When students and staff return to class at Fassett Middle School this fall, one of the biggest changes they will notice is the total facelift of their time-worn auditorium.
Last spring, the Oregon Board of Education approved $150,000 in Permanent Improvement Funds to be used to replace the 700 seats, paint the walls, and make the auditorium ADA compliant.
According to Superintendent Dr. Mike Zalar, the work on the auditorium was not for appearances.
“The Fassett auditorium was in dire need of repair,” Zalar said. “The seating was originally installed back in 1961 when the school was first built. There were many seats that were unusable and simply not safe for students and the public in general.”
Board President PJ Kapfhammer said he originally was against putting the money into the auditorium until he toured the facility.
“The facelift was needed,” Kapfhammer said. “The seats were in such bad shape. They were so dated that we did not have the hardware to fix the seats. We had run out of parts for the seats and many of them did not even have a place to sit down anymore. We just could not afford not to do it. The auditorium was both a liability and an eyesore.”
The auditorium is also used by the Oregon Community Theater to put on plays and musicals four times per year. According to Dean Sandwisch, director of business affairs, the theater group has pitched in to help keep the costs of the project down. The district is currently at or just under the budgeted amount, he said.
Members of the group came in and removed the old fabric from the original seats so the district could take the bare metal from the seats and scrap it.
“We received approximately $1,400 from the metal which helped pay for some of the painting,” Sandwisch said. “They came out in force and did a nice job. It is a nice partnership we have them.”
“It is a great school and community partnership and we really appreciate the many volunteers who took time to help with the removal of the old seating,” Zalar said. “The labor they donated saved a significant amount of money that helped reduce the overall cost of the project.”
The new and improved auditorium currently has a rich gold color on the walls. The seats, which will be covered in a black fabric with gold specs, are expected to be installed Aug. 6, Sandwisch said.
Oregon Community Theater president Ron Davis said the group is thrilled that the auditorium will now be brought into this century. The group has provided lighting, sound equipment and the draperies for the auditorium in the past.
“We never thought it would happen,” Davis said. “It is a big expense, but one that was needed. It is something that was long overdue. We are just very surprised and very excited about it.”
The group has been using the Clay High School auditorium for its annual Children’s Theatre Group, which has 100 participants this year.
This fall, the community theater will present “The Producers,” a musical comedy by Mel Brooks, November 2, 3, 9, and10. “Twelve Angry Jurors,” by Sherman Sergel, will be the group’s February production followed by “Are We There Yet?” by James Hindman, Ray Roderick and Cheryl Stern, next spring.