June 4, 2014

Donor’s gifts are very appreciated

The Daily Citizen

— Athletics, the band and school trips can play an important role in education.

But while they may be vital, they are not necessary. They aren’t part of the core mission of public schools, and when times get tight, as they have been for the past several years, school officials will rightly cut, or at least not increase, the money going to such extracurricular activities.

Indeed, local schools have had to watch their dollars closely, and some projects that might really benefit the schools may have lagged because even more vital needs had to be addressed.

Fortunately, one anonymous benefactor has stepped forward — repeatedly — to fill the spending gap at some Whitfield County schools, helping to make sure students at those schools have a well-rounded education that includes extracurricular activities as well as academics.

This donor gave almost $1 million to Southeast Whitfield High School last year. That money is being used to build a new track around the football field, expand the number of tennis courts to six from four and add lighting, replace the main concession stand roof and paint it, improve practice facilities and add new fencing around the stadium and tennis courts.

In February, that donor stepped forward again with donations totaling more than $80,000 to buy pole vaulting equipment for Southeast, buy library shelving for Phoenix High School and pay for a study to see if it is practical to install a swimming pool at Coahulla Creek High School, among other things.

And on Monday, the Whitfield County Board of Education accepted more than $590,000 in donations from that same donor to, among other things, buy an activity bus for Southeast, build a futsal field at Dug Gap Elementary School and install a bus awning at Antioch Elementary School.

“For this person to step up and help us out like this, it’s overwhelming,” said school board member Rodney Lock. “We can’t say how grateful we are.”

The donor who made the gifts deserves a great deal of thanks from all of the students, parents and staff at all of the schools that have been gifted. It says something good about a community that an individual so strongly supports the local school system.