Performing Arts Center Grand Opening and Dedication Held January 14, 2020 - 6:00 p.m.
Following an afternoon of staff and student pre-tours, approximately 500 people attended the Grand Opening and Dedication of the District 126 Performing Arts Center and South Commons on Tuesday, January 14, 2020. Students and adults alike marveled at what the new facility provides and expressed their joy about how it will support students' talents and passion for the arts.
With a backdrop of scrolling student performance photos, Superintendent Clark opened the dedication ceremony by recognizing Partners In Design Architects, Construction Managers Camosy Construction of Zion, and several District 126 staff members who served on the committee that researched the project and contributed to the many design decisions. She thanked the Board of Education for their wise decision-making and support that made it possible for Zion-Benton students to have such a wonderful facility. Dr. Clark also recognized local artist, Bruce Niemi, who created the sculpture "Illuminate" that was donated and hangs at the entrance to the theater as a source of inspiration.
Following Dr. Clark was Immediate Past Board President Shawn White, who guided the School Board through its decision making process for the project and who paid special recognition to the District's Project Coordinator, Chief School Business Official Audrey Liddle, whose meticulous oversight made the project possible. Jerry Nordstrom, who serves as the chairperson of the School Board's Business, Bid, Finance Committee and now Board President and who was a key leader in the project development decisions, shared his wishes that students and staff would fulfill their hopes and dreams in the new space. Theater Director Kelly Regnier, Choral Director Jen Rickert, and choral and drama student Wyatt Metzger provided their reflections on what the performing arts center means to the students and staff as their new "home." All expressed their delight that students could now explore their passions for the arts in a facility worthy of their talents.
In addition to providing a 750-seat theater, acoustical band/choir shell, stagecraft room, green room, dressing rooms, and prop, costume, and set storage, the new facility also includes a South Commons area that connects the new construction to the existing campus and provides a lobby for both the theater and main gym. The South Commons includes a concession stand, spirit wear store, ticket booth, and improved restrooms, expanding the previous corridor that served as a "lobby" and primary entrance for the main competition gym.
Photographs provided by Gibbie Buchholtz, Kathy Champine, and District 126 staff.