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PSUSD gets largest single donation to date

Rozene Supple, owner of Camelot Theatres and the Palm Springs Cultural Center, has pledged $2 million to Palm Springs Unified School District. Supple's endowment is the largest single donation to the district to date.

The Rozene Supple Education Endowment will support film education, performing and visual arts and health and wellness in the district. The Palm Springs High School auditorium, which is currently undergoing renovations, will also be renamed in November as the Richards Center for the Arts, in recognition of Supple's father and family name. Supple's father, George Richards, was a radio mogul and owned the Detroit Lions.

In a statement, Supple said education was the "starting place for making the world a better place."

 

"I really care about the community and want to help as much as I can. This is one way that my family name can live on," Supple said in a statement.

PSUSD is known in the community for having a strong arts program, and employs more than 50 artists-in-residence to teach students, said district arts coordinator Louisa Castrodale in an email. The district works with the McCallum Theater, the Palm Springs Art Museum, the Palm Springs Opera Guild, Red Hot Ballroom, The Steinway Society and many other community groups to provide students with a comprehensive visual and performing arts education.

Various PSUSD superintendents have been supportive of the arts for many years, but the district can't do it alone, Castrodale said. The in-kind services PSUSD receives from donors and community organizations more than doubles what programs can be offered, she said.

"We are a district of 24,000 students, 84 percent of whom are Title One eligible (under the poverty line). It is imperative that we provide the cultural enrichment opportunities our students need to achieve a well-rounded, balanced education," Castrodale said in an email.

Ellen Goodman, executive director of the PSUSD Foundation, said that Supple's endowment will provide stability to programs throughout the district.

"The government doesn't allocate a lot of money for the arts, that's why schools have to have bake sales and car washes," Goodman said. "When it really comes down to school productions, the assets are very narrow and they're doing it on a shoestring budget. Sometimes the staff is wondering how they're going to pull it off."

Goodman said, for example, the district allocates about $22,000 to Palm Springs High School each year for performing and visual arts. Parent groups, booster clubs and students must fund raise about $75,000 more in order to cover the full cost of band, orchestra, dance and theater operations through the school year.

"It really takes the community getting involved to get the results that we do," Goodman said.

 

Supple has lived periodically in the valley since 1935 – she even rode her horse to school as a student at Palm Springs High School in 1940 – before becoming a permanent resident in 1972 with her second husband Ric Supple. Through the endowment, Supple said she wants to build a partnership between the school district and the Palm Springs Cultural Center, which she and Ric Supple founded in 2008.

"Music and arts are universal and can bring people together...It is indeed a universal language. Establishing an endowment ensures that these programs won't go away," Supple said in a statement. "The health and wellness component is the passion of my son Rick who is the last of the family line. This is his legacy and branch of the endowment."

Offering enrichment activities elevates a student's experience at school, Goodman said.

"When their experience is elevated, the focus on academics can be elevated," she said.

Kristen Hwang is the education reporter for The Desert Sun. Reach her at kristen.hwang@desertsun.com or follow her on Twitter @khwangreports.

 

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