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Grand opening set for long-awaited gym

Months after Smith River School’s gym was scheduled to be finished, students will finally be able to shoot a few hoops under its roof.

Smith River School will hold a grand opening celebration for students on Monday and a second celebration for the community the evening of March 14, Principal Paige Swan said. 

“It doesn’t become our gym until after today,” he said Friday. “They’re doing the last thing they have to, and that’s the volleyball caps — the little metal cap that’s flush with the gym floor — that’s what they’re installing today.”

Community members, students, parents, teachers and staff began planning and saving for a new gym about nine years ago. The school held its 2013 eighth-grade graduation in the 10,000 square-foot structure in June, but due to the moisture content in its concrete foundation workers couldn’t lay the new floor for a time.

Finally, after the district installed a moisture barrier, the gym’s new floor arrived in late November and was installed in December. The entire project, including striping the floor and installing the bleachers, was finished about two weeks ago, Swan said.

The school finished installing a sound system on Thursday and completed a new trophy case on Friday.

“Starting Monday, we can enter the gym,” he said.

Monday’s celebration will feature comments from Swan, Superintendent Don Olson, members of the gym committee, which raised funds for the project, and District 3 Supervisor Mike Sullivan, Swan said. The students will then take a break for cupcakes and punch.

The celebration on March 14 is still being planned, Swan said.

“We wanted every single kid to be able to attend,” he said, referring to the first celebration.

Smith River’s new gymnasium began with countless fundraisers that collected $400,000. A $203,000 grant from the S.H. Cowell Foundation and a $60,000 donation from the Smith River Rancheria also helped.

The project received a huge boost in 2008 when Del Norte County voters approved the $25 million Measure A school bond initiative.

The building’s groundbreaking ceremony took place in July 2012.

The gym’s grand opening will be held at noon on Monday at the gym, located at First Street and Beckstead Avenue. The second ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. March 14.

Reach Jessica Cejnar at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

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