District honors volunteers for helping refurbish auditorium

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published October 19, 2016

ROYAL OAK — Two local residents received the Royal Oak Schools Community of Excellence Award last week for their efforts in leading a successful drive to refurbish the Royal Oak High School auditorium.

Royal Oak Schools Performing Arts Committee co-chairs Scott Brown and April Ozdych were the honorees during the Oct. 12 Board of Education meeting for their fundraising efforts, which led to a transformation of the high school’s Kimball Auditorium.

Royal Oak Schools Superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin said the duo raised more than $100,000 to replace the auditorium’s nearly 60-year-old seats and put aisle lighting in place.

Lewis-Lakin said the money also allowed the school to focus on the “boring” stuff, such as house and theater lighting, rigging and flooring. Other improvements included a new stage facade, painting, electrical work and acoustic treatments.

School officials said the whole project cost well over $400,000.

Major donors to the project included the Royal Oak Schools Foundation, Holiday Market, Royal Oak Ford, the Royal Oak Optimist Club, the Royal Oak High School Drama Boosters, the Royal Oak High School Band and Orchestra Boosters, the Royal Oak High School Choir Boosters and the Royal Oak High School PTSA.

Lewis-Lakin said the co-chairs’ efforts were “to not just renovate, but remake the auditorium at the high school so it’s a place that is as excellent as the performers who appear in it — the students who put forth their very best.”

Brown and Ozdych were nominated for the award by resident Mary Ann Welch-Campbell.

The effort came out of a PTA meeting where they talked about the horrible auditorium seats.

Welch-Campbell said both award winners were at that meeting where the committee was formed and they started gathering support from every group that uses the space.

“They helped with chairing it all. We had a successful fundraiser and the auditorium is beautiful,” she said.

Lewis-Lakin said Brown and Ozdych’s efforts are even more commendable considering they don’t have kids in the district anymore. They brought people together for the cause by hosting fundraising campaigns at events like Ford Arts, Beats & Eats and River Days.

“They were a fantastic team,” Lewis-Lakin said.

Brown said the best part is that it was a community effort. His favorite part of the renovation is a plaque with more than 100 names on it, including donors and past and present instructors who have used the auditorium from the time that the building was built in 1957.

“It was great getting all the people together, and everyone was a part of it, and I just want to say thank you very much. I truly appreciate this,” Brown said.

Lewis-Lakin said the district’s vision is to be a community of excellence, which is why the award was created for people like Brown and Ozdych.

“We have a Cmmunity of Excellence Award that we give out when people nominate others for it, and the purpose of the Community of Excellence Award is to point to examples of where we can say this is what it looks like for that vision to be real, for that vision to be powerful, for that vision to be making a difference for our students,” he said.

The superintendent invited everyone to come out and see the latest example of excellence by attending events inside the new auditorium.

The public is invited to attend the ROHS Choir Spectrum Concert at 7 p.m. Oct. 20, and the upcoming fall musical “Anything Goes” Nov. 11-13.

“Come see the auditorium as it’s meant to be enjoyed, with students performing in it,” Lewis-Lakin said.

Past performances in the new auditorium included orchestra and band concerts. ROHS Band Director Dave Jensen composed a fanfare to commemorate the new facility.

“I wanted to have something special and something specifically dedicated to our first performance in the new auditorium,” Jensen said in a press release.