By Sue Botos
Not many high schools, or businesses for that matter, could present a speaker like former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. But thanks to a new, state-of- the-art auditorium, Lutheran West High School students and other members of the community will have a chance to hear Rice, along with eight other motivational speakers, as part of the Chick-fil-A Leadercast on May 10.
“We looked at hosting the Leadercast four years ago, but we didn’t have the capability and infrastructure to do it,” said Mike Waugh, dean of Lutheran West’s Honors Academy, adding that the renovations to the Jochum Performing Arts Center, including expanded, theater-style seating, will make the event possible. The academy, in partnership with the Rocky River Chamber of Commerce, will sponsor the one-day leadership event. The Leadercast will be broadcast live from Atlanta, Ga., to hundreds of venues throughout the world.
The theme “Simply Leading” will be addressed in lectures of about 20 minutes each, by Rice as well as Jack Welch, former General Electric CEO; Andy Stanley, leadership author and communicator; Mike Krzyzewski, Duke men’s basketball coach; John C. Maxwell, author and leadership expert; Dr. Henry Cloud, leadership consultant; Lt. Cmdr. Rorke Denver, Navy SEAL; Sanya Richards-Ross, 2012 Olympic gold medalist; and David Allen, productivity expert.
Lutheran West Principal Dale Wolfgram explained the event is not specifically for high school students, but for those seeking inspiration in all walks of life. “It addresses the management of the stress of life, finding time to lead and clear out the things that hold you back,” he said.
Waugh said the event, which will be open to the public and students from other schools, is the culmination of the Honors Academy speakers series, which brings well-known local personalities such as Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald and sportswriter Terry Pluto to the school.
“The Honors Academy is a unique design; it’s one of a kind,” Waugh said. This is the second year for the program, which began with freshmen and sophomores during the 2011-2012 school year, and added juniors this year. Next school year, seniors will be included. Students are admitted based on grade point average and recommendations, and are required to take at least 10 honors courses, plus perform at least 100 hours of community service.
The Jochum Performing Arts Center is slated to open on April 26, in time for the school’s spring musical, “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” During a tour of the facility, Wolfgram said workers are on the job six days a week to meet deadline.
The auditorium is part two of the first phase of a three-phase, multimillion-dollar renovation project under way at the school. Part one, a new football field, was completed in the fall.
Other scheduled improvements include updating entrances and construction of a more secure office area. The familiar glass block windows fronting the school will also be replaced. “We offer a 21st-century education in a 1950s school. We want to make sure the school reflects that level of education,” Wolfgram said.
During a tour of the new Jochum Center, Waugh and Wolfgram noted that the seating capacity has been expanded from 325 to 490 seats, arranged in tiers. “This was an auxiliary room where we played volleyball in the 1980s,” Wolfgram said. He said for events such as plays and concerts, folding chairs were set up on a flat floor.
In addition, the new venue boasts a state-of-the-art sound system, 20-foot screen and orchestra pit with a removable top that can double as a stage extension.
Wolfgram said that the projects only move ahead based on funds donated. “I made a commitment to our community and to our donors not to have debt. We only move forward as funding allows,” he stated.
For details and to purchase tickets for the Chick-fil-A Leadercast, visit www.LutheranWest.com/Leadercast. Rocky River Chamber of Commerce members should contact the chamber office at 440-331-1140 for a discount code.