Pechanga gives to local schools
High schools reap donation from Pechanga
December 4, 2003
By REBECCA JAMESCOURIE - The Californian
TEMECULA ---- Five local high schools will receive a healthy bonus today from a neighboring casino. Continuing a five-year tradition, Pechanga Resort & Casino will be making a $50,000 donation to five Southwest County high schools today: two in Temecula, two in Lake Elsinore and one in Murrieta. The donation increased this year ---- up from $20,000 to each campus last year.
"It's part of our culture to share what we have," said Anthony Miranda, vice president on the Pechanga Development Corporation. "We feel if it helps our youth, then it comes back and helps us out as well. After all, our children go to those high schools, too."
Temecula Valley High School has more than 30 American Indian students enrolled, said principal Scott Schaufele.
"It's exciting to be able to provide resources and handle the needs of the student body," Schaufele said. He added that it's too early to know how the money will be used, but administrators plan to discuss the matter with the school's site council of parents, teachers and stakeholders to get their ideas on how it should be sent.
Tim Ritter, who has been principal of Chaparral High School for three years, says that traditionally, the Pechanga donation has been split between the athletic department and the associated student body.
"They use it to fund projects not funded through the general fund or are too extensive for the type of fund-raising we do," said Ritter, whose school has 21 American Indian students. "This year, we're looking at using the money for possibly revamping part of the stadium and providing opportunities for teachers to get materials and supplies ... so they can enhance their programs."
A few years after the Pechanga Casino was established in 1995, the corporation began its philanthropic program with the high schools. Miranda says that, from the beginning, there were no stipulations on how the schools spend the money.
"We give it to them and let them decide," Miranda said. "A lot of the schools give it out in the form of scholarships and it's always so rewarding to receive a letter of thanks from a student who was able to continue their education because of it."
Dennis Collier, principal of Elsinore High School, says it's great to receive money without strings attached. Collier said the past Pechanga donations have been spent on athletics and programs. This year, they're earmarking part of the donation for scholarships.
"We need to sit down with the ... staff and develop a plan to meet more needs," he said.
As activity director for Temescal Canyon High School in Lake Elsinore, Mavis Schutz already has an itemized list in hand: $20,000 will go to the athletic program, $10,000 for the associated student body and a new marquis, $10,000 for scholarships and $10,000 for mini grants that will enhance school programs.
"I'm so excited about this," Schutz said. "We're very thankful for the donation."
Murrieta Valley High School officials were unavailable to comment Thursday on their plans for spending the yearly gift.
Pechanga is committed to bettering the lives of its people and the surrounding communities.
The Pechanga Cultural Center is committed to protecting historical sites and teaching our youth about our traditions.
Luiseño and its revival are integral to the strengthening of our culture in future generations.