BY DAVID ECK
The curtain goes up Sunday for performers in West Clermont Local School District.
The district will dedicate its new auditoriums at Glen Este and Amelia high schools at an open house from 1-5 p.m. Sunday at the high schools. Amelia will dedicate its facility at 1 p.m. while Glen Este's dedication will be at 2:15.
The identical auditoriums seat 550 and feature oversized stages and advanced lighting and sound systems, officials say.
"It's a very professional atmosphere, state-of-the-art," said Glen Este Principal Mark Peters. "Certainly it gives our kids a facility they can perform in and be proud of. It improves our curriculum in things like lighting and set design."
The additions took 15-18 months to complete and were paid for with a bond issue passed in 1994. They cost about $2.2 million each. The bond issue, passed on its fourth try, also paid for 40 new classrooms throughout the district and new gyms at the middle schools, Superintendent Dennis Devine said.
"The auditoriums, they just are a real fine addition to our schools," he said. "We've got really great community support now."
Previously, students performed in multipurpose rooms, but that didn't always work out well.
"It used to be kind of embarrassing," said David O'Toole, assistant principal at Amelia. "It was just not at all suited for a school our size. We can finally give our kids' performances the respect they deserve."
Each school has about 1,200 students, with about 300 in band, choir or drama. The district has about 9,000 students.
When Amelia students performed the musical Grease last year, they had to fashion cars out of papier-mache and cardboard for the various scenes, Mr. O'Toole said. But the new stages can hold a real car, if necessary.
"I can't imagine a high school-level production that we could not accommodate," he said. "Next time we do Grease, it's not going to be papier-mache and cardboard. It's going to be the real thing." The auditoriums will be used for school productions and concerts, and be available to the middle schools. They could eventually be opened up for public uses.
"They're definitely not going to be white elephants sitting there gathering dust," Mr. O'Toole said. "I feel that the (school) board and superintendent are getting the most bang for the buck." Dan Krueger, vocal music director and auditorium manager at Glen Este, said the auditoriums are comfortable but not extravagant. The advances are backstage.
"The money went into the parts that the kids need to use," he said. "It gives the community a chance to come in and see the work of these kids."
Some teachers have been waiting nearly two decades for an auditorium. "I think it sends a message that West Clermont Local School (district) is committed to all aspects of the community's youth," Mr. Peters said. "I think that message has been sent very loud and very clear."