IRMO, SC (WIS) - After several years of planning and construction, the arts take center stage Friday night at Irmo High School.
Work is complete on the school's new Center for the Arts and WIS got an early look inside before a big debut show. The new arts center not only benefits students but also the surrounding community. The school has the community to thank for the $11 million state-of-the-art center. The majority of voters said "yes" to funding it through a bond referendum in 2008. Seven years later, the center is done and a gala Friday features performances from all of the magnet programs offered at Irmo High School.
At the start of this school year, Irmo High launched its new International School of the Arts. Students choose courses in everything from dance and theater to music and visual arts. And here's what makes the center even more interesting—it doesn't look like something that's part of a school. It looks like a professional theatre that students and the surrounding community can enjoy.
Irmo High Principal David Riegel said it's something many schools don't have.
"For our dancers, for example, they have this large space they can work in. Our musicians have a tremendous space and the acoustics in the facility are outstanding," he said. "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 new theater has more than 600 seats. It has all LED lights, a new sound system and stage area, outdoor amphitheater, and gallery space for the visual arts magnet students to display their work. Also it has state-of-the-art equipment and staging area that not many schools have.
It's a significant change for the magnet students who had to perform in their gym, cafeteria, and other school theaters. With having a space to call their own, the students are ecstatic.
"It means a lot! I'm super stoked," Irmo High Junior Reece Younger. "I just like to show that I can achieve something. This is the only thing that I'm really good at."
"It's amazing," said 9th grader Will Galan. "I mean in previous years we had to go to like a church or somewhere to actually use their own stage. It's actually really nice to have our own place that we can perform and show our own artistic skills."
The first performance features work and performances from all of the arts magnet programs as well as some faculty and staff. Tickets are $10 and the public is welcome.