York High School Principal Karl Francis said his students were blown away when they first stepped inside the brand-new York Community Auditorium for an assembly last week.
“There were some in tears,” said Francis. “The kids are so proud of all of this because it represents themselves. It’s going to do wonders for our performing arts students and they’re certainly deserving of it.”
After months of anticipation and delays school and town officials cut the ribbon to officially open the new York Community Auditorium at York High School on Thursday night, ushering a new era of a performing arts for both the school and the community as a whole in addition to many other community functions.
Students, their families and community members toured the $10.4 million addition onto York High School and saw the new conference room, lobby, concession stand and school store space, recording studio, auditorium control room, dressing rooms, stage and 750-seat theater.
“It’s an opportunity for our community to do wonderful things. When I was a kid I remember going to the school auditorium in Manchester where I grew up and watching the 1980 presidential debate. You can’t do those things if you don’t have a space like this,” said Town Manager Steve Burns. “I’m proud of this facility, I’m proud of what we’ve done together and I want to thank everyone who helped do this. One of the things we fail to do regularly is celebrate our achievements and I think this celebration is an example of what ought to be the way to celebrate.”
School Committee Chairwoman Julie Eneman said she was grateful and jubilant to be finally opening the auditorium after all the years of planning and hard work and dedication.
“Last week, I sat in the front row of this amazing auditorium, awash in emotions as I took in three student performances. I wanted to describe what I was feeling as I took in the sights and sounds of that day. The first emotion was gratitude,” said Eneman. “I had a harder time putting my name to the second emotion, happiness was not quite sufficient. It did not adequately describe what I felt as I experienced the YHS jazz band grooving, while I simultaneously envision future jazz bands performing.”
YHS junior Danielle O’Connell said as a member of the treble choir, she and her fellow performing arts students will be able to enjoy the auditorium.
“For me and the other music students, it’s amazing to have a new space to perform. I grew up in the old auditorium and in some cases our families just couldn’t hear us,” said O’Connell. “This will be great for everyone, a lot of people didn’t realize how it can be put to use in other ways. We had a student screen a film in here, so I think people were shocked by how amazing it came out.”
As part of the festivities, O’Connell and the rest of the YHS Treble Choir were joined by the YHS Treble Singers, the YHS Concert and Jazz Band with an appearance by the York Middle School Jazz Band. YHS students Margaret Talty and Audrey Grimes performed songs by Rachmaninoff and Beethoven, respectively, on the school’s new Yamaha grand piano.
“For the past 15 years the community hasn’t heard York High School Concert Band or Jazz Band because of that facility they were in before,” said band director Daniel Sovetsky. “I’m so pleased for the kids because now they finally get to be heard as they really sound.”
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