CIRCLE PINES — Centennial Middle School celebrated the opening of its new learning space, the Marjorie Pehl Wood Learning Commons, on Tuesday, Jan. 12.

The space was renovated using funds from a $100 donation in 2014 by the Lino Lakes resident on Give to the Max Day 2014. Her donation was drawn at random for an added $20,000 “Super-Sized Golden Ticket” prize from the Bush Foundation, which partnered with GiveMN to provide the prize grant.

The prize for Centennial Middle School was dedicated to the school’s 20-year-old media center, transforming it into a space where students can work interdependently and independently on a variety of tasks. Additional donations for technology completed the space.

The Learning Commons is a contemporary learning environment and gathering place for students to explore technology, work on group projects and participate in collaborative learning experiences. Traditionally, the library environment is one where language arts teachers and their students have been the most frequent visitors. This new space stems from the passion to create an environment that benefits everyone—all students, staff and community members—before, during and outside the school day.

“We believe this new learning commons environment at the school will be a springboard for learners,” said Robert Stevens, principal of Centennial Middle School. “There are many steps ahead, including collaboration focusing on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) technologies and enhancement technologies for all learners. We look forward to seeing how this hub grows.”

Pehl was surprised her donation made such a difference.

“I am happy to support the learning opportunities for students at the middle school,” said Pehl. “Little did I know my $100 donation on Give to the Max Day could enhance the learning environment in this way, making an impact on the lives of all students.”

The school engaged in a process with students, staff, and the school community to determine where to invest the funds. This process included conversations with the donor, students and staff about enhancing opportunities for all learners. The gift’s impact will be felt by the more than the 1,500 learners and 170 adults who work at the school, as well as the greater Centennial community.

“Not only can donors make a huge impact on our communities through their contributions, with Golden Tickets on Give to the Max Day, we have also illustrated how fun giving can be as well,” said Jake Blumberg, executive director at GiveMN. “Give to the Max Day is all about inspiring Minnesotans to give back to the organizations and schools that strengthen our communities. Thanks to tens of thousands of donors like Marjorie and our generous partners at the Bush Foundation, organizations across the state are able to serve clients and students in more impactful ways both here at Centennial Middle School and in communities all across the state. ”

GiveMN links donors with organizations that are working to make Minnesota a better place. For more information, visit


— Press Release

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