Before Dr. Carla Koretsky was named Dean of the College of Arts at Sciences at Western Michigan University; before she completed a Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University; before she received more than $1 million in research funding from agencies including the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy for her work -- she was a Wheeling High School student, performing as lead violinist in the school orchestra and amassing scientific knowledge in an Advanced Placement chemistry course that influenced her college major and her eventual career in geochemistry.
Today, nearly three decades after she graduated as a Wildcat, Koretsky, Class of 1989 and a 2010 Wheeling High School Distinguished Alumna, is helping lead an effort through the District 214 Education Foundation to give back to the high school she says planted the seed for her success, and gave equally as much to so many accomplished fellow members of the Class of 1989.
The "$30K for Our 30th Reunion" campaign aims to raise $30,000 toward an endowment to support costs associated with Advanced Placement testing and participation in group activities -- from music and drama to athletics -- that some students can't afford.
"Several of us have talked about making a gift for a long time, and we think now the time is right," Koretsky said. "We had an exceptional experience at Wheeling High School, both in and out of the classroom, and we want to give back to help ensure other students for years to come have the means to get the same education and experience."
The endowment, she says, is intended as a thank-you for and in recognition of "an incredible group of teachers, staff and peers" that fueled the group's high school years.
She specifically points to her Advanced Placement courses as exceptional; the District's Foundation now makes AP testing fees an annual funding priority, with the recognition that the $100 required to take the test that can earn students early college credit -- and thousands in tuition savings -- is too much for some families to afford.
"I know how expensive college is, and how much having AP credits can help students complete their degrees more quickly at less expense," Koretsky said. "I don't want an AP test to be a barrier for any student who has worked hard and gained the skills."
Koretsky and several classmates formally launched the fund in July with their own financial contributions. They hope to announce contributions and pledges totaling $30,000 by their reunion next year. The group says the goal is reachable -- especially when potential donors consider the impact they will have on so many lives.
To contribute a one-time or recurring monthly gift to the endowment using a credit card, visit https://form.jotform.com/D214Ed/WHS30 or go to www.214foundation.org and search "Wheeling 89."
Checks also can be made out to the District 214 Education Foundation and mailed to the Foundation Office at 2121 S. Goebbert Road, Arlington Heights, IL 60005. Checks should include "WHS 30 for 30" in the memo line. To make an initial payment toward a multiple-year pledge contrat, contact the Foundation, (847) 718-7708.
The District 214 Education Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization supporting innovation and student success District-wide beyond the limitations of conventional funding for public education. Donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.