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Closure of BHS gym rattles athletes, angers parents

The Old Gym at Berkeley High School was abruptly shut this week because of seismic safety concerns. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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The unexpected and abrupt closure of Berkeley High School’s Old Gym this week has thrown some of the school’s athletic programs into turmoil.

On Monday, members of the football team were told they could not go into the locker room in the Old Gym to suit up for practice or to retrieve their belongings. Since then, the team has not had a place to change, store personal items, use weights, or watch films to prepare for upcoming games.

“It has caused a lot of confusion and it is having an effect on how we practice,” said one member of the varsity football team who did not want his name used. “It has a detrimental affect on the team.”

The abrupt closure on Monday October 3 came about because Superintendent Bill Huyett only recently learned of reports that the structure may not be seismically safe, and decided to take action.

“I am a very prudent and cautious person when it comes to student safety,” said Huyett.

Huyett was referring to an engineering study included in a 2006 environmental impact report that raised – but did not answer — questions about the seismic stability of the Old Gym. The structure was built in 1922 based on a design by architect William Hays. In 1929, an addition housing what is now known as the Warm Pool was added. The complex is slated to be torn down in 2012 and replaced with a $35 million, three-story building that holds 15 classrooms, a new gym, and a fitness center. … Continue reading »

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