2015-03-20 / Letters

Auditorium conditions are ‘unacceptable’

To the editor:

I am writing this letter as a taxpayer, a concerned parent and a board member of the Kennebunk High School Visual and Performing Arts Boosters. As such, I would like to say how very proud I was of the cast, crew and teaching professionals who put on the musical “Fiddler on the Roof.” The show was fantastic, as are all of the shows enthusiastically put on by our music and drama departments and student artists. That they are able to do so under such unacceptable conditions continues to astonish me.

Last weekend 48 singers/actors, 10 instrumental musicians, and a fantastic crew of stage managers, makeup artists, set designers, and sound and lighting specialists worked incredibly hard to deliver a stellar performance. I would rank the performance of these students in the top 5 percent of all high school theatrical shows in the northeast. I would rank the facilities at Kennebunk High School in the bottom 5 percent. The fact that our children had to endure conditions such as these baffles me.

If you think I exaggerate, allow me to share with you the issues the students dealt with. The heating system in that part of the building was installed some 76 years ago. I have personally sat through almost every show over the past four years. Once again, at the height of the performance, the archaic heating system malfunctioned. The temperatures on the stage were above 85 degrees. Patrons and cast members alike suffered from the oppressive heat and at times it was difficult to hear above the roar of the fans. The system, when functioning properly, is difficult to regulate. Staff and audience members were forced to open windows and doors to allow heat to escape. Additionally, due to the lack of infrastructure, our children made their costume changes in creepy, dungeonlike closets, dodging the radiators that contained super hot pipes. This is simply not fair.

Even more shocking was a portion of the stage threatened to give way under the dancing feet of the cast on Saturday night. The stage, which was rehabbed some 30-plus years ago, simply began to strain under the weight of the 35-plus students. Sunday’s show was in jeopardy, only to be rescued by the Herculean efforts of Bruce Lewia (assistant principal) and district staff who worked tirelessly to make repairs before show time. The show went on, and again our students were magnificent. However, it is not fair that our students should have to perform under such conditions.

These issues stem not from a misuse of school property, nor is it poor maintenance routines. Rather we have a 76-year-old building that is tired and showing its age from general wear and tear through the years of educating tens of thousands of students. Our historic, old school is crying for help. The time has come to vote on the school renovation budget. We need to get our kids into a safe and healthy building. It is the right thing to do. Again, congratulations to every member of the cast, crew and staff who put on this incredible performance.

Lisa Crimp
Kennebunk

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