Crouch Auditorium undergoes improvements

KateLynn Slaamot

Crouch Auditorium, located in Newcastle High School, recently received a much needed upgrade, including new lighting and new stage curtains. New LED lighting replaced the old halogen lights, and the new curtains, including special effects curtains, will allow for much more staging capabilities. 


KateLynn Slaamot

NLJ Correspondent


The Crouch Auditorium, located in Newcastle High School, has been a favored educational and community asset for many years, and recently a new lighting system and new curtains were installed to bring the auditorium more up to date. 

“Most of the auditorium is original from the year the building was built,” said Jan Ellis, choir director at both the middle school and high school. The auditorium was built in the late 1970s, and while it has been maintained well, according to Ellis, and is still in good shape, some wear and tear due to age is to be expected. 

The curtains had some tearing, and the halogen lights previously used made it hotter on the stage. 

“A new, updated lighting system was replaced this past summer, and with the installation of LED lighting, we were able to eliminate the use of the older, much hotter, halogen lights,” Ellis said. 

The auditorium’s upgraded lighting system also has capabilities for “colored lights” and more effects, she said.  

The curtains, which also include “special effects curtains,” will allow for improved appearances and options for staging. 

Brad LaCroix, superintendent of Weston County School District No. 1, said that he is excited for the improvements. As a popular spot in the community for both school programs and community programs, it’s advantageous to make improvements, he said. 

However, LaCroix told the News Letter Journal that general fund monies can’t go to improvements in the auditorium, among other places, resulting in difficulty in getting things replaced and fixed, especially with the significant cost. 

According to Greg Gregory, the district’s facilities and operations director, the curtains cost $64,125, and the lighting cost $55,787. Other improvements that need to be made eventually include replacing the seating, which would cost an estimated $212,000; a new sound system, estimated at $55,000; and a new video system, estimated at $43,000.

Donations from a number of people, including Pat and Barb Crow and Dr. Willis Franz, helped to make the new curtains and lighting possible. 

“The generous donations from the Crows and others have allowed us to update certain facets of the auditorium,” Ellis said. “The new lights were paid for in part from a generous donation from Willis Franz.”

Pat and Barb Crow told the News Letter Journal that they felt like they were just doing their part as community members. 

“It as a good, community thing to do,” Barb said. 

Pat and Barb, who say they enjoy being active members in the community, have attended numerous concerts in the Crouch Auditorium. They saw a need, and they wanted to help out, they said. 

The couple said that their children went to school in Newcastle and received an impeccable education. Their son, David, who went to West Point, received some complimentary remarks from professors there about his intelligence. Barb said that their children received a great base of knowledge at Newcastle schools that continued to help them throughout their lives. 

“They got a good value system,” Barb said. “We owe something back for that.” 

Both Pat and Barb explained that they don’t give their monetary support to the community for attention, but instead do it out of pride for their community and want to do what they can to support things that they have a connection to. They encourage others to do the same. 

“We’re committing our money to local organizations and projects that we can have a connection with,” Pat said. 

“Maybe other people should do that too,” Barb added. 

With community pride comes a sense of responsibility to help make it even better, according to Pat and Barb. 

LaCroix, who agreed with that sentiment, said that he believes supporting local schools is one way to show support for one’s community. 

“Our schools reflect the pride of the community,” LaCroix said. “I’ve always valued the community support in education.”


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