‘It’s all about the kids’

Published 6:54 pm Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Halverson gym will allow expanded opportunities


After about seven months of construction, Halverson Elementary School students and community youth groups are enjoying the completion of the school’s new gymnasium.

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For the first time in its history, the school now has a full-size regulation basketball court and the capability to divide the gym into two smaller courts.

Halverson Elementary School Principal Tonya Franks said the gym will provide more possibilities, not only for the school’s physical education classes but other youth sports groups who need space for practices, performances or games. 

“It opens up opportunities for our students to be more equitable in town,” Franks said.

Physical education teacher Paul Woodside, who has worked at the school for 31 years, said the old gym limited many activities, such as volleyball, because of space and safety. With the new gym, the students will be able to play more games or even have multiple things going on at the same time. In addition to a regulation basketball court — with basketball hoops that can be raised and lowered from 6 feet for younger students to regulation height for older ones — the gym can accommodate regulation volleyball games.

“It’s a great gym,” Woodside said. “It’s total night and day (difference). It’s great for the Halverson kids because they can finally experience some of the things the other kids in the district experience.”

Franks said construction started at the beginning of May, continued through the summer and into the first few months of school.

In addition to the new gym, the school now has its main offices at the front of the building and implemented enhanced security measures, along with new restrooms and a special education classroom. The entire project was $2.86 million.

While construction was underway, the gym teachers taught their classes either outside, in the cafeteria or in the hallway. While it was a little challenging at times for the physical education teachers, Woodside said he is glad the project is completed and that the community supported both it and the upgrades to Hammer Complex.

“For the Halverson kids to experience a gym like this — it’s all about the kids,” he said.

In addition to physical education classes and sporting events, the new space allows Halverson to accommodate more grades for school programs and have all-school assemblies, Franks said. Previously, the school was only able to house one grade at a time for programs because the space was not large enough for family and friends of multiple grades of students.

She estimated with the Prairie Fire Children’s Theater performance last week, there were close to 200 people in the gym.

The new bleachers that line one side of the room seat roughly 160 people and also provide handicap accessibility. The gym also includes a scoring table that someone could sit at and run the scoreboard, two large storage areas for equipment and an office.

Franks said youth basketball is already utilizing the new space, along with the dance line.

“Without the support of the school referendum, this would have never happened,” she said.