Possibilities celebrated at West Side open house

Possibilities celebrated at West Side open house

Feb. 27, 2016

President Dan McAlexander
Provost David Garrison
Provost David Garrison
Dr. Celia Hay
Dr. Celia Hay
Dr. Toni Anderson
Dr. Toni Anderson

West Side, the new home of the college’s Nursing and Music programs, was filled with community members, current and past students, faculty, staff and dignitaries for Thursday’s ribbon-cutting ceremonies.

President Dan McAlexander said the facility was built for the college’s faculty, staff and students.

“In this place, we can foster that relationship-driven education that we know is truly transformational.”

Provost David Garrison described the nursing wing as “… a place where we will prepare you for a life and a career of compassion.”

A few minutes later, guests gathered at Music’s front door and heard senior Vocal Performance student Jalen Smith of LaGrange talk about his connections to West Side.

“I was a student at West Side Magnet School and had so many wonderful opportunities here. In fact, I see several of my former teachers here today,” he said. “Now, my education is coming full circle, and I am immensely grateful to you all for that.”

Garrison also referenced the building’s past when he said, “These halls used to be filled with the voices of children. Now they are filled with the voices of music’s children.”

Board of Trustees member Nancy Stevens remembers when West Side was a magnet school for the arts. She was its principal from 1995 until 2001.

During that time, the school was selected as one of 36 schools across the United States for a five-year grant from the Getty Trust and the Annenberg Foundation. West Side Magnet was honored as the most exemplary arts program among those 36 schools. It also was selected as a Georgia School of Excellence in 2001.

Stevens attributes much of the school’s success to its partnership with LaGrange College.

“We had tremendous support and collaboration with music, art and theater professors at the college,” she said. “It was a regular occurrence to have professors in our classrooms working with students and faculty, and for our students to be involved in art programs at Lamar Dodd, working with set design at Price Theater or collaborating on music programs with college professors.”

Stevens said she is thrilled that the college’s music program is now headquartered at West Side.

“So many young students were exposed to music through the magnet school’s programs,” she said. “I am so excited that West Side is alive again, and it cements the commitment LaGrange College has made to our community, our region and our state.”

Dr. Celia Hay, chair of the Nursing Department, said her program also is making a huge leap into the future.

“We have gone from 5,000 square feet to almost 20,000 square feet,” she said. “Our new home in the building’s north wing includes two large ‘smart classrooms’ and three skills labs with hospital-bed stations.”

There also are two student lounges and a computer lab, as well as rooms with high-fidelity simulators for clinical training.

“Each simulation room has a one-way observation window for faculty monitoring of student assignments,” Dr. Hay said.

Nursing graduates have gone on to work at prestigious hospitals such as Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Emory University Hospital and Shepherd Center, she said.

The south side of the building houses Music, as well as some office and rehearsal space for the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra and Youth Orchestra.

Excitement about the move has been palpable, said Dr. Toni Anderson, director of the Music program, whose alumni include Grammy nominees and producers of Billboard No. 1 albums.

“This venue promises to be a huge boost to our program, providing much-needed space for our current activities, plus room to grow,” she said. “Located across the street from Price and Lamar Dodd, the West Side facility brings together art, music and theatre arts for the first time since the 1970s.”

The music wing includes a modern 150-seat recital hall that Dr. Anderson describes as the perfect size for student recitals, chamber works and non-traditional performances.

“We also have a live recording studio and control room, designed by renowned acoustic engineer Steve Durr, that can accommodate recording of live choirs and chamber ensembles, film scoring and a broad range of audio applications for film and video post-production,” Dr. Anderson said.

The Composition and Music Technologies area includes a suite of mixing and editing rooms for audio production, songwriting and music composition. There also are individual student practice rooms, acoustically treated studios and spacious smart classrooms.

A new video staging and shooting room features grid lighting, a Chroma-key (green screen) wall and a dedicated project workroom for stop-motion animation and detailed videography. A new digital creative media program designed to prepare students for work in the TV and film industry also will be housed at the facility.

The back hall of West Side houses the program’s first-ever dedicated ensemble rehearsal rooms for the Chamber Choir, Percussion Ensemble and the new Marching and Concert Bands.


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