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Salisbury High School reaches $1 million goal for gym enhancement project

By Rebecca Rider
For the Salisbury Post

A grassroots fundraiser to improve Salisbury High School’s gym has reached its five-year goal of $1 million. A Tuesday check presentation of $820,000 marked the finish line in the passion project.

“We’re as excited and as on cloud nine as we possibly could be,” said Windsor Eagle, former principal and project spearhead.

According to Eagle, plans to improve Salisbury High’s gym began with the completion of the school’s athletic complex in 2008. By 2010, the school completed a field house — which Eagle dubbed “Phase I.”

But just a few years later, it was clear that the school needed more room for its growing athletics programs. Then principal Avis Williams often spoke to Eagle and others about space needs for dancers, wrestlers, a fitness facility and a classroom.

The Athletic Boosters Club formed an offshoot, the Gym Enhancement Board, to oversee the project and received approval from the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education in 2013. The group set a lofty $1 million fundraising goal, but Eagle said he never doubted that the group would reach it.

“I don’t like to commit to something I’m not going to see through,” he said. “We were patient, we did what we needed to do to get there.”

Over the past five years, the community has stepped up. Most of the funds raised have come from local individuals or foundations.

“It’s been a fantastic situation,” Eagle said.

In 2017, at the suggestion of Principal Luke Brown, the board spent $190,700 to add security cameras, air conditioning and acoustic panels to the gym. The improvements were one of the first steps toward a better, more modern facility.

But the final funds were raised by Salisbury High School alumni in a fundraising “blitz.” Approximately 484 alumni from 48 of the school’s 62 graduating classes competed against each other to raise at least $2,000 per class. Most raised more, Eagle said. Total, the blitz raised more than $62,000.

This latest milestone means that construction will soon begin on an approximately 3,400 square-foot, one-story fitness center. The space will provide a large weight room for high school athletes. While an architect still has to be selected and approved, Gym Enhancement Board members are hoping to break ground in the spring of 2019.

The plans also include an addition to the gym’s entranceway, and any extra funds will be used to build a multi-purpose room. This last and latest donation marks the end of the Gym Enhancement Project, and Eagle said he doesn’t foresee any further improvements to the school or Salisbury High’s athletic facilities.

Tuesday’s check was for $820,000. When the cost of the field house, security cameras and HVAC system are taken into account, the amount raised totals out at almost $1.5 million. 

“None of the above was done by any one person,” Eagle wrote in an e-mail. “It took a lot of work by many people to raise these funds. Over 400 people contributed to Phase I, and some 800 donations were made during Phase II, which includes the blitz.”

That number includes the Rowan-Salisbury School System, which made significant contributions to both phases.

In fact, there is still an opportunity for those who love Salisbury High to give.

“I don’t want to say that this is over, because it’s never too late to donate,” Eagle said.

Interested parties can donate by contacting the school or the Gym Enhancement Board. All extra funds collected will be put towards the construction of a multi-purpose room, which will provide space for dancers, wrestlers and community meetings.

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