New auxiliary gym dedicated at Rock Bridge High School

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 | 8:50 p.m. CST; updated 6:58 a.m. CST, Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Columbia Public Schools superintendent Chris Belcher speaks at the ribbon cutting ceremony in the newly created auxiliary gym Tuesday night at Rock Bridge High School. Belcher said the gym would help accommodate the large student population, especially freshman sports.

COLUMBIA — Rock Bridge High School students are already seeing the benefits of the school's new auxiliary gym, principal Mark Maus said. 

Previously, sports practices ran late because of scheduling difficulties.

"Our kids aren't here till 9 at night or later anymore, because we now have two gyms." Maus said. "It has been a tremendous asset." 

Construction took less than a year and wrapped up in December, and the basketball teams have practiced in the gym during the majority of the season, Columbia School District Superintendent Chris Belcher said.

The 94-foot gym, which was dedicated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday evening, will also be necessary to accommodate the addition of ninth-grade students in the fall, Maus said. 

"Almost all ninth-graders take P.E. or health classes," Maus said. "We would have never been able to offer that without a second gym." 

Construction cost $4.3 million, Columbia Public School District spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said. The gym seats 350 to 500 people and was paid for with a $120 million bond issue passed in 2010.

The district used money from the bond issue to pay for a new main gym at Hickman High School, which cost about $8.5 million. 

A new wrestling room, weight room, locker rooms and offices were built below the gym, Belcher said. 

"Our old locker room was built in 1973," Maus said. "We were really in need of the new space." 

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey. 

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