NORTH CALDWELL, NJ — Renovations to the West Essex High School (WEHS) auditorium have been completed and were officially revealed earlier this week during a ribbon cutting ceremony held prior to the 2020 reorganization meeting with Superintendent of Schools Damion Macioci and various administrators.

The approximately $975,000 renovation project was entirely funded by utilization of existing monies in the district’s capital reserve fund. According to the district, approximately $8 million still remains in the account.

Upgrades made to the auditorium, which began in March of 2019, include the following state-of-the-art items:

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  • Lighting – on the stage, house and aisle lights and emergency lighting system integration;
  • Sound – house, stage, clear communication system, ADA (audio assisted devices) & upgraded microphones including stage microphones;
  • Upgraded rigging system, redesigned sound and light booth, renovated stairs and expanded front apron access and connectivity;
  • Newly updated ceilings, walls, floors, carpeting, seating and entry access;
  • Stage walls, floor repair, paint, ADA compliant seating; and
  • Network connectivity and security.

Extensive training for all maintenance, grounds, custodial staff, IT department, site managers, theater and music personnel was provided for usage of the house lighting and lighting console, sound console and to provide instruction for safe rigging operations.

During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Macioci stated that he was “really excited about the opening of [the high school’s] new, state-of-the-art facility.”

“The high school auditorium is one of the largest spaces in our building and is often a place where significant memories are made—either through ceremonies and awards programs to recognize student and staff achievement, or simply to bring large groups of people together for communication, celebration, or to showcase the talents of our performing arts students,” he said.

Due to the importance of this facility, Macioci said that the upgrading and refurbishment project “became a priority of [the West Essex] Board of Education and previous Superintendent of Schools Mrs. Barbara Longo and Business Administrator Mrs. Melissa Kida.”

“I want to thank them for recognizing the need and for taking the necessary planning and preliminary measures to begin the renovation,” said Macioci, who also thanked Building and Grounds Supervisor Taulant Feti and staff; WEHS Principal Caesar Diliberto; and Lisa Swanick, Supervisor of Fine and Performing Arts, for contributing to the project’s success. “[They all] spent countless hours to ensure our facility was completed to the highest level.”

Swanick, who acted as the project manager, and contractor Generations Brands attended the ceremony to present a slide show featuring photos of the work as it progressed.

During the reveal, Swanick thanked Longo and both current and previous board of education members for their support of the project. She noted that the state-of-the-art systems in the auditorium will provide students with the opportunity to learn how to utilize the lighting and sounds systems that will be instrumental for future functions held in the auditorium.

Diliberto also thanked all involved, noting that “the biggest winners here are” the students.  

He expressed gratitude especially to “General Swanick” for her leadership on the project and to Dr. Gina Donlevie, principal of West Essex Middle School, for accommodating the high school’s needs during the renovation by providing usage of the middle school’s auditorium.

Students from the West Essex Jazz Quintet and the West Essex Varsity Dance Team provided entertainment during the ceremony.