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Wheaton North parents donate $300,000 for gym floors, bleachers

WHEATON – A group of Wheaton North High School parents have come together to help the school check one project off its to-do list.

A nonprofit called "Friends of Wheaton North Public Schools," made up of anonymous donors and parents, recently made a donation of $295,000 to Community Unit School District 200 to fund improvements to Wheaton North's gym bleachers and floors.

D-200 Superintendant Brian Harris said that a donation of that size hadn't been received by the district in recent memory.

"It's a very large donation for one particular project," he said. "We feel very fortunate in our community to have parents and other community members who are willing to pitch in on a project like that."

Harris said that replacing the bleachers – which date back to 1966 – had been on a "long list" of identified capital improvements for the district.

"Bleacher seating has improved in the last 40 years," Harris said jokingly. "These are useable, these are safe, but they are not 21st century bleachers."

The district also wanted to refinish the gym floorboards while the bleachers were being replaced.

The donation process began when several parents connected to Wheaton North athletics started the collection.

Harris said that the group will cover the cost of the bleacher and floor improvements, which are estimated to be around $295,000.

"It's really about the kids and providing them with the best facilities and learning environment that we can possibly provide," said David Coolidge, a representative from the nonprofit. "We’re just a group of private citizens, parents mostly, and some companies that basically were kind enough to give."

The group became motivated after traveling around the area and seeing that the Wheaton North facilities paled in comparison to those of other schools.

Coolidge said that the group is currently focused on the success of this project, but they hope the organization will be involved in funding other identified capital improvements in the future.

Both Harris and Coolidge said that work on the project will start in October and is projected to be completed by Thanksgiving.

"We're not the story," Coolidge said. "The story is going to be when that gym opens up and people can sit in those comfortable bleachers and kids have pride in the facilities."

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