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Room to grow: North Hall, East Hall high schools plan for renovated fine arts departments
East Hall drama teacher Annie Brevard helps student Cheyenne Haynes sew a costume Monday for an upcoming production. The school’s drama department’s space is so small, sewing has to be done in the back of the theater and stowed away on performance nights.

In helping her students prepare for their upcoming spring play “The Ash Girl,” East Hall High School theater teacher Annie Brevard dreams of having more room to move around.

“We have very limited acting space around the size of our stage,” she said. “(More space) would help the students to have more artistic freedom.”

More space is the name of the game for the fine arts departments at both East Hall and North Hall high schools, with the wheels set in motion for renovations to both of those spaces.

There’s no budget set yet for the changes, though $200,000 for design services per school was approved by the board of education at its Jan. 27 meeting. Funds are coming from the special purpose local option sales tax.

“We’ve got our committees in place at each of the schools that include administrators, teachers, parents and students,” Executive Director of Facilities Damon Gibbs said. “Now we’ve got to get the architect on board to get (the plans) moving forward.”

Brevard, and her counterpart at North Hall Jan Ewing, say they have not met yet with their respective committees, but both of them said they have plans to include extra space on their wish lists.

Things are so cramped at North Hall, students have to go elsewhere for their spring musicals.

“If you put 10 kids on our stage, it’s maxed out,” Ewing said. For the upcoming spring musical “The Wedding Singer,” the school plans to rent Brenau University’s John S. Burd Center.

“Here’s the thing,” she said. “Like today, I’m building our set for our spring show in the old gym because it literally won’t fit on our stage.”

The changes are also expected to include upgrades to the band and chorus facilities at North Hall.

East Hall Principal Jeffrey Cooper said it’s long overdue.

“The original thought was to take this whole wall,” he said, gesturing to the outer right-hand wall. “Knock it out and extend it. This room seats about 180 and we’re wanting to seat 360. Basically, double the size.”

There’s also an idea of changing where people walk into the theater, with the construction of a foyer.

Gibbs has said previously just getting the plans ready may take up to eight months, but the plan is to break ground on both projects by the end of the year.

“The construction process itself is going to take approximately a year on each of these,” he said. “The design phase will take about six months. We’ll have to get permitting, and a variety of things done (before construction).”

Regardless of the time frame, both schools are more than ready to get started on their dream spaces.

“I just think whatever we get is going to be better than what we’ve had,” Ewing said.