Soda Springs middle School

Tigert Middle School Principal Debbie Daniels, left, and Soda Springs School District Superintendent Molly Stein stand in the school’s new gym that has been two years coming after the original one was condemned. A recent open house also showcased the school’s new auxiliary gym, music room, computer lab and art room.

SODA SPRINGS — When Tigert Middle School students started classes recently they walked into an upgraded facility with newly constructed classrooms and activity areas.

A $6.5 million, 10-year tax bond paid for the 15-month construction project that is highlighted by a new gym and computer lab, as well as music and art classrooms. The work was completed in late June.

“We have a lot of community support,” said Tigert Middle School Principal Debra Daniels. “It shows that (Soda Springs Joint School District 150 residents) are supporting academics, they’re supporting their future and their children. They support each other. Everybody worked together on it. It gives me chills kind of. It took a lot of people to make this happen and I just think the town’s really proud of it.”

The project entailed replacing the 80-year-old gymnasium, which was previously demolished, and a 65-year-old classroom annex. The new facilities encompass 27,639 square feet.

The music room is acoustically engineered and has three small and secluded rooms for practicing. Among the features of the art room are windows stretching to the floor and a storage room to dry pottery. The computer lab is equipped with 30 computers.

The gym can seat 674 spectators. It’s equipped with two main basketball hoops, as well as four side hoops. It can hold two concurrent volleyball matches.

Tigert Middle School’s old gym was ruled unsafe for use after a September 2017 earthquake, and was torn down. There were visible cracks on the walls and floors.

The school’s commons area became not just a cafeteria, but also a gym and the main gathering place when student assemblies were held.

Tigert students helped put tables and chairs away when lunch ended. A portable basketball hoop was rolled out so basketball teams could practice in the commons area. Soda Springs High School’s gym was also used by Tigert.

“We got really creative,” Daniels said. “The high school and the middle school worked together really well to keep practices going and games going. It was an amazing team effort. It really was wonderful.”

The new gym is complemented by an auxiliary gym, locker rooms and restrooms.

The locker rooms have individual showers, instead of open space showers previously utilized at the school. The auxiliary room will be used by the wrestling team and city’s recreation department, among others.

The tax bond that funded the project was passed by school district voters in 2017, before the damaging earthquake. It was the second attempt to pass the bond after it failed in the November 2016 election.

Construction began in March 2018.

Daniels thanked Tigert’s teachers and other staff members for dealing with the sound of “jackhammers and bulldozers” during the project.

“It’s hard to know what it’s like to deal with teaching in a construction site until you’ve been through it,” Daniels said. “(The teachers and staff) were very positive throughout this whole ordeal. When challenges came up, they all got together and brainstormed.”