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May 21, 2019

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After donation, Jimmy Kimmel might be even bigger name on Clark High campus

Jimmy Kimmel-Molly McNearney

Associated Press

Jimmy Kimmel and Molly McNearney arrive at the GQ Men of the Year party Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011, in Los Angeles.

Late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel is shown here in this high school yearbook photo. Kimmel is a 1985 graduate of Clark High School.

Late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel is shown here in this high school yearbook photo. Kimmel is a 1985 graduate of Clark High School.

Jimmy Kimmel's name may soon adorn the technology wing of a local high school pending final approval by the Clark County School Board on Thursday night.

Last October, the late-night TV show host donated $54,000 to his alma mater, Clark High School. Kimmel graduated from the comprehensive magnet school in 1985.

To recognize Kimmel for his donation, Clark Principal Jill Pendleton is proposing that the school name four new computer labs in the northwest corner of campus after him.

If approved, the ribbon cutting for the Jimmy Kimmel Technology Center would take place May 8.

"It's wonderful that someone as successful as he is is giving back," Pendleton said.

For the past 20 months, Clark has been undergoing major renovations to update the facilities, built in 1965. The school is located in the central valley, near Pennwood Avenue and Arville Street.

The $35 million overhaul is funded by 1998 school bond program, which allows for infrastructure upgrades — such as wireless Internet and furniture — but limits its funding for technology like computers.

Pendleton was determined not to let Clark's four new computer labs open without any computers.

In October, Pendleton and a group of Clark students reached out to celebrity star Kimmel. The principal called associates at the "Jimmy Kimmel Live" show, and students sent Kimmel a YouTube video showcasing the school and its need for new computers.

Within 48 hours, Kimmel sent a check for $54,000 to his alma mater, stunning Pendleton and school staff. The money was used to purchase 72 new Lenovo computers, which will be used by Clark students to complete their homework assignments and conduct research.

But Kimmel's gift went beyond the monetary. Pendleton hopes Kimmel's name will inspire her students — many of whom come from low-income families — to stay in school and pursue their dreams.

"To know that somebody of that celebrity status walked these hallways and graduated, it's inspirational for our kids," she said. "They can see that hard work really does pay off."

Kimmel was an "average student" who participated in Clark's band program, Pendleton said. Last spring, Kimmel referenced his Clark High School social studies teacher while he hosted the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

"I also want to thank Mr. Mills, my 10th grade high school history teacher, who said I'd never amount to anything if I kept screwing around in class," Kimmel said, jokingly. "Mr. Mills, I'm about to high-five the president of the United States. Eat it, Mills."

Pendleton said the shoutout caused a buzz on campus, which prompted her and her students to think of Kimmel when they were seeking donations for new computers.

Celebrities donating money to Clark County public schools isn't new. Neither is naming a school wing after a celebrity.

In 2011, teen heartthrob Justin Bieber matched a $100,000 donation from Target to Whitney Elementary School in east Las Vegas. Bieber made his announcement about the donation on the "Ellen DeGeneres Show," which showcased Whitney Elementary several times last season.

Chaparral High School's recently constructed theater is named after Anthony Zuiker, an alumnus and creator of the hit TV show "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation."

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