ORLANDO, Fla. – Colonial High School students were welcomed back to school Monday with a new $17 million performing arts center.
The new facility replaces an outdated auditorium and houses the band, orchestra, theater and chorus programs.
Theater teacher and thespian troupe sponsor Noelle Monroe said her classes were "homeless" last year without a permanent classroom.
"Now, I have a classroom, a shop, brand new lights, two booths. It still smells like paint. It's really exciting," she said.
Monroe said some of her students were brought to tears when they saw the new facility for the first time. She said the previous lights were from the 1980s, and now everything in the building is state of the art.
"I cannot wait to start working with the lights. With the new light board and we have at least 12 movers. I'm going to make it look like a rock concert in here," she said.
Director of bands Jason Chapkin said he loves that all of the performing arts classrooms are under the same roof for the first time.
"The more we can collaborate together, the more opportunities the students have. If we can get the choir and the band together, and the choir and the theater together, that's just more opportunities for the students and they deserve that," he said.
Principal Dr. Hector Maestre said he hopes the new PAC will inspire more students to get involved with the arts.
"Research does show that students who are involved with those extracurriculars really do have some gains happen with reading and with math also, so not only are there educational benefits, but there are also creative outlets for the students," he said.
The first production in the new PAC is "Little Shop of Horrors" in October. When tickets go on sale, you can find them at https://teachtix.com/chs. The community is invited to attend.