District improves sound quality at YHS Performing Arts Center

By Daniel Warn / [email protected]

Yelm Community Schools made $ 512,932 in upgrades to upgrade the Performing Arts Center (PAC) at Yelm High School with bond money.

The work was initially scheduled to run concurrently with the 2003 bond measure, but budget restrictions prevented it at the time, said Brian Wharton, superintendent of Yelm Community Schools. Most of the work was completed on October 18.

“What we did was we installed an acoustic shell on the stage, both sides and top, and (a) portable pit cover,” Wharton told the Nisqually Valley News. “And we also, then, completely overhauled the sound system in this facility.”

He said people have been struggling to enjoy performance in the PAC for a while due to sound issues in the facility.

“The reason we did the whole audio system over was that it was really hard to use and it was really hard to understand what people were singing or saying,” Wharton said. “The sound was going in the wrong direction. It went through the roof instead of going out to the people in the audience. “

When the district was able to complete the work, it took the opportunity to modernize the facility to match what should have been done in 2003, Wharton said.

In addition to the redesigned sound system, there are now 32 wireless microphones for students, or for anyone else to perform.

“They can just put the earpiece mics on,” he said. “It’s much easier to use. It can be operated from the stage or the sound booth. It really is a top notch facility now. … It’s concert quality now.

Once the work was completed on October 18, the district wasted no time in getting groups into the new improved space. The first concert in the hall since the upgrades took place on October 20.

And the work will benefit not only the school, but the community as well, Wharton said.

“The Performing Arts Center was advertised as a facility for community use,” he said. “Because it was so hard to use, it didn’t get used as often as it should have (had). So now we have the opportunity to do a lot more… school and community activities at this facility.

The PAC isn’t the only facility that will benefit from improvements for both the district and the community, Wharton said, as the baseball field and fastball fields will sport turf surfaces by Thanksgiving.

The work was due to be completed within a shorter time frame, but due to supply chain issues related to COVID-19, the turf coating was not delivered until October 26.

The installation process is currently in progress.

“The reason we did this is that we never used our baseball and fastball fields all year,” Wharton said. “We didn’t rent them out to the community because we couldn’t afford to water them. And so that will allow us to have baseball and fastball events all year round. “

Other supply chain issues affected the timing of some of the safety and security improvements the district has tried to make at elementary schools in Lackamas and McKenna.

The district planned to make the improvements earlier in the year, but eventually received most of the parts needed to put a bookend on the job late last month.

Lackamas primary school received covered outdoor walkways between its buildings, which were completed in mid-October. There are only a few gutters left to install. And an additional sidewalk on campus has been completed, although the district is still waiting for coins to improve security at the facility’s access control gate.

Access control for other parts of the campus was also installed and programmed, and a second washroom was created in one of the existing structures on the campus.

For months, parts for the new security cameras on the Lackamas and McKenna campuses have been delayed due to ongoing supply chain issues, although those parts have now arrived and installed.

Other work completed at McKenna Elementary School includes new playground equipment and building access control improvements.

The district also completed the installation of new HVAC systems in its school buildings.

About Madeline J. Carter

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