BOISE, Idaho - Boise State University is proud to announce today (Saturday, Oct. 10) a gift of $2.5 million from the David and Debra Larsen Huber Family Foundation, which will enable Boise State to begin the process of renovating the former junior high school site.
The 14.5 acre site will be named after Debra Larsen Huber's mother, Dona Larsen and be known as "Dona Larsen Park".
The naming of the site is subject to State Board of Education approval.
Larsen, who grew up in Cornish, Utah, has been an active member of the Boise community since 1956, when she and her husband Dorrell moved to the Treasure Valley. Larsen was a stay at home mother raising her 10 children who all graduated from East Junior High and Boise High School. Larsen was also heavily involved with local athletic teams, spending seven years running the girl's summer softball and basketball programs for Boise City Recreation, coaching many of her children's teams.
She began teaching physical education fulltime at East Junior High in 1970, as well as coaching girls' track and volleyball. Larsen's teams won many city championships before retiring in 2000 at the age of 72.
Larsen touched countless lives throughout her 30 years at East Junior High School. In 1999 the Boise City School District presented Larsen its Red Apple Award in recognition of her outstanding achievement and innovation as a teacher.
"Dona Larsen Park" will become the ninth in Boise's "Ribbon of Jewels" parks. The Ribbon of Jewels is a collection of parks and trails that run along the Boise River - all bearing the names of outstanding women in the Boise community.
Other "Ribbon of Jewels" parks include Julia Davis, Ann Morrison, Kathryn Albertson and Bernardine Quinn Riverside, the Bethine Church River Trail and the upcoming Alta Harris, Esther Simplot and Marianne Williams parks.
The site of the new Dona Larsen Park was originally an athletic field named Cody Park, built in 1911. The Boise School District purchased the land in November of 1924 and renamed it Public School Field. Youth and adults alike would use the field for many noteworthy athletic and community events until 1953 when East Junior High School was constructed on the site.
When Boise Junior College began competing in athletics in 1932, it used Public School Field for its football games and track and field events. In the fall of 1940, the Broncos moved to College Field on the current Boise State campus.
On July 1, 2009, Boise State took possession of the site after a new East Junior High School was built and opened earlier this year just east of Boise.