With no students and limited faculty and staff in the building, Kokomo High School’s Haworth Gymnasium has been getting a facelift to memorialize the history of the former Haworth High School.
The project has been in the works since the first of the year, according to Athletic Director Nick Sale. After the school’s architect drew up the design and took bids for the bleachers and floor sanding, the plan was to start the renovating in April. With the COVID-19 pandemic and fewer people in the building, the process has moved much quicker, Sale said.
“We’re hoping to be done with the floor by the end of [this] week,” Sale said. “The bleacher company, because of the pandemic and everything that’s happened, shut down some of their production. So, they’re not going to install the bleachers until probably the middle of June … In the entirety, it’ll be complete and ready for the start of the fall school year.”
The bleachers and the floor will be the main changes in the gym. The color scheme of the floor was reconfigured to match both schools’ similar shades of red and blue, and the Haworth Huskies’ logo will be added, with “Haworth Gymnasium” painted along the sides of the court and “Kokomo High School” engrained on the ends.
Since the gym primarily will be used for Lady Kat volleyball games, the lines on the floor will be painted to imitate a volleyball court instead of the typical basketball court like most high school gymnasiums. However, auxiliary basketball lines still will be added to the floor so the freshmen basketball teams and physical education classes will be able to utilize the floor when necessary.
Additionally, since the gym floor had been put down in 1967, it never had been sanded, or had any changes, according to Sale, except the Kokomo logo was added to the middle of the floor. It’s hard to find product like the original Grade 1 maple wood, said Sale.
“We have Grade 1 maple. That’s about as good as it gets. It’s hard to find product like that now. The school, having been built in 1967, getting ready for the ’68 school year, that was truly original to that time,” Sale said. “[The] guys that work on the floors every day said, ‘You rarely see anything in this kind of condition and how old and well-preserved it was.’”
The overall look of the gymnasium also will be much brighter after sanding the floors removed more than five decades of oil-based wax that darkened the floor.
The original bleachers were removed from the facility, not only to enhance the look of the gym but also because safety code has changed over the last 50-plus years. Updating the bleachers was “incredibly important,” according to Sale. The previous bleachers did not have handrails, which was not an easy experience for grandparents and others in the audience who needed to climb the steps, he said.
Not only will Kokomo School Corp. benefit from the gym’s new makeover, but the rest of the community will as well, including the Kokomo Parks and Recreation Department and other recreational leagues, according to Sale.
“We’re really thankful … just to have the opportunity to improve our facilities for our kids and for our community. We truly hope that all Haworth and Kokomo graduates will appreciate what we’ve done in there to try to memorialize and make things look as cool as we can for all the students and all the people involved,” Sale said.
Sale thanked the city of Kokomo for funding part of the project.