At last! Coronado auditorium grand opening Sept. 27
Community can request seats, starting Sept. 22

       After two years of planning and construction - and a few unwanted surprises - the grand opening of the new Coronado High School auditorium will be Saturday, Sept. 27. Coronado High Choir Director Jeff Hodur (right, foreground) contemplates the new auditorium’s interior while at the 
same time Assistant Principal David Engstrom (light blue shirt) gives a quick tour to a group of students Sept. 17. 
Westside Pioneer photo
       Performances by the school's orchestra, band, jazz band, choir and drama students will highlight the occasion, starting at 7 p.m.
       The free event is invitation-only, but depending on how RSVPs go, a few of the 792 seats may wind up being available to members of the public, Principal Susan Humphrey said.
       “We're trying to be judicious,” she explained. “We want to be sure those who contributed get tickets.”
       Invitees include school board members, contractors, District 11 officials, school staff, the parents of the students performing and any students who want to come. At the same time, she said, “We want to fill it up.”
       So, beginning Monday, Sept. 22, community members interested in ticket availability can call Kathy Christy, the principal's administrative assistant, at 328-3611.
       The good news for Westsiders is that, even if they can't get a seat on opening night, there will be many future student performances, and the school will make the new auditorium available in the future to groups that want to rent it, according to Humphrey.
       The facility is located beside Coronado's main parking lot at 1590 W. Fillmore St.
       Measuring 49 feet at its highest point, the building is 18 feet taller than the old one, and, at 24,000 square feet in size, more than 50 percent larger. The former structure, part of the original school in 1970, had stood in the same basic spot and was torn down to make room for the new model.
       Some of the space was added around the entry doors on the north and south sides, creating a “lobby” effect at either end of the hallway between the auditorium and the adjoining classroom building. New stairs to the balcony were also built in those areas.The other expansions are on the northeasterly side. There is now a “green room” (which serves, during school, as an orchestra and drama classroom and, during shows, as a place for performers to ready themselves), men's and women's dressing rooms and a concealed performers' access from the lobby.
       With an expanded balcony and redesigned main seating area, the auditorium has more than twice as many seats as the previous 340.
       Alan Combs, the Coronado band instructor, is excited about the new space. “Its going to be terrific,” he said. “When we do performances, we'll have the center section available for seats [the old auditorium had a space-divider partition down the middle]. The acoustics will be excellent, and it will be a lot more attractive.”
       The grand-opening date is approximately nine months later than originally foreseen, and the cost has escalated from the 2004 bond issue estimate of $1.4 million to a final amount of $4.9 million. But now that the work is nearly over -a few “punch-list” construction issues were keeping the school district from formally accepting the building until later this week - District 11 Facilities Director Mike Maloney said he's “excited about how the community is going to appreciate the auditorium.” Maloney has been involved in all the planning and in having to find new money sources as the costs escalated. He's also the one having to negotiate with the contractor, Gerald H. Phipps, on a penalty for not meeting a deadline to have the auditorium ready before school started in August. (Previous project delays were for other reasons, including District 11's construction plans from 1970 that incorrectly showed grout and rebar in the original auditorium's walls - forcing them to be torn down instead of reused.)
       “I think our general contractor has done a good job and given the community a good product, and I don't want to give them a black eye.” Maloney said. “But construction is construction, and they had various problems with their subcontractors.” Yet, despite the resulting “small sense of disappointment,” he said, “it will be far outweighed by the enjoyment of a product that's going to be long-lasting and a nice addition to the community.”

Westside Pioneer article