Buffalo Grove High School alumnus donates $1M to establish robotics lab in honor of former teacher

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (WLS) -- A Buffalo Grove High School graduate is giving back to his alma mater in a big way!

In June, class of 1988 alumnus Stephen Yacktman and his wife Ellyn donated $1 million to support the creation of a state-of-the-art-robotics, manufacturing and biomedical healthcare innovation lab at Buffalo Grove High School.

The school said this is the largest single gift in the school's 46-year-history.

Working with the District 214 Education Foundation, the donation was made in honor of Yacktman's former AP physics instructor, Saulius Ploplys.

The lab will be named for Ploplys and his legacy, according to the school.

"This is an incredible gift that pays tribute to the education Mr. Yacktman received in our schools and also funds future generations of students," said Erin Brooks, District 214 Education Foundation executive director. "We are truly inspired by the generosity of this contribution, and the opportunities it will provide for Buffalo Grove High School. We work frequently with alumni who wish to pay tribute to teachers who changed their lives, and these gifts repeatedly demonstrate the positive impact of public education."

Yacktman is the chief investment officer at Yacktman Asset Management and said he credits much of his success to experiences he gained at Buffalo Grove High School.

"Buffalo Grove High School, and the opportunities I received there, placed me on a path to success and helped me become the person I am today," said Yacktman.

Yacktman was involved in the arts and athletics while in high school and went on to attended Brigham Young University, where he graduated with an economics degree and MBA. Though his professional career he said he's maintains a passion for manufacturing, engineering, science and technology.

In addition to the donation, Yacktman has offered his expertise and direction in creating an innovative and one-of-a-kind lab that he hopes will give students opportunities that will prepare them to leave high school college and career ready.

"My hope is that this new lab will help Buffalo Grove students develop workforce skills and provide training that leads them to careers of all kinds," Yacktman said, who said there is a demand for skilled workers in areas like manufacturing. "This is about helping them discover their future, and helping them determine what motivates and inspires them, and then making sure they are equipped to succeed as Buffalo Grove graduates."

Ploplys worked at District 214 for more than 30 years as a science educator teaching chemistry and physics, and retired in 2003.
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