GLEN ELLYN – Westfield Elementary School students will learn coding and programming skills through the new Park Programming Center in the school’s library.
Park Programming Center is named in honor of Catherine Park, the mother of three Community Consolidated School District 89 students. Park died unexpectedly during a family trip to Costa Rica in 2016 at the age of 46. Her family made a $22,000 donation to provide opportunities for students to learn more about the field she worked in.
“Catherine’s love for programming and learning is going to live on for years and years to come,” Westfield Elementary Principal Stacey Hewick said during a dedication ceremony Aug. 31.
Park, a Glen Ellyn resident, attended Glen Crest Middle School in Glen Ellyn, Glenbard South High School – where she was a National Merit finalist – and Bradley University. At the time of her death, she was working as a senior clearing technology developer for Getco.
The school has purchased robots and other computer programming tools that will be accessible to all students, from kindergarten through fifth grade. During the dedication ceremony, Park’s mother, Anna Byrne, talked about the center as being a place where rules “are not so much followed as developed, where imagination flies in minds without wings, where failure merely means try again.”
“The real tribute to Catherine’s memory is not a symbol bearing a name that fewer and fewer people will recognize,” Byrne said. “It is a means of self-expression, an outlook for wild inventions simmering in the wildly inventive minds of the students – and a place to have fun.”
David Church, Park’s father, said his daughter had a love of learning.
“I could think of nothing that would be more fitting than a memorial like this,” he said.