BBH Middle School raises curtain on renovations

by Dan Holland

A comprehensive $570,000 renovation of the Brecksville-Broadview Heights Middle School auditorium reached substantial completion in late November. The project was jointly funded between the school district and the local parent school organization.

Denise Gawlik and Kerry Ely, co-chairs of the BBHMS PSO Auditorium Renovation Committee, formed the group in 2018, raising more than $155,000 for the project through a number of fundraising events. Major contributors included Rick Smith Jr.’s Magic Gives Back, the Kiwanis Club of Brecksville, the PSOs of the now-closed BBH elementary schools and a number of local businesses.

“There was torn and faded carpet, and the stage curtain that was originally red had faded to a shade of orange,” explained Gawlik. “The auditorium was originally constructed in 1970; the seats were original and had been reupholstered at one point in the 1980s. They were in pretty bad shape.”

Replacing all 950 seats and bringing them up to code to be ADA compliant, with a price tag of approximately $240,000, was the biggest portion of the cost, according to BBHCSD Treasurer and CFO Craig Yaniglos. The school district made a permanent improvement commitment of up to $350,000 on the project.

“It all needed to be updated aesthetically, in addition to replacing the electrical panel and lighting system,” added Ely. “It’s been a multi-stage project with those items being done prior to COVID-19; then we took a big pause during COVID.”

Project costs were kept down due to in-kind services provided, according to Gawlik. “In addition to the PSO funding, we had a tremendous amount of in-kind donation of work from Independence Excavating, who took it on as project manager,” she explained. “Once we got into doing all the renovations, they coordinated the schedule and did a complete demolition and removal of the old seats at their own cost.”

More than 100 events are hosted annually at the venue, including band, orchestra and choir concerts, holiday shows, parent meetings, school musicals, speech and debate team events and middle school study periods. Dance recitals, community band and choir groups, summer camps and private business events are a few of the groups that rent out the facility.

“The middle school auditorium is the most popular venue in the district for rentals because of the size of the auditorium and specifically the size of the stage,” explained Gawlik. “It is larger than the high school stage, so when the dance programs want to come in, or magician Rick Smith Jr., they request the middle school stage due to its size.”

The renovation provides a state-of-the-art facility to be enjoyed by the entire community and school district. A donor plaque will be one of the last items installed at the venue.

“I think it brings a sense of pride, and the students now have a beautiful venue to perform in, which shows that the district cares for the students and the families who come to watch their performances,” said Gawlik. “It was really a community effort, from the school district to businesses, parents, the BBH Schools Foundation, the alumni association, the Kiwanis and many others. Virtually every aspect of our community contributed to this in some way.”

“The renovation for the BBH Middle School auditorium will provide our school and community groups who rent our facility an experience that has been updated and more pleasurable,” said BBHMS Principal Todd Rings. “The renovation committee, under the direction of Kerry Ely and Denise Gawlik, has done a tremendous job of providing a significant amount of donations and fundraising in conjunction with the school district to provide a beautiful space for our students and community.”

“The renovations have been well received, and we still have some smaller upgrades to come over the next year or so, making this facility a truly amazing space for our students and community to enjoy for years to come,” said Yaniglos. “We sincerely appreciate the efforts of the PSO to make this project a reality.” ∞

Photo: Replacing all 950 seats and making them ADA-compliant cost $240,000.