BELTON — Jumping around from room to room has been a common occurrence for John Fairlie and the Belton High School orchestra program.
They’ve been doing it since 2012, when Fairlie joined the school district to lead the burgeoning ensemble. Then, the orchestra had 26 members.
“When I started here we had one class and it was in the band room,” Fairlie said. “When they … added BHS 9 several years ago, I managed to get them to give us the space that was the old band room over there. But, of course, now that they’re making that (campus) a middle school again so we had no space again.”
Enter the $2.15 million orchestra addition project. It will add 3,200 square feet to Belton High School as well as give a facelift to the existing band hall and campus’s facade
Jarrod Sterzinger, an architect with Austin-based O’Connell Robertson Architects, recently told the school board the project is 50 percent complete. It will be finished in the summer.
“I remember it in its infancy stages whenever I was at Lake Belton Middle School and it starting up … in a little bitty classroom. And now it’s grown to over 250 students,” Belton High School Principal Ben Smith said, as his voice echoed in a barren, brick room where students will rehearse and practice. “This is a necessity — a great necessity — because of how successful those kids in that program have been under Mr. Fairlie.”
Off of the rehearsal room are smaller spaces where students can hone their skills.
The orchestra addition is adjacent to the Marching 100 band’s practice room and offices.
Soon, the wall separating the two areas will come down so more offices can added as well as a library room for band and orchestra students.
“It’s going to be a perfect space,” Fairlie said.
Fairlie was instrumental in the project’s design. He told architects and district administrators what worked and didn’t work for the orchestra program.
“When they came up with the original design and showed it to me, I was able to convince them that it wasn’t going to work,” the orchestra director said. “They were able to increase the footprint of the whole space enough to be able to get something that would be fully utilized by the orchestra program.”
The orchestra addition was well deserved for the growing program, Smith said.
“They’re such a big part of Belton High School,” the principal said. “It’s great they finally have a place in the building they can call home.”
Most orchestra students are excited to have their own space next fall.
“The seniors aren’t — the seniors are annoyed that they’re not going to have it,” Fairlie said, chuckling. “The rest of the students are very excited. We’ve all wanted to be close to the rest of the fine arts.”
The construction project also will give the campus a new, modern façade that mirrors the entrances at Lakewood Elementary and Lake Belton High School. It will prominently feature the campus’ name on a red metal panel.
Smith described the new entrance as bringing a pop to the front of Belton High School.
“I’m really proud of that because it’s really going to update the front of the school,” he said.
Near the front doors of the campus there will be mosaic in the ground. It will feature the district’s signature Belton B with three words surrounding it: Character, service and excellence.
“We feel like those are three words we hope that exemplify a Belton High School student while they’re here and once they graduate,” Smith said.