HARRISON, N.Y. – Harrison High School students now have the opportunity to exercise in a new $85,000 fitness center revealed to the public Monday night in a grand opening.
“It’s tremendous,” said Robert Salierno, assistant superintendent for business. “When we were building this, the kids were dying to get in there. They couldn’t wait. We went from a limited gym to a complete fitness center.”
Previously, the space was split between a 500-square-foot gym and a wrestling room, which was relocated to the middle school. Many school officials and board members said the expansion was necessary because of the 980 students at Harrison High School.
Planning for the new 1,100- to 1,200-square-foot center took two months, while construction went from the last week of June to the end of September, Salierno said. The fitness center opened for student and faculty use in early October and was quickly packed, he said.
The room features free weights, a cardio section with treadmills, televisions with equipment instructions and news, plus mirrors and much more. The price tag for the equipment – a third of which is new – was $55,000.
Superintendent Louis Wool said the center completes step two of a three-step process to improve the Harrison student experience. Almost seven years ago, Wool said, the school district partnered with the Harrison Education Foundation and renovated the Harrison Performing Arts Center.
The third step will be a learning commons, opening in September where the current Harrison High School cafeteria is.
“Our thinking is that school for you is now a full-time career,” Wool said to some of the students in attendance Monday night.
“They’re here morning, noon and night. We see in you the possibility of developing every aspect of the human being, whether it’s smarts, fitness or the ability to build a community and learning center. The fitness center is a grand opening of a furthering of a dream that we have to make this the best high school in the world, and we’re getting closer.”
He is looking forward to the relationships that will be built as a result of the expansion.
“It’s going to be a tremendous way of building a broader connection to fitness for everybody,” Wool said. “We view this as another way to connect kids that don’t traditionally get to know each other or find each other. We think it does a lot to shape the culture and make the culture more inviting for all of the students. That’s our hope.”
As for Patricia Seligman, the director of physical education, health and athletics for the Harrison Central School District, she would like to see an even bigger fitness center one day.
“I’m delighted – thrilled,” she said. “The fact that the board made a commitment to the health and wellness of the students says a lot for how we value the entire student; not just what they do academically, but what they do with their lives and their bodies. My biggest dream is that we are so packed we have to look at expanding into another center.”
The fitness center is open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the school week.