Heat takes its toll on HJHS gym students

By Staff
Charles Prince, Hartselle Enquirer
The Hartselle City School Board is planning a renovation of the Hartselle Junior High School cafeteria and gymnasium floor, but improvements can't come soon enough for some students and parents.
The gymnasium has no air conditioning, making it brutal in the summer heat.
Chandler Orr, a member of the junior high volleyball team, thinks the school's gym is too hot for physical education class or volleyball practice.
"It's burning hot," Orr said. "It's so bad in here that I can't stand it sometimes."
Orr's classmate Katie Kilgore agreed the gym is not comfortable during P.E. classes.
"They open the doors and let air in from the hallway and outside," Kilgore said. "It really doesn't help. It's always hot in here."
Board president Ronnie Abercrombie said the board does not have the funds at this time to air condition the gym.
"The board is already involved with a $350,000 renovation of the junior high cafeteria," Abercrombie said. "We also have a capital plan of $80,000 for replacing the gym floor. It has cracks in it and replacing it would make the gym safer for our children. At this time money is an issue. It's sad to say, but we don't have money to install air conditioning in the gym."
Junior high volleyball coach Diane Shelton thinks the floor should take preference over installing air conditioning.
"My number priority would be to get a new floor installed," Shelton said. "I think it also needs air conditioning. Many coaches who bring their teams here tell me this gym is way too hot."
Christy Ferguson, junior high girl's basketball coach, thinks a bigger need than installing a new floor is cooling the gym during physical education classes.
"We have 150-170 kids in here during P.E.," Ferguson said. "When it's 90 degrees outside and you have all those bodies in here, it's rough. Then add the humidity from outside and you have a heat index of over 100 degrees in this gym. We're talking about the health of our kids. That's why we need this gym air-conditioned."
All three elementary schools, which feed the junior high, have air-conditioned gyms. In addition, the Hartselle High School gym is not air-conditioned. But that situation may soon change, thanks to the Hartselle High Booster Club.
"The Hartselle Booster Club is raising money to get air conditioning in the Petty Center," Abercrombie said. "Maybe something like that could help to get the junior high gym air-conditioned. I'm sure if someone would sponsor the project that contributions would start coming in."
Volleyball player Emily Forth summed up the sentiments of many junior high students.
"I think we should have an air-conditioned gym," Forth said. "We had them in elementary school, so why not in junior high?"

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