COLUMBIA CITY — The Whitley County Community Foundation awarded Columbia City High School $7,500 after receiving a request in April asking for financial assistance. The money will be used to upgrade the electrical system in CCHS’s Newell Rice Auditorium.
Shane Barkley, who has directed both plays and musicals at CCHS over the past seven years, submitted the grant proposal so that a new theatrical lighting system could be installed.
John Slavich, the program officer at the community foundation, said after reading the letter, it made perfect sense to present the school with the grant they needed.
“I think really what it boils down to is there is a $20,000 lighting system, and they haven’t been able to use it because they didn’t have the upgrades,” said Slavich.
The equipment was given to the school after Barkley sent out letters asking for help from organizations back in August.
One organization, Electronic Theater Controls (ETC), called Barkley back, asking him what the school needed for its auditorium.
“They are probably one of the nation’s largest lighting providers for venues all over the world,” said Barkley. “Touring companies and major auditoriums tend to have them.”
Barkley told ETC the auditorium could use several things since the school’s system is outdated.
“The lighting is off to the sides, and that’s not where it needs to be,” said Barkley.
A couple months later, ETC contacted Barkley again, and told him that their philanthropic division selected the school as the recipient of a complete lighting system. It was delivered to the school by semi this fall.
Within two weeks, the school received 16 new theater light fixtures, three new dimmers and a 96 channel lighting console to run it.
The only problem seems to be, the electrical system in the school is not able to handle the new system.
“Essentially it’s been sitting in boxes since they could not use it,” said Barkley.
Barkley and Keith Gilbert, who’s assisted in directing with Barkley, met with an electrician to get a quote on upgrading the system, and after discovering it would cost the school $7,500, Barkley wrote a letter to the foundation asking for help.