Senior Committee to make presentation asking for new auditorium seating

Senior+Committee%27s+Claire+Napier+points+at+a+slide+on+the+presentation+being+prepared+for+new+auditorium+seating.

Senior Committee's Claire Napier points at a slide on the presentation being prepared for new auditorium seating.

Allie Gruszkiewicz, News Editor

To many students, there’s something frightful and a bit odd in Bearden’s auditorium—and it’s not Musical Theater’s production of The Addams Family. The auditorium seating has seen 46 years of Bearden history, and in many places, it shows.

Members of the Senior Committee will present to members of the Knox County school board, Bearden PTSO, and the Bearden Foundation in the hopes of obtaining a donation that could renovate the auditorium. Seniors Callie Elonen, Sydney Gabrielson, and Annie Smith will carry out the presentation.

“It’s obviously very needed,” Smith said. “We’re going to explain the issues and propose a solution, and just really emphasize why Bearden deserves this and why the students want it.”

The presentation will include a history of the auditorium and Bearden alumni attesting to their experiences. They also have videos of current Bearden students explaining why they think the auditorium needs renovation.

After the presentation, which will take place in the auditorium, the board is invited to watch The Addams Family.

Smith noted that the auditorium is where many student activities are showcased. Musical theater shows, choir concerts, band concerts, orchestra concerts, and SGA conventions among others all take place in the auditorium.

“That’s where things are happening at Bearden, so we want it to look as good as it can,” Smith said.

While this is one of Senior Committee’s major projects, it is not considered the senior gift. The Senior Committee still plans on fundraising for a different senior gift.

Senior Committee member Hancen Sale said that the current auditorium seats are not accommodating to wheelchairs and that they are uncomfortable, especially for the elderly. In addition, they do not fit with Bearden’s musical theater program, as well as other student productions.

“There’s this lingering attitude of how people love the shows at Bearden, and we have a professional production, but it’s not in a professional theater,” said Sale, who has been in the musical theater cast the past three years.

“Our production almost exceeds the expectations set in the theater.”

In addition to new chairs, renovations will likely also include painting the ceiling and other aesthetic improvements.

Just replacing the seats in the auditorium will cost an estimated $250,000. The idea to renovate the auditorium has been discussed for a long time, but it is much more expensive than the usual senior gift.

Principal Dr. John Bartlett asked the Senior Committee to put together the presentation. He encouraged a student-led campaign in addition to his own efforts to get funding for the auditorium.

“When I think of the legacy that I want myself and my class to leave on Bearden, I want it to be something that the students recognize and really care about instead of a senior gift that is easily forgotten,” Smith said.