By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Friday, July 8, 2005
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]
HAMPTON -- The new gym at Winnacunnet High School is 90 percent complete and will be ready for use when students return to school this fall.
The gym is the first phase in a $26.8 million high school renovation and addition project approved by voters in 2004.
Winnacunnet School Board Chairman Chris Singleton said the public got a preview of the new gym at this year’s high school graduation.
"The graduation went really well," said Singleton. "We had about 2,000 people in the gym."
Singleton said if the gym hadn’t been ready, graduation would have been in the auditorium if it had rained.
The auditorium seats 750. The school’s enrollment is about 1,400. The gym, which is separate from the main building, holds 1,500 in the bleacher seats and 2,500 with chairs.
Students and members of the community first enter the building to a large lobby with bathrooms and a concession stand.
"The idea of this lobby is when you have events with more than 1,500 people, you want to have enough room for people to move around," said Singleton. "Graduation was a real good test, it was packed and you still could move pretty freely."
The first floor also contains a new office for the athletic director and a conference room. There are also new locker rooms and coaches rooms.
Singleton said the great thing about the gym is that it’s large enough to hold four separate gym classes.
It also comes with a running track on the second floor, where runners will be able to observe what’s happening on the floor below.
Nine trips around the track is equivalent to one mile.
"For physical fitness, we see this as a really nice facility for the kids and for the community as well," said Singleton.
The second floor includes a health and fitness room for wrestling and dance, a weight room, and a trainer’s room with a therapy table. There are also two rooms available for classroom instruction.
An elevator is available to take students and teachers to classrooms upstairs.
"We have skylights through out the building," said Singleton. "The idea is to keep it bright and save some energy costs."
Parking is available outside the gym near new tennis courts.
There are also bathrooms, with entrances from the outside, directly across from the outside fields.
"Everyone used to complain that we didn’t have adequate bathrooms to service these fields. We have them now," said Singleton.
Pro Con started work last summer, excavating the football field and setting the groundwork for the gym. Construction began in earnest in October.
"We are so appreciative of the public approving this project," said Singleton. "This is been done in a very timely manner, and knock on wood so far we are on budget."
Singleton said work has already begun on the two-story addition of 25 math and science classrooms.
"If you think the gym is an awesome building, wait until you see this one," said Singleton. "This is going to be our crown jewel."
Singleton said he hopes the building will be completed by December.
Pro Con is also renovating the interior of the old gymnasium, transforming it into the school’s new cafeteria.
The new cafeteria is expected to open when school starts this fall, instead of the targeted date of Thanksgiving.
The old cafeteria will become a band room, a chorus room and a video-recording studio, where daily school announcements will be broadcast live. The band and chorus teacher currently share a room.
Winnacunnet will have new roofing, new drainage, and will be a "clean" school, meaning free of asbestos.
"Our goal is that this time next year, we will be done," said Singleton.