NEWMARKET — Principal Sean Pine said it was finally nice to have a space with “breathing room” as he welcomed his students into their new 1,300-square-foot gymnasium at Newmarket Elementary School Tuesday afternoon.
“This is great, isn’t it,” he asked his 550 students seated around the new basketball court’s out-of-bounds line. In response, he received a boisterous and collective, “YEEEEAAAH!” from the entire student body.
“Welcome to your new gymnasium and welcome to your new home of the Newmarket Mini Mules,” Pine said to his students. “I thank the members of the School Board and Building Committee, as well as the people of Newmarket who, without their support, none of this would be possible.”
Students and faculty were treated to a performance by the Newmarket Hot Shots, the school’s jump roping team, whose members were dancing in-sync with “Cotton Eye Joe” and jumping over as many as three crisscrossing ropes at a time at one point in the performance. The routine was followed by a school-wide game of shooting stars where players take basketballs and try to hit 10 jump-shots from various locations on the court.
“It was a little scary being in front of the whole school, but also really fun getting to jump in the new gym,” fifth-grader Emma Crumb said.
“It has a lot more space, so we’ll be able to play bigger games in gym class,” third-grader Ryan Creswell said.
The new gym is outfitted with six basketball hoops and a climbing wall. It is part of a 21,000-square-foot expansion of the elementary school, which was included in a $39 million bond passed in 2017 that includes a 54,000-square-foot expansion of the junior-senior high school.
Pine said the next big milestone in the elementary school’s project will be completion of the new classrooms off the kindergarten wing. There will be a four-room suite for fifth grade, two preschool classrooms, a kindergarten classroom and a flex room, as well as removing the modular classrooms.
The projects at both schools are scheduled to be completed in time for the 2020-2021 school year.
At Tuesday’s ceremony, physical education teacher Nancy Miller said she wanted to incorporate the physical activities as part of the dedication ceremony because it will be the students getting the most out of the new gym and felt they should do something fun their first time setting foot inside of it.
“I love seeing kids move so anything we can do to get them to be active, here it’s usually jumping, but anything we can do to spark their interest in a new sport or activity is worth it and we’ll have a lot more games to experience,” Miller said. “It was great to get the teachers in shooting stars because whenever we have the teachers playing games with their kids in ways the students are not used to, it builds another level onto that connection.”
Miller said she is looking forward to expanding her physical education curriculum in the new gym and also what it will mean for the greater Newmarket community.
“We’ll be able to incorporate chase games, which we aren’t able to do in the old gym because we run out of space and we have to slow down,” Miller said. “I’m even more excited about the opportunity to extend the activities we offer beyond normal school hours; more opportunities for recreation, basketball, volleyball. It’s a nice space for physical education for our entire school community.”
By Alex LaCasse