GALLIPOLIS — Gallia Academy High School supporters joined together Thursday evening for the GAHS Stadium and STEM Room fundraising kickoff at the Colony Club where plans surrounding the facility were shared and $69,049 was raised for the effort.
“Appalachia has some of the smartest and most talented people in the country,” said event organizer Josh Bodimer. “This is all about supporting our people and the quality of life in Appalachia. It’s imperative that we expand the mindset of ‘growing our own’ in Appalachia. We can’t expect people to stay here without continuing the advancement of opportunity, so we must create and support it early in a student’s life. “
“This is a great show of support we have for our students,” said Gallipolis City Schools Superintendent Craig Wright at the event. “This is not going to be just a football stadium. This is an athletic complex and this is something we want set up. One, for safety reasons with the traffic around with our student athletes. This facility can house all of our student athletes on site at our school. Our football games will still be played on Friday nights in town until we get to phase two or three of the project. Also, we wanted to add an educational piece which is the STEM (room). If you’re wondering what that is, it’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics. That’s the new curriculum way we’re headed now with education. We want to provide other educational opportunities for our students through these STEM opportunities.”
Wright said there weren’t many STEM-focused schools in the area and it was time to prepare students for those STEM careers while also learning about new resources and grants.
“It’s going to compliment things we already have in place at Gallia Academy High School,” said Wright.
OVP Health donated $50,000 towards the project and Ohio Valley Bank donated another $10,000 to the project. Bodimer credited both organizations as huge partners. Ohio Valley Bank had previously donated $100,000 to the stadium during the One Dream, One Team project years back which ultimately birthed blueprints and engineering plans for the project. The project’s goal for the evening was to reach $65,000.
“I run into people all the time who ask how can we help and the answer is get the word out,” said Bodimer. “Although the kickoff event was a huge success, we have a long way to go. We are looking forward to working with community partners and GAHS alumni across the nation to achieve this goal.”
According to an informational letter provided by the superintendent that has been sent to some alumni, “Phase One of the proposed project is to build a fully functioning 20,000 square foot field house with classrooms. The 10,000 square foot first floor is presently designed to accommodate the athletic needs (dressing rooms, weight training, restrooms, showers, officers, storage, etc.) of all the athletics at GAHS, as well as a concession and restroom facility which will serve all sporting events at the Eastman Athletic Complex. This complex now includes ball fields, tennis courts, and an all season track. The potential second story of the field house would provide our students with classrooms and conference rooms equipped with advanced technology. These rooms would serve the instructional and educational needs of our students with strong focus for science, technology, engineering and medicine. Both aspects of this facility would be utilized by the adult school community for their physical fitness needs, as well as an educational facility for adult education classes, community meetings, and an adult training center…The estimated cost of the first phase is $1,250,000 without the second floor. The proposed Phase Two of GAHS Stadium Project will be the construction of the football stadium itself to include home and visitor bleachers, football field, scoreboard, etc. The estimated cost of Phase Two has been set at $3,000,000. This brings the total cost of the project to approximately $4,250,000 and closer to $5,000,000 with the educational second floor.”
Blueprints have already been completed and the stadium is designed to fit around the current track at the GAHS property, said Wright. Currently, the project is focused on creating the field house portion in its first phase, along with a second story tier for the STEM technology facility above it. The hope is to generate momentum and support for the project and tackle portions of the overall stadium construction in phases. STEM room costs will have to be appraised as they were not included in the original stadium design. School officials hope to meet the educational needs of students with businesses already in the area. The STEM room is anticipated to be utilized for technology projects.
Fundraising organizers anticipate having a “fun” fundraising event every month as the project marches towards its funding goal of $1.5 million for the first phase of the stadium project. They intend to achieve this by September 2020.
For more information, visit www.gahsstadium.com.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.