WHEELING - The anticipation surrounding the opening of the J.B. Chambers Performing Arts Center was evident as hundreds traveled to the Wheeling Park High School campus to take in the sights and sounds of the facility during an open house Monday.
Community members were treated to music and singing everywhere they walked as Ohio County Schools students performed on the stage, mezzanine and two galleries.
"We have a longstanding tradition of excellence in the arts at Ohio County Schools," said board of education member James Jorden, "and this will allow our students to perform in a state-of-the-art facility unlike any other in West Virginia."
Photo by Scott McCloskey
Wheeling Park High School students, from left, Eli Lambie, Henry Loh, Seth Keeney and Alec Cope participate in a jazz quartet during an open house Monday evening at the new J.B. Chambers Performing Arts Center at Wheeling Park High School.
Jorden had often relayed the public's concerns about the multiple schedule delays to his colleagues within the school system, but Monday he said he believes the community found the wait to be worth it.
"The overwhelming response that I've heard from the community is a favorable one," he said.
"I think it's a gorgeous facility," said Wheeling Symphony Executive Director Bruce Wheeler. "From all indications, they've done just an absolute, first-rate job."
Wheeling Park senior and saxophonist Eli Lambie said the performing arts center left him speechless.
"You walk down the hallway ... and this is actually part of the school now. It's really incredible," he said. "I can't wait to do the spring musical here. I'm really excited about that."
"Obviously it's a beautiful facility," Wheeling resident Pattie Dorfner said. "It exceeds my expectations. I knew it was going to be nice, but this is very nice."
She said her son, Wheeling Park senior Eric Dorfner, is eager to perform at the facility, as well as to work as a sound technician and construct sets in the 30- by 50-foot backstage set shop.
Wheeling resident Phil Brossman said the 1,200-seat facility is comparable to venues he has seen in Pittsburgh and New York City.
"I'm shocked a facility so top-notch is here in Ohio County. It's truly amazing," he noted. "It makes me proud to live in Ohio County."
The lobby of the performing arts center and the Wheeling Park hallways were filled with student art. Open house attendees also were treated to refreshments and food prepared by students in the high school's culinary arts program.