More than 600 parents and other community members packed the boys' gymnasium at Corona del Mar High School on Monday night, checkbooks in hand, to kick off a fund-raising drive to pay for improvements to the school, including a 500-seat theater and a technology center.
By the end of the night, the Corona del Mar High School Foundation had more than $480,000 in pledges, putting it nearly halfway toward its goal of raising $1 million by the end of summer.
Kimberly Rothwell, spokeswoman for the foundation, said she was very pleased that the first day of the campaign was so successful.
"This is something we need to do because there is just not enough money for schools," Rothwell said. "It shows we are in an era now where the community and the school are coming together to work to make something good happen."
The largest donation so far has come from the board of directors of the foundation, whose 29 members pledged a total of $200,000.
The second-largest commitment came from Irvine Co., which sent Executive Vice President Gary Hunt to the meeting to announce that the Newport Beach-based real estate company would provide $150,000 in matching funds.
The foundation was established earlier this year by parents who thought the school's physical structure and academic programs have suffered in recent years because of budget restraints.
The goals, Rothwell said, are to raise money to build new facilities and upgrade existing ones, and to restore programs that have disappeared as funding has been cut.
"We really just want to make it a better place for the teachers to teach and our children to learn," she said.