A low-income Kansas high school received $5 million from a former student upon her death.
The Highland Park High School donation was confirmed Tuesday after Susan Guffey’s estate finalized the details with the Topeka Public Schools Foundation, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal.
Guffey previously contributed to the school. The former principal, Dale Cushinberry, noted she showed up to an alumni tour event nearly a decade ago.
She moved out of state but was highly interested in helping the school and asked, “What can I do to support these efforts? What do you need?”
He noted the school was lacking modern books. By the next week, she had sent in a donation for the reading materials. This began a regular donation pattern that included her sending the school one contribution of $200,000.
“She was warm-hearted, and a person who cared about people. She really had a passion for her alma mater, Highland Park. I could tell as I was talking with her, how interested she was in the things that are going on today,” Cushinberry said.
“Anything she could do to further the legacy of Highland Park, she was very interested in that,” he went on.
The school’s foundation director, Pamela Johnson-Betts, stated this contribution will go toward aiding students in entering competitions and attending extracurricular events that have presented challenges for low-income students in the past.
She noted that students have previously had to host bake sales and other fundraisers to do these things. “We now are going to be able to say to those students and staff: ‘Come to us,’” she said.
She added, “We have a pot of money that will make sure that the students we serve are going to be able to take every opportunity they want.”
Guffey, who had been living in Seattle, died in 2022.