Entertainment Fort Smith Magazine, Online

There’s something new at Northside High School and it sounds as great as it looks!

There’s something new at Northside High School and it sounds as great as it looks!

The new NHS Fine Arts Building in the east end zone. By the way that is the 2014 state champion soccer team practicing on the field. Photos by Brenda Yelvington. 


Mr. Shaver would bust his brass band uniform buttons in pride. Northside High School opened the school year with a fine arts building expansion and its new second floor will be named the Shaver Band Center in honor of the long-time band director who led, literally, thousands of band students in Fort Smith Public Schools in his 34-year tenure. William N. Shaver III died in 2013 at the age of 85.

The entering Class of 2017 and the returning sophomores and juniors who are in the band, orchestra and choir programs were overwhelmed with excitement and appreciation as they entered the just-completed facility.

There’s so much to take in. What seems like a whole new building is actually an expansion built up and over the ’80s-era existing structure. Band students will use a new entrance to take stairs to the second-floor Shaver Band Center.

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Orchestra students will now rehearse in the former band room on the ground floor and gain its instrument storage and practice rooms. The choir program remains downstairs with an expanded main choir room, robe storage, music library and four new ensemble-sized practice rooms. A new music theory classroom and lab is wired for computers.

The entire second floor, almost 17,000 square feet, is band headquarters. The main band room will hold up to 300 seated musicians. The size of just this year’s “first band” is 250-260 musicians, according to head band director, Gordon Manley.

“You can’t imagine what it feels like to be in here – it’ll keep a guy going,” a beaming Manley said, speaking for himself and the entire fine arts faculty. “But seeing kids’ faces is the best part.”

The band program has gained spacious, separate rehearsal space for all three bands and jazz band, numerous sound-proof practice rooms, well-designed uniform and instrument lockers and room for its extensive music library, almost 5,000 pieces of music dating back to 1926, he said. The library is one of the largest in Arkansas.

The fine arts building is wired throughout for data, sound and video projection. Faculty members have their own offices.

Instruments can be taken downstairs by freight elevator and ramps to Grizzly Field.

Risley-Associates, Architects, with HSA Engineering and Beshears Construction, all of Fort Smith, were the design/construction team. The new building, as are all new projects of the school district, is highly energy-efficient.

Manley emphasized that the faculty and students are grateful and impressed with the school district’s support of the arts.

“Everybody is talking about STEM, Manley said. “Add an ‘A’ to it and you’ve got STEAM!”

This article appears in the September 2014 issue of Entertainment Fort Smith Magazine.

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Entertainment Fort Smith Magazine, Online