As the Lawrence County School Board prepared to cut the ribbon for the new gymnasium on the Walnut Ridge campus, Supt. Terry Belcher was unaware that the new facility would bear his name.
Board President Brittany Schmidt welcomed those in attendance and proceeded with the announcement of the new gym’s name as tarps covering the front of the building were released.
“In keeping with the pride and tradition of our school district of honoring those who have given so much of their life for the betterment of our school, it was an easy decision for who the gymnasium should be named after,” she said. “A man who has spent 44 years with our school district, first as a coach, then a principal, and for the last 24 years as our superintendent.”
Schmidt also noted that without the fiscal management provided by Belcher, the new gymnasium, as well as the softball and baseball complex being constructed across the street, would not have been possible.
Supt. Belcher expressed his surprise and appreciation for the honor, announcing to the crowd “They lied to me … all of them.”
He went on to say, “I want to thank the board and the community for your support all these years. You’ve trusted me with your children and your money. I hope I’ve done well with both.”
Following the unveiling and ribbon-cutting ceremony, Project Manager Gary Hoyt with Nabholz invited those in attendance to tour the facility in small groups. Members of the WRHS cheerleaders and Alley Cats dance team served as tour guides and handed out goodies to those in attendance.
In addition to expanded seating, the new gym also boasts a large lobby and concession stand, expanded locker room space and a new sound system.
The facility also houses new administration offices, including a boardroom, where school board meetings will be held.
The need for additional gym space has continued to grow for the district as peewee, junior high and senior high teams, as well as physical education classes require space.
Voters passed a 2.9 millage increase for the purpose of constructing the new gymnasium and baseball and softball complex.
Hoyt said he is proud of the finished product and hopes the community will be, as well.
“It has been my pleasure to work with Mr. Belcher, his school board and his staff,” he said. “We have truly been a team on this and that means a lot.”