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Monday, April 21, 2014

South High student’s Eagle Scout project touches up Orpheum Theatre seating

By Jerry Siebenmark
The Wichita Eagle

Kendall Winterhalter said he had to get creative in selecting a project that gets him closer to becoming an Eagle Scout.

On Saturday, Winterhalter, a 17-year-old who attends South High School, led a group of 50 scouts, their parents and other children in a project to clean and renumber 1,300 chairs at the Orpheum Theatre, 300 N. Broadway. It was the second Saturday in a row that Winterhalter spent at the Orpheum.

“I think I’m lucky that, especially in Kansas, I got an indoor project,” he said, pointing to the lobby doors, where just outside was a steady stream of rain and temperatures in the mid-40s.

Winterhalter said that in his search for a project he learned that many of his ideas had been done by Eagle Scouts before him, such as building a new trail at a park. In another instance, he realized that he had to select a project that his team of volunteers could do. One potential project involved cutting down large trees, and he wasn’t sure some of the younger, smaller scouts helping him could swing an ax. “That was part of the issue,” he said. “Finding something that everyone can do.”

Winterhalter figures the team of volunteers he’s organized and led collectively put in 200 hours of work on the project before finishing Saturday. The minimum for an Eagle Scout project is 100 hours.

He’s now one merit badge away from reaching Eagle.

“My target for finishing is the first Saturday in January,” Winterhalter said of the last of the requirements for his Family Life merit badge.

He said he found out about the renumbering project after he sent out an e-mail blast in the summer seeking a project.

“Renumbering the seats is a tremendous help to us and will our enable patrons to find their seats more easily,” said Jennifer Wright, Orpheum president. “This is also an opportunity to expose a group of youth to the … Orpheum.”

Winterhalter said that when his father, Kent, learned of the project, “he really wanted me to do it.”

Kent Winterhalter said Kendall’s great-grandfather played the piano at the Orpheum when it showed silent movies. When the elder Winterhalter was growing up in the 1960s, he remembers going to Saturday matinees there. “It’s a historic landmark,” he said.

Reach Jerry Siebenmark at 316-268-6576 or jsiebenmark@wichitaeagle.com.

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