As the school year at Carmel High School kicks off, everything seems to be running in full swing– except for the gym, one of the most essential buildings on campus.
Construction began on the gym roughly three months ago and continued through the summer. Although students and staff had hoped for the completion of the gym to occur simultaneously with the start of school, the current estimate for its completion is mid-October.
“The primary driver of the reconstruction was the bleachers,” explains Rick Lopez, the CHS principal. “They broke a few years ago and since then we haven’t been able to retract the bleachers and have full access to the facilities in the gym.”
The bleachers were damaged years ago during a basketball game against Pacific Grove High School, when an excess amount of pressure caused the steel supports to bend inward. The updated bleachers will retract into the wall, giving access to all basketball hoops and volleyball courts in the gym and allowing multiple teams to practice simultaneously.
In order to carry out the redesign and replacement of the bleachers, new floors also had to be installed to support the updated structure, CHS athletic director Golden Anderson says.
The improved gym will include larger sets of bleachers, fresh flooring and redesigned entrances. In order to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, the bleachers will extend across both sides of the gym and the main entrances will be moved to the opposite walls.
Although many students and faculty are looking forward to a more convenient and up-to-date design for the gym, the building process has caused some inconvenience at school.
Due to the overlap between construction and the school year, certain sports and activities, including those in the physical education department, have been forced to make adjustments in their usual schedules.
“The units within our curriculum have been rotated to accommodate for the limited location,” physical education teacher Debbie French says. “For the first time, we are teaching football at the beginning of the year, in order to delay the basketball unit until the gym is ready.”
Some aspects, however, have not been as easy to adjust to for students in physical education.
With the current construction setup, the boys’ locker room is unavailable for use. A portable classroom has been set up as a temporary locker room for male students, who must adjust to the absence of bathroom stalls and showers.
The volleyball team has also suffered from many inconveniences without a gym.
“We have to find different gyms nearby to practice at,” senior volleyball player Megan Gonzalez says. “It can be especially hard when both JV and varsity are looking for practice times, and there aren’t always gyms available.”
Along with many summer practices being canceled, the girls’ volleyball team has also had to move all of their home games to the second half of the season.
“We would have preferred to not have the construction interrupt sports seasons,” Lopez says, “but there just wasn’t a time slot that wouldn’t conflict with at least one sport.”
Nonetheless, the long-awaited redesign of the gym will allow for more efficient use of the facilities and higher-quality athletics.
“I will be happy with the end product,” French says. “We will be able to teach the curriculum with the correct amount of space needed.”
Lopez adds, “We are satisfying an important need, and the result will be positive for a long time.”