AES auditorium opens

Published 5:47 pm Friday, May 13, 2022

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AHOSKIE – A newly opened facility in Ahoskie boasts a dual role function: a venue for theatrical arts for school-age children and for community events.

On Thursday, officials from Hertford County Public Schools and the county’s local government gathered to formally open the auditorium at the new Ahoskie Elementary School. That 350-seat auditorium was added to the AES construction project, but was not fully completed when the new school opened in August of last year.

The spacious auditorium comes with two dressing rooms, a storage area for theatrical props and other items, and a roll-up door with direct access to the stage.

It also features a sound room capable of handling the audio/video components of a production or event on the main stage. Restrooms are conveniently located adjacent to the auditorium’s lobby.

Its close proximity to Hertford County High School and Bearfield Primary School is advantageous for those students to use the new auditorium. It can also be leased for community events.

“Although the auditorium is attached to this school, it is certainly something we believe to be a viable part of our community for years to come,” stated Hertford County Schools Superintendent Dr. William T. Wright Jr.

Wright said the new school and the auditorium came about due to the vision and work of many people. He cited the efforts of the county’s board of education, the county’s board of commissioners, the school system’s staff, and the AES general contractor and architect.

“We all worked collaboratively to get the job done,” he said. “Thank you all. We are excited about this project, this building and the learning environment created within these walls.”

Shelia Porter, chair of the Hertford County Board of Education, also shared her thanks to those who partnered with the school board on this project.

“Our [county] commissioners met with us often, even at Christmastime, and shared this dream of a new school and auditorium,” Porter said. “What we saw on paper is now a beautiful new building.

“We want the very best for our students, we want them to come into an environment that is conducive for learning,” Porter continued. “That learning environment is also found in this new auditorium with all the new technology in place there. Thanks to all those involved in making this dream come true.”

Other Hertford County Board of Education members present for Thursday’s event included Dennis Deloatch (vice chair), Dr. James W. Shearn, and Eddie Hall.

Ronald Gatling, chairman of the Hertford County Board of Commissioners, echoed Porter’s remarks about the improved educational environment within the new school and auditorium.

“There are greater opportunities here now to explore the theatrical arts and cultural arts that we can now bring to our students,” Gatling said. “Our children can express themselves and show their talents within this environment and learn about drama and theatre arts. We are so happy to be a part of this celebration.”

Also representing Hertford County local government at Thursday’s event were Commissioners John Horton (vice chair) and Andre Lassiter along with County Manager David Cotton.

Others making remarks were Al Chesson, president of A.R. Chesson Construction Company (the project’s general contractor), Jaclin Wawak of SFL+A Architects, and Dr. Murray Williams, President of Roanoke-Chowan Community College.

Prior to the ribbon cutting, Dr. Wright signaled out several members of the HCPS staff who he said were instrumental in the successful completion of the AES project. They included Woodson Hunter (Facilities Management Supervisor), Paul Hollingsworth (Network Technician), Elenia Riddick and Dee Dee Beverly (AES Principal and Assistant Principal), Tammi Ward (Assistant Superintendent), Whitney Hall (Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent), Brunet Parker (Public Information Officer), Shawnda Cherry (Director of Human Resources), and Ronald Gatling (Facilities Management).

“It’s all about having the right people in the right place at the right time,” Dr. Wright stressed.

Tours of the new auditorium and school were held after the ribbon cutting ceremony.

The price tag of the new school, to include the auditorium, is $21 million. Hertford County’s investment is $6 million as they received a $15 million grant from the state’s Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund.

Taking part in the ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday to formally open the auditorium at the new Ahoskie Elementary School were, from left, County Manager David Cotton, County Commissioner Andre Lassiter, School Board members Dennis Deloatch and Shelia Porter, AES Principal Elenia Riddick, School Superintendent Dr. William T. Wright Jr., School Board members Eddie Hall and Dr. James Shearn, County Commissioners Ronald Gatling and John Horton, Schools Information Officer Brunet Parker, and Assistant Superintendent Tammi Ward. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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