FD middle school auditorium ready to go

Fort Dodge Middle School’s auditorium is ready for its first performances.

Construction of the Fort Dodge Community School District’s $30 million project completed in August, ahead of the school opening for the 2013-14 school year.

“We’re really anxious and looking forward to getting the community members in here to see it, and know that it will be a facility for the community to take advantage of and see great performances in,” Jennifer Lane, FDCSD director of communications, said. “It’s exciting to finally be at that point.”

Doug Van Zyl, FDCSD superintendent, said he was glad to see the project near completion.

“It’s something the community has wanted for a while, and we’re glad to give them the opportunity to hopefully see it,” Van Zyl said.

Foremost, the auditorium is a performance site for the school’s students.

“Our high school students will be able to use this for their plays. The band concerts, the middle school and elementary students will be able to utilize it,” Van Zyl said. “We’re glad the community has an opportunity to use it, but really it is still an instructional education site for our kids to use.”

The University of Purdue Varsity Glee Club will be the first to perform in the auditorium on Monday at 7 p.m. Sponsored by the Ann Smeltzer Charitable Trust, the concert is free to the public.

“It’s kind of our kick-off, our official opening of the auditorium,” Lane said.

Wednesday, the Iowa Supreme Court will be in session in the auditorium and hear two cases.

The $3 million addition still has minor work to be done, though, and is expected to be completed by Nov. 1, according to Shane Albrecht, FDCSD construction manager.

“We’re getting very close,” Albrecht said. “We’ve still got some curtains, some different lighting that has to go up. We’re going to hold off and do that after our two events show up.”

Progress made since the school opened in August includes installation of railings and seats, the sound system and hanging microphones, Albrecht said.

“It has had some of the similar challenges to the rest of the space,” Albrecht said. “This has kind of been the one we left to the end because we wanted to make sure the school was open for the kids.”

Albrecht said the school itself has been operating well since opening.

“We’ve been working through all the little bugs, getting those taken care of,” he said. “With any new project, there’s a number of new bugs. I don’t know that this one has anymore bugs than anything else. The first week we had quite a few, but now we don’t have very many anymore.”

Also nearing completion is the middle school’s track and field.

“They just got the (all-weather) surface finished on that yesterday. They’ll be back next week to put the lines on it,” Albrecht said.

Albrecht said it felt good to be so far along on the project.

“It’s an awesome experience,” he said. “This is a space I’m glad we’re able to get out there for the community.”