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updated: 5/29/2012 4:43 PM

Lake Park superintendent prepares for Ryder Cup shutdown

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  • Dist. 108 Superintendent Lynne Panega

    Dist. 108 Superintendent Lynne Panega

By Caitlin Swieca

As part of the Daily Herald's series leading up to the 2012 Ryder Cup, we talked with Lake Park Superintendent Lynne Panega about the role Lake Park High School will play in the tournament. The District 108 board accepted a financial offer from the PGA to shut down school for a week during the Ryder Cup to help run parking and concessions operations at LPHS.

Superintendent Panega explains how the revenue will help build a new artificial turf field, and she talks about the need to sign up more volunteers to help run the parking and concession sites, and the strong relationship the school community has with Medinah Country Club. Here is an edited transcript of that interview.

Q. When did the PGA first approach you with this agreement?

A. The PGA approached us about a year and a half ago, and then our board made the decision in April 2011. There was a lot of discussion among our board as far as making that decision.

Q. What were the main factors you weighed?

A. The main point was student and staff safety and ability to actually transport our students. Being right on Medinah Road across from the golf course, it was a realization that we are going to have some traffic challenges, with lots of people coming in.

Q. What has been the reaction from the community?

A. The community has been very supportive of our decision. Actually, we did not get any negative communication when we made the announcement. They do see this as a great opportunity for the community and school district.

Q. How important was it to you that Lake Park could help leave a good impression of the area to the officials, players and other visitors?

A. We have a great relationship with Medinah. There is strong support for the partnership with the PGA, the partnership with Medinah and really supporting them in providing a safe, secure environment to host a large-scale event. We knew, being right across the street, that we were instrumental.

Q. How many people have volunteered so far?

A. Two areas that we're staffing volunteers for are in concessions and parking. To date, we have 1,500 volunteers that are registered. We are seeking additional volunteers as well. Any person who volunteers for 12 hours will get a free pass to the Ryder Cup. Tickets through the PGA sold out a long time ago. The free complimentary day pass is definitely generating interest.

Q. Where are most volunteers coming from?

A. We are reaching out to our staff and our students, but it's amazing the level of interest. We have people coming from Canada and multiple states across the nation who have contacted us to sign up.

Q. What will the money from the PGA go toward?

A. The board approved that the revenue that we'll be receiving from the partnership, as well as the volunteer opportunities, will go toward the installation of a turf field at West Campus in 2013-14. We're very excited to install the turf field to support the football program, the marching band and other athletic events, as well as providing an outstanding facility for the community to use as well.

Q. How important is it for you to be able to complete that project while keeping the budget in balance?

A. Revenue from the Ryder Cup will only generate about 50 percent of the cost of the field, so we have definitely committed to balancing a budget. We're very fortunate that we are able to provide that fiscal responsibility and stability. We do anticipate the additional funds coming from district funds as well as private fundraising.

Q. How long have plans for the turf field been in place?

A. It's been two to three years that there's been talk, but in the last year and a half, the discussion has definitely increased under the leadership of our new head football coach, Chris Roll. They're definitely generating a lot of renewed interest and enthusiasm for the football program and promoting a turf field.

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