Montclair High School auditorium needs new seats, principal says
By ERIN ROLL
Montclair High School’s auditorium is in need of a lot of upgrades, including new seating.
During the “State of the School” address, which was delivered to the MHS community this month, Principal Anthony Grosso said that it is his wish to see the auditorium outfitted with new seating.
The current seating is original to the auditorium, which was built, along with the rest of the extension to the school in 1956. It was the first addition to the school since the original school building was built in 1914.
The current seats have large pieces of upholstery missing, and the replacement parts needed for the seats are no longer manufactured, Grosso said.
Grosso recalled that when he was growing up in Clifton, the MHS auditorium was a favorite venue to go see shows and concerts in the community. The auditorium represents an opportunity for outside dance companies, theater companies, speakers and presenters to come to the school, he said.
“I have to share this with you, that it’s embarrassing for me to bring to an organization,” Grosso said of the existing seating.
The auditorium, in addition to being a venue for shows and concerts during the school year, is also used as an alternate venue for the graduation ceremony in case of inclement weather, as well as being used for overflow seating if the ceremony takes place outdoors in the amphitheater.
When Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh, a 1965 MHS graduate, made an appearance that included a plugged-in concert at the school in 2015, board member Jessica de Koninck pointed out that the school had to bring in generators because the auditorium’s wiring was not up to the task. Additionally, she said, the auditorium does not have air conditioning, which makes it unpleasant during the summer months. So the seating would be one item on a long list of upgrades, she said.
According to a list of priority projects put together by the district’s architects, Parette Somjen, in 2018, it would cost approximately $631,000 to replace the seating in the auditorium. The seating replacement is not, however, on the district’s list of capital projects for the 2020-2021 school year. The list of projects for the coming year includes masonry repairs at each of the schools.
The school has a sample model of a seat of the kind that could be used in the auditorium: a charcoal gray reclining seat with black armrests.
The rental fees for the auditorium range from $531 for an event without an audience to $3,674 to an event with an audience.
Grosso also hopes to purchase new desk-and-chair arrangements over the next few years. Much of the existing furniture in the school dates to the 1960s, and is in increasingly bad condition, he said. Additionally, the single-desk-and-chair format does not work for assignments that now involve group work and collaboration.