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Rancho Mirage High School gets big arts donation, renames buildings for donor

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Rancho Mirage High School got a $1.5 million boost to its arts programs on Tuesday.

Palm Springs Unified School District announced the donation, from Helene Galen, a long-time Rancho Mirage resident and well-known large donor to the University of Southern California. In exchange, Galen gets her name on the school's performing arts center and theater.

They will soon be known as The Helene Galen Center for the Performing Arts and The Helene Galen Theatre for the Performing Arts. This is the first donation Galen has made to a public school district.

The money will establish an endowment fund for the performing arts. It will be used for, among other things, new costumes and instruments for students.

"We're extremely grateful for this support and look forward to even more namings," district spokeswoman Joan Boiko said in an interview. The district has faced major financial challenges and turned to naming donations as a creative way to raise money.

Rancho Mirage is the first high school in the Coachella Valley to name a building after a donor, according to Boiko. She said the Board of Education recently approved new guidelines that allow for these donor "naming opportunities."

"Each of the facilities in our district has a price," Boiko said. That price list is still being worked out, she said, but everything is up for naming possibilities:  school stadiums, buildings, even programs.

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