Kay Porter Theater

Renovations underway at Kay Porter Theater
Posted on 02/01/2022
Kay Porter Theater

Work is underway for the Kay Porter Theater to receive a complete overhaul of its control booth with use of original funds bequeathed by the campus building’s namesake.

During its December meeting, the R-I Board of Education unanimously approved the low bid from HD Media Systems out of Cape Girardeau to replace the theater’s audio, visual and lighting systems. Installation began the following week.

“We have an obligation to maintain all buildings, but since Kay Porter occupies a unique place in the history of Poplar Bluff for all those individuals who were intimately involved, we have an obligation to maintain this building at the highest level,” said Dr. Scott Dill, R-I superintendent. “It was important to us that we found a project that really echoed the enduring legacy of Kay Porter, and what she meant to the school district and to our community, as her name is above the door.”

The late Porter, a local philanthropist, left $1 million to the Poplar Bluff High School Drama Club among other entities in town when she passed away in 2004. Just shy of $200,000 will remain in the Kay Porter fund, Assistant Superintendent of Business Dr. Amy Jackson reported to the school board.

Porter also financed the entire $2.3 million construction of the theater in 2000, according to school records. Chief Technology Officer Aaron Badgley remembers the well-thought-out theater, complete with its own woodshop for set designs, along with the expansion of what was known as A-Building on the then PBHS campus back when he was a student.

“I love this building,” commented Badgley, who has consulted with industry specialists to assess the condition of the technological components original to the facility. “The program started in the High School annex, so the upgrade was major for Poplar Bluff. There was nothing else like it at the time.”

Over the past couple of decades, Badgley noted, pieces of equipment have either experienced wear or have gone offline entirely. The upgrade will include a digital soundboard to replace the current analog system so that individual profiles can be programmed in for the various uses of the building, including playing host to educational meetings. A new state-of-the-art sound system will be suspended above the stage. LED lighting will serve as a significant energy saver for the district.

The facade of the facility also received a fresh paint job out of the district’s maintenance budget in the fall, with further plans to replace the HVAC system. The renovations will “bring the facility into the current decade and solve some long-winded issues we’ve dealt with the past few years,” according to Nick McDaniel, PBHS drama teacher.

“We’re so pleased to know that we’re getting an upgrade, but I don’t want our joy to diminish the pride we have in our facility as is,” McDaniel stated. “So many schools have their drama programs stuffed into back corners of the school, whereas ours has a professional facility.”

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Cutline: The exterior of Kay Porter Theater recently received a facelift, and now interior work is underway on the technology components of the facility.

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