By Shirley Shuman
A much-needed renovation of Braxton County Middle School’s gymnasium is underway, and Principal Amy Perkins thinks it will be finished soon. The renovation includes installing new bleachers, painting the walls, and refinishing the floor. To emphasize the need for these changes, Perkins and others discussed some of the problems found in the almost-30-year-old facility.
“We couldn’t have a whole-school assembly,” she said, “because one section of the bleachers couldn’t be used. They were unsafe.” Another serious problem was the condition of the gym floor. Since it hadn’t been refinished, it was slick and therefore dangerous.
Two individuals who used the gym on a regular basis commented on the condition of the floor. Stephanie Chapman, physical education instructor, described one of the problems she and her students faced during physical education classes. “We have had simple running exercises,” she said, “when kids had troubles stopping. The floor was so slick they slid when they tried to stop. The risk of injury was much greater because students could fall. One or two actually fell, but no one was injured.”
Chapman also discussed the condition of the bleachers. “Even the bleachers didn’t align properly. Some seats were unsafe, and gaps between seats could easily have caused a student to fall,” she said.
Girls’ basketball coach Matt Pritt echoed Chapman’s comments about the slickness of the floor. He also noted that his players had slipped but said there had been no injuries. Coach Pritt also noted, too, that with one side of the bleachers being condemned, there wasn’t enough seating for fans.
Dr. Brenda Wells, Director of Operational Services and Maintenance, indicated that the problem with the bleachers was apparent before the pandemic but noted there were no funds at that time. She added, “Teachers and coaches had started raising money for the bleachers.” Weyerhauser also gave a sizeable donation. Then came the pandemic, and progress was at a standstill. Once schools reopened, according to Wells, “We realized we had money to work on the gym.” She explained that during school closing, “[The system} was able to save quite a bit of money because expenses were cut—fuel, electricity, gas, and more.” At that point, she and others began working with the county’s architect and made a contract with the Braxton County Commission.
Color will be featured inside the new facility The walls, painted in the school’s red and black colors, will provide a background which will please students and faculty, Principal Perkins is certain. The new bleachers, a bright red, will provide color and much more. They will be safe, as the old ones weren’t. Also, they will be set back further than the older ones. As a result, the gym floor will be six inches wider. As Dr. Wells pointed out, “Basketball players will now be able to shoot three-pointers from the side. With the old bleachers, they would have had to stand out of bounds to try a three-point shot.” Coach Pritt pointed out that the wider gym will provide an advantage for both teams.
The refinished floor will definitely be a plus for everyone concerned—students in physical education classes, basketball players, individuals simply walking in the gym. An addition here that should please students and faculty alike will be center court. Principal Perkins indicated that a Knight in full color will command that spot.
Obviously happy with the prospect of an attractive gym, the principal noted, “In addition to the additional safety of the refinished floor, the colorful and safe new bleachers, brightly painted walls, there is another big plus. We take pride in our school here at Braxton County Middle School, and this addition will give us one more aspect of our school of which we can be proud.”
By Shirley Shuman