Burst pipes bring new gym floor

The all-new high school gym.Photo: Liam Felton

“I’m surprised at how nice it is,” said senior basketball player Tate Rietkerk about the renovated ARHS gym.

On the first day of school, this year, students and teachers were all in awe of its shiny new floors and motorized bleachers. “It is strange seeing such a nice new addition to a pretty old looking school,” said junior volleyball player Sofia Maroulis.

On August 21, 2016, a two inch water pipe burst open and flooded half of the gym’s floor. It had been 19 years since since the floor was last redone. The walls and bleachers had not changed in the 60 years since the school was built in 1956. There was talk of a new gym and locker rooms when the floor was redone in 1998, but when budgets were cut in the mid 2000s ARHS kissed that hope goodbye.

On that fateful August morning, Athletic Director Richard Ferro got a call from Principal Mark Jackson explaining there had been a leak. Mr. Jackson had discovered the leak at around 5:30 a.m. when he walked into school at his usual time.

By then there were already inches of water in the hallway and on the gym floor, and the water was flowing down the stairs going over each step like a mini waterfall.

Mr. Ferro received a call from Mr. Jackson when the flood had been contained. The principal described an excited Ferro who “knew the burst pipe meant a new gym.”

Months later, construction was underway. Kuhn Riddle architects designed the new gym along with Mr. Ferro. Kuhn Riddle had worked with the school previously when building the addition in 1997-1998. The gym project was not cheap to say the least, with a bill totaling over 400,000 dollars. The money came from both the school’s insurance and money from the school budget. Luckily, the school had been saving up for a new gym since the addition.

The flooded gym had a big impact on the 2016-2017 school year. Students in the required PE 10 course or a gym elective could not use the gym. Neither the volleyball nor the basketball team had a single game at the high school; instead, fans had to crowd into the middle school gym.

The PE teachers were certainly happy when the new gym was completed. Their gym classes had been taking place in the much smaller back gym. “It looks beautiful. It’s nice to have a gym we are proud of,” said Physical Education teacher Brittni Upchurch.

The Amherst girls’ volleyball team has already made good use of the gym, winning seven of their eight home games there this season.

“Overall, I couldn’t ask for anything better. Just now that we have a nice gym, let’s keep it that way,” said Mr. Ferro.