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Performing arts center highlights $26.2M White Knoll renovations

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A new Performing Arts Center is part of $26.2 million in improvements at White Knoll High School made with funds from a bond referendum. (Photo/Provided)

Drama students at White Knoll High School have a brand-new Performing Arts Center in which to showcase their talents.

The center, constructed as part of $26.2 million in improvements to the Lexington high school’s campus made with funds from a bond referendum, includes a 1,000-seat auditorium with an orchestra pit. The facility also features a catwalk, fly system for changing sets, and backstage rooms and storage spaces needed to sup-port a full-scale drama program with technical training courses.

White Knoll will also be able to rent the center for public performances or district-wide school events.

 “It is already evident this space will become a hub for fine arts collaboration within our district and state,” Matt Warren, director of operations for Lexington School District One, said. “The White Knoll fine arts program has been well accomplished for years and I can’t wait to see what they are capable of within this new facility.”

The center was built alongside White Knoll’s existing auditorium. The old auditorium was converted into a black box, or experimental, theater, a dance studio, and two additional classrooms. A new Scene Shop will provide students opportunities to learn to utilize a variety of tools safely and to bring scenic concepts to reali-ty using math, architecture and construction skills.

In the school’s new tech booth, students will learn to design and execute technical elements using equip-ment equal to that used by professional lighting and sound technicians.    

“One of the things I’m most looking forward to in the new performing arts center is making use of the variety of new spaces as educational labs,” White Knoll drama teacher Brandi Owensby said. “It’s not only a performing arts center we are getting. We are gaining instructional spaces that will prepare students for dynamic 21st-century careers.”

The construction, led by Aiken-based general contractor H.G. Reynolds Co., also created 32 new classrooms that will allow for the removal of portable classrooms at the school, located at 5642 Platt Springs Road. The Columbia office of McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture designed the phased renovations, including spaces for the student body to gather and collaborate. Architects from McMillan Pazdan Smith’s K-12 Studio designed the Performing Arts Center.

 “We looked at Lexington and River Bluff (high schools) as models,” architect Michelle Smyth said. “Parity in a school district is very important. We wanted to make sure that White Knoll’s students had access to equal quality facilities.”

The new performing arts center will have its final inspection this month, while the classroom addition was completed last summer.

Columbia-based project engineering firms were Buford, Goff & Associates (mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection); Johnson & King Engineers (structural); and ADC Engineering (civil).

Newcomb & Boyd of Atlanta handled acoustical work, while Roebuck-based stage lighting equipment supplier Productions Unlimited Inc. also worked on the theater.

“White Knoll High School is excited about the opportunities our new Performing Arts Center will bring to increase the engagement of our school with our community,” White Knoll principal Ted Daughtrey said. “The PAC will allow us to invite the community into our school, which will allow us to showcase the wonderful educational opportunities our students are provided.”

Reach Melinda Waldrop at 803-726-7542.

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