RIMERSBURG – The final months of any school year can be very hectic, but this year’s homestretch at Union High School has been complicated by damage to the main gymnasium’s floor.

The extreme cold spell at the start of February resulted in a water line break at the school, which flooded the main gym, lobby and other areas of the Rimersburg school.

In recent weeks, the wooden gym floor has warped and bowed in places, forcing the district to stop using what is one of the busiest rooms in the entire school.

“We’re moving a lot of our stuff to the auxiliary gym,” UHS principal Kris Glosser said yesterday (Tuesday).

Glosser noted that the district’s insurance carrier has deemed the gymnasium floor to be a liability issue, and has instructed the school to stop using the gym. With the district’s musical production of Willy Wonka set for later this week, and with the stage attached to the gym, special permission was granted by the insurers for use of the room during the production. Glosser said those attending the musical will see some orange cones set up at various places in the gym, and people will be on hand to warn visitors of the uneven floor.

After the show wraps up this weekend, Glosser said the plan is to begin work soon on replacement of the entire gymnasium floor. She said the insurance company has indicated that it will pay for the work. She said the project will be done while school is in session, and that the gymnasium will be sealed off to prevent dust from coming into the school. The project will also include work to re-sand the stage so that its surface matches the new gymnasium floor.

Although the musical will be accommodated, Glosser said district officials are scrambling to relocate many of the other activities that take place in the gym during the final months of the school year, including prom and graduation.

“I’ve been trying to get student feedback,” she said of talking with students, especially seniors, to find out where they want their prom and graduation to be held.

For the prom, Glosser said the insurance company has offered to pay rental fees involved with moving the prom off school property; however, she said that with little time remaining to book a venue, it appears that the Prom Committee is leaning toward holding the prom in the school’s auxiliary gymnasium.

“The Prom Committee really looks forward to decorating for this,” Glosser said, noting that work on making the decorations has already begun. She said if they decided to keep the prom at the school, the lobby and driveway circle can still be used for the traditional promenade entrance and photos.

While it is unknown when the work on the new gym floor will be completed, Glosser said she is working to line up other options in case the school’s graduation needs to be held elsewhere. She said she is looking into using Clarion University’s Marwick-Boyd Auditorium, or possibly moving the ceremony outside to the UHS football field. Prices are being sought for tents, chairs, a sound system and other items needed if the school goes that route.

“We’re still sorting out some of those answers,” she said.

As for other school events, Union athletic director Scott Kindel said the loss of the main gymnasium creates some challenges, especially with scheduling practices for the spring sports. He said they’ve been able to accommodate practices in the auxiliary gym for the baseball and softball programs, as well as junior high volleyball team. He said the track team has been able to go outside on nice days, and use the school hallways when the weather doesn’t cooperate.

Some practice times will be lost as other events are held in the auxiliary gym, Kindel said, and a junior high volleyball tournament scheduled for early April has been canceled.

“All in all, we are not affected too much, but this sure reminds me of two things,” Kindel said. “First, we are blessed to have flexible and understanding coaches and student-athletes, who are making the best of a situation that is not the greatest. And second, we are blessed to have a second gym to use when one is not able to be used.”

As for the elementary musical and concerts which are usually held at the high school, decisions have yet to be made for hosting them in a new venue. Glosser said officials are looking into possibly using the Sligo Recreation Center gym and stage, or other facilities, however no decisions have been made yet.

The same goes for the high school band and choir concerts, according to music teachers Lisa Hummel and David Gibson.

Hummel said that while the High School Jazz Band and High School Percussion Ensemble Concert will be held next Wednesday in the Auxiliary Gym beginning at 7 p.m., more time is needed to figure out the remaining schedule.

“The Music Department as a whole has adapted to most situations when it comes to performance venues,” Hummel said. “This is just one more situation that we will adapt to so that our students have the best performance experience that we are able to provide.”

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