Campaign for new GAHS stadium, STEM facility

By Dean Wright - [email protected]

CENTENARY — Volunteers are beginning renewed efforts to bring a stadium to the Gallia Academy High School campus along with STEM facilities focused on technological education.

“It’s called the Gallia Academy Stadium and STEM Project,” said campaign organizer Josh Bodimer. “Short term, the goal is to raise funds and all the money would funnel through the (athletic) boosters to design, build and complete a STEM classroom facility and multi-use state-of-the-art stadium out in Centenary by the high school.”

The STEM acronym has commonly been used in education to identify the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“Increasing a STEM presence in schools is kind of a national initiative, we feel,” said Bodimer. “There originally was a project to raise money for the stadium called the One Team, One Dream Project. The school already has a design and have shared it with us.”

Bodimer said the project intends to have a website created and a kickoff fundraising event to provide information to the public. It is tentatively scheduled for May 9 at the Colony Club from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Visitors are anticipated to be able to participate in “game show” events, Bodimer said. A donors announcement will be made along with a brief digital slide presentation of the project. Visitors will also be given the option to donate by envelope, should they choose.

Gallipolis City Schools Superintendent Craig Wright said while the school will be informed and partner with the boosters in project efforts, no school money would be utilized to fund the project.

“One of the (Gallipolis City Schools Board of Education’s) goals when I came on was the project and not just for our athletes but we’re thinking an extension of academics,” said Wright.

According to an informational letter provided by the superintendent that has been sent to some alumni, “Phase One of the proposed project is to build a fully functioning 20,000 square foot field house with classrooms. The 10,000 square foot first floor is presently designed to accommodate the athletic needs (dressing rooms, weight training, restrooms, showers, officers, storage, etc.) of all the athletics at GAHS, as well as a concession and restroom facility which will serve all sporting events at the Eastman Athletic Complex. This complex now includes ball fields, tennis courts, and an all season track. The potential second story of the field house would provide our students with classrooms and conference rooms equipped with advanced technology. These rooms would serve the instructional and educational needs of our students with strong focus for science, technology, engineering and medicine. Both aspects of this facility would be utilized by the adult school community for their physical fitness needs, as well as an educational facility for adult education classes, community meetings, and an adult training center…The estimated cost of the first phase is $1,250,000 without the second floor. The proposed Phase Two of GAHS Stadium Project will be the construction of the football stadium itself to include home and visitor bleachers, football field, scoreboard, etc. The estimated cost of Phase Two has been set at $3,000,000. This brings the total cost of the project to approximately $4,250,000 and closer to $5,000,000 with the educational second floor.”

Blueprints have already been completed and the stadium is designed to fit around the current track at the GAHS property, said Wright. Currently, the project is focused on creating the field house portion in its first phase, along with a second story tier for the STEM technology facility above it. The hope is to generate momentum and support for the project and tackle portions of the overall stadium construction in phases. STEM room costs will have to be appraised as they were not included in the original stadium design. School officials hope to meet the educational needs of students with businesses already in the area.

“The STEM room would be one big area to be utilized for technology projects,” said Wright. “Not just for students at the high school but we can transport students from the middle school and elementary schools for their use. It would give us a very functional facility to get some of those things done…This isn’t just a football stadium either. It’s a multi-sport facility. We would like to see our programs in here.”

Wright said facilities were aging at Memorial Field in Gallipolis and it was hard to accommodate multiple sports needs there currently. Community members outside the school have brought forward concerns with flooding and maintenance in the past. The field recently celebrated 70 years of existence and has long been an icon in Gallia Academy athletics. Wright said the facility still has a future with the district as plans are being discussed.

“We’ve been looking into different types of grants,” said Wright. “We’ve reached out to Congressman Bill Johnson as well as some of our alumni.”

School officials and athletic booster members thanked previous efforts and donations made by the community in support of the previous project, the results of which ultimately produced blueprints as well as other statistical information. They also thanked supporters of the Eastman Athletic Complex and a previous donation to the One Dream, One Team Project by Ohio Valley Bank of roughly $100,000.

Plans for new GAHS sport facilities have reportedly been discussed as far back as the late 2000s.

Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.

By Dean Wright

[email protected]