$1.25M changes in store for Uni

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS - UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS -- A 100-year old school is going to look really good for its age and it will be in tip-top shape too!

Uni High School will be getting a huge makeover thanks to a donation from an anonymous donor. $1.25 million came from a family which really wants to see changes happen, right away.

Even though the donation came as a surprise, the school has had plans in the works for quite some time.

This chemistry teacher has been at Uni for 20-years. For the first time, his classroom tables are turning.

"Well, it's been exactly the same since 1961, so it's about time for a little bit of a change."

A change he's ready to embrace. He's already marked up his classroom to get ready for the revamp. The vision includes a space to accommodate learning materials of all shapes and sizes.

"We've talked about what we might call a matter maker space, where we're working with materials all the way from the atomic scale up through large scale materials."

Even though the chemistry program is just part of the more than $1 million plan, the school's got solid ideas of how to divvy up the rest. Uni has been preparing for the possibility of a large donation for a while.

"This was something that was in the making and we were able to show that we have something to support that magnitude of a gift."

The decision of who and what all the money will go toward won't be made just by the people in charge. The school is turning to parents and, of course, students for input. They say the students will be very involved in the process.

"One thing I've learned is, if you want to have some good ideas come to the table, go ask our students and they always have an opinion."

Despite the preparations Uni made in the event of this type of donation, leaders are very much in shock at the sudden scope of generosity.

"We're still just kind of in the stage where we're pinching ourselves that this is really going to happen and come true. I think teachers are starting to make plans about how they would be able to improve their teaching, their courses."

The school wants to be a model for other aged buildings around the state, since there are many. The goal is to show it's possible to renovate without having to knock it down and restart from the ground up.

The money will be distributed over five years. Since the family said it wants to see immediate changes, the school is getting started quickly.

They hope to get most of the improvements done within the first three years. Along with the chemistry program, redoing and modernizing classroom set-ups is another goal.

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