By Anna Schwarz & Madilyn Ruiter
Lamoille Union High School is scheduled to undergo major renovations during the coming summer, with the gym and cafeteria both slated to be updated for the first time since the school opened over fifty years ago.
In a county as small as Lamoille, the community isn’t used to spending large sums of money. When the proposition to spend millions on a new school bond arose, the vote to approve the spending on the LUHS gym and cafeteria was close. With 387 voting for and 253 voting against, the bond passed.
As a result, 2020-2021 brings extensive change to the Lamoille campus. More than 2 million dollars has been designated and set aside for renovations, bringing an air of excitement in anticipation to LUHS. The planning behind this decision was substantial, but because of the high price tag on the bond, the vote was relatively close. The decision was approved by and edge of 134 votes, about a fourth of total voters.
The restorations, as athletic director Tim Messier stated, will take place in “the heart of our school”. This includes such important and meaningful locations as the gymnasium, theater and cafeteria. “2009 was [when] the original concept of replacing the gym floor and gym bleachers [was developed],” said Facilities Director Dylan LaFlam. The start was a plan to replace just the bleachers, but this would prove to make the gym structurally unsound, hence the more complete renovations. Finally, ten years later, the dream is coming true.
Besides the large cost, the main concern with the refurbishment is the timeframe. A plan has been in the works for a while, but it will finally come together with the hiring of a contractor, planned for the end of January.
But that’s just the beginning: “Construction is anticipated to be [started on] June 1st with completion on October 31st, 2020,” said LaFlam.
“We are going to have to close school as soon as possible in June ,” said Principal Brian Schaffer. Though these dates primarily cover the summer, the areas where construction takes place will not be available early on in the 2020-2021 school year.
This will mean gym classes will take place outdoors until the gym is finished in the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year. Both Schaffer and Laflam hope that the construction will not carry too far into the school year.
When asked about the effect to gym class in the fall, physical education teacher Caroline Stames said, “I’m hoping for sunny days!” Stames also said that Laflam promised that gym classes would still have access to the weight room for indoor curriculum. The high school gym classes would also be able to use the middle school during third block on both blue and gold days.
In the meantime, Messier believes that the long running renovations will be worth the wait. “I think that the new theater, cafeteria and gymnasium will build school spirit, school pride. I think there will be a lot of excitement to go into those areas after an extensive summer.” As a long-time community member, Messier has mixed emotions with the “face-lifts” that the school will undergo.
“The old gym is near and dear to me,” Messier said, remembering childhood days running around the same, original gym. However, the old gym has outlived its life expectancy and a new one gives the school community something to look forward to.
“I’m excited for the first time that our Lancer community walk into the new gymnasium and I get to see that look on everyone’s faces.”