Ohio County Schools Superintendent George Krelis saw the years of planning, fundraising and construction culminate during the grand opening ceremony of the J.B. Chambers Performing Arts Center Tuesday.
"It started as an idea many years ago, and here it is today," Krelis said. "Our students and their families deserve a facility this beautiful, and I know that everyone involved in making the J.B. Chambers Performing Arts Center a reality is proud to have been part of it. It is rewarding to know that people like Sen. (Joe) Manchin, (West Virginia Board of Education member) Robert Dunlevy and (West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts Secretary) Kay Goodwin are here to enjoy this with us."
Ohio County Board of Education President Erik Schramm called Krelis and Deputy Superintendent Dianna Vargo "two of the finest individuals to ever serve Ohio County Schools.
Photo by Tyler Reynard
Wheeling Park High School musicians perform at the J.B. Chambers Performing Arts Center grand opening on the high school’s campus Tuesday.
"We are indebted to them for their selfless and tireless years of effort, especially their efforts to make this performing arts center a reality," Schramm said of the pair.
Schramm also commended the students and parents of Ohio County.
"You have given us your time, talent and treasure," he said. "Ohio County Schools gives back to each of you this wonderful new performing arts center. It is our most sincere hope that it may bring to all of us the personal and communal beauty and joy which exists uniquely when the arts are presented to an audience.''
Manchin, D-W.Va., said West Virginians put a high priority on the performing arts, which he called "the window to the soul." He recalled the positive effect the arts had on his son, and said he believes the performing arts center will have the same effect on the students in Ohio County.
"Here in Wheeling ... you've given the young people - the future of not only West Virginia, the future of this country - a chance to find themselves, and they will. And it will be because of your investment, because of your vision, because of your belief in the arts. This beautiful facility will truly bring this community together like never before," Manchin said.
Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., said a community is best measured by the emphasis it places upon the arts, and the performing arts center shows Ohio County's dedication to its students.
"This is our town. And this is our facility. This is our school, but it's all of our children and our future. So I can't tell you how proud I am, to stand here knowing how it all began, when it was nothing but a dream. And here it is, a reality. This is going to transform a lot of students lives."
Manchin, McKinley, former Ohio County Schools Superintendent Lawrence Miller, as well as representatives from the West Virginia Board of Education, architectural and engineering firm McKinley & Associates and general contractor JD&E Construction received plaques recognizing their support of the project.
West Virginia Division of Culture and History Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith opened the ceremony with a performance of "West Virginia Hills." Following the speeches, Wheeling Park High School vocalists and musicians also performed.