Memorial donation paves way for Santa Rita amphitheater

Santa Rita School will soon have an addition to its campus, thanks to the generosity of a school parent.

The Los Altos School District board at its regular Jan. 10 meeting gave conceptual approval to the construction of a small outdoor amphitheater in the school's park, located at the edge of the campus.

The donation by Mark Byington, whose sons Chris, Matt and Josh are students at Santa Rita, will fund the amphitheater's construction. The cost was not disclosed.

Byington will make the donation as a memorial to his wife Francie, who died last May.

"Francie had a lot of people she was close with at Santa Rita, both staff members and parents," Byington said. "I just wanted to donate something to the school to keep her memory alive."

Byington approached Steve Peck, principal at Santa Rita, in September to discuss ideas for several possible projects.

"He felt that the project should be in (his wife's) memory and also be of use to Santa Rita," Peck said.

Peck then formed a committee that decided upon the amphitheater design.

"We're calling it the 'classroom in the trees'," Byington said. "Francie's big hobby was gardening, so it just fits who she was."

"The amphitheater could be used for small presentations, plays, demonstrations, experiments or just as a quiet place to read," Peck said.

Peck met with Dave McNulty, director of facilities construction for the district, to ensure that the amphitheater construction would not interfere with any of the district's facilities construction or renovation at Santa Rita.

Peck hopes to begin construction on the amphitheater early this spring.

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