A Hierarchy of Needs

Why Conestoga Needs an Auditorium Not Another Gym


Building layout with proposed additions and renovations found on the district website

One of the more controversial parts of the school bond that has been presented every year is the addition of another larger gymnasium. There are a few reasons that advocates of the bond, and specifically the gym, give for why another gym is needed. The clear advantage is in the added practice space for Conestoga’s sports teams. Athletes must share the space and this forces them to schedule practices around each other, which can admittedly result in some less than desirable time frames. A larger gym would also allow Conestoga to host some higher level sporting events that have minimum space requirements for seating or wrestling mats that exceeds the school’s current capabilities.

It is not the intention of this publication to make light of these issues, but, nonetheless it is felt that the funds required to build an additional gymnasium at the high school could be better spent. It would most certainly be nice to have another gym, but we do already have one. This is an opportunity to fill a need that benefits more than athletics. Instead of building another gymnasium, Conestoga could add on an auditorium.

Construction cost estimates from Gordian place the average price tag of building a gymnasium as roughly comparable to that of an auditorium with the auditorium being slightly lower. While there has been some time for fluctuation in the exact costs, the fact remains that the estimates are close together and a general increase or decrease in costs for a service such as architectural fees would affect both. Another school district released potential options for an auditorium and a gym. Their plans also showed roughly comparable overall costs. While the per-seat cost was higher for an auditorium, it should also be noted that less seats are required in an auditorium.

The diagram depicting the current high school building with the renovations shows the gym with text stating that it would fit 800 people. An auditorium would be fine fitting much less than 800 people, so a per-seat markup could balance out, causing the projects to end up costing similar amounts.

At first glance, adding an auditorium may seem more than a little unnecessary. However, after taking a look at what it can do for a school, the concept begins to become more appealing. An auditorium can offer a lot of the same advantages as a gym, just for another part of the school community: the fine arts. Fine arts programs are the most obvious beneficiaries of an auditorium and the issue of practice space can also affect them, though in a different way.

Currently, one act practices on the small stage separating the gym and the commons. This area lacks many things that the team has to be prepared for at competition. There is not a proper light or sound booth, the stage is smaller than most of those at the locations hosting competitions and the small area doesn’t provide an accurate assessor of the projection needed to reach the back rows of an auditorium. All of these would be solved by providing the students with an actual auditorium to practice in. Additionally, this space would be used for performances such as the dinner theater, which is one act’s fundraiser, and any performances for the school. For performances given to the school, students are forced to sit on the ground instead of the seats that an auditorium offers. Having a proper space would also open up the possibility of hosting a one act competition in the future should there be interest.

Hosting events is already something that Conestoga does but it could be greatly expanded and improved with an auditorium. This year, Conestoga hosted a choral clinic with students from other schools and it had to run out of the gym with the stage. This is also how other music programs are configured. The addition of an auditorium would revolutionize the concert space the high school has to offer. It would provide more comfortable seating for guests and spectators. It would provide better acoustics for the beautiful music. It would require less setup and tear down to put on a concert. Additionally, it would provide music ensembles with the opportunity to get in more time practicing for their performance where they will actually perform. Knowing the space that they perform in is essential to creating good balance between the different parts as different rooms of different sizes with different acoustics act differently. They have limited opportunity to do this though as it would disrupt the physical education classes that take place in the gymnasium.

Conestoga also puts on other events such as the Veteran’s Day program, assemblies and graduation that could be further enhanced with an auditorium. They also require a deal of set up and tear down in the gym. This set up in the gym forces the p.e. classes held there to be displaced for the day. This displacement is problematic and it is one of the reasons that people advocate for building a second gym. However, it is a situation that could also be rectified through the addition of an auditorium.

There is a measure of overlap between what a new gym would offer and what an auditorium would offer. There are some things that offer somewhat of a similar advantage but for a different group of people.

At the end of the day, both a gym and an auditorium have their own advantages that can’t be denied and there is no inherently right or wrong opinion about which could serve the school better. Preference comes down to personal priorities and involvement. However, it is the feelings of this editor and this publication that an auditorium would provide a better experience for the school in a completely different way than anything that is currently available. Either way, whether you support a gym or an auditorium more, it is undeniable that Conestoga’s schools need the classrooms for the growing student population and an issue about whether or not to add a gym shouldn’t be the reason Conestoga doesn’t get them.