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The Journal Gazette

  • Courtesy A flood forced West Noble High School to replace its gym floor. The new floor is part of a $2 million remodeling plan for the entire West Noble school system.

  • Courtesy The new gym floor at West Noble High School was designed by art teacher Andrew Yates.

Monday, October 30, 2017 1:00 am

West Noble's new gym floor ready for use

JOSH PATTERSON | For The Journal Gazette

Tom Schermerhorn can't help but smile.

When the West Noble athletic director steps into the school's gymnasium and takes in how the new gym floor looks, he realizes the aesthetics will please fans at the school. He knows with the new wood surface installed, the improved playing surface assures greater athlete safety.

But when he glances at the new bleachers, that's when he recalls some pleasant memories. The bleachers bring back reflections of a 31/2-day stretch in early June when students, coaches and staff from all over the West Noble community came together in a way he hadn't fully expected to remove the old bleachers from the gym.

“There were no directions on how to take those things apart, and there's a reason that companies don't want to take them apart,” Schermerhorn said. “That was one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life, and to have the kids helping, not once did I have to tell a kid to get to work or do something.

“They were so motivated to get it out, their problem solving was off the charts. Whether it was the girls cross country team, or the football team, or the basketball teams, we had (a lot of) people helping. You name it, there were students helping. Some of them were students that will never perform on that floor, but they wanted to be part of it, and that was pretty cool.”

Schermerhorn has known for some time this replacement was coming. The previous floor was nearly 50 years old, but a flood about a decade ago hastened the aging process.

The flooding warped the previous surface, and gaps between boards started to form. Sanding the old floor down enough to remove the damage would have allowed nails to appear, creating a safety risk. With that in mind, the school board accumulated funds budgeted over several years to install a new floor.

The bleacher system, while still safe, was also showing signs of age, becoming difficult to push in or pull out when setting up or tearing down before and after events. The school board combined the gym updates with several other infrastructure projects around campus totaling about $2 million – road replacements, replacing the air-conditioning unit in one school building and some roofing work.

“(The gym) was one small part of the whole picture,” Schermerhorn said. “These were large projects they felt needed to get done, and this was the way they took care of it.”

When considering who should design the new floor, Schermerhorn knew the perfect person for the job – current art teacher and former assistant football coach Andrew Yates. The project merged “the two things I enjoy most in life,” Yates said.

Still, finding a floor design that provided both form and function, appealing to both young and old, involved many steps. Working with Schermerhorn, Yates developed about 20 concepts in all.

After finding which elements people liked and which ones to scrap, Yates finalized about a half-dozen concepts to present to West Noble students, faculty and staff. Following discussions, the favorites were presented to the school board for final approval.

“We had to piece things together to get the right end result,” Yates said. “It was a process, but it was fun. I enjoyed every minute of it.”