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Orange County Focus

FOUNTAIN VALLEY : Vandalized School Gym Gets Help

August 30, 1993|DEBRA CANO

When workers last week started tearing up the hardwood floor inside the Fountain Valley High School gymnasium to repair it, Principal Gary Ernst cringed.

But the moment was made inevitable in July when vandals broke into the gym, tore up the hardwood floor and used a fire hose to flood it, causing $200,000 in damage.

Recalling the incident early in the summer, Ernst said: "I felt lemons were poured all over the school."

Now the bitterness is turning to lemonade, he said, as local businesses join in to help the school repair the damage by raising $25,000 that insurance will not cover.

"In my 32 years in education, I've never seen a community come together and solve a problem and create good from something that was bad," Ernst said.

Though demolition began last week, the floor won't be finished until Jan. 1. As a result, the high school is scrambling to find places for its teams to practice and play. The school is looking for another gym to use and vans to transport students to the off-campus location, Ernst said.

Asics Tiger Corp., an athletic shoe, apparel and accessories company, and Pace Membership Warehouse plan to join forces to conduct a rummage sale and raffle Oct. 16 and 17 to raise the $25,000.

"We're asking the community to get behind us in the garage sale and start saving your oldies but goodies," Ernst said.

Kimberly Draman, Pace marketing manager, said local businesses have already donated either services or prizes for the raffle.

"It's been such an incredible community event--everybody's pitching in," Draman said, adding that prize donations are welcomed.

Draman said 10,000 raffle tickets will be available for $1 each beginning Sept. 15 at Pace, Fountain Valley High School and Silky Sullivan's Restaurant and Irish Pub. The restaurant will also hold a fund-raising dinner Oct. 24.

A poster contest will be held among students at Urbain H. Plavan School, with the winning artwork to be placed on flyers to promote the event, Draman said.

Nancy Larsen, Asics Tiger manager of public and consumer relations, said the company has made a $2,500 cash donation. Employees of both Asics and Pace wanted to become involved after learning about the vandalism in the media, company officials said.

"I think everybody was really touched," Larsen said. "Everybody remembers what it's like to have school spirit. . . . It's really sad someone would go in there and do that kind of damage. We looked at this as a way to step into the community and make a difference."

Donations, with checks payable to Fountain Valley High School, may be mailed to the school at 17816 Bushard St., Fountain Valley, Calif. 92708.

Rummage sale items may be dropped off at Pace, 17099 Brookhurst St., on the day of the event. For assistance, call the school's activity office at (714) 962-3301.

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