In 1913, the auditoriums at Scott and Waite high schools were constructed in similar design.
Since then, Scott’s balcony has been destroyed and replaced by a new floor for storage. As a result, Scott is getting a new auditorium as part of its $37 million Ohio Schools Facility Commission renovation, part of Toledo Public School’s “Building for Success” program.
The 11,927 square feet Waite auditorium, which seats 844, is intact with its original balcony, seats, and stage, and is expected to get funds from the OSFC for technological improvements — such as new digital sound and video systems.
Waite Alumni Association chairman Shirley Jean Clark hopes the OSFC renovation will include structural improvements to the auditorium, including new carpeting, flooring, and plaster.
However, about $150,000 worth of renovation is to be taken on by the alumni association.
“It is the goal of the alumni association to restore the auditorium to the grandeur of the opening, and to be able to use the fundraiser for the seats, and to allow us to do some things with sound systems and curtains,” Clark said. “It’s our goal by the 100th anniversary that it will be totally restored and we can have some kind of major event or presentation there at that time.”
The fundraising drive has not “officially” begun yet, but it has already raised about $25,000. Restaurateur Ray Frick gave $5,000, 1965 graduates Margaret and Robert Wagner gave $10,000, and the alumni association has deposited $10,000 toward the project.
“We have done some preliminary feelers out there,” Clark said. “We’ve sold a few ‘seats’ through word of mouth and by classes that have reunions, but haven’t started the official drive yet.”
Clark is confident that the association can meet the task. The 46-year-old alumni association will be close to 50 years old when the school turns 100.
“I came into this later in the process,” Clark said. “Having people prior to me working on the renovation of the (Mollenkopf) stadium, and we raised $300,000 for that, and we’ve given over $400,000 in scholarships and we support Boys Town, Girls Town, and all those kinds of things. The alumni never forgets. Every time I walk in there, I’m just honored to have been a graduate.”
Even though Clark says she recently got involved, she has been involved in the auditorium before. It was her 1965 graduating class that raised money for the curtains currently hanging on stage.
The ‘seats’ are being sold at $200 apiece, which covers the price of a new rehabbed chair. A sample sits in Principal David Yenrick’s office, complete with reupholstered cushions, real wood backing, and art deco carvings styled into the leg woodwork. Each seat is partially painted in school colors — purple and gold.
“It’s going to be beautiful,” Clark said.
The current chairs inside the auditorium may not be original, but the upholstery
is coming apart. The auditorium has received its fair share of usage over the past 96 years.
“It’s kind of embarrassing to have people come in and see the seats,” Clark said. “I mean, they’ve had a lot of use, and this isn’t vandalism that is the problem, it’s the wear and tear. I think people tend to think that kind of thing, but it’s just had a lot of good use, a lot of good programs.”
It is not just musicals and plays that are held in the auditorium, but the school holds special presentations. In addition, when the OSFC installs air conditioning at Waite, it could make usage of the auditorium possible in the summer months.
“They have their presentations and ceremonies and they have their honor society inductions, and just any important event is held in the auditorium,” Clark said. “In fact, this year we have the distinguished alumni, and we have four or five of our recognized alumni to speak to the students, and that is a big event, and the memorial is a big event. The memorial service will be coming up in the next month.”
The OSFC renovation going on will result in fine arts classrooms located in closer proximity to the auditorium.
“That hall is going to be the arts classes and the music classes, so they won’t have far to come for a program. It will have, hopefully, the access doors to the outside will be renovated enough that we could bring people in there without bringing them through the building,” Clark said.
At the recent East Toledo Family Center Renaissance Ball, the East Toledo Neighborhood House Alumni Association recognized Clark with the 2010 Richard Fisher Educator Awards.
“That was a great honor,” said Clark, who taught elementary school for 35 years.
Jean and her husband, former TPS educator Robert Clark, are semi-retired, she says. Bob is involved with the University of Toledo by coordinating a developmental program and he still does some teaching.