By William Kincaid
COLDWATER -- As the Exempted Village Schools continues its $40 million building project --slated for full completion in the summer of 2006 -- a new state-of-the-art auditeria has been completed for this school year.
The auditeria is a newly-constructed building of 6,349 square feet-- between the Palace gymnasium and the recently renovated junior high building -- equipped with a new sound and lighting system, in addition to a large stage. The auditeria gets its name from its two main uses -- as a cafeteria during the school day and as an auditorium for school or community events.
"I think it's totally awesome," Denise Petersen, the elementary music teacher said. "I haven't tried out the sound yet, but I'm just in awe. I went up for the first time on the stage and started dancing."
The innovative complex is designed to hold 800 spectators, according to Superintendent Rich Seas, and has a technologically advanced acoustic atmosphere.
Jud Lehman, language arts teacher and director of The Second Street Theatre Troupe, said the walls are soft and lined with sound-improving tiles. Hovering near the ceiling are a multitude of "clouds": sound-sensitve tiles that control and enhance the songs, speeches and performances for concerts, plays and assemblies.
In the past, when performances were centralized in "The Pit" gymnasium, the sound quality was often inferior and distorted because of the poor acoustics. Not anymore.
Lehman said that now a speaker wouldn't even need to use a microphone before a full audience because of the "scholastic grade" facility -- which nullifies echoes.
"A big place like this really has good acoustics," he said.
The auditeria will be the new home for the choir, band, drama department and many other organizations. Equipped with a professional stage of 1,691 square feet and full-operational black curtain, Seas said he is quite happy with it and looks forward for the future educational benefits to be derived.
Lehman said his theatre troupe, which has grown into one of the largest and most active high school troupes in the area, is happy to finally have a permanent home. In the past, his group performed on a portable stage in the cafeteria.
"We're glad to have a home," he said. "The kids have been waiting for this since they were in eighth grade."
In a recent press release, Lehman said, "We are pleased to have moved into our brand new performing arts facility and are anxious to take our new stage. Although all the sound and lighting equipment have been included in the construction, we are continuing on a plan to update, upgrade and improve our scenery and costume collection."
His drama group is scheduled to perform "Edelweiss," a dramatic play about WWII Germany, on Nov. 4, 5, and 6. Each week, the play crew spends eight hours preparing for the dramatic play about a private girls school in Nazi Germany during the worst part of the war. Lehman said the story will show how the girls endured as their classmates went missing and were arrested and executed.
Lehamn said this was the first year the group has performed a serious drama in a few years. He said the students will become better actors and actresses by preparing for the rigors of accurately and plausibly presenting the tragedy. So far, his only problem has been locating replicant S.S Officer and Hitler Youth uniforms.
Denise Petersen's new elementary ensemble group The Cavalier Players -- composed of third-and fourth-graders -- will also use the auditeria. Petersen said students who have shown great music ability in the classroom or through audition were selected. Each Wednesday morning, the students practice while using hand and desk bells, boom whackers and other rhythm instruments.
"I don't want to exclude," Petersen said. "If I see a student with potential and think they need a little extra help, I picked them for this."
She thinks this is a beneficial program, because students can improve their music-reading abilities. Also, Petersen said the involved students will be automatically eligible for the percussion sections of the band, which starts in fifth grade. In the past, the band director required the percussion students to have two-years of piano practice to install a sense of rhythm.
Seas said that besides the utilization of normal school uses, the auditeria will be home to other Mercer County groups.
"We want to expand," Seas said. "The auditeria will be central to the county."
So far, Seas said the College Community Arts Council -- a Wright State Lake University Campus affiliated drama group, will use the new auditeria.
Seas also stressed that a facility-user agreement will only allow events that are in the interest of education. In other words, people should look elsewhere to accommodate their wedding parties or Star Trek conventions.
The auditeria will open to the public on Oct. 23 during the junior high and high school choral concert.