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Grand opening of APAC starts Thursday

Haller Middle School seventh-grader Olga Katsyuba finishes a mosaic portrait of ballet shoes for the visual art exhibit Celebrating the Performing Arts which will be a part of the grand opening celebrating of the Arlington Performing Arts Center this weekend. -
Haller Middle School seventh-grader Olga Katsyuba finishes a mosaic portrait of ballet shoes for the visual art exhibit Celebrating the Performing Arts which will be a part of the grand opening celebrating of the Arlington Performing Arts Center this weekend.
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ARLINGTON Supporters will come from across the United States and even from outside the country to celebrate the grand opening of Arlingtons new performing arts center this weekend. But perhaps more importantly, the entire community is invited and encouraged to attend at least some of the six different free programs from Thursday through Sunday.
The new APAC is especially meaningful to those who spent the past five years meeting early every Wednesday morning, working together to raise funds to complete a theater for the new high school and the community.
Arts Alive! is dead! was the happy mantra at the third to last meeting, Wednesday morning, May 23. The Arts Alive! group will hold its final meeting at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, June 6, to debrief after the grand opening celebration.
Arts Alive! is comprised of a group of school district officials, teachers and community members who started meeting in May of 2002, after the $60 million bond to build a new high school and other district facilities did not include enough money for an auditorium.
I was very disappointed when the bond did not include money for a PAC, said the high schools choir director, Lyle Forde.
Then I was disappointed again, but not surprised, when construction monies did become available but were focused toward something other than construction of a facility for the performing arts, Forde said.
Now Forde expresses amazement for the persistence of Arts Alive! and the districts administration.
Maybe I shouldnt have been amazed because the ASD administration and school board have always been supportive of our music and programs. As a result, our performing and fine arts programs have flourished and are among the best in the area.
Forde and the high school band teacher, John Grabowski, have been loyal members of Arts Alive!, along with drama teacher, Scott Moberly, who joined the high school staff midway into the fundraising effort.
They and their students perhaps have the most to gain from the new PAC.
Grabowski pointed out that a good quality performing arts center has an important psychological impact on his students.
The impact is beyond measure, he said.
We know from festivals and concerts in gyms or other less-than-ideal venues that the acoustics of a building are crucial to the people who are performing, not to mention the audience.
He said that a good facility inspires the performers to do their absolute best.
The excitement around here right now is indescribable. The anticipation of [the band members] playing in their new digs is making it very fun to be in band right now, Grabowski said.
His bands, the AHS Symphonic Band, the Woodwind Ensemble and the jazz band, On Hold, are all part of the grand opening series of concerts this weekend.
Forde agrees with Grabowski about the importance of a good-quality facility.
Performing in a gym or lunchroom does not compare to having a real stage with lights and sound.
Not only will his students have opportunity to demonstrate their newly learned skills in music, drama and dance on a professional quality stage, but they will also learn the skills of operating lights and sound equipment and building sets in a professional manner.
I believe it is most fitting to have a performing arts center be located on the campus of a learning institution. I also believe the PAC will bring our community together, Forde said.
Indeed, the new PAC is already gathering people together.
A 1980 AHS graduate, Kenneth Boulton is coming all the way from Louisiana to join the party, which will honor, among many others, his familys donation of a Steinway grand piano for the PAC but not just that. A professional pianist who teaches at Southeastern Louisiana State College, Boulton will perform on that piano for the first night of the four-day celebration, at 8:15 p.m. Thursday evening, when the audience will be filled with special guests who contributed $5,000 or more toward the project.
I am very much looking forward to contributing to this exciting cultural event in Arlington, said Boulton, the son of George and Annalee Boulton, of Flowers by George.
The community has grown in every possible facet from my days growing up there. This wonderful performing arts facility was, I suppose, only a matter of time.
Although he remembers fondly the trips to Everett or Seattle for symphony performances or other recitals, he believes it will be good for Arlington to have these opportunities more readily available.
Boulton remembers being aware as early as middle school that he would pursue music as his career.
My parents were always supportive of these ambitions.
Boulton studied privately with Hope Bohn who guided him toward certain college professors at Washington State University. He offered accompaniment to the Gene Nastri string program and performed with other musicians at church, school and in the community.
The bottom line was all the different outlets for making music with a larger network of musicians was extremely important in teaching me the value of sharing music. It is what I strive to teach my own students now.
A more recent graduate, Alex Burkholder, will return from college in Vancouver, B.C. for the weekend events.
Burkholder is the son of Kathy Burkholder, an active member of Arts Alive!.
Even though he was active in soccer, Burkholder remembers thinking how unfair it was that the new school would have sports fields but no auditorium.
Along with soccer, I was involved in pep, marching and concert band in high school. I was on Band Council during my senior year, but my involvement with Arts Alive! started quite a while before that.
Burkholder was in middle school when Grabowski was looking for students to join the Arts Alive! Committee.
It was something I cared about and I thought it would be an easy commitment, Burkholder said.
Little did I know it would end up taking six years.
But he said the experience has benefited him in many ways.
The fundraising experience helped me get my first full-time job here UBC. The skills I learned in the music program at AHS such as leadership and teamwork continue to help me out here in the real world, be it with jobs, classes, or just regular every day life. I dont play in band anymore, but I still love getting together with friends and playing the guitar. Music and concerts are a part of my life.
Although he didnt get to enjoy the new PAC as a student, Burkholder is happy for the Arlington community.
The PAC is a real shot in the arm for the school district and the entire community. The AHS band, choir and drama programs are all great and deserve a good place to showcase their talents.
Even newcomers in town are excited.
In his second year as an Arlington resident, Frank Barden joined the citys Parks, Arts and Recreation Commission soon after moving into town, and that led to his involvement with the advisory group, the APAC Commission, which will guide the management of the theater. Barden missed the whole fundraising effort and is glad to step up and contribute to its future. Now chairman of the commission, Barden is glad the new PAC is done, so he wont have to travel long distances to experience live performances.
I became involved because I have a strong interest in live theater, Barden said.
I became involved so that I can be a part of this community that I have come to admire.

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