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June 14, 2021

Funny Papers Again Column | The Old and the New on Mildred Avenue

The history of King City High School Auditorium, home of the Robert Stanton Theater, is pretty much known to most residents of South County, and of those who are unaware of its significance they will probably come across this knowledge sometime in their lifetimes. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places back in July of 1991 and has received no little amount of ink over the past couple of decades, and so its story will pass down from generation to generation, which is as it should be with all local fact and lore.

The history of the King City High School Agricultural Building, home of the FFA and others, is pretty much unknown to most residents of South County, this because the building has no history, factual or otherwise. In fact, at this writing, given its present stage of construction, I doubt it could qualify as a building. But it is well on its way to completion and soon a brand-spanking new, modern edifice will anchor the northeastern corner of the campus.

And don’t that just make Mildred Avenue quite a unique place in town? Well, a couple hundred feet of it anyway. One of the oldest buildings on campus juxtapositioned with the newest campus addition is visual testimony of preserving the past and promoting the future.

And what will the “old” have in store for itself? Specifics of how funds set aside for the upgrading and improving of KCHS buildings are not finalized; but for the Auditorium I know of a few thoughts that have been aired. Making sure that every audience seat is in top condition is one such area of concern, and that will take some doing as there are some four or five different sized seats in the house. Repair and painting of the lobby ceiling as well as painting in the make-up/dressing room is a wish list of those who use the building. One primary goal is to make easy access for wheelchair users and others who cannot negotiate the steps both into the lobby or onto the stage.

But there are limitations to what can be done; while the bathrooms in the lobby and backstage rooms are not disability accessible, you can’t just take a jackhammer to a historic building and do away with existing walls. Any changes in or around the building will have to take into account many issues of space, both inside and outside, while maintaining integrity of original design and function. That is why it is good to know there are concerned people within the high school administration and community who are collaborating on these issues.

The Southern Monterey County Center for the Performing Arts (SMCCPA) is a long-established nonprofit organization whose sole purpose is the preservation and maintenance of the Auditorium; members of that group are partnered with the school with the goal of making needed upgrades. One suggestion broached by SMCCPA board member John Jernigan is the enhancement of sound and audio for both the lobby and the stage.

Board President Robert Walton relayed these words to me: Everyone in South County needs reminding that the Stanton is a priceless, irreplaceable building adorned with world-class art and that it is a civic responsibility to take care of it. Also, it should be used frequently and responsibly, especially by young people. Our shared mission with SMCJUHSD leadership is to preserve, protect and enhance the Stanton for all!

And that brings us to the newest building on campus, about which all we can suppose is that it is not in need of repairs or upgrades. So, what is to be said beyond cold, structural specs of the building itself? Square footage, number of floors, classrooms, labs, etc. are facts that can be found elsewhere.

Now, I am no expert on the history of nor present structure of the FFA organization, but I believe that that magnificent new building is going up because of the outstanding performance of KCHS FFA over the past few years, and it will take a mighty convincing argument to change my mind. With that thought, I reached out to one of those people who has been a part of the organization most responsible for this outstanding new addition to the King City High School campus. She is senior Brenna Owens and is a member of FFA.

Brenna was among the students who were given the opportunity to vote for the final design of the building; here is what she says: “I first heard of the new FFA building when I was a sophomore in the FFA Leadership class. Seeing the construction of the ag compound take place is amazing. It means a lot to me that the classes under mine will get to experience a place that will benefit them in their endeavors.”

As one of the many FFA members who signed their names to the main girders of the new building, Brenna has mixed emotions as she readies to graduate. “FFA has been a huge part of my high school career and has allowed me to partake in new experiences. … It’s unfortunate that I wasn’t able to experience the new buildings … (but) I know the next classes will be enjoying the updated classrooms. … Hopefully I’ll get to see it once it’s all finished!”

BITS & PIECES

As one who chafes against change, even when it is good change, I have never gotten to the place where I can only reference the King City High School Auditorium as the Robert Stanton Theater; thus, this week’s opening sentence (see how I am).

I attended a ballet in Oklahoma City last Sunday and saw dazzling scenery, heard wonderful music and witnessed some beautiful and graceful dancers performing at their best, and it was all very entertaining; but, of course, I’ve seen the equal here in town many times.

Last week in Missoula the California plates on the vehicle and my California “accent” didn’t go unnoticed by the Montana guy with a MAGA cap on his head and 9mm strapped to his hip, but neither did it keep him from offering to help with a minor auto problem in 30-degree weather; and he was just one instance of human contacts over five states that were friendly and helpful and often generous; I don’t care what the talking heads on TV say, my recent experiences tell me that one-on-one we Americans are nice people. … Caveat to that last bit (or was that a piece?): “Avoid discussing politics or religion to avoid hard feelings.”

I would love, and I’m sure others would also, to see herds of Bison as I saw in Montana last week here in South County somewhere, Bitterwater, Lockwood maybe, but the spread of brucellosis to cattle pretty much puts the kibosh to that whimsy.

I always thought “butterfly” and “pineapple” to be words totally unfitting of their assigned items, the former not a fly and the latter neither from pine nor apple tree, the history of each word (etymology, that would be) “ananas” and “schmetterling” tell me why it is as it is.

Steve Wilson
King City and Greenfield Columnist

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