Fallon’s Lee Carpenter Looks Back as Dublin High School’s Center for Performing Arts and Education Prepares for Opening Night
There was a significant amount of buzz on the Dublin High School campus on Friday. The excitement was shared by all students that participate in the band program. Period by period, Music Director Paul Everts escorted his musicians from their historic location into their new band classroom located in the newly completed Center for Performing Arts and Education (CPAE) complex. The move is symbolic in so many ways. After functioning in what was a converted wood shop for years, the new band room represents a much grander space that includes state of the art equipment. The walls include acoustic treatments, ceiling jacks for microphones that can be utilized for recording performances, a wall-wide locker system, an automated video screen that drops from the ceiling and separate practice rooms. Adjoining the band room are classrooms for Choir and Video Production.
The centerpiece of this entire project is the new theater. It seats 506 people and it includes many sophisticated elements including two catwalks, a rigging fly system, an orchestra pit (that can be raised and lowered) and advanced HVAC capabilities.
While it is tempting to rush into the future, we felt that it would be helpful to not forget the past. The Little Theater is slated to be demolished shortly after this academic year has concluded. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of students and families have spent many memorable moments there. With an acknowledgement from Dublin High School Principal Carol Shimizu, she recommended that we reach out to Fallon Middle School Music Director Lee Carpenter to gain his perspective on the transition from the old to the new performing arts experience. Lee worked for many years at Dublin High during its growth period. His influence impacted generations of students that had an interest in the performing arts. He ultimately moved over to Fallon when that site opened. He is regarded by many as the “keeper of the theater.” OneDublin.org was pleased to collect some of his memories.
OneDublin.org: During your tenure at Dublin High School, what were your specific responsibilities?
Lee Carpenter: “During the 18 years I was at Dublin High School, my responsibilities included; Director of Bands (all 18 years), in charge of the marching band, concert band, jazz band, color guard, drum line and even a beginning guitar class. I was also Stage Craft advisor for 16 years, in charge of all set building, lighting and sound for all events, not only in the Little Theater, but throughout the school including graduation, rallies and for a while even football games. For two years I was the Drama Director on top of being Stage Craft Advisor, during that time we did three plays and a musical.”
OneDublin.org: What did the Dublin High band look like and what was the status of ongoing development during your tenure?
Carpenter: “The Marching/Concert Band was usually between 65-85 performers. At that time the DHS student population was as low as 700 students. The band usually involved 10-15% of the school population. Just as today, the band was very good. In a typical year we did 5-6 competitions, 4-5 football games, 3-4 concerts as well as rallies and assemblies. We also took a major trip every two years to places like Ireland, Canada, Hawaii, Orlando, Buffalo and Dayton, Ohio. During my tenure, we received local, state, national and even international awards including best international band at the Limerick, Ireland Marching Band Competition, Winter Guard International finalist twice and played a special concert at the Pearl Harbor Memorial in Hawaii.”
OneDublin.org: In addition to supporting the band program, you also contributed to the Creative Arts. Help us to understand how you helped the Drama program and others.
Carpenter: “As the Stage Craft Advisor, I worked with some fine Drama Directors including; Lisa Beddow, Leonard Cooper, Diana Cameron, and Victoria Quintanilla. I basically would design and build the sets for the plays, design and set the lighting, record and set up a sound system for any sound effects needed, build any and all props needed, then run the lights and sound during the productions. As Drama Director, I did all of the above and ran the rehearsals and manage the actual production. In a few cases, I had to fill in for students who didn’t make grades and had to be removed from the play.”
OneDublin.org: When you reminisce on your years in the “Little Theater”, some of the conditions may have been sub-standard. Care to share an anecdote or two from those old days? Please expand.
Carpenter: “We always seemed to be on a ‘shoe-string’ budget. We would go to the local paint store and buy mis-mixed paint for a dollar a gallon. Whatever color they had would be the color of the sets. We spent a lot of time rewiring spotlights, trading plugs for extension cords and dressed the sets with whatever furniture we had in the back room. There always seemed to have a spotlight bulb burn out the day before opening night. I can’t tell you how many trips I made to Santa Clara to get bulbs from a theater supply house. We would use things as long as we could, then fix them if possible or get rid of them, items were seldom replaced. There are probably as many stories as there were students involved in the plays, productions and concerts held in the Little Theater. There was the time I ran over my foot with a piano during a band concert and another time when the piano almost rolled off the stage. There was a dressing room restroom door that would stick from time to time and several students got stuck in there over the years. There were tons of forgotten lines, missed cues, missed entrances and of course ad-libs. Then there was the time that Mrs. Quintanilla and I mimicked the play on stage with finger puppets up in the light booth.”
OneDublin.org: As you look at the opening of the new Center for Performing Arts and Education coming up on June 2, please explain how this perspective makes you feel as you reflect on the past decade of development at Dublin High School.
Carpenter: “They have been talking about a new theater since my first days in Dublin. Over the years I met with at least 3 different architects to talk about theater designs and needs. Then the plans or financing would fall through and it was literally back to the drawing board. It got to the point where I was saying, “I’ll believe it when I see it”.
“When Measure C was proposed with plans that included a state of the art theater, I joined the steering committee and worked hard to get the bond measure passed. The performing arts students of DHS have deserved a facility like this for a long time. I’m very excited that they now will have it. I hope there will be as many fond memories created in the new theater as there were in the old.”
OneDublin.org: Please describe the current state of the rapidly expanding Fallon Middle School band program.
Carpenter: “The Fallon Band program is growing at an incredible rate. When the school opened, the entire band program was 37 students. Today there are 190 band students. We have 115 in Advanced and Jazz Band, 45 in Intermediate Band and 30 in Beginning Band. We compete throughout the bay area in marching band, concert band, drum line and color guard competitions. In short, the Fallon band program is busting at the seams.”
OneDublin.org: Anything else that you would like to add?
Carpenter: “The Little Theater was a lot more than a venue for Band and Drama. Many other activities were held in there over the years including; staff meetings, in-service trainings, grad nights, wrestling practices, color guard practices, drum practices, prom fashion shows, dances, awards dinners, movie nights, speech contests and dance recitals. For a small, dimly lit, odd shaped little building, it created a lot of great memories for many wonderful and talented students.”
It is imperative to appreciate our past before we look to the future. This perspective is keenly tuned to what Mr. Carpenter has witnessed over the decades. OneDublin.org would like to thank Lee for sharing his perspectives. A new generation of students will enjoy the new CPAE and we appreciate the educators and staff that forged ahead under less than ideal circumstances.
Note: A Ribbon-cutting Ceremony and tour for the Center for Performing Arts & Education Center has been scheduled on Monday, June 2nd @ 5:30PM. The entire community is invited. To bookmark and save the event click here.