Inside the old Craftsbury Academy gym, activities were regularly canceled at the whim of Mother Nature. "We couldn't use it if the wind was blowing more than 30 miles an hour or there is more than six inches of snow on the roof," said Harry Miller, a Craftsbury resident.
Five bond votes and 1.6 million dollars later -- that's changing.
"Our new gym is going to be awesome. It's about time to get it because we can finally have tournaments and stuff," said 8th grader Abbie Martin.
Construction of a new gym at the 183-year-old K-12 school is well underway. Volunteers kicked off a three day effort Friday to make one of its final touches a reality--a brand new hardwood floor.
"It gives me goose bumps really because I would challenge anybody in the world to find a place in a community like this that has donated the wood, come out to put it down and volunteered all the help," Miller said.
The new gym floor took more than 180 trees donated directly by alumni. The free lumber and labor saved the project about $150,000.
"It's tremendous to think that I got four logs in here and I've seen my logs every once-and-a-while. I'm sure they're mine -- there are tap holes you know," said Horace Strong, who graduated from the Academy in 1943. He says the new sunlit space is a far cry from what he remembers. He helped all weekend, shy of a gentle reminder from his wife that he had to go to church. "'You're going to church.' And I said, 'I'm going up first' and I worked here for an hour more and went over to church and came back again," he said.
The finished product will benefit 160 kids -- current students, be open for town meetings, drama and senior activities, and for use by Sterling College.
"When we do something as a community, our whole community is in. It's not just a couple of people, because Craftsbury -- it's like a family," Martin said.
A family, that like the floor and its occasional tap holes, may have a few imperfections, but has character and a commitment to community at its core.
"If I stood in front of my community I would say it's a symbol of what we are because it's not perfect -- there's imperfections in the floor but it's durable and it's together and it's forever," Miller said.
Construction on the gym is slated to be complete by October which means basketball on the hardwood by the holidays.
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