RICHARDS – It’s not often faculty and students are ready to pounce into the new school year, but Aug. 28, is a huge day for the Richards Panthers.
There will likely still be plenty left to do, but construction from a $6.9 million bond passed with 78% approval by Richards ISD voters in May 2021 is beginning to take shape. New and renovated facilities highlight the return to campus.
This is the first major renovation to the main building on campus since it was built in 1966. “We feel we have been great stewards of this building for 57 years,” said RISD Superintendent William Boyce. “We are very thankful for the community support during the process. Our students, teachers, staff, parents and community will benefit for years to come from these much-needed renovations.”
It may not rain the first day of school, but a new awning at the front door will welcome students. Boyce said this will help protect students from the weather during drop-off and pickup. Previously staff used umbrellas.
One of the first notable changes is the elementary and junior high/high school campus are switching hallways. All classrooms have been renovated and additional classroom space has been added. New restrooms feature Panther red tile on the outside and a mixture of red, black and white tile on the inside. Plumbing has also been renovated throughout campus to replace cast iron pipe.
The new piping allows the campus to have a fire suppression system for the first time. Other safety features include security doors, a camera system and panic buttons in classrooms.
Panther Gym was built before the main campus and has seen countless games, has served a plethora of physical education students, is often utilized for special programs, graduations etc. The facility has undergone numerous renovations in the past including new flooring and a new HVAC system. The gym will continue to serve the district; however, students will also have a new gym moving forward.
The newly constructed gym will seat approximately 500 fans. Court layout will allow two volleyball games to be played at a time. High above center court is a suspended scoreboard that allows fans to view it from four angles.
Four new locker rooms mean visiting teams will no longer need to dress in a portable building or arrive in uniform. The stateof- the-art locker rooms are spacious and are divided for varsity boys and girls and junior varsity boys and girls. There is a new coaches office, weight, equipment and laundry rooms.
Food and drinks won’t be allowed in the gym, but fans will have a great view through glass windows that extend the length of the baseline. There is counter space at various heights to hold food and drinks.
The new concession stand serves a dual purpose. It will serve basketball and volleyball but also features an outside window for baseball games. It overlooks a covered patio area.
Completed bond projects include a new bus barn, ag building, a lighted baseball field with new fencing, sod, press box, sprinkler system and more.
There are several ongoing projects, but Boyce remains focused on the end result. His main focus is having classroom space available to teach students, restroom facilities and a place to feed them. He said this is an exciting time for the RISD community.