Fifteen-year-old Kim Vargas will miss the junior high-sized gymnasium at Broad Run High School for being small and “homey.”
For now, the sophomore will continue to play basketball and take her physical education classes there. The missing likely will start mid-way through her junior year, when she will be moved to another larger gymnasium added to the high school. At the same time, she said, “I’m really excited. … It’s kind of cool to play in a bigger gym.”
The gymnasium is not the only thing changing at the 30-year-old school in what will be the building’s fourth renovation project. A $13.8 million project approved by voters earlier this month will add five classrooms and update the gymnasium, art classrooms and other school facilities.
“The thing we try to do in Loudoun County is try to make sure all schools are equivalent,” said School Board Chairman Joseph Vogric (Dulles). “We need to keep upgrading and maintaining our existing facilities.”
THE LAST RENOVATION at the Ashburn school was to the media center in 1995. Previous renovations were in 1971 and in 1981.
“It has to do with equity,” said Edgar Markley, school principal. “As new high schools are built, it’s only fair the older schools can offer the same programs and facilities as the newer schools.”
The school’s current gymnasium has a capacity for 800 students, too small for some of the sporting events, school dances and all-school pep rallies, Markley said. “If we have a large game, we can’t get everybody in there. At a certain point, we have to close the door on people,” he said. “It’s ridiculous to turn people away.”
The new gymnasium will be built behind and overlap into the current gymnasium, leaving enough space for students to use the facility while construction on the addition is underway from April 2003 until about January 2004. Once the new gymnasium is completed, the space in the current gymnasium will be turned into a wrestling room, locker rooms and two health classrooms. The space for the current health classes will become an on-site child development center with classroom space and an outside play area.
STARTING IN MAY or June, 2003, the school’s two art classrooms will be renovated to provide space for a pottery and kiln area and to add a darkroom, allowing the school to begin offering photography classes. The project is scheduled for completion in October of the same year.
“It’s grim. We just have basic rooms with art going on in them. We really don’t have much,” Markley said.
One of the classrooms will be turned into a craft area where the pottery wheels and kilns will be kept. The second classroom will be used for painting and drawing.
“We will be able to do things we can’t do now,” said Rosanna Blair, fine arts department chair and art teacher. “It will allow us to teach things we can’t do or do on a limited basis because we don’t have the space.”
Another five classrooms also will be added to the south side of the building. Two of the classrooms will be used for computer labs, allowing smaller labs to be turned into classroom space. An existing classroom will become the faculty lounge, now housed in the copy room to accommodate student growth at the school. The school currently has 1,520 students in a building with a 1,300-student capacity.
“There’s going to be five classrooms there, but we’re only picking up three,” Markley said.
WORK on the renovations and additions is scheduled to begin in April 2003 and be completed by August 2004.
“I think it’s great because I see all the new schools. We need to catch up with them,” said Jessica Robbins, a 15-year-old sophomore at the school. “I can’t wait to see what happens. It’s our school, but it’s going to get a facelift.”