Construction begins on school auditorium, 1 year after roof collapse

 

MURPHYSBORO, IL – An area high school will soon have a new place for performances.

Murphysboro High School has been without an auditorium since the roof collapsed in August of last year, just days before classes started for the year.

Now, the school is one step closer to getting the new building up and running. Crews began work this week on construction of the new performing arts center at Murphysboro High School. It’s a project the district didn’t have in mind until the old auditorium came down. But now, they hope the new facility can be a point of pride for the community.

These days, choir practice at the high school brings dozens of kids inside the sewing room. Juniors Joshua Ruiz and Hannah Wilson pack inside with their classmates for chorus practice.

“It’s a relatively small classroom, so for 77 kids to be in here at once, it’s a bit of an issue,” Joshua said.

“It’s a bit of a squeeze just to get everyone in here,” Hannah said.

The pair say it’s hectic, but practicing for plays means they have to find rides down to the middle school in town to use that small space.

Murphysboro High School Principal Tony Wilson says he’s thrilled to move forward with plans to rebuild the auditorium.

“You know, we’ve been a year and a half without an auditorium now, and it’s caused us a lot of stress in a lot of different areas. You know, somehow, we’ve all pulled together, made it work. This is the next phase, and we couldn’t be happier,” said Wilson.

When the construction work is finished, the new auditorium will stretch nearly all the way out to the street. It’ll seat a little over 700 people and will cost the district around $7 million.

“It’s a great thing for students and for the community,” Wilson said.

Friday, school leaders went out to break ground on the new center. When it’s done, Wilson said, it will provide the kind of space the students deserve.

“We kind of began our high school career with the old auditorium, and we’ll get to end it with the new one, so it’ll be a great change,” Hannah said.

“It’ll be just amazing to pick up where we left off,” Joshua said.

School leaders say they would never have been able to pay for this scale of project without revenue brought in by the 1 percent sales tax for school facilities Jackson County voters approved last November.

Murphysboro school leaders plan to have the new auditorium up and running by December 2018.