When middle school students think about the first day of school, they probably think about where their classrooms are, what they might wear that day, who their new teachers are or what sports they might play this year.
What they may not think about, what they might not even notice at first, is the floor.
However, that won’t be the case this year at Woodward Middle School, where the new gymnasium floor and retouched paint job are hard to miss.
“The old floor was a Tartan floor,” explained Principal Mike Florian. “It has a life span of about 20 years, and ours was 20 years old.”
The age of the previous flooring resulted in an overall loss of compression, making it harder on the knees and joints of the athletes.
“We’ve raised the floor about 2 inches,” Florian said of the renovation. “There’s a base layer, slats and a maple wood finish. This floor has some give, there’s a little bounce to it.”
Tamela VanWinkle, Director of Facilities and Capital Projects, agrees that the new floor was a necessary improvement for the upcoming school year.
“This is the kind of floor that avoids injuries,” VanWinkle said. “This was a facility that needed some attention.”
The new gym floor was made possible in part by a $32,500 grant from the Rotary Club of Bainbridge Island, as well as funds from the 2009 capital bond that paid for school improvements throughout the district. The bond paid for the reconstruction of Captain Charles Wilkes Elementary School and allotted a further $9.5 million for district-wide capital improvements, including roofing, paving and energy conservation projects as issues needing addressed.
“We’re very appreciative of the community support,” Florian said. “Even with the grant, without them this would not have happened.”
Florian said the new floor will benefit more than just students.
“A lot of community groups use the facility,” he explained. “This project benefits the whole community.”
Of course, the first group to enjoy the floor will be the students, with the finishing touches slated to be done in time for Sept. 4, the first day of school.
“We have a few mechanical things left to deal with,” Floridan said. “We have to raise the hoops and reset some more doors, but students will be on that floor on the first day.”
Associate Principal Kristin Nelson says that the new floor only adds to the energy that surrounds the first day of school.
“The kids are all very excited to get out on new floor,” she said.
With the first day of school also being the first day of volleyball practice, the remodeling could not have come at a better time. Florian and VanWinkle agree that the new floor will better the school’s already vibrant social and athletic communities.
“I have a heart for athletics, and all that they do for the students,” Florian said.
“I still play basketball myself here a few times a week, and my knees are looking forward to the new floor, too,” he said.