Millennium donation

Millennium High School students received a boost last week when the Columbus Citizens Foundation donated $1 million to their school.

Millennium is the first public high school created primarily to serve Downtown students. While the Department of Education pays the lease on the school’s sleek new facility at 75 Broad St., most of the money for renovating the former office space, $12 million, was raised from the private donors.

Columbus Citizens Foundation gave the school funds it raised through its 2001 parade. The organization faced a difficult decision of whether to proceed with its annual celebration in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, but it chose to hold it and donate all the proceeds to helping Lower Manhattan recover, said Chairman Charles A. Gargano, who also serves as chairperson and C.E.O. of the Empire State Development Corporation, the parent organization of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. The L.M.D.C. donated $3 million to Millennium.

Robert Rhodes, principal of Millennium High School, said that the grant would be used to build a ground-floor auditorium for the students. Classrooms are on the 13th floor currently and will expand down to the 11th and 12th floors by next year. The auditorium is scheduled to be completed by next year. Community groups will be able to rent out the space in the evenings, Rhodes said.

“We’re hoping to have the school talent show here to open it up this spring,” Rhodes said, adding, “We do things fast here.”

Rhodes said that students love their new Downtown home, renovated in a two-month construction blitz last summer.

“It’s very funny to watch them get out of the elevator in the morning,” Rhodes said. “They’re making an entrance, not like trudging in.”