Oak Ridge High School staff and students will return this August to the sounds of the school bell and hammers as a construction crew transforms a large portion of the school’s athletic wing into what new Principal Paul Burke calls “a phenomenal athletic facility.”
One wall of the large gym has been torn down to bump it out 3,700 more square feet; this allows seating for up to 500 more spectators in a third set of bleachers, complimenting the bleachers on two other sides. A new video scoreboard will also be installed to highlight plays and give games a professional feel.
“It’ll be pretty sweet,” Burke said.
Several other additions and makeovers are in progress, including a new 6,000-square-foot building “dedicated completely to wrestling,” according to Burke. The weight room will also double in size, bringing it to 2,200 square feet.
Incoming senior Trevor Cazares is on the wrestling team and said he looks forward to the changes. “It’s exciting,” he said. “The wrestling team won’t have to make so many cuts because we’ll have more space. This gives us more potential to be a better team.”
The small gym used for PE classes and sports practices will get a brand new floor, fresh paint and protective mats along the walls.
With all this new space, a large storage area is being built for equipment.
The principal’s administrative assistant Kathy Botkin said this is the fourth straight year Oak Ridge has had construction of some kind, and this undertaking isn’t even the largest. “A couple of years ago we had to pack up every single item in every single room and store it,” she said, laughing. “When they started in May the first thing we asked was, ‘Do we have to pack everything up?’”
Still, Botkin said they’re getting creative about space since the project won’t be finished until early winter. “We’ll share Ponderosa’s gym until then and the Homecoming Dance is already being planned as an ‘under the stars’ event on the quad,” she said.
Measure Q, the bond El Dorado County voters passed in 2008, funded much of the approximately $4 million project, though Burke gave equal credit to the Oak Ridge High School Foundation. “The bond paid for the construction, but the foundation paid for all the amenities, including the new video scoreboard, new floor for the weight room and new equipment for the weight and wrestling rooms,” he said.
Besides amenities for the gym and other sports facilities, Burke noted the foundation also purchased more than 80 tablet computers for student use. “The foundation has been a tremendous support to the programs, students and staff at Oak Ridge,” he said.
The Oak Ridge High School Foundation is reaching out to the community for more support in reaching their goal of $500,000 for capital improvements to the school. They have raised approximately $300,000 thus far. The foundation will host information nights with sessions about their capital campaign at 6 and 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 7 and 8 at the school.