Sports and arts facilities top-notch

News editor

When David Clark arrived at Marion High School to teach vocal music five years ago, he was greeted by the then-new USD 408 Performing Arts Center.

Since then, the 550-seat auditorium has been the home of concerts, plays, musicals, school programs, assemblies, and community church services. Clark said having the facility elevated all of those performances.

“When they have something beautiful to perform in, it enhances their experience,” he said.

Clark, who retired this spring, said a couple of other schools, including Sterling, looked at the performing arts center before building their own facilities.

“Marion’s facility is really top-notch,” he said. “It’s one of the better ones in the state, really.”

He said someone would have to go to Wichita to find a better concert hall, whether at a school, college, or civic facility.

The performing arts center opened in December 2007 as part of a bond project, along with the USD 408 Sports and Aquatics Center, which serves as a gymnasium for basketball, volleyball, and wrestling and includes an indoor swimming pool.

USD 408 Superintendent Lee Leiker said the facilities contribute to the local economy by attracting events to town. They have been the site of the state large group music festival in recent years. Other events have included basketball and wrestling tournaments.

The summer swimming team has swelled in numbers to more than 100 members, thanks in part to the construction of the indoor pool. The team has to divide into two teams at swim meets.

“Both our school and community have a lot of pride in these facilities,” Leiker said.

Leiker hopes more cultural experiences can be brought to the performing arts center. He has spoken with band director Chris Barlow about inviting college bands to perform in town.

“For a public school system, it’s as nice of a facility as you’ll find,” Leiker said.

 

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