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Canisius High students draw inspiration from new arts center

Canisius High School recently renovated the Conners Mansion on Delaware Avenue into a new Center of the Arts building.

The building was bought for $1.4 million from Hospice Buffalo.

Students began classes in the center after Christmas break.

According to Kevin Durkin, a music teacher at Canisius, "students are appreciative of the school’s significant investment in the arts."

Catherine Pitek, an art instructor at Canisius, agreed with Durkin, adding that "they are very excited to walk over, and don’t seem to mind the weather. The students like the freedom of movement, rather than being stuck in a desk."

Ginger Geoffery, the director of communications of Canisius, said she believes that the students like that the "classes have one big home."

The building is composed of four floors. The basement contains a music classroom, a small lounge with computers available for students to use, and a choral practice room that has been acoustically engineered particularly for choral music. The lounge’s computers have art design software, which helps students improve their computer art skills, while the choral room contains a grand piano that is used to help guide the singers in their music.

Students are not permitted on the first floor. It will be used for art shows and gatherings concerning the arts.

The second floor is the art floor, consisting of three interconnected rooms. This layout gives students the freedom to get their own supplies and work where they need.

Pitek likes that the sculpture room is connected with the drawing and painting rooms. That "makes it easy to cross different media and techniques easily," she said.

With many windows, 270 degrees of sunlight help provide natural lighting to the students while working.

The third floor is an immense music practice floor. It includes two lesson rooms, where students work with a teacher one-on-one to improve their skills. There is also a large band practice room, and a practice room for the Canisius Handbell Ensemble. The band room includes lockers for the students to keep their instruments in, as well as excellent lighting, helping students see their music.

Durkin said that he "absolutely loves" the new building. He went on to say that he appreciates the care and consideration invested in the project, and that it is reflected in a "spectacular" final result. He sees the building as "an important tool in the continued expansion of the Canisius art and music programs. We will be able to offer our students a much broader artistic experience, thanks to this new facility."

Pitek says the only thing the building needs is a "more lived-in look," which will come soon, once student art work is put up for display.

Canisius has many artistic performances coming soon, such as the Spring musical, "110 in the Shade," which will be performed today, Friday and Saturday in the Canisius High School auditorium.

The Spring Concert will be April 17, also in the auditorium.

For more information on these activities, visit the Canisius website,

Andrew Skakal is a freshman at Canisius High School.


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