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Published: Friday, 4/16/2004

Donor offers $400,000 for Notre Dame upgrade

BY SANDRA SVOBODA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The stiff wooden chairs Mike Anderson and hundreds of other Notre Dame Academy parents have sat on to watch school productions could be a thing of the past as the result of an anonymous donor's challenge grant for the all-girls parochial school.

School leaders said the donor will contribute a maximum of $400,000 if matching funds are raised. The money would be used to convert the current auditorium/gymnasium into a performing arts center.

"I know part of the plan is to replace the seats," said Mr. Anderson, vice chairman of Notre Dame's Centennial Capital Campaign.

Other plans include improved lighting and sound in what will be known as the Ave Maria Performing Arts Center.

To date, the academy's three-year capital campaign has raised about $4.6 million of its $5.5 million goal. If $400,000 is donated during the next three months, the anonymous donor will match that amount and the campaign nearly will meet its goal, Mr. Anderson said.

"I'm so excited about some of the investments that are being put in place that help launch these young women into life," said Mr. Anderson, whose daughter graduated from Notre Dame in 2001. "To have someone step up the way they did to put us in a position to complete the campaign is gratifying and exciting."

Sister Carol Gregory, academy president, said the current auditorium is part of a gym and stage built together in 1960. Last year, students began using a new gym for physical education classes and athletics, freeing up the older facility for speech and drama classes.

"[The teacher] holds her classes now right on the stage. It's a wonderful opportunity for the girls," Sister Gregory said.

It's also used for orchestral and choral performances as well as several theater productions each year.

Since each student has to fulfill a fine arts credit, Sister Gregory said the planned facility will enhance the arts education of every student.

"Every girl," she said, "sometime in her four years here at Notre Dame will benefit from this facility."

Contact Sandra Svoboda at:

svoboda@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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