Whittell unveils new gym for seventh- and eighth-graders
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Whittell High School seventh- and eighth-graders will now be able to practice and play on campus, thanks to a new gym funded by the Douglas County School District and a local philanthropist.
When Kingsbury Middle School was shuttered in 2008 due to declining enrollment in the three Zephyr Cove schools, seventh- and eighth-graders were moved to Whittell High School. Without room at the school’s gym to accommodate the influx of new students, who also played in a different league, seventh- and eighth-graders continued to use the gym at Kingsbury to practice everything from basketball to track.
As part of the closure, the Douglas County School District set aside more than $900,000 to build a new practice gym for the younger students. Then local philanthropist Ray Sidney of Big George Ventures donated $1.4 million to make it a regulation-size gym for home games.
“If the court was not regulation size, we would have had to continue using KMS for competition,” Principal Sue Shannon said.
Shannon said the school’s administration approached Sidney to ask for his support.
“He had already donated money for us to have lights on the football and soccer fields, the stage and the school,” Shannon said.
The gym was dedicated Monday with parents, teachers, students and Sidney in attendance. When Sidney was offered the microphone to comment, he declined.
“We are so grateful to him for being so generous,” Shannon said, adding that Sidney does not have children who attend the school. “He has also donated quite a bit of money to technology.”
The students began using the gym for physical education classes last week. The new structure is contiguous to the existing gym, so the students use the current changing rooms.
The new gym will be used by seventh- and eighth-graders for basketball and volleyball, as well as for track, baseball and softball practice during inclement weather. The gym features a batting cage that lowers from the ceiling.
According to Tribune archives, Whittell was built in 1959 and no improvements have been made to the gym since.
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