The Student Activity Center has passed and construction has been cleared to proceed. Despite this, many students still harbor strong opinions about the project. Disclaimer: all opinions solely belong to the author and not Center Grove or the Center Grove Publications staff.
This is Center Grove, of course the proposed field-house will be bigger, better and more expensive than those in other school districts. But is this really what the school needs?
No. The athletic programs have survived without a field-house and they can continue to do so.
The pursuit of a fieldhouse has grown into a competition between school corporations, pitting school against school. The school district is vying for the project to survive the threat of remonstrances so that Center Grove can join the ranks of districts with athletic activity centers. Not to mention that the complex will be the largest facility owned by a high school.
Administrators have stated that the fieldhouse would be dubbed the Student Activities Center. They have expanded upon this title, claiming that the complex will be available for all school-sanctioned activities. This defense has been used to support the project because it will provide space for academics, clubs and sports. But how evenly will this time be divided? The amenities within the facility are structured toward sports use, not academic and club events. Room 333 is currently in use as a meeting room for all activities, but sports utilize this room disproportionately. Club meetings have been forced to be held in other rooms so that sports activities, such as the football dinner, can be held. If the use of a room cannot be fairly scheduled, a sports facility will not be fairly managed.
The Student Activity Center must be equally shared by all Center Grove clubs and sports, no matter how popular they are amongst the community.
Logistically and financially, the field-house will result in a deficit of benefits.
The bus parking lot will be utilized for the field-house. Where will students be dropped off? How will a new bus lot accommodate the special needs students? The construction plans must consider the challenges that moving the bus lot will present.
Bonds are being sold so that taxes will not go up. However, Center Grove was paying back bondholders from previous improvements and taxes would have gone down.
While ensuring the safety of the students is a necessary improvement, providing students with year-round athletic facilities is not. The field-house is an athletic lust. As always, sports will continue to hold the trump card against other after school activities. The fieldhouse will only magnify this disparity.
Center Grove sports have an illustrious history of dominating their competition; it is no secret that clubs and sports are at odds for the limited space that the school has to offer. Instead of fostering a space-sharing relationship between sports and clubs, athletic activities will continue to dominate clubs.
If I am honest, I would love to see the completion of a fieldhouse, but I do not think it is the right project for the school district to undertake. I view the fieldhouse as a prime example of entitlement. The general belief students seem to hold is that the fieldhouse is a necessity because other schools have similar facilities.
That is not a strong enough reason to justify spending $10 million dollars after the district utilized $42 million to increase safety at all the schools. The safety of the students and staff was crucial, providing athletes with excessive facilities is not.
Although the period of collecting signatures is over and a winning side has been declared, the argument remains relevant. Those in favor of the field house collected 999 more signatures, but their victory will not end the dispute. Those against the Student Activity Center accept the results of the remonstrances. The wait for a decision is over; now we wait for groundbreaking.
Members and residents in the Center Grove community for years have fixated on the overwhelming support for their athletic department, rallying behind the school, which is the center of White River Township. Many claim that there is an unfair advantage of how much attention goes into the sports versus clubs and other school organizations.
This obstacle is being amplified in connection with the controversial topic of the new Student Activity Center.
Though I agree that sports get an unfair amount of attention, it cannot be solely charged on the administration. Nearly every classroom in the building has at least 50- 60 percent of the students connected in some way to some sport at Center Grove. The school may be attracted to sports, but that is because it reaches and connects with a large percentage of the students, whether they be athletes, trainers or fans.
Consider the parents, family members and community of Center Grove High School. They enjoy and indulge in the entertaining scene that our sports provide. No place is this more evident than on a Friday night when fans pack the stands at Ray Skillman Stadium to cheer on the football team. Make no mistake, these are not just parents of high school students. These are community members whose younger sons and daughters are active in Bantam League football and cheerleading, whose older children have moved on to college or whose sole connection is the “neighbor boy” playing in the band or competing on the field.
The Student Activity Center does not mean the school does not support, recognize or appreciate clubs. These clubs are not forgotten. They are broadcasted and featured on CGTV; they are recognized on Monday announcements by Principal Doug Bird. They have more than a handful of different types of posters, freely hung around the school. They are acknowledged and very much supported.
It’s time we stop trying to compare sports to clubs. Sports are sanctioned by the IHSAA after a set percent of member schools offer the sport. Clubs are approved by the school after a student has expressed an interest, found a sponsor and filled out the necessary forms. For this reason, it’s not hard to understand why more students seem to be involved in athletics versus clubs.
Sports are followed on weekends and broadcast on a live feed by local news organizations. It is not like best buddies meetings can be streamed in the middle of a star period. They need to be handled differently because they have their own unique needs.
This student activity center is a great idea for the athletic department to truly rise above and create the best athletes possible, while still giving them a great education. By building this fieldhouse, the school will allow our athletes equal footing with the other MIC athletes, who they compete with not only on the athletic field but also for college scholarships. As a bonus, this center will also support club activities that Center Grove proudly holds and let them grow and reach out into the community, such as robotics competitions or color guard performances.
In addition, the school corporation is able to build this fieldhouse without raising taxes.
“Taxes will NOT raise,” Billy Bemis, a supporter of the project and president of the Hardwood Club, said. “The space is needed for our growing school system and our current 2,400 high school students. Students involvement in extra and co-curricular activities is shown to improve academic performance and reduce the number of dropouts. This type of large, flexible space does not currently exist at Center Grove.”
The argument that this activity center will turn into only a sports related facility and will not be supporting any sort of non-sports induced organizations is not evident. Think about a $10 million facility and how much that could hold. If I can recall, sew fun club does not meet on a basketball court and best buddies does not just ‘hang out’ in the weight room. These clubs need classrooms, cafeterias, auditoriums. So, maybe, if this activity center is open, more space will be newly available.
Do not punish and blame the athletic department for striving for greatness and providing for their athletes; blame society that tells us going outside the box is discriminatory.