New gym to open soon at Kent-Meridian High School

Principal Wade Barringer expects the soon-to-be completed Kent-Meridian High School gym to "be one of the best gym complexes in the state."

Crews put final touches Tuesday

Crews put final touches Tuesday

Principal Wade Barringer expects the soon-to-be completed Kent-Meridian High School gym to “be one of the best gym complexes in the state.”

Crews did not quite get the new gym ready for the start of school Sept. 1. But after 15 months of construction, it’s expected the new facility will be ready for the volleyball home opener against Kentlake at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13 and a grand opening celebration from 5-6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 14.

“For the morale and pride in the school for kids, parents and the community it’s going to be huge,” Barringer said. “It’s going to be one of the best gym complexes in the state. It’s going to do a lot for the pride factor.”

The $8.8 million project, approved by voters as part of a Kent School District construction bond levy in 2006, features a renovated main gym, locker rooms, lobby and wrestling room. A new gymnastics room is expected to be ready for the winter season. The original main gym was built in 1951.

“We’re hoping it will be ready for the first volleyball game,” Barringer said. “It’s getting down to the wire. We’re crossing our fingers everything will be ready to go.”

Barringer said the school is waiting for the final electrical inspections before the gym can be used by physical education classes and the volleyball team. Kent-Meridian played volleyball and basketball games last year at Mill Creek Middle School.

The new lobby features 30-foot high floor to ceiling windows as well as large school trophy cases and a built-in concession stand.

The main gym features a new, much-larger K-M logo in the middle of the court as well as new graphics on the ends of the court that read “Home of the Kent-Meridian Royals.”

A mural of a large Lions head, painted by Meridian Middle School art teacher Tom Bogle, to represent the mascot of the Royals will decorate a gym wall. Bogle also did the mural on the front of the school.

The main gym will seat more than 2,000, the same size as the old gym. Crews replaced the bleachers on the main floor while the upper bleachers were still in good shape and remain. The gym will feature a new scoreboard.

Locker rooms were totally gutted and replaced and are larger with more room for students and coaches.

Crews increased the size of the wrestling room and raised the ceiling. A new gymnastics room will give gymnasts their own place to practice.

Jones and Roberts Co. of Olympia constructed the new complex.

Kent-Meridian could end up hosting more South Puget Sound League and West Central District tournaments because of the improvements, Barringer said.

Community members who want to check out the new gym are invited to the volleyball match Sept. 13 as well as the grand opening Sept. 14 when they can take tours of the entire complex.

“We’re looking forward to show it off on the 14th,” Barringer said. “And the kids and the staff look forward to get in there.”

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