A new gymnasium for Sandy Hook Elementary

Sandy Hook Elementary School is getting its new auxiliary gym.

Sandy Hook Elementary School is getting its new auxiliary gym.

“I was super excited but I did not believe it,” Principal Robin Shrum said. “We have been asking for it for 12 years. I said I would not believe it until they broke ground. Crews came last week and took out the playground equipment and started digging. It is really going to happen.”

The school, which is located in Strasburg, houses more than 900 students. Its gymnasium space is also the school’s cafeteria. Often, as a group of students eat lunch in half of the gymnasium another group is using the other half for gym class.

“It’s extremely loud at lunchtime,” said Superintendent Mark Johnson. “This is an excellent example of how we are addressing our backlog of capital needs.”

The lunch period takes place over a long portion of the day to accommodate all the students, gym classes, and other events.

Shrum said they serve lunch from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

“I don’t think you should have to ask kids to eat that early to accommodate schedules,” she said.

With gym classes able to be held in the new space that frees up space for lunch or space for school events.

“We are very thankful officials recognized the need and acted on it,” Shrum said.

The gym will be a new building on what was the school’s playground.

It is estimated to cost about $450,000. That money was appropriated for the project when the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors approved the budget last month.

The school division wanted to have the new gym done before the first day of school but it is now expected to be done in September.

The gym, once complete, will go into immediate use.

Shrum said they will start the school year with one schedule and once the gym is completed will shift over to a revised schedule.

The Shenandoah County School Board approved the gym design at Thursday’s board meeting.

The auxiliary gym is to be a well-lighted, steel-framed, 4,500-square f00t structure. It will be insulated and have a heating and cooling system. There will be specially padded flooring installed to help protect students, especially from head injuries, should they slip or fall, Shrum said.

There will be an overhang from the school to the gym building to protect students from the weather.