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Gleaming New Building Gives Comstock Park a Center for Arts, Athletics, More

The gleaming new Comstock Park Performing Arts and Athletic Center could be called a “gym-atorium” or “audanasium” or “cafe-gym-auditorium.”

Certainly, the term “multi-functional” best describes the gym that easily converts into a 700-seat auditorium.

The $7.9 million facility is the showpiece of a pair of bond proposals totaling $29.4 million passed by voters in Feb. 2011. Connected to Comstock Park High School, 150 Six Mile Road NE, it provides space never available before for the district’s band, choir and athletics program. A  Community Dedication Ceremony is from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 2.

“All of the upgrades look amazing, but I am most excited about the positive impact they will have on our instructional programs and building culture,” said Principal Steve Gough. “I cannot wait to see what teachers and students are able to do with the tremendous resources our community has given them.”

For athletes, musicians, schoolworkRetractable auditorium seating quickly transforms the facility from gymnasium to auditorium and back again

With a lobby designed for collaborative student work, students will mingle outside the space on mobile couches and chairs in close proximity to LCD screens and outlets. The entrance also features a cafe and the Panther Quick Stop school store, where community members can pick up Comstock Park gear.

In the facility, to be used as an auxiliary gymnasium, hardwood floors sparkle, waiting for athletes. All winter sports can practice there, making schedules more flexible when the main gym is in use.

For fine arts programs, retractable auditorium seating can quickly be put in place, fronting the facility’s large stage, which is fully equipped with acoustics.

Band Director Larry Moore said his students will enjoy the many benefits of having a space of their own, including the ability to in rehearse where they will perform on the day of a concert.

They will no longer have to rent auditoriums in other districts, and the gym floor offers a large indoor space for marching band rehearsals during inclement weather. 

Director of Vocal Music Megan Vos said the new auditorium is the next step toward continued growth of the choral and fine arts programming as well as other large-group gatherings and uses.

A dinner theater is planned for October, as are a spring musical and seasonal choral concerts.

“More than anything, our students deserve a professional space that is well equipped for their performances. We are feeling blessed and thankful,” she said.

Using the space

The addition also includes a training room, locker rooms, and a student lab that can be split into two classrooms designed project-based learning through technology and collaborative work.

A new media center is designed as a flex lab with hubs to connect multiple laptops, and furniture conducive to mobile learning like movable chairs and small coaches. Gough said the media center will still serve to maintain and distribute books, but will o serve as a center for innovative learning as well. A flex lab allows students to use mobile computers; several technology-rich break-out areas further encourage collaboration and project-based learning.

“We also hope to develop procedures that allow students to use the various spaces now available to them before, during, and after the school day. All of this has been done as a way of encouraging and improving college and career readiness,” he said.

Summer construction projects funded by the bond have included work at Stoney Creek Elementary School, which received a gym addition, renovation of the existing gym into a new cafeteria, new roofing and interactive projectors. All classrooms were renovated with new ceilings and carpeting.

Greenridge and Pine Island elementary schools, Mill Creek Middle School, and the district bus garage also received improvements.

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is managing editor and reporter, covering Kentwood, Lowell and Wyoming. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013, and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio


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