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AHS breaks ground on historic fine arts wing expansion

Published April 13, 2023

Arlington Community Schools and Arlington High School broke ground this week on the largest fine arts expansion project in district history. District leaders and administrators, AHS fine arts teachers, Fleming Architects and Chris Woods Construction Company celebrated the nearly $8.5 million expansion at a ceremonial groundbreaking on Thursday. The modernized wing will feature a new fine arts entrance, band room and employee work lounge, a dedicated orchestra room, several enhancements to the on-stage and back-stage areas of the theatre, in addition to several other upgrades throughout the fine arts corridor. The project will also feature security vestibules at the two main entrances to enhance school safety. 

“Arlington High is known throughout the region and state for its unbelievably talented fine arts programs, so it’s appropriate for the fine arts wing to reflect the level of talent and creativity that is being cultivated by our teachers and students,” Superintendent Jeff Mayo said. “This renovation will give our students and teachers room to grow their programs and more opportunities to showcase their talents. It’s the single largest investment we’ve made in the fine arts since becoming a district nearly a decade ago, and we believe it’s going to take these already successful programs to the next level.”

“Of all the big projects I’ve been a part of since the district started, this is one I’m really excited about,” ACS Board Chairman Dale Viox continued. “I think it’s been a long time coming, and for the caliber of the programs we have, the space has been woefully inadequate. I think myself and the board are just happy now to give these excellent programs a proper place.”

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Visual rendering of the new fine arts wing at Arlington High School
Credit: Fleming Architects

In addition to a new entrance and outdoor plaza that will highlight the fine arts wing, the largest add-on will be a 6,200 square foot band room, nearly tripling the size of the current room, expanded band storage and higher ceilings that will be more conducive to color guard activities. The existing band room will become a dedicated orchestra room with storage, and the project will include four practice rooms that can be used by the band, orchestra and choir programs.

“We’re really excited about what this will mean for the band, orchestra and color guard,” AHS Band Director Tim Simpson said. “The programs have grown a lot, and it’s been amazing to see what the students and parents have been able to do over the years. The expansion should help us tremendously and give us better tools and resources to help students continue to grow in their crafts.”

Though many of the theatre upgrades will be backstage, audiences will see modern improvements, including refreshed finishes and a new proscenium. Backstage is where the fun really begins! New dressing rooms behind stage and a crossover will make it easier and more convenient for student actors, and the scene and prop shop will more than double in size. The project will also furnish the auditorium with new and improved equipment, including a theatre projection system, acoustical sound shells and new choral risers.

Other features throughout the wing include:

  • refreshed art classrooms with expanded storage, classroom furniture and concrete floors,
  • space for an art gallery at the new entrance,
  • a new kiln room, 
  • new equipment for screen printing, 
  • a teachers lounge with restrooms and meeting area,
  • an additional Media Arts/Journalism classroom,
  • refreshed tile throughout the wing and rotunda.

Finally, included in the project will be two new security vestibules located near the front office and attendance office. These vestibules will close off general access by requiring visitors to check in with the front offices before gaining access to the rest of the building. “We constantly evaluate the safety of our buildings, and this has been one thing missing from the high school,” Mayo continued. “The vestibules will bring AHS in line with our other schools by funneling guests through the main offices. It’s yet another way we can help protect our students, staff and school community.”

Construction on the historic fine arts wing expansion is expected to be complete in Spring 2024.