Students at Park River High School in North Dakota are getting into the entertainment business.
The Lyric Theater, their town's turn-of-the-century movie house, is undergoing a technological facelift that will bring it into the 21st century. In the fall, the 228-student school will work with a community group to run the theater.
"Unfortunately, theaters are going by the wayside, due to things like pay- per-view," said Tom Larson, the business manager of the city of Park River and a member of the Park River Community Development Corp., a nonprofit organization that seeks economic-development opportunities.
The organization bought the Lyric Theater in 1997 from bankruptcy trustees for an undisclosed sum, but used it only on certain special occasions.
With its beautiful marquee and Main Street location, the building had always drawn attention, Mr. Larson said. Recently, he added, younger community members had begun showing an interest in the building. The development corporation decided earlier this year that the theater should be updated. With donations from several local and national foundations, it has raised more than $30,000 toward the project.
The renovations will maintain the theater's original facade, but will expand its concession area, install new projection equipment, and make the facility accessible to patrons with disabilities.
Once the changes are complete, students will help manage the theater under the district's school-to-work program. They will be responsible for everything from staffing the concession stands and projectors to helping in the selection of movies to be shown.
"I think this gives [students] some responsibility that they cannot get without having a job," Mr. Larson said. "They'll have to make certain the concessions are properly stocked, and they're also going to have to learn how to manage each other." The theater will be closed all summer and is slated to reopen in the fall.
—Marianne D. Hurst
Vol. 21, Issue 39, Page 3