Gates gym project – what it will and will not provide


Gillian Bunker

It’s the fall of 2023: students are coming back to school, bustling with excitement, not only for the beginning of a new school year, but also the completion of the new gym. We’ve been watching the construction of the East Side Athletic project for almost two years, and it’s finally come to an end. Or so we hope.

Although most students currently are aware that a new gym is being built, the details of the project are widely unknown. Many people’s only encounter with the construction is the impact it has on day-to-day life at New Trier – the towering, half completed building is hard to ignore!

While an overview of the project can be found on the school website, not many students are inclined to dig for the information. After interviewing a few members of the sophomore class, it’s clear that general knowledge about the construction is lacking. Some students simply don’t care what is involved in the new construction, and for those who do, it can be hard to figure out exactly what to expect.

The plan features twelve new classrooms, new student workspaces, and will expand some existing, smaller rooms into larger spaces. There will be a new competition gym, new auxiliary gyms, and a 6-lane track, as well as a more extensive weight room. Also featured are a new climbing wall and ropes course. Two new and accessible entrances will be added, along with improvements to security and energy efficiency. Overall the costs of the project add up to about $79.5 million.

The New Trier website claims that, “the new facility will benefit every New Trier student through Kinetic Wellness classes and new academic spaces.”

However, some students are disappointed that certain key elements were left out, such as the dance and swim facilities.

The current dance rooms are known to suffer from poor ventilation, which is a big problem for a sport that takes place predominantly indoors. One sophomore dancer at New Trier knows that “they aren’t doing much for the dance rooms, which are old and not well ventilated.” This student has “not many expectations” but “wants better dance rooms because the ones this year are very old.”  Dance is a very popular KW option and extracurricular, so it’s worth wondering why updating the rooms was not included in the construction.

Another sport that won’t directly benefit from the construction is swimming. Swimming, diving, and water polo are prominent sports at New Trier, and the teams have been very successful in recent years.. However, many complain about the state of the pool and swim locker rooms. Sophomore Anna Hill is on the New Trier swim team and says she has noticed other schools have “more up to date and cleaner locker rooms and showers.” She says she is excited for the new technology being added to the gym, but thinks “we should spend money on other things, such as a better quality swim locker room and more up-to date showers.”

There are also other problems that students and teachers recognize at New Trier, such as the Wifi, that have an impact on day-to-day life. Hill says, “I feel the same way as a lot of students do about the wifi, and more of the budget could be used to improve it.” A large panel of administrators was involved in formulating the plan for construction, but it’s unclear how they decided which issues were most pressing. There is no denying that the benefits of the construction are extensive, but certain things that are important to many students have been left out.

With a large portion of money being spent on the East Side Athletics project, it seems unlikely that there will be more major updates made to the school in the near future. This could be disappointing for students who don’t feel that they benefited from the construction. When the next school year rolls around, the construction will be over, but we may still be left wanting more.