From the Archives: Poly to Develop New Performing Arts Center

Harold Theurer, Staff Writer '13


On October 6, 2022, Poly broke ground on construction of the new Arts Center. Ten years earlier, Polygon staff writer Harold Theurer wrote an article on the initial plans for the Center. Expected to be in use by the beginning of next year, the Arts Center will feature new facilities for dance, performing arts, music, and visual arts. To mark the beginning of construction on this major project for the arts and Poly as a whole, the Polygon is republishing Theurer’s article, originally from the November 2012 issue.


Some would argue that Poly typically empha­sizes athletics more than the arts. While the majority of the recent renovations to the school’s facilities have been fo­cused on athletics; in the upcom­ing years, Poly will be looking to change that by increasing its emphasis on the performing arts. Beginning in the late summer of 2013, Poly will begin to relocate its outdoor pool to the basketball courts on the backfield. In doing so, the school will make room for what will soon become Poly’s Performing Arts Center. Furthermore, the [Gazzani] Terrace in the admissions building will be enclosed, creating space for the future student publication offices. Poly hopes that this will foster a closely-knit work environment between the students and faculty involved in the admissions building, creat­ing crucial student and faculty relationships that will benefit the former.

According to Associate Headmaster Steven Andersen, The Performing Arts Center is expected to be completed within 18 to 24 months from now, and will require an estimated three and a half to four million dol­lars to complete. The facilities will be focused on dance and instrumental performance, and will include dance rooms, instrumental spaces, four private practice rooms, an electronic music space, instrumental stor­age space, and staff offices. One unique feature is a dance studio that will match the exact speci­fications of the theater stage, creating a built-in rehearsal space for dance and theater produc­tions occurring at the school.

It is universally agreed that if the chapel were to be renovated and equipped with new technology equivalent to that in the theater, it would ultimately have the potential to act as a second performance venue. As a result, this would allow for multiple products to occur simultaneously throughout the year. This would boost the school’s performing arts program, which, longer needing to stagger main stage perfor­ mances, would use extra space for student productions.

The facilities’ focus on instrumental music will enhance the instrumental program as well. Performing arts teacher Chris Benvegna will now be able to transition out of the cramped band room where he has resided for years, allowing him to teach in a more comfortable environment where students will gain the incentive to rehearse on their own in the new practice rooms.

“I think a facility of this nature is an amazing opportunity for students,” said Ian Petrarca ‘12, a former member of the Poly Jazz Band. “During my time at Poly I knew that many students, including myself, were often disappointed by the lack of available rooms for collaboration or even private practice. So hearing that plans are in the works to allow students greater access to spaces in which to practice, perform, or just jam out is really something to be proud of.”

Chris Patacsil ‘12, a for­mer member of the instrumental program, agreed. “I’m overjoyed to hear that Poly is as committed to the arts as it is to sports and academics.”

The new Performing Arts center will ultimately re­define the public perception of Poly Prep. Already recognized for its strong theater and dance programs, Poly will only benefit from these upgrades. As prospec­tive students enter the campus and approach the admissions building, some of the first words that greet them will be “Poly Prep Performing Arts Center” on the adjacent building, showing the emphasis on the arts from day one.

“Being a part of a production can be one of the quintessential team experiences in the high school experience,” said Associate Headmaster Steven Andersen. Hopefully the new facilities will increase interest in joining these “teams”, as the new additions allow room for the instrumental, theater, and dance programs to grow and attract new faces to the performing arts.

With regard to the project, the Head of the Performing Arts Department and a strong proponent of the upgrades, Nicholas Armstrong, believes Poly can become a leading institution in the arts with the addition of the new facilities.

“We have talented students and always will, and I have a team of professional, caring faculty members who are eager to see Poly realize its fullest potential as a trainer of musical talent,” Mr. Armstrong said, “All we need now is someone who believes in this project as profoundly as we do to help spearhead the capital fund-raising campaign necessary for construction.”

Mr. Armstrong acknowledges that these facilities will solve the current issues surrounding availability of rehearsal space and cramped classrooms, and hopes that the construction will allow room for the increasing number of students interested in the arts. Ultimately, it is in the best interest of the Poly student body that these facilities be developed quickly, in order to benefit the next generation of Poly students and to hone their talents in facilities that enhance their creative thoughts and artistic abilities.