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Anonymous donor funding $11M performing arts center at Rushville-Industry High

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Architechnics
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courtesy photo
An artist's rendering of the south side of the addition.

Rushville-Industry High School is preparing to open a new facility this fall at no cost to taxpayers. Construction is well underway on a performing arts center.

Tonya Woods, who teaches high school English and drama and is technical director for student productions, said the more than $11 million cost is being paid for entirely through an anonymous donation.

“I still have trouble believing that this is happening. That’s how exciting it is for me,” she said.

“We’re so grateful to have been given this gift and we cannot wait to be good stewards of the gift.”

An anonymous donor or donors also provided millions of dollars for other facilities in Rushville, including the new public library building and The Hub Arts and Cultural Center.

Woods said the school’s new commons area that’s being built as part of the project should be completed in early August. That will allow high school students to eat lunch in their own building instead of going to the middle school.

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Mike Trone
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Schuyler-Industry School District
Work is moving along on the project.

She believes the 400-seat auditorium will be finished early in the coming school year.

She said the new space will allow them to hold rehearsals on their own schedule rather than working around sports.

“Our space in the past has been -- we call it a ‘cafe-gym-atorium.’ It has a cafeteria on one side, a gymnasium on the other side, and the walls open to a stage area,” Woods said.

“(The new facility) will be a theater instead of a gym acting like a theater for a couple weeks.”

The new center will also have a scene shop, dressing rooms, a dedicated makeup area, permanent lighting, and more.

Woods said the plan is to open the auditorium with an alumni show. She said the alumni production will be a single-night variety show featuring performers who have graduated from the school, “some going back decades. Definitely there will be some familiar faces.”

After that, students will hold their usual two productions during the course of the school year.

Woods said, “What a legacy the donor is leaving. The dedication to the community, to the school, and to the arts. We’re incredibly blessed to have such a gift.”

She is looking forward to stepping up the quality of the arts in the community and encouraging a love of the arts in students. She also hoped it will allow them to extend the program and get middle school students involved in the arts too.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.