Just two weeks ago, Lake High School administrators were unsure whether their classrooms could be ready for students' arrival beginning Thursday.
They had a building - a former Owens Community College outpost in Northwood - but lacked many of the books, teaching materials, furniture, and laboratory equipment they needed because so much was destroyed in the June 5 tornadoes that pummeled their high school in Lake Township.
With disaster-insurance claims pending, Lake Local Schools lacked the means to buy new all that was lost.
So the district crossed its fingers as three media organizations - The Blade, its news partner WTOL-TV Channel 11, and BCSN - harnessed the power of the press and broadcast news to initiate a Lake High School supply drive on Aug. 11.
With the school year now just a day away, Lake officials say the effort was an unqualified success - netting scores of sorely needed supplies such as clipboards, calculators, lab microscopes, and hot plates.
"Mission accomplished," Lee Herman, principal of the high school and middle school, said. "The donations have just been overwhelming. The Blade and Channel 11 really stepped up in our time of need, and the community responded."
The long list of donors included local businesses and individuals as well as colleges and school districts from across Ohio and southeastern Michigan.
The big-ticket donations included:
• Nearly 100 science desks and 75 student desks from Lakewood City Schools outside Cleveland.
• Seventeen cafeteria tables from Monroe Public Schools.
• Cafeteria furniture and equipment from Bowling Green State University.
• Rubber-backed entrance mats from Crown Mats & Matting in Fremont.
• Drywall supplies and labor from Great Lakes Gypsum and Supply in Perrysburg.
• Microscopes and hot plates from Owens Community College.
The effort also raised $1,843 in cash to buy supplies.
"We would not be able to have that building in shape without all of these donations," drive coordinator Jodi Takats, the district's director of curriculum and special education, said.
Several companies made significant financial contributions. School officials said those donations included:
• A $50,000 grant from Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation to be spread districtwide, in addition to volunteer labor from 13 Lowe's employee.
• A $25,000 grant from BP.
• A $5,000 contribution from Honeywell Consumer Products Group in Perrysburg Township, which employs several Lake graduates and parents.
"We decided to give back to the community of our employees to help them get ready for the school year," Sharon Chalfin, an assistant at Honeywell, said.
Owens is renting out its Center for Development and Training building on Tracy Road as the high school's temporary home until Lake's damaged building on Lemoyne Road can be replaced or rebuilt.
"I am delighted our community came together so quickly and so graciously to help Lake Local, its teachers and its students rebuild after the tornado," Kurt Franck, executive editor of The Blade, said. "That's the giving spirit we have in northwest Ohio."
WTOL general manager Bob Chirdon said there was a strong response from Channel 11 viewers to the district's call for help. "This is another example of the generosity and kindness of the people of northwest Ohio," he said.
School begins tomorrow for Lake freshmen. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors go back Friday.
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