Today, Northwood High School, a part of the Chatham County, NC School System, dedicated a $4.5 million renovation/expansion. The year-long project includes new classrooms for Theatre Arts, Instrumental Music, Choral Music, Dance, Visual Arts, Wrestling, and Exceptional Children. Also included are a new lobby for the gym and an extensive upgrade to both the house and the stage of the Benjamin J. Lee Auditorium. The ceremony included Superintendent Robert Logan, Chair of the School Board Kathie Russell, Chair of the County Commissioners George Lucier, Architect Grimsley Hobbs, Principal Chris Blice, and representatives of the NHS Student Body. Attending were commissioners, school board members, representatives from Resolute Construction, CCS administration, city government, law enforcement, ChathamArts, faculty, students and community members.
To the Chatham County Commissioners, School Board, and Administration | On the Occasion of the Northwood High School Arts Wing Dedication | The 16th of October, 2009:
I am a strong proponent of a concept called Schools as Centers of Community. Across the country, school systems have begun to maximize the use of school campuses for myriad educational, recreational, and entertainment activities. These may include child care, elder care, clinics, libraries, night school, conference/professional development facilities and YMCA operations.
There are two really great reasons why this makes sense. First, for many communities like ours, school facilities are their biggest investment and one of their greatest potential resources. So utilizing these physical plants for more than 35 hours a week provides a greater return on the investment.
And secondly, we know that one of the most effective ways to improve schools is to increase family and community involvement. Eric Booth, a member of the faculty at the Juilliard School and nationally recognized consultant for the arts, calls the arts a “catalyst for engagement.” No other activity is as effective for bringing families and community into a school as the arts.
So today I am thrilled because of course, we must provide the very best facilities we can for the important work of students and educators. But I am equally excited because your efforts and dedication and vision offer an amazing opportunity for our entire community, now and in a future we have yet to see—but can dream and hope and work for.
I salute you all!