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District 87 Dedicates Fine Arts Addition

Bloomington High School has cut the ribbon for its fine arts wing expansion and renovation.

Former orchestra teacher Karen Monhardt retired last spring, but had input in the planning process for the $8 million project.

"Our orchestra has grown immensely in the last six years and we were crowded in the old room. We needed new storage spaces, more chairs, new storage space, space for music; the biggest part was getting a new room," said Monhardt.

Current orchestra teacher Caleb Mackinder said it's a dream come true. Mackinder said the new facility helps students feel appreciated for their particular discipline.

"The orchestra and choir no longer sharing a space gives them an identity to themselves of having just an orchestra room where they can store their things where they can always be there, where that is their space every day, said Mackinder. 

Construction took a mere 17 weeks, but project architect Russell Francois said the genesis goes back many years and several superintendents as District 87 made a commitment to excellence years ago.

"The important thing is that it's not just a vision of a single board or a single person. It really is a continued effort by a school board and many other groups to make long-term improvements and then maintain those improvements. I think District 87 has a wonderful record of taking an improvement and then giving it another life," said Francois.

McLean County Chamber of Commerce leaders and Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner said the addition and renovation devoted to music is a signal the community values culture, quality of life, and all aspects of education. Renner referred to it as an economic development project as well as a boost for education.

The addition and renovation at the east end of the BHS campus was part of a larger beautification and improvement project that also included turf on the athletic field.

Francois said he has a favorite view of the entire facility.

"Coming in from the west and seeing the morning sun wash the landscape and the terrace," said Francois. "It feels good."

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