New Auxiliary Gym Planned for Lafayette

Demolition of Blair will make the gym a necessity


Lafayette’s current gym is in high demand during sports seasons. The auxiliary gym will provide much needed space.

The 2015-2016 school year has been a successful one, defined by various personal accomplishments and shared community moments. 2016-2017, however, lies murky and clouded in the future, filled with uncertainties. Lafayette’s volleyball, baseball, softball, basketball, field hockey, and cheerleading teams have all used James Blair’s gym for daily practice in the past. Next year, this will not be an option.

The old middle school, which is now home to WJCC’s central offices, will be partially demolished this summer. Along with antiquated classrooms and the cafeteria, the gym will come down.

Betsy Overkamp-Smith, WJCC’s director of PR & Engagement, said, “The discussions have taken longer than anticipated, but the school will open in [the] fall [of] 2018 and will address middle school enrollment before all three middle schools are over capacity.”

These discussions began in 2013, three years after the opening of Hornsby Middle School. When James Blair reopens in 2018, it will alleviate overcrowding throughout the district.

For future students of Lafayette, this will provide a major hurdle in athletic practices. However, the County Supervisors approved a plan to build an auxiliary gym at Lafayette in the coming months.

Lafayette's community of parents, students, and staff all advocated the new gym.
Lafayette’s community of parents, students, and staff advocated for the new gym. It will open in about 18 months.

Estimated by Ms. Overkamp-Smith to take 18 months, the gym will provide a practice space for various teams, as well as an extra gym for physical education classes. Special education students will have vastly increased access to athletic activities during the day. The auxiliary gym was not originally part of James City County’s proposed Capital Improvements Program, Ms. Overkamp-Smith says. The building ended up being approved because the school board included the gym in its budget and the Lafayette community advocated for it. The LHS booster club, as well as , spearheaded the project.

The timing of Blair’s demolition and the construction of the auxiliary gym may cause some troubles for next year’s students. There will be a lengthy gap between accessible gyms, ending when Lafayette’s auxiliary building is built.

“Division staff [members] are working with athletic directors and city/county recreation departments to ensure all teams will have gyms for practices. The plans will be finalized when a new LHS athletic director is hired and coaches are contracted for those sports, both JV and Varsity,” says Ms. Overkamp-Smith. The recent girls’ soccer team coaching problems, combined with Barner’s departure, will add to Lafayette’s hurdles in 2016-2017.

Update: According to the VA Gazette, the auxiliary gym process has been pushed back 30 days due to a contracting mistake.