A New Era for the LHS Arts Departments

The students of LHS have long awaited the day when they would be able to step foot in the new wing. After nearly two years of construction, COVID-19 setbacks, and much anticipation, it has finally arrived. This 33,274 square-foot, two-story addition, boasting three new music rooms as well as three new art rooms, is greatly expanding the school’s fine arts department.

  Plans for the new wing, dedicated to longtime board of education member Alicemarie Bresnihan, were introduced back in 2017 as part of a larger $33.9 million bond. Construction officially began on March 12, 2020, just one day before school closed due to COVID-19. After being halted due to the pandemic, work on the new wing began again in May 2020 and picked up speed throughout the rest of the year. 

An official ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Sept. 1, 2021, and when students returned for in-person learning at the beginning of this school year, a brand-new wing was waiting for them. Many gaped in awe at the polished green and gold floors, trophy cases lining the halls, and the new staircases.

  Teachers of the arts were likewise taken aback by the new wing’s grandeur. Compared to the old art and music rooms, the new ones were a welcomed surprise. “While I had so many great memories over the years in my old room, and I will always love that room, the new room is beautiful and full of storage,” said Art Department Chairperson Vincent Lentini. “I love the new furniture we have for the students as well as the extra sinks.” He added that he is most excited about a new kiln that will be installed in his room because it will open more opportunities for working with clay and adding more sculpture to the curriculum.

  According to Lentini, new art rooms feature “friendly furniture that allows the students to work more comfortably on their artwork,” as well as ample storage that will be able to house students’ works. He also described a cork folding wall that separates rooms 202 and 203 that will allow for “large figure drawing and still events in evening sessions provided by the staff and the NAHS” as well as group critiques where the entire class can show their work at the same time. He added that a new ventilation system will be installed in room 202, which will allow the more advanced classes to use oil paints; this type of paint was not previously feasible in the old rooms due to fumes.

  Music teachers are likewise excited about the new wing, especially considering the state of the former rooms. The band room was the only music room that was large enough for students to play in; however, it could feel cramped at times when packed to the brim with students and bulky instruments. Both orchestra and chorus classes were allotted a closet-sized room, which was ultimately used as an office and for instrument storage. They practiced on the auditorium stage, having to rearrange the chairs and music stands between classes. 

Orchestra teacher Alyssa White stated, “Previously coming from a shared stage in the auditorium and a small office used for music lessons, [the new room] is a very welcome change.” White is grateful to now have “a dedicated orchestra classroom, encompassing all the needs of the orchestra program in one space.” 

Chorus teacher Barry Wyner likewise reflected upon the state of the auditorium. “Our old space lacked basic things like a clock or a window, and now we have gone to the Rolls Royce of music rooms,” he said. He described the new music room as a “tremendous upgrade” that was “worth every minute” of the wait.

  New music rooms are considerably larger than the old ones and feature futuristic-looking acoustic panels hanging from the ceilings. Wyner is especially excited about this new feature; as soon as his students started to sing, he said he could hear a positive difference in the sound quality. This will make students’ singing reverberate more, allowing them to hear themselves better. 

Additionally, there are plenty of windows in each room, allowing for much natural light to enter – starkly contrasting with the windowless auditorium and old band room. New practice rooms have also been added, and the soundproof one located in the band room proves to be popular among the students. 

White finds it hard to pick her favorite part of the new orchestra room: “I could say the visual and recording technologies, the sunlight, the instrument storage area,” she said, “but most importantly, it’s a space where everything and everyone can belong.”

  Though the school year has just begun, the impact of the new wing can already be seen among LHS’s art and music students. The large, welcoming rooms provide for an environment that fosters creativity, and the arts departments are excited to use them for years to come.