BH-BL HS opens new auditorium

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School new auditorium ribbon cutting.

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School new auditorium ribbon cutting.

BALLSTON LAKE — The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School Auditorium officially reopened after a ribbon cutting ceremony held this past week.

The high school’s Arthur C. Mengel Auditorium reopened after a $10 million upgrade and expansion, which voters approved about four years ago.

“It was four years ago, almost to the day that our community voted in favor of building our second century capital project,” BOE President Lisa Morse said. “This district-wide project was aimed at improving our facilities and bringing them into the 21st century.”

The new auditorium now has air conditioning, a balcony for added seating, a wider stage with a renovated stage floor, new seating, new carpeting, upgraded lighting and audio systems and more.

The old auditorium had received a few small upgrades, but not a lot had changed since it was built in 1955, Morse said. For more than six decades the space had been used for generations of talent shows, assemblies, ceremonies, community events, performances and more.

District, school and community members and leaders came together October 26 for the new auditorium’s ribbon cutting. Immediately following the ceremony the auditorium hosted its first concert, a performance by the high school orchestra.

BH-BL Superintendent Patrick McGrath shared the story about former school board president Arthur C. Mengel, for whom the auditorium is named for.

“Arthur Clayton Mengel was an incredibly important figure in the development not only of this High School building but of the structure of this district itself,” McGrath said.

Mengel and the other school board members in 1948 envisioned a district with small neighborhood elementary schools, and a more centrally located facility for upper grades, McGrath said. The community was in disagreement if they should have one building for all grades, or have multiple community school buildings, McGrath explained. The situation escalated to the point Mengel received death threats by phone.

“Through it all Arthur sought to bring peace and a unity of purpose to the community,” McGrath said. “His leadership exacted a personal price, the intense controversy over the future of the district was taking a toll on his health

The neighborhood school concept was approved the third time it came to a vote, McGrath said.

Mengel wanted to see the arts given a prominent place in the new high school, McGrath said.

HS principal Timothy Brunson spoke about the difficult decision to temporarily remove the vital space from the building. He explained assemblies, performances and meetings were all moved to other locations during construction.

“The hard work, effort and determination it took to make it happen was worth it in the end,” Brunson said. “Thank you to all who have helped make this possible, the continued support is appreciated. I am looking forward to sharing this space once again, it is truly a great day to be a spartan.”

The new auditorium project was part of the district’s $34 million capital project which was voter-approved in 2018. Other funding in the capital project is being used for district-wide improvements, safety and security improvements at O’Rourke Middle School, Security and Classroom Improvements and continuation of the district’s 21st Century Learning Needs improvements.

Categories: News, News, Saratoga County, Schenectady County, Scotia Glenville

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