The Ho-Ho Kus Public School recently announced that it received its biggest donation ever – $10 million – from a well-known businessperson and his wife.

Dave and Cheryl Duffield have donated the money to construct a new gymnasium and wellness center in part to honor Dave Duffield’s mother, Mary Duffield, who was a beloved fourth-grade teacher at the school for decades, where her son graduated in 1954.

The project will involve the demolition of the current gymnasium area and the construction of a new, state-of-the-art gymnasium and wellness center that will include flexible classroom space.

The project was designed by LAN Associates and will be built by Donnelly Construction. The project is planned to be completed in the spring of 2024.

Duffield is a well-known tech entrepreneur who has focused on the software industry as the founder of several innovative companies, including Workday, PeopleSoft, and his most recent company, Ridgeline.

His entrepreneurial spirit came to light in the small, idyllic borough of Ho-Ho-Kus in the 1950s. As a young student, he launched his first business venture by growing gladiolus in his backyard and selling them to neighbors for a dime each. He remembers his childhood in Ho-Ho-Kus fondly and with gratitude. “I attribute my foundation to my folks, the school system, and a good community,” he said. He is pleased to be able to make such a lasting impact on his childhood community.

Superintendent Dr. Diane Mardy, who has spent the majority of her 40-plus year career in the Ho-Ho-Kus School District, was originally hired as a teacher to replace Mary Duffield when she retired in 1978. “This is a full circle moment for me,” she said, “and it is a wonderful testament to our school and community that Mr. Duffield, who has achieved so much professionally and personally, has decided to give back to this place where it all began for him. I am grateful for Dave and Cheryl Duffield’s incredible generosity and excited to be able to oversee this transformative project for the school and community and to honor the memory of the Duffield family in Ho-Ho-Kus.”

Mary Ellen Nye, president of the board of education, added, “Words cannot express our gratitude for the scale and scope of this donation. Duffield Hall will be a beautiful, modern facility devoted to the health and well-being of Ho-Ho-Kus students. We are all so excited for this project!”

The Ho-Ho-Kus Public School District serves children who live in Ho- Ho-Kus from grades PreK through 8 at the Ho-Ho-Kus Public School and students in grades 9-12 through a send/receive relationship with Northern Highlands Regional High School in Allendale, New Jersey.