Alumnae donation key to new performing arts center in Latta

LATTA, S.C. — Dillon County School District Three opened the doors of the Ellis Performing Arts Center last week, culminating a 40-year process.

In the early 1970s, the Latta High School auditorium caught fire. Since then the district prioritized money for other projects like building new schools. The long-awaited project probably would not have ever come to fruition if it weren’t for a generous $800,000 donation from Latta schools alumnae Fred and Bonnie Ard Ellis.

Until recently fine arts programs performed in what district Superintendent Dr. John Kirby calls a “gymtorium,” a gym and auditorium combined. “It had no air conditioning and wasn’t conducive for children performing or the audience to see,” Kirby said.

Kirby said he seriously began thinking about how to build a new facility, and then six years ago, the nonprofit Latta Schools Education Foundation was formed with a primary goal to see that a new performing arts center would be built.

“We had to find a way to do it without taxpayers’ money. That’s when we thought about asking for donations,” Kirby said.

To get the ball rolling the foundation needed to secure a large donor to jump start the process. In talks about possible donors, the Ellis family kept coming up in conversations.

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Via: SCNow, Dillon School District Three