Outdoor theater project reaches its final stage

Community of parents, students, teachers and more complete a hillside performance venue that will serve Mac well during pandemic and beyond


Nicole Wayman

THE FINAL STAGES: The community construction crew the raised a stage this past weekend included faculty members like math teacher Matt Whipple left and interim principal Nicole Griffith (standing at right). Photo by Sarah Noack.

This weekend marked great progress and the completion of the outdoor stage at McCallum. Located next to the art portables, the platform provides ample outdoor space for performances of all kinds. Over 60 parents, teachers, and student volunteers came together to complete the stage last Saturday and Sunday.

Among those volunteers was Nicole Wayman, the project’s leader and the daughter of sophomore dance major Nia Wayman. Through organizing and collaborating with parents and other fine art strands, including fundraising and acquiring permits, Wayman led the community project to fruition.

Alpha Noack, 7, assists in the construction process early on Saturday morning. Photo by Dave Winter.

“Once the McCallum administration approved the plan, we had to get approval from the district construction team,” Wayman said. “Once we got approval from the district, we were able to promote the project, fundraise and officially launch.”

Weston Blaney, the father of technical theatre freshman Carys Blaney, drew the architectural plans for the stage. Wayman said after she saw the drawing, she recognized that the project would not be cheap.

Based on that awareness, Shaneye Ferrell, another of the project’s leaders, contacted Lowe’s seeking funding help. The networking eventually led to the project receiving a Lowe’s Community Hero’s Grant.

“We applied for grants and called local businesses for support,” Wayman said. “This is where Lowe’s came in with their Community Hero’s Grant. Once we knew they would help with the cost and construction, the goal seemed achievable. Everything moved very quickly after that.”

Another important figure at this weekend’s build was math teacher Matthew Whipple. Whipple came out on both Saturday and Sunday to help secure the beams and joists.

“We kind of fumbled at the beginning,” Whipple said. “Saturday morning was a two steps forward, one step back kind of day at first, but after we got into a flow, everyone worked together really well. It was a lot of fun and we got a lot done.”

Saturday morning was a two step forward one step back kind of day at first, but after we got into a flow, everyone worked together really well. It was a lot of fun and we got a lot done.”

— math teacher Matthew Whipple

Whipple was impressed with the amount of collaboration that took place this weekend.

“Not only did you have some staff out there, but you had student parents and even a parent of future Knights and the future Knight himself,” Whipple said. “I was actually out there with one of my students that I have this year, and I got to meet and work very closely with a parent who I found out whose kid is in my class.”

“I got to work with students that I have and students that I used to have and their parents.”

Through hard work and team effort, the stage was completed. Wayman said that more than 2,700 decking screws were used along with nearly 200 cubic feet of concrete to make up the pier-and-beam foundation. The framework (support structure between concrete and decking) of the stage was constructed of 40 2×12 beams which run parallel to the school. Seventy 2×10 joists connect the beams and support the flooring.

While the stage is complete, there is still more to be done. The stage will need to be weathered, and a ramp still needs to be built. The landscape bricks around the front of the stage still need to be secured as well. There will most likely be a need for more volunteers to help with these steps.

This stage is the outcome of the community working together to better McCallum and open up new, safer opportunities for performances, clubs and other events.
“Right now, the outdoor stage gives the MAC community a slice of hope — something to look forward to,” Wayman said, “Whether it be a performance, or an opportunity to collaborate safely outside.”

Mr. Winter and Mr. Whipple work together to make a strong foundation for the outdoor stage. “It was a lot of fun and we got a lot done,” Whipple said. Photo by Sarah Noack.

Once the vaccine is distributed and school looks more normal, this space can be used for McCallum clubs, lunch meetups or outdoor lecturers. There are endless uses. This stage is a way to expand McCallum’s space, and it will be used for a long time after this year’s Knights are gone. It is a chance to be able to hold community events and still abide by COVID restrictions.

“I think it [the stage] is important because there are a lot of groups and we are always trying to compete for space and it’s yet another venue to practice and meet for shows,” Whipple said, “It is another space and it’s great because the more spaces to work out and practice and perform, the better.”

The construction and completion of the outdoor stage marks a great community achievement which brought people together to work towards the goal of creating future opportunities.
“This project was truly a community collaboration,” Wayman said.

This project is really important because it will be here for generations for future Knights.”

— sophomore Nia Wayman

In an email to project stakeholders, Wayman said she was moved by the double-digit number of students who came out to help with the construction of the stage this weekend. Wayman also thanked Ian and Joy from Lowe’s for working alongside the Mac work crew all weekend long.

Senior Will Dooley was among the students who came out to help, spending three hours on Sunday installing the stage floor and the stone wall outside of it.

“I wasn’t doing tech this year,” Dooley said, “but I wanted to still help the program.”

Another of the volunteers was Wayman’s daughter Nia.

“I volunteered because I want to be a part of building the stage that I will be performing on in a few weeks,” Nia said. “Now I can say I built the stage with my bare hands, and I got to sign it, which you’ll never see unless you take it apart.”

She added that she felt good about being a part of the community build because the stage will help students now and long into the future.

“This project is really important because it will be here for generations for future Knights. I think it is important because it gives our fine arts students and others an amazing opportunity to perform and express themselves while being safe and abiding COVID safety guidelines.”


Photos by Josie Bradsby, Evelyn Griffin, Sarah Noack, Dave Winter and courtesy of Nicole Wayman.