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Science academy to take the place of PE building

By Shannon Rigsby, MPS Communications
A bittersweet day has come to Mustang Public Schools. The oldest building left on the campus, the original gym from the 1940s, will be razed to make way for a state-of-the art science academy to provide opportunities for students in the higher-level sciences and STEM courses.
Saying goodbye to something that has been a fixture for nearly 70 years, an aging reminder of where the small country school started, is difficult. Many students from the 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond had pivotal moments in the old gym. There are memories of basketball games and dances, practices and assemblies, when bobby socks or bell bottoms were in and the town was young.
But the aging concrete block structure has done its duty and served its time. It would require more than half a million dollars to simply bring the building up to code, and bringing it up to code wouldn’t create a space that serves the needs of the district of more than 11,000 students today.
And so the district has made the decision to move forward and create a space that will propel aspiring students toward jobs in science, technology, engineering and math.
Dr. Sean McDaniel said the decision was still a difficult one to make because of the emotions attached to the building.
“Mustang is one of the most unique towns. It has grown from a town along a winding dirt road with 30 graduates a year to a booming area that still manages to hold on to its small-town feel, despite the growth in enrollment of 200 to 500 students each year,” he said. “The PE building has served the district well and we are doing what we can to honor its place in the history of Mustang Public Schools.”
Midwest Wrecking is under contract to take down the building and the old vo-ag building next to it this week. As part of the process, however, they will be cutting up the gym floor in four-foot wide sections for storage. Once a plan has been formulated, the sections of flooring will be shaped, sanded and available to a few of those people who have memories of the building when it was in its prime. McDaniel said an ordering process will be created and announced through the athletic department this fall.
Pat Oltermann, local realtor and Mustang graduate, said the old gym holds many memories for her but she’s ready for the new science academy to take shape.
“Playing basketball, running the bleachers during practice, our senior play and of course, graduation, are probably the main memories,” she said. “However, I’m for progress. Right now, that gym is an eyesore on that beautifully updated campus at Mustang High School.”

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