Williams School District unveils new fitness center

Williams Unified School District is raising the bar when it comes to physical fitness.
School officials last week opened the district’s first new structure, which was completed over the summer from funding from the general obligation bond that Williams voters approved in 2016.

The new fitness center, located behind the Williams Junior Senior High School gym, is outfitted with all new exercise equipment, replacing outdated and rusted weights and lifting benches – some of which dated all the way back to the 1950’s when the high school was located on E Street.

The new facility offers students a variety of new exercise options, including cardio equipment like stationary bicycles, rowing machines and treadmills, which the old weight room – used mostly by football players – did not have, officials said.

“I think all our kids will benefit from this,” said Tony Hermann, a physical education instructor at the high school. “They will want to be in here, and that self motivation will speak volumes.”

The fitness center was the first structure associated with the initial $780,000 bond project that also included above and below ground infrastructure improvements needed to construct other buildings on campus, officials said.

The district plans to leverage the $11 million in general obligation bonds, which voters in the school district approved, for approximately $32 million in new school construction and modernization funding, low-interest loans and hardship grants from the state, in order to replace portable structures with modern two-story classrooms and modernize its three campuses.

Superintendent Edgar Lampkin said the new fitness center was an important first step in creating 21st century learning facilities.

“We want the very best for our kids,” said Lampkin, at the grand opening ceremony on Sept. 5. “We want them to be proud, and when they are working out, we want them in the very best facilities possible. It’s not just about weight lifting. It’s about fitness. It’s about wellness.”

Arturo Ramirez, 17, a senior, spent the last three years using the small weight room to augment his physical strength and athletic ability, and said he was happy to see a new facility built before he graduated.

“I think it’s all fantastic,” said Ramirez, who plans to enroll in the welding program next year at San Joaquin Delta College, and participate the Caterpillar Dealer Service Technician Program. “I’m very impressed. We have more equipment, more stations, and a lot of safety improvements. It’s going to help us out a lot with our athletics, and it’s going to be a good experience.”

Cassandra Tortoledo, 16, never used the previous weight room, and said compared to what she saw last year, the new fitness center should get a lot of use from students just interested in better health.

“It a good thing for the school, which is improving,” she said. “I say thank you to everyone involved in the project for making it happen.”

In addition to new facilities planned at Williams Junior Senior High School, the district’s 10-year master plan includes a new elementary school to meet an anticipated increase in population, and a new multipurpose room at the Middle School.

Although all funding sources have not been secured, the district has identified about $29.8 million in needs at the elementary school and $32.5 million in needs at the middle and high schools, according to the plan.