Lifestyles

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More Than Just a Building  By Ethan Laughman



















The Grand Opening of the Thomaston-Upson Fine Arts Building commenced on Monday, May 20th. The day consisted of a ribbon-cutting, a meeting of several dignitaries from Thomaston and Upson County, tours of the building provided by several students from Upson-Lee High School, and various concerts and performances by the music programs from both the middle and high schools. Visitors to the new building were encouraged to have a look around and admire the magnificent building. Jeremy Stanley, director of the ULHS band, commented in a recent interview that "I don't feel like I'm in Thomaston…you find facilities like this in larger cities. To have this type of facility in Thomaston, Georgia is absolutely remarkable."

            Remarkable is an understatement. Upon entering, visitors were greeted with a display of artwork that was painted, sculpted, or drawn by students of the arts classes at ULHS. From there, visitors were ushered into the incredible auditorium. The center, under construction since 2010, houses a massive, 98-foot stage, seating for 900 patrons, and state of the art lighting and sound systems. Between the sweeping stage, impressive lighting, and spectacular sound system, visitors could not help but succumb to the inevitable wave of awe that the astonishing auditorium produced. Tour groups were then led backstage and invited to view the new greenroom, complete with the director’s office, four dressing rooms, and six makeup stations, as well as prop and set storage. When visitors mounted the stairs to the second floor, they were allowed to view the auditorium from the balcony, fitted with 250 seats and the almighty control booth, home to state of the art computers and sound equipment.

            The Thomaston-Upson Fine Arts Center will have a tremendous impact on the community. The center will allow greater flexibility for the music, choral, and drama departments in the Upson-Lee school system. This greater flexibility will allow for more performances and greater cooperation between Upson County and the surrounding areas. According to Joshua Sirmons, head of the ULHS drama department and manager of the new facility, because the building is in—more or less—the center of the state, it gives Upson County the freedom to host events such as band festivals, one-act plays, honor choirs, and other statewide activities. The existence of the new center will bring in a new cultural experience for all of Thomaston.

            The very fact that Upson County allowed the construction of this center signifies the importance of the arts programs to the community. All over the country, fine arts programs are being cut back or, in many cases, completely shut down. This results in a culturally illiterate population being slowly starved of rich artistic experiences. Fortunately, this is not the case in Upson County. The community clearly recognizes the importance of the fine arts programs. Keith Rohling, chair of the Thomaston Board of Education, states that “they’re not extracurricular activities—they’re cocurricular activities. They support the curriculum, and are not just something for the kids to do”. This is reinforced by the fact that there is a significant overlap of students involved in the fine arts programs and those that are recognized on honors night, granted scholarships, and become successful later in life.

            With the Grand Opening of the new center, Thomaston can now look forward to decades of cultural stimulation which will invigorate its citizens and provide a plethora of opportunities for not only the arts programs, but the entire community as well.

THE 2013 BOOBIE BALL WILL BE HELD SATURDAY, SEPT. 14 AT BICKLEY’S LAKE.  GATES WILL OPEN AT 4 P.M.  DANCE THE NIGHT AWAY WITH LOOSE CHANGE AND FRIENDS!  CORNHOLE TOURNAMENT-BOAT RIDES-BIG SCREEN TV TO WATCH THE GAMES-DUNKING BOOTH-T-SHIRTS-$20 DRAFT ALL YOU CAN DRINK.  SEVERAL GREAT PRIZES WILL BE UP FOR RAFFLE INCLUDING A LG 60 INCH HDTV FROM BADCOCK AND MORE HOME FURNITURE- JUDGE PUBLIC DEFENDER REVOLVER FROM NORTHSIDE PAWN SHOP- HUSTLER RAPTOR ZERO TURN LAWN MOWER AND YETI YT 20 ROADIE COOLER FROM THOMASTON HARDWARE- TWO $250 WAL-MART GIFT CARDS- DIAMONDS FROM REEMS JEWELRY.  2013 RAFFLE TICKETS ARE ONE FOR $5 OR FIVE FOR $20.  TICKETS TO THE BOOBIE BALL ARE $12 IN ADVANCE OR $15 AT THE GATE.  TICKETS GO ON SALE AUG. 1 AND CAN BE PURCHASED AT THE UPSON BEACON. COOLERS ARE WELCOME (NO GLASS PLEASE).