Ames High Theater’s New Life

As Ames High adjusts to a new building, students are rebuilding a strong community in an old department.


Lily Lupardus

Ames High’s new auditorium

One of the nicest features of the new Ames High building is our auditorium. Widely regarded as the most advanced auditorium in the state, access to the new features included has added new life to Ames High’s theater department. 

New equipment in the auditorium includes a new sound system and a new light system, which required training for the students in charge of managing it. 

“We brought in some contractors, and they showed us around, showed us how everything worked.” Explained senior Dakota Lewin. Theater directors and members of the stage crew went through hours of training to learn how to properly operate new equipment, and some equipment can only be operated by people with these certifications.

The auditorium’s new sound system

Some equipment wasn’t just an upgrade, it was completely missing from the old school. “We didn’t really have a soundboard in the old school. We just kinda had a Mac and the Mac was very old.” Sophomore Jessie Ask walked us through the new sound equipment. “All the mics [microphones] are on here, and as we go through the play, you can move things around based on volume and intonation.”  

Seniors Lizzy O’Neel and Erin Barnes were impressed with the accessibility of the auditorium. “You can get up on the stage without having to go up stairs, and all of the stairs are the same size,” Barnes added. There are wheelchair lifts in areas around the light and sound room, so all students are able to take part in the tech aspect of putting together a production. 

One thing they mentioned they liked about the old school was the feel of the room. “It’s not boring, exactly, but kind of grey. It’s lacking the personality that the old school has.” However, there are some features that make the old auditorium hard to miss. The catwalk is fully caged in and tall enough for people to stand upright, and the stage directors have a setup where they can get a live-feed video of what’s happening on the stage at all times. 

Tools for the stage managers to watch what’s happening from backstage.

Something everyone emphasized was the energy surrounding the theater department. “This year, everyone is excited,” O’Neel said. “We have a lot of incoming freshmen who are really involved in the arts, a lot of new blood. In the past few years, we’ve kind of struggled with that.” 

Barnes described the last few years of theater at Ames High as a low point for the department. “We had a lot of seniors who were really feeling it graduate, so when they left it was harder to recruit new members, especially during COVID.” 

“It gives me a lot of hope for the department,” Barnes said, a sentiment that is shared by everyone in the department. 

On Friday, November 11 through Sunday, the theater department performed the first play of the year, Trap by Stephen Gregg.