New HMS gym offers more than good looks
Inviting space with fitness mezzanine gives teachers room to keep all students moving
Last updated 3/4/2020 at 4:11pm | View PDF
Walk into the Hinsdale Middle School gym and it's hard to know where to look.
The striking blue Spartan logo painted on the west wall. Abundant natural light filtering in from the windows. Fitness equipment lined up along the railing of the fitness mezzanine.
And a gleaming wood floor that looks like it wouldn't be out of place at an NBA stadium.
It actually wouldn't be, said Mike Duggan, facilities director for Community Consolidated District 181. When the new school was being built, plans called for a maple floor of medium-high grade, with some visible knots.
"There was a complete shortage of it at the time, so the company that supplied it was able to give us the clear floor for the price of what they had bid, which is the second grade," Duggan explained. "It turns out the grade we got is the grade for NBA stadiums."
The wood floor looks even more beautiful thanks to the artistic eye of Maria Grilla, a parent who volunteered her time to work on the design team.
"She was a major part of getting that designed the way she did, and I think it turned out fantastic," Duggan said.
Grilla designed not only the new logo, but the color scheme that would be used to stain the floor.
"I loved seeing that come together," she told The Hinsdalean last September. "I had to learn about basketball and other sports I didn't really know anything about."
The new gym, with its 14,000-square-foot floor, isn't that much bigger than the third-floor gym at the old HMS. But it certainly appears to be, Duggan said.
Gym teacher Dan Powers agrees.
"I hate to be generic, but look at it," he said Monday. "It's light. It's spacious. It's inviting. It's just a welcoming space.
"The neat thing is when we host opposing schools, when they come in here for the first time and their jaws drop," he added. "You don't realize how fortunate you are to have this space until you go see some other schools in the area and you see the space they have."
Sixth-graders are currently in the middle of a three-week pickleball unit. The fitness mezzanine allows one of the third-period gym classes to meet there for a week while the other two groups learn and play the sport. Then they rotate.
Tim Klayum's class is using the fitness equipment this week.
"We love it - absolutely love it," he said of the space, which includes treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bikes, rowers and a rig system with monkey bars and TRX suspension training.
Adaptive PE classes use the fitness mezzanine every day, Klayum added.
The new gym helps the teachers meet the goal of PE class, Powers said.
"We want to give these kids the opportunity to move, move for that 30 or 35 minutes," he said. "We know as adults when we're sitting for an hour, two hours, your mind starts to wander."
After teaching in the new space for a full school year, Powers said badminton has been his favorite unit.
"It's the only unit in which we can fit 90 kids all down here together," he said, noting that students from different classes played against one another. "That was neat. It doesn't happen often that we can get all three classes all on the main level all competing against each other."
The PE curriculum will change even more once students have access to outdoor space.
"That is going to create a whole new dynamic when this parking structure is finished and they turn this current parking lot back to a field," Powers said. "We almost forget what it's like to be outside and do flag football and ultimate Frisbee."