Construction of New $15 Million Gymnasium Underway at McLaughlin

New Facility Will Serve School's Expansion to Middle/High School


Last updated 6/23/2023 at 1:04pm

Courtesy Polk County Schools

The new gymnasium now under construction at McLaughlin Middle/High School will serve new athletic teams being organized for students, as well as other needs at the school.

The conversion of the former McLaughlin Academy of Excellence, a middle school, into McLaughlin Middle/High School is moving ahead with the construction of a new gymnasium, the first of several new facilities that will be added to the school's 38-acre campus in coming months and years.

The new gymnasium will serve the full line-up of athletics anticipated for the McLaughlin Phoenix teams.

The 28,300 square-foot gymnasium will host a variety of athletic programs, including basketball, volleyball, weightlifting and wrestling. The Polk School Board previously entered into a joint-use agreement with the City of Lake Wales, which will allow use of the facilities for other public events.

Robert Connors

The front of McLaughlin now hosts plenty of evidence of the construction project, the first of several additions to the campus of the former McLaughlin Academy of Excellence, now McLaughlin Middle/High School.

Ground was broken for the $15 million project in December, but start of construction was delayed until recent weeks. Now crews from the Williams Company are working to prepare the site for the vertical construction to follow.

Unlike most schools in the Lake Wales area, McLaughlin is not a part of the Lake Wales Charter Schools system, but is operated by the Polk County Schools, which is funding the construction.

Plans for the campus include a number of new facilities, including converting an existing running-track into a sports stadium.

The decision to add a high school to the campus was only reached by the Polk School Board in June of 2022, and implemented immediately.

This past school year the school welcomed the first freshman class. McLaughlin will continue adding a new grade each year until 2025.


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