the United States following their wedding in 1991, and Kosciarz pursued his career as a teacher. 

Mr. K passed his passion for physical activity and adventure to his students at D91, where he worked for over 20 years as a physical education teacher. According to Bodgan, Kosciarz serves as the physical education teacher at Field-Stevenson, Betsy Ross Elementary School and, earlier, at Grant-White Intermediate School. 

Throughout his time with the district, Kosciarz developed a reputation for being passionate about P.E., good sportsmanship, respect, teamwork, and collaboration, along with being an active participant in organizing the beloved 5th Grade Field Days to help send off students to the junior high on a fun, high note. 

His infectious energy was visible during the event, where the whole district gathered to celebrate his memory. Also in attendance was his wife, Ewa Domaradzka, and his children. 

The day started with an assembly at the gymnasium at Field-Stevenson, where they showed a slideshow of photos, wore special T-shirts with a bitmoji design of Mr. K, which Bodgan said he used to sign his emails, and dedicated a plaque to hang over his office door at the gym. 

“It hangs over his office door so that whenever anybody is visiting our space and visiting our gym his memory will live on in the space he called home for as long as he did,” Bogdan said, adding that it is a way for him to always be with them. 

At Field-Stevenson, Bodgan said they also included pizza, food trucks and ice cream trucks as part of their celebration. 

“For many of our students, many have never experienced a loss,” said Bogdan. “So the shock of initially having to hear that he was no longer here, because he was a beloved teacher and somebody who had many of these kids for their entire time at Fields…we wanted them to really have something to remember that is positive and happy, even though it was a time of sadness, to remember all the good times we had with him.” 

Bodgan said the event celebrated his life and what he stood for and gave students a last positive memory of him. 

“Forest Park is a small, close-knit school and community, so to see all the faces supporting the event and remembering Mr. K and taking time out of their day to join us was heartwarming and special,” said Bogdan. “We saw former students and parents who took time out to support their kids and remember a great man. The way everybody came together was really special.”