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The completion of the gym marks the first of eight similar projects around the Hillsboro School District.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Students walk inside the new gym at Eastwood Elementary School in Hillsboro on Tuesday, Feb. 4.With students anxiously sitting on the brand-new floor in front of her, Lilliana Sarun, a sixth-grader at Eastwood Elementary School, said she can't wait to use the school's new gym.

Sarun was a speaker at the grand opening of Eastwood's $4.9 million recently completed gym — the first of eight new gyms the Hillsboro School District is building as part of a $408 million bond measure passed in 2017.

Students, teachers, parents, administrators, builders and contractors gathered inside the nearly 10,000-square-foot facility on Wednesday, Feb. 5, to celebrate its opening.

It was the first time students saw the gym, which gives Eastwood attendees a dedicated physical education space.

Previously, the school's gym, and many others around the district, doubled as a cafeteria.

The building is seismically resilient and has "smart technology," such as electric lights that adjust their output based on the amount of natural light.

District officials say the gym will allow students to properly exercise and be a critical asset for the community as a whole.

Eastwood also recently received new parking lots and a new playground as well as security and seismic upgrades to the original school building.

Similar projects are currently underway elsewhere around the district.

Mooberry Elementary School's new gym is expected to be completed within weeks, and construction on the school's new playground will begin soon.

Later this month, the district plans to break ground on North Plains Elementary School's new gym, which is expected to be completed in August.

Construction on gyms at Minter Bridge Elementary School and W.L. Henry Elementary School is expected to begin in March, and similar projects at Ladd Acres Elementary School and McKinney Elementary School will begin in October.

"This new facility is really going to transform how (physical education) is done in our school," said Mark Myrick, physical education teacher at Eastwood Elementary.

On Tuesday, Myrick led every Eastwood student and many teachers and staff in the gym's first activity. Everyone found a partner and danced "La Raspa," a traditional Mexican dance often performed during celebrations. Myrick worked on it with the students for weeks.

He said the school's old gym was too restrictive for the level of activity students need. Breakfast and lunch tables were often still set up in the gym when students came into class, he said.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Students dance La Raspa in the first-ever activity at Eastwood Elementary School's new gym on Tuesday, Feb. 4."By the time a lot of that gets cleaned up, our students weren't able to really use the space," Myrick said. "Our students are going to get the opportunity to fully explore sports. We can explore strategies and entire classes can participate at once."

Erika Lopez, chair of the Hillsboro School Board, said not only will the facility serve students' physical education needs, it will also be an important community resource in case of emergencies.

"We always hear ... how it disproportionately affects different communities that don't have those resources," Lopez said, referring to emergency situations. She said the facility will allow people to be sure of a safe place in case of an emergency.

Lopez said she's excited that community members can finally see the product of their decision to pass the bond, as well as benefit from it. The first Hillsboro Parks & Recreation youth basketball game in the new gym just took place Tuesday night, Feb. 4.

Lopez attended Eastwood when she was in the sixth grade.

"It's a full-circle kind of moment," she said.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the cost of Eastwood's new gym. The story has been updated with the correct cost.

Max Egener
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