By Hannah Lester
Beauregard High School now has $20,000 in its pocket — thanks to an Alabama Arts Education Initiative grant awarded to the school.
The Performing Arts Center at Beauregard High, The V.E.S.P.A (Venue for Educating Students In The Performing Arts), is in for some upgrades.
Principal Richard Brown said that his predecessor desired a performing arts venue for students at Beauregard 30 years ago.
“One day, when this pandemic is behind us, we’ll be able to officially open this facility to our students and staff and our community and what an exciting day that will be,” Brown said.
Brown approached the Beauregard High School Arts Coordinator John Hillsman, along with other school faculty and staff, and asked them to apply for the state grant.
“It was decided that the focus of our application would be to provide equipment to further enhance these facilities, be it furnishings, sound, lighting equipment, whatever,” Hillsman said.
The school found out it had received the grant in February.
“I’ve always had this to say, if you’re an administrator and you’re not offering the arts at your school, then you’re not engaging all the students in your community,” said Andy Meadows, arts education specialists at the Alabama State Department of Education.
The grant is available for three years, and this first year was an award of $20,000. The school can apply again the next two years for $10,000 per year.
The school has three levels of priorities for using the money, each priority assigned to a year of funding. Granted, the school may not receive funding the second or third year, Hillsman said.
The first priority includes risers for the choir and band, a cyclorama curtain, leg curtain tracks and two follow spot lights.
The second priority, should the school receive second-year funding, will include headset microphones and boundary microphones. The third priority is tools for the scene shop.
“The benefits of these grants have been seen state-wide,” Meadows said.
In addition to equipment for the facility, 25% of the funding must be used for “staff development opportunities”. Therefore, there will be training for faculty, staff and students to learn how to use the advanced equipment, Hillsman said.
“It’s just an amazing facility and I seriously doubt that most people realize what we have,” he said.
Brown said he hopes that Beauregard’s auditorium will be unique and stand out from others in the area, hence the name (V.E.S.P.A.)
“Our mascot, an insect, the hornet, belongs to the genus VESPA,” he said. “And hence, the name of our auditorium. But, I’m guilty, educators love acronyms. And so it is also an acronym for the educational purpose of this facility and this is, it is the venue for educating students in performing arts. So, welcome to Beauregard High School. Welcome to the V.E.S.P.A.”