Big Gym renovations stir mixed emotions

With Palo Alto High School’s 85-year old gym set to close, students recall unforgettable memories
Students  enjoy their Valentines Day dates at the Beads and Beaux Valentine “Flapper” Dance on Feb. 18 in the Big Gym back in 1961.  With the Big Gym closing for renovations, a part of history will be lost.
Students enjoy their Valentines Day dates at the Beads and Beaux Valentine “Flapper” Dance on Feb. 18 in the Big Gym back in 1961. With the Big Gym closing for renovations, a part of history will be lost.
Courtesy of Rachel Kellerman

With the Big Gym set to close next year as the construction on a new gym facility begins, Palo Alto High School students remember their favorite memories from the historic gym.

The gym will close at the end of this school year and likely will not reopen until the beginning of the 2015-16 school year. A modernized facility, which will include many amenities for sports and physical education, will replace the current gym.

Private finance will be provided, so it will likely not experience delays that the Media Arts Center and the new math and history building have undergone.

The Peery Foundation donated the neccessary funds for the new gym. The constrution will include two new gyms — ­­the small and large gyms — a new wrestling room and a dance studio.

David Peery, son of Richard Peery who runs the foundation, said that the gym at Paly needed remodeling over five decades ago, but hasn’t received any. He feels that renovations are long overdue.

A ceremony to celebrate the old gym will be held on March 16. Paly, the Paly Alumni Association, Palo Alto Weekly, the City of Palo Alto and the Palo Alto History Museum are hosting the event. The event will last an afternoon and will have “multi-generational activities,” according to the event flyer. The ceremony, which starts at 2:30 p.m. in the Big Gym, will help Paly to remember and commemorate everything from the historical building.

Some students only used the current gym during freshman and sophomore physical education badminton, while others played varsity basketball on its court.

Regardless of first contact with the Big Gym, many hold it dearly in their hearts and are not happy to see it go, yet they accept that it will be upgraded. Junior Max Dees is on varsity basketball, which holds its games in the gym.

“The Big Gym was where I started playing basketball and I’ll always remember it when I remember playing basketball at Paly,” Dees said. “The Big Gym meant a lot to me, so it’s really sad to see it go, especially because I won’t be able to play in the new one. It’s sad that the year the new gym opens I will have already graduated, but I’m happy for the sophomores and freshmen and future players on the team.”

Others didn’t participate in varsity sports, yet still had good memories of the physical building.

“I didn’t play any sports in the Big Gym, but I did do PE there when I was a freshman,” junior Ido Gal said. “I feel like it was pretty bad, but it has some memories for me. I am overall happy though that it is being upgraded and that the younger kids will get something nice to experience.”

Others have good memories of events that happened in the gym besides practices, games or PE. Events such as rallies always brought in large attendance of the student population.

“All of the rallies are a big memory for me,” junior Fabian Garduno said. “The Spirit Week rallies, the seniors versus teacher games, the PE lessons will all be in my mind when I think of the Big Gym. I’m not going to miss it, though. I’m glad it’s getting replaced.”

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