Proviso Math and Science Academy has a new piano, thanks to the generosity of a River Forest couple.
John and Glena McDonald donated a historic Kimball grand piano to PMSA last month after reaching out to area schools with the offer. Mr. McDonald said that the piano originally belonged to his father, who passed on to him after the elder McDonald passed away in 1991. The McDonald family has a long history of being in music, with Mr. McDonald’s grandfather having been a concert pianist in Europe in the 1870s and 1880s before moving from Ireland to Chicago in 1885 to work with the Kimball Company.
Mr. McDonald said that he and his wife have been long-time supporters of music education, having backed programs at their daughter’s schools and sponsoring the Protégé Philharmonic in Chicago. He said that the piano was not being used any more, and with a planned move this summer to Philadelphia, now seemed like a good time to donate the piano to a school.
"It was time for the piano to be moved and used by somebody who will use it," said Mr. McDonald, who was recognized with his wife for their gift at the Board of Education meeting on May 21.
The McDonalds reached out to area schools and wound up at District 209, with the decision then to put the piano at PMSA.
"We’re really delighted that it’s going to PMSA because it’s a wonderful effort to upgrade math and science education," Mr. McDonald said.
Mr. Matt Brown, music teacher at PMSA, had tried out the piano at the McDonalds’ home before it was then moved to PMSA and tuned properly at the McDonalds’ expense.
"The size of the piano is perfect for the PMSA auditorium and for the events hosted at PMSA," said Mr. Brown, who played the piano at the May 21 Board of Education meeting where the donation was announced. "Schools today need more people like the McDonalds that appreciate the arts and are willing to contribute to schools right in their own backyards. The music department will continue to care for this piano just like the McDonalds did in their home for so many years."
Mr. Brown said that the old piano in the PMSA auditorium will be moved to Proviso East High School.
Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, superintendent of District 209, said that it is key to have community partners such as the McDonalds supporting the schools.
"The success of our schools depends not only on the efforts of our students, faculty, and staff, but also the community," Dr. Collins-Hart said. "We need to continue building bridges to the community so we can continue to strength our schools and improve our students’ achievement. When I spoke with the McDonalds, they were so warm, sincere, and genuinely interested in the success of our schools. It is an honor to be entrusted with a family treasure that is so personal and meaningful to them. We will use it wisely."