By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The evening of Aug. 27, 2019 was time for the grand opening of the Millington Performance Arts Center. Years of paperwork, legwork and hard work finally came to fruition with several guests arriving on the campus of Millington Central High School to celebrate.
Millington Municipal Schools Superintendent James “Bo” Griffin had the privilege of addressing the gathering and cutting the ribbon provided by the Millington Area Chamber of Commerce to officially open MPAC.
“First and foremost, this is not just Millington Municipal Schools’,” Griffin said. “This is for all of Millington, this is Millington’s Performance Art Center. This is for everyone. That’s the important part of this. Everybody in this community came together to make this happen and we’re going to use it like that.
“We’re going to follow policy and procedure,” he continued. “We’re going to follow regulations. This is our little diamond in the rough. The secret is out. We’ve already had a lot of outside groups say when can we get in here. The best part is the huge turnout today. They didn’t realize that once you get in here, this place is huge. We can put 500 people in here. That’s impressive. When you have a school with 900 students and you can put 500 in here, it’s nice.”
The facility has nearly 500 seats in the auditorium area. Once you walk through one of the four sets of double doors, a spacious lobby area awaits. There are views of the outside from the windows and main window area in the center.
There is a technology and sound area allowing for clear acoustics that echo from the front doors to the rear of the building. There is a stage area with wooden floor. Just a few feet in the back of that portion are a black top dancing and performance area.
There are several hidden features to the MPAC with a roll up door allowing a truck to drive inside. It has multiple tiers with a catwalk above the stage.
Griffin said the facility will be ideal for choir, a concert band, conferences and already has a thumbs up form Rear Adm. Jamie Sands after his visit on Aug. 20.
“This is a professional building built for just that,” he said. “It’s not only for high school but we can bring other types of theater productions here, college level. We could bring professional productions in here, things of that nature.”
The buzz around the grand opening was how beautiful the MPAC building was and the potential it has to showcase the best of Millington. State Rep. Tom Leatherwood, a former MCHS teacher, said MPAC is a great addition to the strong Trojan tradition.
Another former MCHS instructor turned politician Millington Mayor Terry Jones also gave a positive review of the debut of MPAC.
“This is just another awesome thing going on in Millington,” he said. “Now we have a public performing arts center that rivals what any other community has. It’s always exciting with new subdivisions coming in, which means more growth and more families for our community that means more students for our school system.
“Everything is going well now,” Jones continued. “To have this beautiful addition for our children, our school, our community, like our superintendent said this is not just for our schools but for all of our community.”
Community included all of the MMS principals being on hand to celebrate with their colleague Mark Neal, MCHS principal. Millington aldermen, members of the Millington Industrial Development Board, Millington School Board and much more joined the students for the historic occasion.
Another face in the crowd was former MMS Superintendent Dr. David Roper.
“I want to thank Dr. Roper for having this vision of a performing arts center for Millington schools and this community,” Griffin said. “He got this plane off the ground and set the standard that not only we have to hit but move beyond. Dr. Roper put a lot of effort into this.
“A lot of people who are no longer with Millington Municipal Schools had a lot to do with this as well,” he concluded. “A lot of long nights, a lot of drawings, a lot of work from people like Mr. John Smith going back and forth with the architects. It’s a community effort and it really shows with One Millington is all about. We really come together and do what is right for our kids, because our kids come first.”