St. Joseph Cathedral School officially opened its new gym Friday and inaugurated it with the first slam dunk on its basketball court.
“We’ve got to have a first basket,” St. Joseph Principal Spencer Allen said, adding with wit other types of shots have already been claimed — such as the first half-court shot, by him.
Bishop W. Shawn McKnight, of the Jefferson City Diocese, had his dunk set up with assistance from a rolling safety ladder to make the shot from a few feet above the net, but McKnight made it nonetheless.
“We believe in forming the whole person — mind, body and soul,” McKnight said of Catholic education as he spoke during the ribbon-cutting ceremony to dedicate the new gym.
St. Joseph — which serves students in grades pre-kindergarten through eighth grade — broke ground on the project in March, with Sircal Contracting as the general contractor.
For approximately $1.75 million — half of which came from an anonymous donor who matched pledges — the upgrades to the school’s gym and stage facilities include new heating and cooling systems — there was not air conditioning before — thousands of additional square feet for storage and play space, volleyball nets, and a divider that all drop from the ceiling.
The gym measured 7,000 square feet pre-expansion, including 2,000 square feet for the stage and support areas. With the new construction, the main level of the gym and stage measure 11,300 square feet — not including elevated mezzanines over the stage — according to The Architects Alliance.
There’s also 3,100 square feet of space in the lower level basement.
Allen said there was a little overage on the budget, but he had raised separate funds to cover expenses, such as a new sound system for the gym.
He said the giant chess board on the stage was purchased a few years ago for outdoor use, but it seemed to be a good fit inside.
Friday was not the first time students had seen the new gym — with physical education class, recess and basketball practices already held in it — but it was the first time many adults had seen it, Allen said.
He said St. Joseph’s volleyball program had been hosted by St. Martin School during construction, but the first basketball and archery events of the season in the first week of December would be at home in the new gym.
The original gym was dedicated in 1977, and Allen did not anticipate any more large building projects for the school in the immediate future.
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