Construction Nears Finish Line


New locker rooms will be completed between October 24 and October 31. Since school started, students and athletes have used the portables behind the large gym. Photo by Emily Aronovitz.

For more than two months now, P.E. students and athletes have used portables behind the large gym as locker rooms, awaiting the completion of the updated rooms currently under construction. Due to unforeseen delays, students are now set to have access to their updated locker rooms between October 24 and October 31. The new fitness center on the basketball courts behind the girls’ locker room is scheduled to be finished by January 3.

Administration originally scheduled locker room renovations to be completed by August 15, but a series of unforeseen challenges throughout the construction process created multiple setbacks. Construction crew found corroded piping during the demolition process, and unwanted sloping in the floors called for more of the locker rooms to be redone than planned for initially.  

“[These are things] you don’t actually know until you open up the walls and see what’s in there… [and decide] you might as well fix it,” Associate Superintendent Mike Mathiesen said.

Each locker room will include new team rooms for both home and guest sports teams, as well as new coaches’ offices and added storage spaces for equipment. General improvements have been made to the actual locker spaces and the dance and wrestling rooms; all furnishings have been replaced, new windows offer natural light, showers and bathrooms have been repiped and lighting is now motion sensitive.

The fitness center will remain the only part of the project to be completed after the locker room is done. Given that there is already a functional weight room next to the football field, the fitness center development on the basketball courts was put on hold when the district realized that the locker rooms would not be done by August 15.

“We have prioritized the locker room because…there is an existing weight room we can continue to use with the new fitness center built in parallel… [but] there are no alternative locker rooms,” Mathiesen said.

Now with the locker room construction drawing to a close, workers have started laying foundations for the fitness center, which will be significantly larger than the current weight room.

“The plan for the new weight room is to add some new equipment,” P.E. teacher Kiernan Raffo said. “We plan to purchase new rowing machines, new racks, barbells and plates. It will be larger and have newer technology.”

While Mathiesen hopes to have construction finished by January 3, he believes possible further delays will not get in the way of student activities.

“From a usability aspect, if there’s some delays in the fitness center it will have minimal impact to the use of athletes or P.E. classes,” Mathiesen said.

Until the locker rooms are finished, P.E. students and athletes will continue to use the portable buildings by the basketball courts as changing rooms. The portables contain chairs to put clothes and backpacks on and temporary coaches’ offices.

Freshman Parth Dhanotra thinks the portables serve well as a transitional changing space and  believes that the district has addressed their construction delays to the best of their ability.

“I don’t think it makes that much of a difference to most students,” Parth said. “It’s the only solution right? What are you going to do?”

Raffo sees this same attitude within many of her students, and she herself has found some perks in the makeshift situation.

“While students would prefer a locker room, the trailers have been fine for us,” Raffo said. “They change quickly and take their belongings to class with them. Honestly it has been nice not dealing with forgotten locker combinations, jammed lockers and stolen or lost items.”

Raffo does admit that the construction delays have made needed equipment harder to access when they are deep into storage containers, but she prepared for the possibility of delays beforehand.

Luckily [the P.E. department] planned ahead and put the equipment we knew we would need for the beginning of the school year towards the front of our storage containers,” Raffo said. “While not ideal, our department understands these things take time and are really looking forward to moving in as soon as we can.”

In the coming years, the district would like to build more classrooms to accommodate the growing student population, and ideas of expanding the cafeteria and library have also circulated around the boardroom table, although they are yet to be acted upon.

“I think there’ll be a little bit of a lull because we want to be thoughtful about identifying what happens next,” Mathiesen said. “Yes, we want to do all those things but we cannot do it all at once, so that’s what we’re starting the process of going through.”