By Tara Cavanaugh
Thanks to the generosity of IMRA America Inc., a beloved treasure of the Ann Arbor Public Schools will be in use for current and future generations of students and families.
The IMRA Argus Planetarium was celebrated at a rededication ceremony June 20 at Pioneer High School. In honor of the company’s $100,000 gift, the planetarium will have IMRA in its title for the next 25 years.
“To have a planetarium that is the oldest and longest in continual use in America in any high school is something very special,” said former AAPS Superintendent Dr. Patricia Green. “We truly want to thank IMRA for its generosity.”
The planetarium first opened in 1956 with a donation from Argus Camera Company, which, like IMRA, is also based in Ann Arbor. IMRA leads the development of ultrafast fiber laser technologies for commercial applications around the world.
This gift from IMRA is its third donation to the public schools. In 2011 the company donated $50,000 toward physics equipment, and in 2010 it donated $50,000 for science and math education through the AAPSEF One Million Reasons campaign.
“The Ann Arbor Public Schools, like almost every other school district in the State of Michigan, is struggling mightily to keep core programs alive,” said Ken Castel, IMRA’s human resources director. “And I can almost guarantee you that if it wasn’t for IMRA stepping up to help, if it wasn’t for the AAPS Educational Foundation bringing us this opportunity, this planetarium would close.
“So you guys are doing a great job. Keep bringing the programs to those who may be able to help… It’s not about having our name on the wall here. It’s about doing what needs to be done and doing it to the best of our ability.”
The $100,000 donation supports the purchase of a new DigiStar 5 operating system, four computers capable of running the system and new lighting. The operating system was last updated ten years ago.
“In these challenging times and changing times, it is with private philanthropists such as IMRA America who are leading the way for our future and continuing business partners within our community,” said AAPSEF Executive Director Mary Cooperwasser, “as well as the many private families, community members, former students and so many of us who are joining together to make sure that our students today and those to come continue to have that exceptional education.”
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