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Wesleyan christens fine arts building

NORCROSS - Almost 50 years after The Westminster Schools in Atlanta graduated its first senior class, the private Christian school completed its master plan.

This year, Wesleyan School will celebrate the completion of its master plan - only their celebration will come nine years after the private Christian school graduated its first senior class.

"The time comparison is not any form of bragging," Wesleyan Headmaster Zach Young said. "It's an indication of the level of miracles God has performed in bringing this place into being."

Young shared highlights from the schools' timelines during the christening of Wesleyan's newest academic building, which houses the fine arts programs. Rob Binion, the chairman of Wesleyan's Board of Trustees, led the christening prayer.

After the prayer, visitors toured the building, watching performances of middle and high school band, chorus and drama classes. Art and photography classes also displayed their class projects.

High school art teacher Whitney Roland said the new building is "unreal." Before the 58,000-square-foot building opened, art classes were held in trailers.

"It's really a blessing," Roland said. "I can't believe I teach here. It's really a great feeling."

The state-of-the-art building makes the students more serious about their work, helping them produce better art, Roland said.

Mary Elston Heaner, a senior, said the chorus rooms have helped improve her performance. The chorus and band rooms are two stories tall and were engineered for sound. The band rooms each have an observation deck, where visitors can observe practices.

Kara King, a senior, said the new building went beyond her expectations.

"This is nothing like what I expected," King said. "I'm upset that we're leaving this year."

Seventh-grader Zach Taylor said practices in the new band room "sound really good." The band director can hear who's playing what and is better able to give individual instruction, he said.

Taylor said he also takes trumpet lessons in soundproof practice rooms.

A highlight of the building is the black box theater, "which is much, much more than a square room with a high ceiling that's painted black," Young said. A catwalk extends over the entire room, and seating can be tailored to the performance.

The gallery and reception room for the black box theater was named in honor of longtime Wesleyan educator Peggie Hiers, who is retiring this year.

A naming opportunity for the fine arts building still exists, Young said.

The building was constructed in the classic Jeffersonian style that is seen throughout the campus, said Robert Dunn, the vice president of operations for New South Construction. All of the buildings are brick with cast iron and white trim.

New South Construction, which has worked on every building on the campus, is currently working on the renovation of the Marchman Gymnasium and an addition of Gillfillan Hall, the administration building, Dunn said.

When the construction is finished, Wesleyan's master plan will be complete.