COLUMBIA — The last time representatives of Columbia Public Schools dedicated a gym at Hickman High School, it was 1958 and the floor was 10 feet shorter than a regulation-size basketball court, Superintendent Chris Belcher announced to the crowd at Hickman's new gym.
On Tuesday, district administrators and Columbia School Board members joined several Hickman alumni on the 94-foot, regulation-size court of the new high school gymnasium for a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The ceremony happened 15 minutes before the first Hickman-Rock Bridge rivalry basketball game on the new floor.
The construction on the gym, which holds 1,300 people, finished about a year ahead of schedule, district spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said.
David Smith, a basketball coach at Hickman, said he appreciated that the district had been able to finish the gym in time for the game.
Smith, who played for Hickman in the 1990s, said he has fond memories of the old gym but that "anything new is better."
He mentioned that the lighting and the sound system are an improvement and the student section, which is at mid-court, is more conducive to watching a game.
The Hickman basketball team was allowed on the court first thing Monday morning, Smith said, adding the team has already practiced twice on the new floor.
The gym has purple bleachers and purple court lines. It has two main baskets and four side hoops.
The gym was paid for with $8.5 million from a $120 million bond issue in 2010. Additions to the football stadium and new career center classrooms were also paid for with that $8.5 million.
Supervising editor is Emilie Stigliani.