By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Tuesday, August 30, 2005
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]
HAMPTON -- It took several tries to cut the ribbon in front of the entrance to the new Winnacunnet High School gym Friday night but School Board Chairwoman Susan Kepner said she wouldn’t have had it any other way.
"It’s symbolic because it took this many tries to get the project approved," said Kepner, holding a pair of oversized scissors.
Kepner said the opening of the new gym, just in time for the beginning of the school year, has been a long time coming but the wait was worth it.
"I want to thank the community," said Kepner at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. "Without their support, we wouldn’t be here today."
The new gym is the cornerstone of the $26 million new building and school renovation project.
The project, which was defeated twice before, passed overwhelmingly in all four communities in March 2003.
School officials and community members gathered at the gym to celebrate its completion and to take a tour of the facility.
The new gym, which is separate from the main building, holds 1,500 in the bleacher seats and 2,500 with chairs. The current auditorium seats 750 in a school of 1,400 students.
The new gym comes with a running track on the second floor, where runners will be able to observe what’s happening on the floor below.
It also includes a health and fitness room for wrestling and dance, a weight room, and a trainer’s room with a therapy table.
Superintendent James Gaylord thanked the community for approving this project for the kids.
"That’s what this is all about," said Gaylord.
He also gave a special thanks to Winnacunnet Outreach Committee, which worked to get the project passed in all four communities.
Frank Marinace, the architect for the project, was also in attendance.
"At the ground-breaking ceremony, I said that this building could become one of the best ones we have done in 30 years. I think it turned out to be that."
Interim Principal Randy Zitot hanked all the physical education teachers and student athletes of the past.
In addition to the new gym, work has already started on the new two-story, 23-classroom academic building to replace the 18 modular classrooms that now surround the school.
The academic building will include 12 science classrooms to replace the current laboratories that administrators say are severely outdated.
That project is scheduled to be completed by December. The entire project is slated for a March completion date.
"If you think the gym is an awesome building, wait until you see this one," said School Board member Chris Singleton. "This is going to be our crown jewel."