New Gym Pops Up at McLaughlin School
Will Serve Expansion of School to Become Middle/High School
Last updated 9/15/2023 at 10:34am
Like a mushroom after a summer rain, a beautiful new gymnasium has popped up this week on the campus of McLaughlin Middle/High School of Excellence.
The building is being constructed using a "tilt-wall" method in which completed solid concrete walls are rapidly erected, rather than a traditional hollow concrete "breeze-block" method, allowing the walls to be erected over a two-day period. Much work remains before the structure will be completed, which is anticipated to happen this summer in time for the 2024-2025 school year.
The expanding campus on South Fourth Street in Lake Wales is being improved to host a new high school in addition to the middle school grades that it has served for many years.
The $15 million project is only one phase of the planned improvements at the school, which will also include a new football stadium on the site of a current track and practise field. The school's 38-acre campus has room to hold a number of new facilities.
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.
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. A new grade will be added each year in anticipation of the school's first graduates in 2026.
School staff are especially excited about the plans, which will allow a "continuity of education" with a familiar group of students. The school will offer students a second choice of high schools in Lake Wales
Principal Debra Wright-Hudson organized a charrette-style event last year to seek input from teachers, parents, and students as to shape and identity of the new school.