Center Grove Student Activity Center
Writer / Jessica Kelly
Photographer / Ron Stiemert
“Back in 2011, we did a facilities assessment, and we found that our weight room was too small and unsafe because of the size and the number of kids that are utilizing the equipment, so we started to talk about how we could expand the weight room and what we might do in that area,” Center Grove superintendent Rich Arkanoff said. “The high school is limited on footprint space, so it is hard to figure out how to do that and not displace other things.”
The solution that the Center Grove administration came up with was a new facility called the Center Grove Student Activity Center.
The Student Activity Center is a $10 million facility that will be built onto the south side of Center Grove High School. The features consist of a 200-meter track, four basketball courts and an expanded weight room. It will have multipurpose flooring, meaning that it is available for use by track runners, basketball players, color guard athletes, weight lifters, Robotics competitors, marching band performers and many other students.
“Taxes will not raise,” supporter Billy Bemis said. “The space is needed for our growing school system and our current 2,400 high school students.”
The Center does not raise taxes; however, opponents still believe that the cost is too much.
“It’s really expensive, and even if Center Grove can obtain that money without a catch, that won’t cover the costs needed to maintain such a facility,” junior cellist and dancer Sofia Copat said. “The construction fund that covers physical upkeep can’t pay the janitors, the coaches and anyone involved in such a facility. That money comes from the school’s General Fund, which is already being used to the max – in fact, it’s overused.”
For the athletes who have to suffer the cold and cramped conditions of practice, though, the Student Activity Center is an exciting and almost necessary addition to the school.
“I just think that, for athletes, we spend a lot of time in the gym,” senior basketball player Lauren Rau said.
“After school, we either will be in the West Gym or the Vandy [Gym], depending on if the boys have practice, and if the boys have practice, we usually go to the West Gym. We have three teams, which is 30 girls, and one gym, which gets really crowded.”
Track runners have fewer issues with overcrowding and more issues with injuries.
“The surface [of the new track] will be better. It is going to be a nice new track and so it should be bouncy, and it should not hurt anyone’s shins, whereas where we are practicing now, the ground is like cement underneath with a really thin layer of rubber and that is just not cutting it,” junior track runner Olivia Rassel said. “By far, the most common injury on our team is shin splints.”
Rau will not be able to use the new Student Activity Center as a student, and it is unlikely that Rassel will either. However, both girls are excited for future generations of CG athletes and their coaches.
“Running on the upstairs gym is really not conducive for running, so this will be a really really great place for us to go,” track coach Wes Dodson said. “Another thing is it is going to have opportunities for us to long jump and throw shot-put, things that there is absolutely no place to do here inside the high school. Sometimes it is negative wind chill, and it is really not safe to be outside.”
“We need more space, so the kids can exercise or maybe practice their sport,” weights coach Marty Mills said. “It’ll get used every day, all day long, by all kinds of kids.”
For many members of the Center Grove community, though, these amenities are not enough to cover up the pitfalls.
“This project is a substantially different facility than any already in the school corporation. Such a dramatic proposal should be on the ballot for the taxpayers to have their say. The project is conveniently set one dollar under the limit for it to appear as a public question on the ballot,” opponent Frank Rossa said. “I also oppose this project because I believe it is excessive. The $10 million price tag is half of what the corporation estimates an entirely new elementary school would cost, and we know another one will need to be built in the coming years. This project is an attempt [to] show off and say we have the biggest and the best.”
For those who support the new Student Activity Center, there is a support website at supportCGstudents.com, and there will be petitions until December 13.
For those who oppose the new Student Activity Center, there will also be petitions until December 13. Opponents should email email@example.com.