Permian High School, long in need of an upgrade, has launched an Adopt-a-Seat campaign to remove and replace its auditorium seating.
PHS director Delesa Styles said the fundraiser will pay for 1,220 seats with vinyl on the seats and backrests, making them very durable and easy to clean.
Seller is Lone Star Furnishings LLC. Styles noted that Aaron Hawley, director of fine arts, and Cortney Smith, executive director of district operations, were instrumental in the project.
She added that they are actually losing some seats due to ADA compliance.
She noted that they will be removing a few back center row seats to eventually add a soundstage.
It costs $22,436 just to have the chairs removed and disposed of for insurance reasons. They also have to redo the existing floor at a cost of $106,619 for ADA compliance. The new chairs are priced at $312,168 for a grand total of $441,223.
The cost per chair is $361.66, but they’re $400 each to account for inflation.
Contributions are tax-deductible, Styles said. You can pay in person at Permian High School or mail a check or money order to the Permian High School Accounting Department, Attn: Adopt-a-Seat Campaign, 1800 E. 42nd St., Odessa, Texas, 79762.
“…We’re hoping to start doing that in the summer of 2023…while the kids are gone. But we realize that we still have some fundraising ahead of us. It’s one place at a time, one day at a time. At this point, we’ve already had a lot of positive feedback and donations,” Styles said. “The first day we launched this, we had an orchestra parent come over after school and leave a check to officially accept (a) seat. Also, I wanted to mention that at the end of the week we had an anonymous donor who came by and bought three seats. The family did not want her name revealed.”
A number of the current chairs are broken, torn and/or falling apart. There are some chairs without floor cushions.
Maintenance comes to weld the seats when they break, which Styles says is a common occurrence.
There is usually plenty of seating, but people will try two or three options before finding a seat that works.
“This is the second group of seats at Permian. I thought they were original. The originals were installed in the mid 1990s. And there was a director at Permian who contacted Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD, sometimes known as HEB. Trinity High School was renovating their auditorium, so these seats were actually purchased used by Trinity High School. Their colors are obviously red and black, hence the red seats,” Styles said.
She added that with bond issuance and Permian, which is over 60 years old, one needs to take care of infrastructure first as the seats could be seen as cosmetic.
This is Styles’ third year at Permian.
“I keep getting emails asking about the seats and the plans. Due to the scale of this project, we had to break it down into a manageable project to involve our community, our alumni, our students, and our staff. So when you think of an auditorium seating more than 1,200, it literally boils down to one seat. This is a grassroots, sleeves-up…fundraiser because donors contribute $400…it’s about the cost of a seat when you add distance, flooring, seat…a small fraction for inflation. We have donors who are happy to write a check for $400. We realize, especially now with the economy and inflation, that for some people that’s not possible. We respect that. But we accept donations of any size.”
They also ran a sale of Mojo Spirit shirts for $10 each. For every shirt sold, they made $10, so 40 shirts would equal one seat.
The auditorium, she said, is the heart of the school. It is the venue for visual arts performances, sports signings, senior classes, staff and parent get-togethers.
“…We want to make this a place where we can be proud to invite guests to our auditorium. So yes, it’s shifts. The first layer is of course the seating. We believe that when we can get people into the auditorium and get them comfortable and see the potential of our space, we’ll have more interest in the next phase of addressing; Addressing the sound stage in the background. If you look up there in the corner you can see where it’s currently housed, and we want to put that in the mid-rear, so we’re going to clear a seat and lose a few seats in the back to meet ADA compliance . which has changed slightly since the seats were installed, and then plan ahead,” Styles said.
The chairs are from Lone Star.
Demri Balerio, a 15-year-old sophomore, Jase Contreras, a 17-year-old junior, and Vivian Bell, a 16-year-old junior are members of the Student Senate.
Contreras is the treasurer.
“I think it’s really great,” Balerio said of the project. “It gives us a chance to really understand everything that’s going on in our other departments like theatre, choir and anything that really uses the auditorium.”
Contreras said the fundraising should have started a long time ago and he believes the organizations using the auditorium should have a beautiful space for all the work they are putting in.
Bell, who is in the choir, said she spends a lot of time in the auditorium and got feedback from her grandmother. A long time ago at a choral concert there was a seat that “went straight to the floor and we had a good complaint about that”.
Balerio said she has friends in the choir, so she goes to a lot of concerts.
“It’s very difficult to get group seats when you want to sit with your friends to watch…” Balerio said.
Contreras said the renovated auditorium is something he and his colleagues can visit in the future.
He is a drummer in the band and they would like to use it for concerts, but they end up using the Odessa High School Performing Arts Center.
Styles noted that they often have to use off-site spaces.
Once they complete the project, she said, they can use what they paid in rental fees back to other levels of restoration.
“We are delighted to finally bring it to market. Again, ideally, we’re hoping to launch in the summer, but we’re committed while it lasts. We’re selling one seat at a time until we’ve sold 1,220…” Styles said.
If they have surplus after the project they will remodel the stage area and update the curtains and panels at the front.
“It’s like any project. It’s growing into more and we want to focus on that part first and foremost to make sure we treat our guests well when they come into the auditorium,” Styles said.
“…We want to bring things back into our own auditorium,” she added.