BY DAWN MARKS
Published: August 27, 2009
The students deserved better, so Mark
Orgren said he decided to do something.
Orgren, whose daughter, Kristen Orgren,
graduated from Harding Fine Arts Academy in May, said he
noticed while sitting in the auditorium shared by
Harding Fine Arts and Harding Charter Preparatory High
School that the room was in disrepair.
He wanted something better for students.
"I’d sit here in this auditorium
thinking, ‘This used to be something,’” Orgren said. "It
just glowed in this ugly green color.”
So Orgren approached his employer,
Chesapeake Energy Corp., about making the renovation of
the auditorium a company volunteer project. Orgren is
manager of geoscience technology at Chesapeake. About
150 volunteers worked more than 1,000 hours renovating
the auditorium this summer. When students returned to
classes this month, it was mostly finished.
The auditorium had holes in the ceiling,
holes in the stage and green paint on the walls and many
other problems, he said.
The two schools are housed in the
Harding High School building, which was built in 1923
and designed by architect Solomon Layton. The last time
the auditorium was updated cosmetically was probably in
the 1950s, said Sherry Rowan, Harding Fine Arts
Orgren said volunteers and school
officials used examples of Layton’s other work to decide
what color pallet to use. Through donations from several
companies, the stage and ceiling were repaired, walls
repainted and chairs cleaned and refinished. Martha
Burger, senior vice president of human and corporate
resources for Chesapeake, announced Tuesday at the
auditorium dedication that the floor likely will be
replaced and an anonymous donation will pay for new
David Webster, Harding Charter student
council president, said the renovation will allow the
schools to compete with larger schools.
"We’re becoming a school, I guess, to be
reckoned with,” Webster said. "We have nice things now.”
Jalisa Green, Harding Fine Arts student
council co-president, said she’s looking forward to
using the stage for musicals and choir.
"I think it will help us grow a little
bit,” Green said.