Marsha Durham, who has worked in the city school system for nine years and is a special education teacher at West Side Elementary, boasted about the building. “It is gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous,” she said. “They put a lot of time and energy into it and a lot of thought into it.”
Monday was the first time she had been inside it since construction was completed in late July.
Durham was also impressed with the student performances and speakers. “It was really nice to go ahead and have them kick off this school year by actually having a performance on the stage,” Durham said, complimenting the building’s acoustics.
Construction on the auditorium, which began 15 months ago, was completed just last week.
School Board Chair Randy Weiner said he was very impressed with the auditorium, which is something he was asked about when he first ran for the school district seat almost 10 years ago.
“It was a really good feeling to be in our own auditorium,” he said. “I remember back eight years ago, the first comment that was ever spoken to me was that we need to build an auditorium. It took eight years, but we got it on schedule and under budget.”
Shan Cooper, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics vice president and general manager, was the keynote speaker for the event.
The school board approved construction of the facility in October 2011, when it OK’d placing a $7 million, five-year obligation bond resolution before voters to help pay for the building. It was approved in March 2012 and construction began shortly thereafter.
The remainder of the debt, about $3 million, will be paid off with proceeds from SPLOST IV, which was approved by voters in March.
The auditorium, which was part of the school’s original plan in 2000, will be used for school functions, performances, rehearsals, competitions and festivals, community events, lectures and staff development meetings like the district held Monday.