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ECHS to renovate lobby, auditorium

Escambia County High School’s auditorium and main lobby are getting a much-needed facelift.

Principal Dennis Fuqua said he’s been wanting to renovate the auditorium since the first day he got to the school.

“The first day I went to the auditorium, it was probably 20-25 years out of date,” Fuqua said. “We really need this. I went to bat to start getting it then (in 2013). Now, it’s finally coming to fruition.”

Lathan Associates Architects P.C., of Hoover, put together an artist’s rendering of the project, along with a video presentation of what the auditorium and lobby will look like.

Fuqua said the renovation will start as students, teachers and visitors enter the front doors into the lobby.

The new look will go all the way to the start of the main hall, Fuqua said.

“It would stop there,” he said. “There will be a three-deep trophy case (in the lobby).”

Fuqua said the lobby will feature island lighting, brick floors and a much more modern look.

In the auditorium, new seats will be installed in sections to make it easier to navigate around.

Fuqua said there will be cross aisles and stairs in the upper section of the auditorium to counter the steepness of the seating area.

“The upper section will have stairs between the different sections to address the incline,” he said. “It’ll be updated so that everything will be handicap accessible. You can go across the stage in a wheel chair and it will be no issue at all. It’s going to be a nice situation.”

In the lower section, students will be able to pull out tables for testing.

In addition to the new seating area in the auditorium, the space will feature a new sound booth, new stage curtains and all new lighting, to name a few.

Fuqua said the cost to renovate both areas of the school will be more than $1 million, and will be funded through the Escambia County School System.

“On a $1.6 million project, they may have to do a bond,” he said. “I know that it’s going to be 100 percent funded — no local schools are putting any money in it.”

Fuqua said he’s excited about the renovations because it will help make the school more appealing.

“I think our kids deserve it,” he said. “I want our students to have just as good a high school as any other student in the county. I want them to have something they can be proud of.

“We want to institute some pride about ourselves,” he said. “You’ve got to have some upgraded facilities to let the students and families know we care what your kids come to.”

Not only will the lobby and auditorium of the school be upgraded, but the board of education is set to help upgrade the school’s career tech area as well, Fuqua said.

“It’ supposed to be remodeled with new medal in the buildings to make the area look better,” he said. “When a stranger is driving by, he or she has got to be able to see some progress. That’s my goal, is to attract people.”

Fuqua said he expects the renovation to begin soon.