Aquatic schematic design, aka the new pool. | Provided

The Imagine Foundation at Oak Park and River Forest High School has appointed Lynn Kamenitsa as its inaugural executive director. In that role, she will oversee the foundation’s effort to raise philanthropic dollars for the school’s five-phase Imagine Long Term Facilities Plan.

Kamenitsa was a leader in school-sanctioned volunteer efforts to create an overarching plan for major upgrades to the physical plant of the Scoville Avenue school campus. That broad plan led to a proposal for a 5-phase build-out over a decade.

Phase one of the Imagine Plan is just wrapping up. And the school board has just received detailed schematic plans and cost estimates for Project 2 which will focus on demolition and construction of new indoor physical education wing at the southeast corner of the campus. The initial cost estimate was just under $100 million.

Kamenitsa said architects estimate starting the project in June 2024 and finishing in Jan. 2026. Still to come will be decisions by the school board on a combination of methods to pay for the project.

Kamenitsa says the Imagine Foundation is a non-profit formed by volunteers with the purpose of helping to fund the OPRF construction work using philanthropic dollars to offset taxpayer funding.

 “We created the foundation as a vehicle to accept those kinds of charitable gifts for OPRF,” Kamenitsa said.

“[The athletic wing] would be a full basement plus four stories above ground,” Kamenitsa said.

Project 2 would also include some upgrades to the adjacent theater space at the school. She said the Green Room and rehearsal room will see an expansion. New dressing rooms as well as space for costumes and props will be in the updated building.

During the pandemic, the Imagine Foundation – established in 2019, paused its public outreach for philanthropic dollars but will pick up that effort now.

“Some of us are recruiting volunteers, some of us are starting to talk to people that we think might be prospective donors,” Kamenitsa said. “And [we’re] having conversations [with them] about the foundation and why we believe that these facilities improvements are so important for the next 100 years of the OPRF building.”

Prospective donors include alumni, parents of alumni, local businesses and families of current students, she said.

As the school board and its community finance board begin discussions of the funding model for Project 2, Kamenitsa said she hopes the foundation will be one of those sources of funding once donors are in place and fundraising efforts commence.

“We are still in the building and planning phase of both the organization and the capital campaign,” Kamenitsa said.

The foundation’s strategy for supporting the high school is based on the knowledge that there are people including alumni and community members who will step up and invest in the future of OPRF through philanthropy, according to an Oct. 19 news release.

For more information on the foundation’s efforts and to learn how to donate, visit Imagine-Foundation.org.

Join the discussion on social media!