Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
February 27, 2011
Richard Irwin, Staff Writer
Chaparral shines with its first gym
$3.6 million facility sports climbing wall
DIAMOND BAR - The 80-foot-long climbing wall challenged young Alpine climbers. Inside, the new gym offered shiny basketball courts as well as volleyball, badminton and sundry other sports.
It was a big day at Chaparral Middle School, when it opened the big new gym. The Diamond Bar campus dedicated the grand facility this month.
The $3.6 million project included $1 million for modernizing the school's infrastructure. That work preps the site for a new science complex, performing arts wing and food service facility.
The gym was made possible through the $17 million bond issue approved by residents in measures S and Y in 2007.
Walnut Valley Unified School District celebrated the new 86,000-square-foot sports facility. And it has a lot to celebrate.
Jeff Bloedorn, the district's director of maintenance, operations and transportation, was busy shining the gym for its public debut.
"The building went up in about eight months, but we had to dig down 16 feet to recompact the soil last summer first," Bloedorn explained.
The maintenance director is excited about the building's green features. He says these high-tech features will save the district lots of money on energy.
Bloedorn pointed out the smart lighting system installed in the gym.
"Usually, the lights won't even be on because the gym has 25 skylights that provide enough natural lighting," he noted. "The high-efficiency lights are controlled by a computer."
The energy-efficient heating and cooling units are outside the back wall so they can be maintained easily.
"We even put in a white roof to reflect the summer sun and located the large doors on both sides to take advantage of the afternoon breeze to keep the gym cool," Bloedorn said.
And the new gym is indeed "cool" in many other ways.
For example, it has a $300,000 rubber sports floor that is a half-inch thick.
Two wireless scoreboards dominate two of the walls, while a large LCD screen hangs on another. An LCD projector juts out from the ceiling.
"Those two globes in the ceiling are part of the sound system," Bloedorn said. "Wireless microphones will allow us to have concerts and assemblies in here."
Assistant Principal Shehzad Bhojano pointed out the Chaparral Electric Orchestra rehearsing for the grand opening.
"We've never had a gym before, so the students and staff are very excited," Bhojano said.
The administrator said physical education classes have already been using it.
"We've been playing dodgeball during P.E. and the stereo system is great," said eighth-grader Colleen Sam.
"This gym is a good addition to the school. It's really cool and means a lot," agreed classmate Ruby Abutaleb.
The gym features a main basketball court, as well as two practice courts. Motors can pull the backboards back for other sports.
"The backboards can also be lowered for younger players," Bloedorn explained.
The gym can also be converted into a main volleyball court with two practice courts. The courts may also be used for badminton.
"A divider curtain can be dropped to allow two classes to use the gym at one time," he added.
About the only thing missing from the gym were the bleachers that haven't been installed yet. Bloedorn said two sets of motorized bleachers will seat more than 300 people for games and performances.
For many years, the Cougars only had a small multipurpose room for play productions and assemblies. Now it has a state-of-the art facility.
"Chaparral has never had a gymnasium on campus and this new facility means so much to us," said Principal Ron Thibodeaux at the dedication ceremony. "It was our dream, and now it's a reality."
The dream continues with the renovation of the school's entrance. The entry features beautiful fieldstone as well as a fountain. Next up will be the construction of the new science labs adjacent to the gym.
But the pride and joy of campus is the new gym. Be sure to check out the climbing wall built on its outside wall. The 80-foot-long rock climbing wall permits students to exercise their Alpine ambitions.
"Don't worry, it's only 8-feet high and students climb sideways," said Bloedorn. "Besides, there's lots of rubber matting underneath."
Kelli Gile contributed to this story.