Tuesday, Jul 26, 2016
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Toledo Christian's new gym creates excitement

$2.6M building could be ready in September

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Toledo Christian's 20,000 square-foot gymnasium will seat 1,350 people and will host a variety of events, from games to graduations.

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As director of admissions and athletics for Toledo Christian Schools, Ron Rightnowar understands the connection between the two.

That's why he sees construction of a $2.6 million gymnasium and multipurpose facility as a boon both to attracting new students and to providing an awfully nice facility for the school's athletes.

"At Toledo Christian, our athletic programs have grown a lot over the last 10 years, and we've been successful," said Mr. Rightnowar, who also coaches the baseball team. "We've built a reputation as being pretty good for 'that little school over on the Trail.' "

Superintendent Mike Chivalette said the school board is to award construction contracts when it meets Monday, and ground is to be broken at noon March 17. If all goes as planned, the new gym should be completed by the end of September. It will be the school's largest capital project in its history.

"The kids are really excited," Mr. Chivalette said. "They call me Dr. C, and they'll say, 'Dr. C., are we really doing this?' and I say, 'Yes, we actually are.' "

Since 1988, when Toledo Christian bought the former McAuley High School on the Anthony Wayne Trail near Sherwood Avenue, it has made do with an undersized gym. It has a seating capacity of just 470, and that's with the front row of bleachers extending right to the regulation-size basketball court.

Years ago, a wooden floor was installed over the gym's original tile floor.

"The need for a quality gymnasium was there from the beginning, but they installed the wooden floor and we were still small enough, that was fine," Mr. Rightnowar said.

About six years ago, a push began to build a new gym. Mr. Chivalette said the school board wanted to raise at least $1.4 million before moving ahead with the project -- a goal it reached this year.

The Buehrer Group of Maumee designed a 20,000-square-foot addition to the north side of the school that includes a 1,350-seat, air-conditioned, full-size gymnasium, boys' and girls' locker rooms, and a new concession area. The old gym will continue to get plenty of use for practice, particularly for middle school teams that now practice off-site at area churches.

Mr. Chivalette said he envisions the new gym as a community facility that will host more than just basketball and volleyball games. Speakers, parent seminars, large meetings, and annual events like Grandparents Day will be held there.

"It is a multipurpose facility. We want it to be used by the elementary and preschool, not just athletics," he said.

Toledo Christian, which typically holds graduation ceremonies at an area church, plans to bring that event home next year to the new gym too.

With just less than 700 students in prekindergarten through 12th grade, Toledo Christian is a member of the Toledo Area Athletic Conference. Mr. Chivalette said 80 percent of the students participate in sports or fine arts.

"We've had some success, and we really want to use this facility as a springboard for our community and our growth," he said.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-724-6129.

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