If the administrators and supporters of Catholic Central High School are beaming with pride today, it's understandable.
The school unveiled its newly renovated Berkman Theatre at Lanman Hall last week, and the changes mark a significant upgrade to the facility that originally was built in the early 1950s.
Improvements included freshly painted walls, new curtains, updated lighting and sound systems, a newly finished stage floor, new seating and carpeting and a handicapped seating area.
Much of the cost of the $442,000 project was covered by grants from the Louis and Sandra Berkman Foundation. As a result, the newly christened hall bears the family name of the local businessman and philanthropist who continues to give back to our community.
Credit for leveraging that money goes to Dolores Michnowicz, the school's assistant principal, who did the actual grant-writing. Also playing key roles were Principal Rich Wilinski, members of the school's fine arts committee and supporters of the school who made donations toward the project.
In addition, more than 400 of the auditorium's 800 seats are sponsored, with those who donated recognized with their name on a plate that's attached to a seat. Many of those seats were filled last weekend when the theater hosted its first performance, a production of "Annie Jr." put on by the students of Bishop John King Musio Junior High School.
As Wilinski said during the dedication ceremony, which included a blessing from Bishop Jeffrey Monforton of the Diocese of Steubenville, the school is now able to provide a facilty that will better allow students to showcase their talents as actors, singers and musicians. Plus, school officials want to make the facility available to members of the community at large.
We agree with Paul Ward, diocese administraor of Christian formation and schools, who said that education in the arts is an essential part of learning. Thanks to supporters and volunteers from the community and the administrators at the school, Catholic Central now has an up-to-date facility to allow it to showcase the arts.
We join in congratulating them for their efforts.