Middle School auditorium to receive makeover

by Dan Holland

Students, teachers and parents returning to Brecksville-Broadview Heights Middle School for the 2023-2024 school year can expect to see a fully renovated auditorium space in the building.

The $570,000 project is being jointly funded by the school district and the local parent school organization.

Denise Gawlik and Kerry Ely are co-chairs of the BBH Middle School PSO Auditorium Renovation Committee, which formed in the fall of 2019 to raise money to aid the district in funding the project. To date, the group has raised more than $155,000 through a number of events and fundraisers. Major contributors include the Kiwanis Club of Brecksville, Rick Smith Jr.’s Magic Gives Back program, the PSOs of the now-closed BBH elementary schools and a number of local businesses, including 750 ml Wines in Brecksville.

“The auditorium desperately needed repairs and renovations, with it being original to 1970,” said Gawlik. “A lot of it was unsafe – like the old electrical panels – and it all needed to be upgraded and replaced: the lighting, the sound system; everything. At the time, the district didn’t have the money or the motivation to get the project done, so Kerry and I decided as the new middle school presidents for the PSO to kick off this campaign to see if we could raise the money to get some of it done.”

Phase one of the project was completed in the summer of 2020 and included replacing electrical components, the sound system and the house and stage lighting.

The biggest portion of the cost lies in replacing all seating in the 950-seat auditorium, according to school district Treasurer and CFO Craig Yaniglos.

“There’s the removal of the old seats, installing all brand-new seats, and we’re also making sure there are plenty of ADA accommodations,” he said. “The new seats alone cost around $240,000. It also involves some floor prep and replacing carpeting, lighting, the stage curtain, sound panels and It will all be painted.”

According to Yaniglos, an experienced local contractor is lending his expertise on the project.

“The district did get a local vendor to help as project manager, and they’re doing everything on a volunteer basis,” he said. “He is donating his time and effort to putting together a project timeline, managing the vendors and almost working on our behalf, which is great.”

The venue hosts more than 100 events annually, including school musicals, holiday shows, band, orchestra and choir concerts, speech and debate team events, parent meetings and middle school student study periods. Community groups often rent out the facility for summer camps, dance recitals and private business events.

The second and final phase of the renovation work is scheduled to begin in late May and conclude by mid-August.

According to Yaniglos, the district agreed to support the project up to $350,000, with the remainder coming from the PSO group and other community donations. The district, which opened a brand-new elementary school last September on the Blossom Hill property, took on the project as part of a district-wide effort to provide the most up-to-date facilities throughout.

“With the new elementary school, and a high school that had been our newest building, I think we spent a lot of time and effort to make sure we can maintain the spaces at the middle school,” said Yaniglos. “The middle school is now our oldest building, and we want to be sure that the whole campus looks its absolute best.”

Gawlik and Ely credit much of the success for the project to BBHMS principal Todd Rings.

“He has been very instrumental in this project, and he has been a partner to us,” said Ely. “Although we both no longer have kids in the middle school, we had committed to seeing the project through, and Todd has been there for us every step of the way.”

Yaniglos said he is grateful for all the contributions from within the community.

“It’s great that people are so motivated to be involved,” he said. “The ladies we have been working with from the PSO – Denise and Kerry – are truly dedicated to the cause. It takes a lot of time and effort to accomplish this, and it’s wonderful to see parents and groups who are so actively engaged.”

“It brings a sense of pride to have a nice venue for the students to perform in for their families,” said Gawlik. “The middle school band, orchestra and choir performances are usually the first experiences these kids have with performing, and now we have a nice place for families to come and watch along with state-of-the-art technology.”

“Every day we get closer to making that dream come true, and we’ve been working on it a long time,” added Ely. ∞

Replacing the seats will be the most costly portion of the project,
school district officials say. Photo by D. Holland.