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A fresh look: Grand Island Central Catholic's Little Theater undergoes renovation

A fresh look: Grand Island Central Catholic's Little Theater undergoes renovation

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After more than 60 years, the Little Theater at Grand Island Central Catholic has undergone a face-lift.

Jolene Wojcik, executive director for the Grand Island Central Catholic Development Foundation, said the Little Theater renovation project was expected to begin this summer, but with school not being in session due to COVID-19, the work began in April.

“The company came and pulled all the seats out in April,” Wojcik said. “Mike Wenzl and his crew then abated the asbestos that was in the stage. They installed new lighting and sound panels around the whole theater.”

Last weekend, she said, new seating was installed. It took a day and a half to install 160 new seats. This is actually fewer seats than before the renovation due to larger seats and GICC needing to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Wojcik said new carpeting was placed on the Little Theater floor and security doors were installed on the exterior. She said the contractor is down to the finishing touches and the project will be completed.

Mike Wenzl, a 1961 GICC graduate who served as the general contractor on the renovation project, said crews also installed new ceiling tiles and lights. They also made the Little Theater walls “look a little bit better” by cleaning them up.

GICC Principal Jordan Engle said the Little Theater “was probably one of the oldest spaces” in the building prior to its renovation. He said it was past due for a face-lift and GICC decided to partner with the foundation to update it.

Wojcik said the project was made possible due to the foundation’s “Knight Under the Sea” event last November.

“We always have a ‘Fund An Item,’” she said. “It was just thanks to the donors at that event. We just talked about the need and there were 94 donors who gave anywhere from $20 to $10,000 each to make it happen.”

Collectively, Wojcik said, donors gave a little more than $70,000 for the renovation project. The foundation raised about $40,000 at the fundraiser and another $30,000 from people who donated after seeing information about the renovation project on Facebook.

“Dennis and Diane Carroll saw it on Facebook and they wanted to donate because they were not at the Knight (event),” Wojcik said. “Their daughter and son-in-law were both on the speech team here. So they wanted to give back to the school and thought it was a nice way to honor them.”

The Carrolls are listed as donating $10,000 or more to the renovation project.

Wenzl said, “My wife and I committed ourselves to the school and we sent our children here. Now our grandchildren are here. We just want to keep the Catholic school and Catholic faith going. I think it is going to be a great addition and will be used even more with all of the renovations that have been done.”

Engle said he thinks the Little Theater “is just beautiful” with its new carpet, seats and ceiling.

“It is nice to see that it is a space now that matches the rest of the building with all of the work we put into our campus the last couple years,” he said. “We want that to be a room that looks as good as everything else. I am glad to see it improved.”

Engle said GICC plans to use the Little Theater even more events such as class orientations, staff meetings and speech practices. He thanked Wojcik and GICC’s supporters for making the renovation project happen.

“We’ve got the best supporters and Jolene (Wojcik) does such a great job. She has such great rapport with all of our donors,” he said. “I just appreciate everything that everyone did to make all this possible.”

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