Why the District Needs a ‘Place to Play’ | Guest Commentary
by Dale Hagemeyer
Aug 06, 2007 | 289 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print

So by now you have seen the banners around town talking about a gym and music room for our community. You may have also seen some students playing ball by the side of the road and handing out flyers. Soon you will see T-shirts and yard signs with athletic and musical pink flamingos to show support for the fundraising initiative. It seems the whole town is talking about the much needed facilities for the secondary school. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves let’s look at what the funds will be used for. Let’s look first at the music room.

Today, the Secondary School has a small room known as the “guitar room.” This room is suitable for a few choral or guitar students but not large enough to accommodate a band or orchestra. It is also not set up acoustically for a band or orchestra. The proposed music room will combine three critical elements: it will be large enough for a complete band or orchestra, it will provide space to store instruments, and it will be acoustically correct so that the players can get an accurate sense for how they sound. The new music room will include two practice rooms in order to accommodate concurrent classes.

The benefits of having a dedicated music room are endless. Ridgway has dedicated and passionate musical instructors and a high level of interest among the students. Having students get on a bus and drag their instruments over to the elementary school for 20-25 minutes of actual rehearsal or instruction time, followed by a return trip back to the secondary school, simply doesn’t make sense. It creates logistical and scheduling nightmares for both schools. It also retards interest in music education because only the most dedicated musicians are willing to put up with the angst of shuffling between schools for lack of adequate musical facilities. It makes you wonder how many students are getting musically “left behind” and how their entire academic experience suffers because of the key role that music education plays in it.

Now, with respect to the gym, the need is similarly urgent. You are probably already aware that the gym is not an add-on to the school, but part of the original master plan. The secondary school students have no indoor athletic facility for physical education, sports practices or games. Project yourself back for a moment to your own school experience. Can you imagine getting on a bus to go to phys. ed. class? Can you imagine not having a place at your school to attend a pep rally – or even play the game?

Having a gym at the secondary school means being able to place more focus on physical education for a generation that really needs it and a local environment where playing outside in January isn’t an option. Having a gym means wood floors that are less hard on athlete and cheerleader joints. It means having a place where nearly a third of the town of Ridgway can assemble to watch a game with a large and well-rehearsed band sounding the charge. It means being able to have the biggest turkey dinner in Ridgway history. It means supporting basketball, volleyball and providing weight room and conditioning facilities for baseball, cross country, golf, skiing, soccer, and track. 

But there is more to a gym than perhaps meets the eye. Proximate to the gym will be a weight room and climbing wall. The latter will be funded through the Voyager Program while the former is a necessary element of any individual or team athletic program. The gym funding initiative will provide the venue for the climbing wall and locker rooms that will support both current as well as future sports opportunities for our children and community.

So when you see the banners, yard signs and T-shirts around town talking about “giving Ridgway a place to play,” you now know that this statement sums up the huge need for practicing, playing and watching music and sports. In every way, Ridgway needs a place to play.

Please send your tax-deductible and 100-percent-applied-to-construction-costs (nothing will go to administrative or fundraising costs) contribution to: Ridgway School District R-2, Attn: Building Fund, 1115 West Clinton St., Ridgway, 81432.

Dale Hagemeyer is a member of the Communications Committee for the Ridgway Secondary School Gym/Music Room Funding Committee. He lives in the Pleasant Valley area of Ridgway.

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