Southern High community excited about finished gym
by Krystal Paco
Guam - Incoming Southern High School senior Austin San Nicolas was all smiles this morning as he walked through his school's newly renovated gym. "Seeing the gym for the first time in about a few years was a really good feeling," he beamed.
It was such a good feeling, he's already making plans to try out for the school's basketball team as a power forward and center. "I'm going to be using the court a lot," he said.
What he saw this morning was a complete transformation of the facilities he remembered his freshman year. He said, "The gym was already breaking down. The locker rooms were already leaking. Broken lockers everywhere so it's good to see that someone actually cares about Southern High."
Department of Education superintendent Jon Fernandez says it's a matter of finishing touches as contractors BME & Sons were seen this morning painting turquoise trimming and beige paint on the exteriors. Come the end of July, Fernandez says both projects, which were funded through $7 million in ARRA money, will be completed. Pending inspections from the island's regulatory agencies, both the gym and auditorium will be ready for student use this school year.
"We're really excited. Last summer we came through on a tour with everyone to see what the conditions were of the facility termites eating the wood. Water damage. All those things that were not working so we came here and we saw that. All the facilities have been restored to a condition that we can all be proud of," he said.
Many students touring the school's auditorium this morning were already making plans to receive their diplomas on the stage with seating to cater to over 1,000 audience members. Fernandez thanks gate theater officials for fine tuning the fine arts theater whose lighting and sound can be controlled over an iPad.
He said, "They came down here and just provided very practical advice to the contractors about how to prepare the stage, how to rig the equipment, how to wire everything so we anticipate they'll be a strong partner with us to make use of this facility the school will have primary use during school hours but afterwards we want to welcome the community we want GATE to lead some of our productions and really make use of this investment."
But the bigger challenge ahead Fernandez admits - maintenance. "We have our budget hearing that's coming up we'll be making clear to the legislature that that's an important part of our investment our schools. We restore a facility like this we're going to need the necessary resources to maintain," he said.
DOE officials are set to appear before lawmakers to present their FY2014 budget next Friday, July 26th.