Muskego — Striking and sometimes humorous student art was saved as painters worked around the murals as they fashioned a new weight room out of what used to be an art room and a Project Lead the Way classroom.
The new weight room was needed after the floor of the old room was discovered to have deteriorated to the point that it was unsafe. That discovery was made last August and the weight machines were immediately moved to temporary quarters in a study hall where the equipment was used all last year. Because the study hall was small, the weight room aerobic equipment was put into storage and other aerobic exercise was devised.
As the Muskego-Norway School Board decided to make the art room and science room into a new weight room, art students launched an 11th-hour impassioned fight to save the student murals. Those murals were done by art students over many years.
So, the white paint that was going to coat the weight room walls from ceiling to floor only reaches from the ceiling to part way down the walls.
All the murals were saved except a couple that were on the wall separating the art and Project Lead the Way rooms. The painters taped off the remaining murals and spray-painted around them.
"We went with school colors throughout," rather than just white, said Jeremiah Johnson, supervisor of buildings and grounds. So, the lower part of the walls are painted black overlaid by a red stripe.
Johnson said that having black on the lower part of the walls will actually be better than all white walls because the black will hide the scuffs that will inevitably mar the walls over time.
Muskego athletes have been working out in the new room since mid-August and the feedback has been positive from them and their coaches, Johnson said.
"Everybody who entered the facility said it's amazing," he said.
Mike Nitka, director of strength and conditioning, said the new weight room will enhance student fitness because students will want to come in and work out.
"I anticipate a whole new group of kids will improve their fitness," Nitka said.
Before, he had to turn away students who wanted to use the weight room because there was no room. But the new weight room will allow for growth in the strengthening program, he said.
And he was thankful to the School Board for turning last year's problem into an opportunity.
"The School Board realized our students and athletes earned this expansion through their incredible year-round attendance," Nitka said.
Also incredible was the massive project that seeming more like original construction, rather than something added later, Johnson said.
"Construction came together in a way that it does not feel like a retrofit," he said. The room seems perfectly suited to its use, he said.
And being in one large space instead of in a main weight room and a extension as the old weight room was, it's easier to supervise, Nitka said.
The project also included fixing the ailing floor of the old weight room. It is now strong enough for classrooms, but will be used at first as a multi-purpose room and for yoga classes.
Moving the Project Lead the Way classroom was a major undertaking because a 3,000-sqaure-foot study hall had to be turned into a technology education room with 30 computer stations, sinks and other facilities, Johnson said.
All the work was done by the start of school and the newly moved classroom is the biggest of the school's three Project Lead the Way classrooms.
Another part of the project was retrofitting the two remaining art rooms to be accessible to those with handicaps and to have appropriate electrical infrastructure.
The entire project including making the new weight room, moving the science room, retrofitting the art rooms and fixing the old weight room floor came to $300,000, Johnson said. The low bidder Huntzinger Construction Co. was very competitive, Johnson said.
And Huntzinger delivered the project within budget and early, he said. Johnson also praised the company for the care it took to avoid damaging the boilers that are beneath the old weight room floor. School officials worried that work on the floor above could damage the boilers, but workers were careful to avoid mishaps, Johnson said.
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