This Friday’s Program:
It’s Foundation Final Friday – Please bring your checkbook and support the Rotary Foundation
RISE Calendar … “Rotary Involvement Strengthens Everyone“
August 27 – Kevin Ebbert Memorial Trail Run in the Arcata Community Forest starts at 9 am. Sign up at any HealthSport location or ONLINE.
September 2 – We will be dark (no Friday meeting) in honor of Labor Day Weekend
September 10 – District 5130 Membership Seminar, at the Eel River Multi-Generational Center in Fortuna – 8:00 to 11:30 am
September 10 – District 5130 Foundation Seminar at the Eel River Multi-Generational Center in Fortuna – 12:30 to 3:00 pm
September 11 -“Out of the Darkness” Suicide Awareness Walk – meet at the Arcata Plaza at 9 am
October 18-26 – Opportunity to travel to Nigeria to help fight polio and attend the West Africa Project Fair! Check your email for details, or contact Howard Tours in Oakland (800-475-2260).
RCAS Goes On The Road!
Last Friday, we traveled to Arcata High School to check out the new Fine Arts Center. The trip was hosted by Chris Hartley, Superintendent of the Northern Humboldt Union High School District, and Arcata High School Principal Dave Navarre. Chris welcomed us, saying that it has been a busy summer, especially with the completion of the new Center coming down to just a few weeks before school opens. He noted that the building has a large footprint, and that it is very tall, to allow for a full fly loft above the stage. “You could put a bus up there,” Chris told us.
Planning for the Fine Arts Center began back in 2010, when Measure Q was approved by voters in the school district. “Without Measure Q and your support,” Chris said, “there’s no way we would have ever been able to put together a project like this.” The next target for Measure Q funds will be field development for physical education and athletics on both campuses, a phase that is expected to take about three years.
Chris had high praise for the Pierson Company, the construction company for the project. He said that they worked together to set a maximum price, and then “value engineered the heck out of it”. As originally designed, the Fine Arts Center would have cost $9 million, and the District had only $7.4 million budgeted. The value engineering was a lot of work, but it allowed the project to come in at budget. Chris said that about 75% of the work was performed by local firms, true to a mandate by the NHUSHD Board, which wanted to keep the Measure Q funds in the community to the degree possible. “A lot of pride went into this building,” Chris said. “Some of the subcontractors making a little less money because they had pride in their community, and they were willing to go that extra mile for our students. It just makes you feel really proud to be a part of a project like that.” Dave later reiterated that the Pierson Company was great to work with over the two and a half years of construction. They were considerate with noise, and they even allowed classes to operate in one part of the building while they worked on the opposite side.
The Fine Arts Center is a facility for the community. The students, of course, have first claim to the venue, but the District intends for it to be used by local arts groups for performances and exhibitions throughout the calendar year. The staff is working out the scheduling details and paperwork, and there should be processes in place very soon that will allow other organizations to use the building. Chris said that he is very pleased that the schools’ performance groups now have a home, although he did note how appreciative the District is that Humboldt State has been willing to accommodate these groups over the years.
Dave added that the building is a true multi-use facility. Where we initially gathered is a large room where the Arcata High lunch program is served; it is also intended as a reception area during performances or exhibitions. The seats in the theater are retractable, leaving a large open area for many varied types of activity. And the foyer area doubles as a venue for student artists to display their works. Chris noted that the contributions of Anne Bown-Crawford (the Director of the Arcata Arts Institute) and Theater Arts Instructor Melanie Zapper prevented any errors in the design and construction of the new building. The resulting product is a facility where local students can learn skills in the performing and visual arts that they can use as professionals when they graduate.
We started our tour in the foyer, which boasts two-story windows in the front, in an arching pattern. Student artwork is displayed on the wall you face as you pass through the main entrance. Student works are displayed throughout the hallways and other public areas.
After walking down a short hallway, we entered the theater … and/or the Multipurpose Room. The seats were extended, and it sure looked like a theater, and the seats are very comfortable. But I’ve seen a photo of the room with the seats retracted, and it looks completely different. In theater mode, the room can accommodate 411 people. At the top of the stairs is a production booth, however there are three control locations where light and sound operators can be situated. Chris said that the District’s Technology Director, Todd Curry, shaved hundreds of thousands of dollars off the cost of outfitting the sound and electronics in the theater. College of the Redwoods also had quite a bit of high-end equipment that it sold to the District for next to nothing.
When you are standing on the stage looking up, you can see that Chris was right – you could put a bus (maybe a few buses) in the fly loft. There are lights and lots of rigging, to allow for some very complex productions. There are also freestanding and hanging baffles for redirecting sound on the stage. Long-time Choir and Orchestra Director Carol Jacobson was instrumental (please forgive the pun) in the design of the performance area.
Next, we entered the drama classroom, which has a wood floor with black walls and ceiling. The ceiling also has bars for mounting lights as needed, and the floor is a dance floor, so it could double as a dance studio. We then visited the practice room for choral groups. The room boasts three levels, leading to two large windows that provide a lot of natural light. The room was intended to also be used by the orchestra, but that didn’t work out, so that group has another home, that we visited next.
Chris told us that when the old building was stripped down in preparation for construction, they only found a small area where the stairs connected to the outside that had some rot. Other than that, the building was in excellent condition. Chris attributes that to the care that past and present members of the NHUHSD maintenance staff have taken over the 50-plus years that the building has been in use. “The contractors couldn’t believe it,” Chris said.
Sunrisers Brandi Easter and Lisa Hemphill tested one of the many rehearsal rooms to determine how soundproof it is. You can see the result of their very scientific test in the video below.
Thanks to Chris and Dave for hosting us and serving as tour directors!