CCSD elementary schools receive new gym floors
It’s a renovation more than forty years in the making.
When Heritage Elementary and Creekside Elementary were built in 1976 and 1986 respectively, the design practice was to use carpeting in the gymnasiums. Thanks to the Cherry Creek School District voters who approved a 2020 bond measure, students at these schools can now enjoy a more durable and customized vinyl flooring when they play Four Square or basketball.
“When I first heard we were getting a new floor, I was ready to celebrate,” Heritage physical education teacher Cecilia Sanford said. “It felt like my birthday. It’s been incredible.”
Sanford, along with Creekside PE teacher Jerry Pettinger, worked with the design firms to create the ideal floor. Both teachers have been with the district for more than two decades and were honored to be included.
“I got to design a floor that works for our kids,” Pettinger said. “Having a painted circle that’s easy for young kids to find or markings for Four Square makes our space more usable. That’s a wonderful legacy.”
The new floors will also be easier to sanitize and allow students more thoughtfully planned spaces to play and learn about fitness. Physical education has often been a priority for the school district, but the recent pandemic has made teaching more challenging. Both Sanford and Pettinger had to overcome hurdles during remote learning during the past semester.
“Teaching physical education remotely is not easy,” Sanford said. “I made videos for students that had their teachers practicing cornhole and answering a ‘Would You Rather’ question. I knew they missed their teachers and wanted to show them we are all exercising together.”
“There was an upside to remote learning in that it gave me more time to talk with the students,” Pettinger added. “We are usually trying to get the kids into place for class, but last semester I had time to talk with students more and get their thoughts on their likes and dislikes.”
Both teachers are grateful to be back in person with their students, noting that there was often inequity across the equipment or places students could access. Along with their colleagues, Sanford and Pettinger considered physical education activities that would work well during remote learning, such as juggling socks or plastic bags, scavenger hunts, playing Minute to Win It or teaching breathing exercises.
“We know that physical activity is essential for mental and physical health, and our students need breaks from their screens,” Sanford said. “I’ve had so many more students talk about climbing trees or going outside since the pandemic, and we are so glad to be back with them in our school with our new gym floor.”
And how did the kids respond to the new floor?
“There was an explosion of excitement as the kids ran all over the floor,” Pettinger said. “They loved it so much and one day, maybe one of those kids will be in the Olympics. And maybe they’ll think back on their school as a place where they got their start.”