OGDEN — DaVinci Academy students spent Thursday evening greeting guests and fellow students with big grins. Many were literally bouncing off the walls as they showed off the school’s new gym to the public.
Attendees toured the AmCan complex, then heard students’ presentations and many happy speeches. The night ended with a hotly-contested basketball game with faculty, parents and alumni against the students.
Students have been waiting since 2005 to have an official gym for competitive sports and gym classes. The school paid for the gym with $300,000 in revenue bonds.
The project brings the charter school full circle in its construction in the old American Can building. When the school’s remodel started in 2009, the gym and theater projects were delayed until more money was available, said Jessie Kidd, executive director for development.
“I feel like this is a real high school now,” said Jordan Bradley, sophomore. He’s grateful for the faculty, who worked hard to make it possible for the students to have a gym.
“I am really thrilled it got done before I graduated,” he said as he greeted guests walking into the shiny new gym. He doesn’t play on sports teams that will use the gym, but loves watching sporting events and likes that he has somewhere to shoot hoops if he wants.
“It’s better than playing in upstairs,” he said as some of his friends laughed. “Upstairs” is the third floor of the building where the students have been going for gym class. It is an unfinished space that the students didn’t enjoy using.
That space will now undergo construction to become an elementary arm for the school. Construction is set to start next spring.
Grace Ann Wilhite was impressed with the beauty of the gym.
“I’ve never seen a floor as beautiful as this,” Wilhite, 13, said as she pointed to the glistening hardwoods. “It all came together very well.”
Jodi Davis, a parent and school booster, was collecting donations and trying to get local businesses to donate so they can hang business banners in the gym. She sat next to the state volleyball championship trophy at the table.
“It’s amazing to be here with these kids that are so incredibly talented and now they have this wonderful, beautiful gym,” she said. She likes that now that the gym is complete, it gives the students more options for extracurricular activities. “It helps to have sports for kids who aren’t into the arts.”
Many at the event gave kudos to Mayor Matthew Godfrey for his support of the charter school.
“I really don’t believe we would be here today if wasn’t for the support of Matthew Godfrey,” board president Clain Udy said.
High praise was also given to the gym architect, Dan Van Zeben. “He really put the vision on paper,” Udy said.
“The board had a vision and we wanted a safe place for kids to come to school,” said past board president Terryl Miller. She said that at first enrollment wasn’t great, but now the school, which has first and second grade and sixth through 12th grades, is flourishing at 950 enrollment. And now she sees that the school is offering what it set out to do.
“To be part of a team of any kind … students learn what it’s like to work in the real world,” Miller said.