Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Keating Arts Complex Dedication Set April 29

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Keating Arts Complex Dedication Set April 29

Article excerpt

Seven years ago Thomas N. Keating, then superintendent of Kirkwood School District, and John Dean, a Kirkwood teacher, visited a theater at a neighboring school district and marveled.

Now neighbors are marveling at Kirkwood.

This month construction workers have put the finishing touches on a $4.2 million fine arts complex at Kirkwood High School, 801 West Essex Avenue. School officials will dedicate the complex, which is named for Keating, at 7:30 p.m. April 29. People scooped up free tickets to that performance so fast that officials had to schedule a second one at 2 p.m. April 30.

The Thomas N. Keating Performance Center features an 821-seat theater, computerized light controls, sunken orchestra pit, music rooms fitted with acoustical panels, and classrooms. Teachers worked with architects and designers to make the center a performance center and a teaching center. They made sure students could use all of the equipment in it.

Keating died last summer after voters approved a four-part bond package, part of which financed the theater.

When not in use for school productions, the theater will be available for community groups to rent, said Superintendent David Damerall.

Damerall said: "One reason our district exists is for excellence. We have always wanted to be more than a district that teaches just the minimum. With this complex we are trying to live up to that."

Keating wanted a theater for teaching as well as for performance, his wife, Virginia "Ginny" Keating, said recently. "He would be delighted."

She said her husband viewed the fine arts as a way to improve education. He believed it took fine arts as well as academics to make a complete person.

In developing the theater complex, Keating sought advice from three teachers - Tom Poshak, Chris Stephens and John Dean.

Poshak, the district's coordinator for music, said research shows students experienced in the arts do better in academic classes and on standardized tests, such as the SAT. …

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