August 17, 2015 was a date that has changed the course of the performing arts at OLCHS for all time. It was on this date that Board of Education President, Mr. Matthew Egan, stood before the faculty and declared that a Performing Arts Center would be built. It was a surprise to all and the excitement for the future was ignited. Mr. Egan and his fellow Board of Education members understood the need for the school and the District 229 community to have a facility worthy of the talent that can be witnessed each year in the music, theatrical, and artistic programs. He saw the potential for learning and the opportunity for our students to achieve more and at a higher level, with this facility.
Over the course of the next three years, the school board, administration, and staff worked tirelessly with our architects, STR Partners, and construction management company, Henry Brothers to create a space worthy of the student performers who would come to grace its stage. Board Vice President Mr. Egan, and current President Mr. Robert Loehr were active participants in the numerous planning meetings to keep this project on task.
Fast forward to October, 2018, OLCHS held its official ribbon cutting ceremony for the Performing Arts Center on Sunday, October 28, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. Superintendent Michael Riordan said, "After many years of preparation and planning, and with the support of our Board of Education and the District 229 community, I am excited to see this dream become a reality. Our fine arts students and staff have demonstrated their commitment to excellence for many years, and with this beautiful new Performing Arts Center, they will now be able to achieve at even greater heights. The PAC will help our school continue to grow as we strive to achieve our mission by preparing all students for future success."
The Performing Arts Center is a state-of-the-art facility. It seats 630, and includes an orchestra pit, scene shop, two dressing rooms, and a Studio Theater. The sixty-five foot flytower allows for a fully functional rigging system and boasts twenty-eight separate linesets. In addition to the facility itself, a state-of-the-art orchestra shell was included in the project and it transforms the space into a concert hall unlike any the school has ever had. Gone are the days of converting gyms into performance spaces, Oak Lawn Community High School now has a performance facility its students, staff, and community rightfully deserve.
In addition to the Performing Arts Center, the 18-month project included renovations to athletic facilities, including eight new tennis courts, and 3 shot put and 2 discus competition areas. Water retention improvements were also made to accommodate the project and future campus improvements. The benefits of this entire project will last well beyond this generation and Oak Lawn Community High School is proud of its dedication to the school community and our future Spartans!