Education

Published on January 13th, 2015 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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Irmo High School holds ribbon-cutting, gala for new Center for the Arts

Pictured School and district officials, students and dignitaries participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony, celebrating the official launch of Irmo High School’s new Center for the Arts.

IRMO – Irmo High School held a ribbon-cutting ceremony and performance recently celebrating the official opening of its new Center for the Arts.

The site that includes a 600-plus seat theater was funded through a bond referendum, which voters passed in 2008. Under the guidance of the district’s board of trustees and superintendent, funds from the bond referendum were set aside for the new center along with funds for upgrades at several other District Five schools. The new site complements the school’s new International School of the Arts magnet program, which officially began this school year.

“We now have a world-class space for students to grow their artistic skills and showcase their talents,” said Irmo High School Principal David Riegel. “For our dancers…they have this large space they can work in. Our musicians have a tremendous space and the acoustics in the facility are outstanding. Our visual artists have a gallery space now at the front where their work can be displayed. So, they really have the opportunity to experience professional quality production in every one of our arts focus areas.”

The nearly 38,000 square-foot Center for the Arts includes energy efficient LED lights, state-of-the-art sound system and stage area, outdoor amphitheater, concession stand and box office.

More than 150 people attended the Jan. 9 ribbon-cutting ceremony, including lawmakers and other dignitaries. Irmo High School student body president Dexter Weathers said students have been waiting for a site to showcase their skills.

“I wished, I prayed …and well, prayers are answered,” Weathers said in a speech during the ceremony. “It is ready, and we are ready.”

Irmo High School was one of five schools in Lexington-Richland School District Five to receive a three-year federal Magnet School Assistant Program (MSAP) grant in 2013 to bolster magnet offerings. At the start of the 2014-2015 school year, Irmo High School officially launched its new International School of the Arts. A wide array of courses in dance, theater, music and visual arts are available through the magnet program; which aims to develop lifelong creators and patrons of the arts through rigorous standards-based, arts-infused learning. MSAP funds have complemented plans for the new magnet program and added unique opportunities for students, including master classes with professional artists.

For visual arts students like Rachel Thomas and Bryanna Brown having a center dedicated to student art is a welcomed addition to the school.

“It’s great… Now we have our own space,” said Thomas. “I’m excited for everyone to see what I did.”

Brown added, “I think it’s amazing. We’ll be able to have our friends see our work and maybe that will have other students inspired to create something too.”

Open to the public, the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Jan. 9 was followed by tours of the Center for the Arts. The school also held performances Friday night at 7 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. Information and tickets for upcoming shows can be found online at the Irmo High School website under the “arts” tab.

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