MHS’S Next Building Project Should Be Performing Arts Facilities


MHS Show choir performing on January 20. Photo by VIP.

Alex Heraty, Staff Reporter

The big topic of discussion at MHS over the last couple years has been on improving STEM resources with a three-story building addition. However, the discussion is slowly transitioning to another undeserved area on the school’s campus:  the performing arts facilities.

MHS’s performing arts programs are highly competitive and put on high-quality performances. MHS’s Wind Ensemble was selected to perform at the Illinois SuperState Concert Band Festival in 2013, and its Jazz Ensemble has ranked high among other jazz bands in the area.

Mundelein Theatre’s production of David Schwimmer’s play, “Trust”, made its high school premiere on MHS’s stage and was later performed at the Illinois High School Theatre Festival in 2014.

MHS’s three show choirs continue to prove to be some of the best in the area by competing around the Midwest.

However, students’ talents are showcased on a stage that limits their potential. MHS does not have adequate rehearsal and performance spaces for the level its students perform at despite recent renovations and additions.

“It’s really important that we have spaces that are large enough for students to practice in that simulate the space that they might be performing in as close as possible,” said Stevee Bellas, choir director.

Recently, MHS renovated the choir room by expanding its walls and adding practice rooms. Bellas said that students can use these rooms to practice in small groups, to work individually or to work with an instructor to help solidify voice parts. A general music room with wood floors and floor-to-ceiling mirrors were also added to the choir program’s facilities. However, these renovations do not satisfy all the needs of the music program.

“It would be great if we could have a choir room that was large enough to have a separate area for show choir and concert choir,” said Bellas.

The school has also made minor improvements to the band program’s facilities with the addition of nine sound-insulated practice rooms and more storage space.

“The additional practice rooms allow us to break off into small ensembles to allow students an opportunity to learn in a smaller group,” said Andy Sturgeon, band director. “It’s nice to have spaces that we can lock to maintain security and safety of the instruments and uniforms.”

With four concert bands, and one of the largest high school marching bands in the state, MHS’s band program still has limited facilities without a space large enough for its size.

“It would be nice to have a larger band facility space and a facility that makes sense for an indoor rehearsal location for a 250-member marching band,” said Sturgeon.

The space used by the band, choir and theatre programs is located in a cramped area of the school, leaving little room for the programs to adapt and expand.

“Looking in Lake Country, there are some high schools in our area that have really adaptive fine arts centers,” said Sturgeon. “It would be nice to see the school move in that direction.”

Perhaps the biggest area in need of an upgrade is the auditorium.

“In comparison to other high schools in our area, it’s a little bit small, so there’s definitely a little room for growth,” said Bellas. “Once you build a newer spacer, there are more opportunities for new technology.”

According to Jonathan Meier, theatre director, the stage’s lighting system is excellent, but the performing arts facilities still lack what the performing arts programs need most.

“For many years, we have been discussing the need for a new performing arts center here at MHS,” said Meier. “Such a building would include upgraded facilities for band, choir and broadcasting, as well as a new auditorium and black box theatre.”

Sturgeon said an upgraded band facility would have a band room with a two-and-a-half-story ceiling for better acoustics, which would create a concert-hall-style sound within the band room.

“Nicer facilities would help everyone achieve better sonorities when you have rooms working for your acoustical advantage,” said Sturgeon.

MHS should expand its investment in its performing arts programs as students should not have to rehearse and perform in facilities that limit their proven potential.

“Now that the new science building is complete, I am hopeful that plans for a new [performing arts] center will move forward,” said Meier. “Having a state-of-the-art facility will enable us to properly train our students and prepare them for college and beyond.”