Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Delta High School to build a nearly $6 million fitness center


MUNCIE, Ind. — Delta High School has started construction on a nearly $6 million fitness center that an industry expert calls extraordinary.

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The two-story, 37,000 square feet fitness center will include a weight room; fitness area for cardiovascular and core development; a speed and development area with artificial turf, two new locker rooms; a classroom for future enhancements to curriculum, such as the U.S. Army’s Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program; new athletic training office; indoor track; wrestling room; multipurpose availability to have batting cages and curtains for golf simulators, and storage supplies for buildings and grounds.  

Oh, and the state-of-the art fitness center will provide lots of natural light.

Coincidentally, the project’s upcoming groundbreaking ceremony follows the recent news that Muncie Southside Middle School was one of three Indiana schools that were each awarded a $100,000 DON’T QUIT! fitness center. Fitness centers in that price range are what you normally see schools adding.

Del-Com has spent a great deal of time finding ways to offer more extracurricular activities, such as archery and robotics, as part of a continuing effort to focus on students’ social and emotional stability — “and our facilities are being maxed out,” Superintendent Reece Mann told The Star Press.

For example, the current weightlifting facility occupies a renovated locker room from the late 1980s, “and we believe the fitness center will offer endless opportunities for ‘off-season’ workouts to continue an individual’s pursuit of excellence,” Mann said via email.

The high school fitness arena is no longer just a big basketball court and a bunch of bleachers, according to Heartline Fitness Systems, a national commercial fitness sales and service enterprise.

Things really began to change when the U.S. Department of Education started to award PEP grants (Physical Education Program) to schools, Heartline President Dan Green says. Most awards ranged from $100,000 to $300,000 apiece.

“We’ve had some schools do some pretty big things thanks to personal donations —a local business might kick in a grant, but nowhere near $6 million,” Green said in a phone call from the Chicago area. “I’ve seen nothing over $1.5 million.” And the typical school fitness center costs in the range of $100,000 to $200,00, he said.

“Well, that’s an amazing facility,” he said of the Delta project. ” …  that’s more than a fitness center. That’s what I would call a state-of-the-art sports and fitness complex.”

RELATED: Delta High School spending $6.7 million on security, labs

Physical education has changed since Green attended high school, when PE class provided activities like calisthenics, dodgeball and badminton.

Today, the focus is more on how to be fit individually, with activities like yoga, so that, when students graduate, their PE classes will have taught them how to maintain a fitness level, how to use a cardio machine, how to track their heart rate and what is appropriate strength training, Green said. Students will have been exposed to a diversity of fitness sports, such as biking, walking, running, elliptical machines, “all kinds of stuff,” he went on.

“Today’s fitness centers in schools and colleges are not only powered up to higher standards … in fact, some studies show that both the quantity and distribution of electrical power in school gyms in 2016 had consumed 50 to 70 percent more power than their predecessors just one decade ago … but they must reflect the school’s brand identity – and inspire social meeting opportunities for high-achieving students,” according to Heartline.

The fitness center is part of Del-Com’s “Project 20,” financed by a $10 million bond issue.

While the fitness center is the biggest part of the project, it also includes:

  • “Learning Stairs,” which are used more like seats or bleachers suitable for an extension of the classroom, in the high school commons area.
  • Inside the commons area, new lockers that are 42 inches high with a countertop that will encourage communication before, during and after school but also completely open the area up for safer supervision.This area also is receiving new flooring.
  • A new athletic department that will hold two offices and conference room.
  • A new girls varsity/junior varsity basketball locker room.
  • Just next to the Learning Stairs, the food service area is being expanded to include a coffee bistro atmosphere before and after school. 

To make evening basketball games safer after competition, the district is replacing all the solar lights in the parking lot with direct electrical access.

With soccer added to the middle school, and an increase in participation, the district is installing new lights and poles at the soccer field.  

Del-Com also is updating the roof at Eaton Elementary School and renovating the front-office entrance to make it more secure.

Contact Seth Slabaugh at (765) 213-5834 or

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