If you’ve got a great idea for an original name for Hemet High School’s new theater, now is the time to submit your nomination. The Hemet Unified School District’s Governing Board is encouraging the community to submit suggestions for naming the new Hemet High School theater.
Anyone with suggestions should notify the district’s interim superintendent, Dr. Sally Cawthon, no later than 4 p.m. Aug. 31.
School officials are still putting the finishing touches on the theater, which students and the community will be able to use as soon as school begins on Monday Aug. 20.
It’s expected to be 100 percent finished this fall and a gala grand opening is planned for Oct. 20, Hemet High School Principal Dr. Emily Shaw said.
It’s not unusual for schools or school districts to seek community suggestions to name a new building. Once some names or ideas have been submitted, the school board will form a committee to evaluate all the suggestions, Shaw said.
For now, by default, it’s being called the Hemet High School Theater.
Last winter, the school renamed the school library the Freedom Memorial Library, after five former Hemet High School students who were killed in action in recent wars since the 9-11 terrorist attacks, Shaw said.
The district and school also sought community input for the library name.
To submit an idea for a name:
• Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Phone: 951-765-5100, ext. 1000.
• Snail mail: Dr. Sally Cawthon, Hemet Unified School District, 1791 W. Acacia Ave., Hemet, CA, 92545
• Fill out a short online survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/8FFHKF8.
Students are leading an effort to name the new theater after two beloved theater teachers at Hemet High, husband-and-wife Ron and Diana Murray. Diana Murray retired last year but Ron Murray is one of two theater teachers on staff this year. Shaw noted that it’s rare for a high school to have two theater teachers, but the school’s theater program is large, with about 225-250 student participants. Shaw credited the program’s quality and instructors for the reason so many students are involved.
Despite a request from students, the school board has held off naming the new theater after the Murrays, saying it’s unusual to name a building after a still-employed teacher and that there are many well-loved teachers on staff for which buildings could be named.
Also, the board has said that since the theater will be a community facility, community members should be involved in naming it. The community and committee could still decide to name it after the Murrays.
Construction on the new theater began in the fall of 2011. The old theater, which has been re-purposed into a multi-purpose room, seated about 200 people and was outdated, the principal said, noting Hemet High was built in 1972.
The new theater seats 500 people and will be used for theatrical and musical productions, music concerts and choir concerts, and community events.
“It’s pretty state-of-the-art as far as lighting, technology and sound, it has a separate black box theater and an orchestra pit,” Shaw said, adding that it can accommodate students in the school’s large music program. The school has about 160 students in its various bands and music groups.
Also this year, Hemet High is opening 41 new classrooms to replace portables, and the gym was refurbished over the summer. Enrollment at the school remains steady at about 2,500, making Hemet High the largest comprehensive high school in Hemet. The school was built for 1,400 pupils.
Amy Bentley is a local writer and regular contributor to SWRNN.