News of the renaming of the Louis Spilman Auditorium after renovations of the theater space at Waynesboro High School are largely exaggerated, officials said Tuesday.
Waynesboro Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff Cassell said the Waynesboro School Board has never discussed renaming the auditorium.
“Never in any discussion, through the facilities study committee or any of our discussion has the school board discussed naming any part of the facility or changing the name of anything,” Cassell said.
If the discussion were to come up, Cassell said a process would be necessary to rename the space that for now is named after the founder of The News Virginian, which began publication in 1929. Spilman served as president and publisher until 1974.
Cassell also said the auditorium is not becoming a performance arts center.
“It’s three new classrooms, and a renovation to the existing space,” he said.
The seats in the auditorium will remain the same, as well as the sound system which is about three years old, according to Cassell. But theater patrons will notice new house and theater lighting.
Waynesboro High Principal Bryan Stamm said the lights are LED. He added that during renovations of the high school, staff and administrators have “always just referenced it as auditorium addition, just off the side, nothing other than that.”
“It’s just us setting up classroom space in order to bring our performing arts down by the auditorium where they do a lot of their work,” Stamm said.
The school system hopes the choir room behind the theater stage and auditorium renovations will be complete in a few weeks.
Cassell said the hope is to have the three new classrooms under construction next to the Spilman Auditorium complete by the end of the fall semester.
Two classrooms will be used by theater students, including a room for a scene shop. The third classroom will be flexible and mixed-use space for the high school. A storage room will also finally be available for storing theater props and costumes.
Behind the stage, a choir classroom will finally have natural light coming in through windows that look out onto Poplar Avenue.
Until now, theater students took instruction in classrooms on the second floor of the high school and no storage space was available near the theater stage.
“It’s as far as you can get from the stage in this building,” Cassell said of the second-floor classrooms.
Stamm said the classrooms used by theater students on the school’s second floor are across from the business classes.
“Currently, the issue with our stage is the only access to the stage is through the auditorium,” Cassell said.
After renovations, students will have access to the stage via a hallway next to the auditorium. The storage space and classrooms next to the auditorium will create convenience for theater and choral students.
“So, we’re excited about that,” Cassell said.
First-floor renovations of the high school are expected to be complete by Labor Day.
“I think part of some of the discussion may have come from we’ve had an addition that supports our arts program. There’s an addition that supports our athletic and health and phys ed program, and there is renovation on the second and third floor that supports all of our academic programs. The renovation really touched all parts [of the school],” Cassell said.
Curtains will be installed in the theater in the coming weeks. Stamm said they will be purple.
“We essentially kept the aesthetic and the kind of what I call the charm of the auditorium with the brick and everything like that. Kept that, but we updated and modernized a lot of it with the lights, with what’s going on with the rigging on the stage, new curtains,” Stamm said.
Cassell said while the school board has not discussed renaming the auditorium, he could not promise that the auditorium would never be renamed. A school policy exists that requires soliciting names and public input in a process toward renaming any school building or part of a school building.