These changes are coming to the East athletics department courtesy of the newly passed bond
March 13, 2023
This fall, the Cherry Hill Public Schools District passed a 363 million dollar bond to help with major improvements across all 18 schools in the district. Out of all the schools, East is receiving the most money towards the school. This package will explore the 4 major athletic department changes that are coming courtesy of the bond.
New bleachers in Dibart Gym
The DiBart Gymnasium will be undergoing major changes over the next few years according to Mr. Mike Beirao, the athletics director for the Cherry Hill School district.
The gym, which is home to East boys and girls basketball along with boys and girls volleyball, currently holds approximately 2,400 people. The entire bleachers will need to be replaced as they are not ADA compliant and do not feature key safety features like handrails and steps to walk up the bleachers. The bleachers have never been replaced in the school’s history which opened in 1966.
With the new safety features on the bleachers, it will reduce the amount of seating available. In order to maintain the capacity of 2,400 and being one of the largest gyms in South Jersey, Beirao siad the school will be implementing baseline bleachers on the far side of the gym. Additionally, the upper level bleachers on both sides will be extended farther to the full length of the sidelines.
In addition to the Dibart Gym, the East gym, which is home to boys and girls basketball freshman games, will be receiving permanent bleachers according to Beirao. The far upper level bleachers in the DiBart gym will be moved to the far side of the East gym. These same bleachers used to be in the East gym many years ago until they were removed.
While there is no specific timetable for the renovations, Beirao is confident that they will happen over the next couple years. He says that a basketball game in the DiBart gym is one of the best environments in South Jersey high school sports nad he believes that the renovations will make it even better.
Locker room renovations
All East locker rooms are slated to be renovated as per the new bond put forth by the Cherry Hill School District. With school locker rooms gradually becoming more roughed up through time, there’s no question that renovations to school locker rooms, especially those downstairs, are much needed. In the words of Mr.Mike Beirao, East’s athletic director, the primary goal of the upcoming locker room renovations is to make them usable for students.
The biggest changes facing the downstairs locker rooms include updates to the common changing area and the bathrooms. Even just giving the locker rooms a fresh coat of paint and cleaning up the area will make it more accessible, says Beirao.
Regarding the downstairs locker rooms used for sports, Beirao hopes to create usable spaces for athletes. “I think what happens is you walk into the locker room and A, it’s not great for sight lines—you know, if you’re trying to monitor, it’s difficult. I think that the lockers don’t fit the equipment that we have—so if you play field hockey, lacrosse, [or] softball, there’s really no place to put your stuff because it doesn’t fit the lockers. So we really need to take a look and try to figure out, ‘how do we make that space usable?’—and usable for today’s athlete, and not for changing for gym class.”
In terms of the upstairs locker rooms, the target of these renovations will be to create a safe space where students can feel comfortable changing and leaving their belongings. Another big change to expect are door replacements for all locker rooms. These replacements will give the locker rooms a cleaner look, says Beirao.
Ultimately, the remodeling decisions come down to Harrison Architects, who are responsible for updating the locker rooms. There is no doubt that locker room renovations will be some of the best-received changes in the school put forth by the bond.
Turf field renovations
It has been a long coming dream among many citizens of Cherry Hill to build a new stadium behind Cherry Hill High School East, and now that dream is finally coming true. As of right now, a full fledged stadium will be built by the upcoming fall season. As a result of the installation of led lighting, East will be able to host night games and foster a stronger sense of school spirit. Along with the addition of lights, a brand-new set of bleachers, a sound system, and a press box will also be installed. The side of the turf fields that is currently next to the white building, which will be removed and replaced with a larger storage building, will become the “home side” bleachers.The brand-new stands, which are predicted to hold the entire school, are said to be exceptionally large on both the home and away sides. Additionally, all of the stadium’s pathways will be renovated and ADA compliant and accessible. At the moment, bathrooms will not be built, however, there will be a location for ADA-compliant, easily-maintained porta potties. With the new stadium on the horizon, the Cherry Hill East community has a lot to look forward to.
Brand new dance gym
Along with several of the other promises of the bond, the Cherry Hill Board of Education aims to renovate the Dance Gym as an “all-purpose space,” according to Mr. Mike Beirao, Director of Athletics at East.
Mr. Beirao revealed plenty of details about the room that many East students don’t know about, especially considering that it has been closed for construction for three years, so most (if not all) East students haven’t had the chance to use it.
Today, someone walking by the Dance Gym doors would see a sign saying, “This room is closed due to construction.” The room is dark and unserviceable – but what are the B.O.E.’s goals in making it functional again?
Upon first reading the name “Dance Gym,” one might interpret it as a space intended for a dance team to practice in or for instructors to hold ballet classes with barres and mirrors, but this has never historically been the case. In fact, in reconstructing the area, the Board intends to cover the room in “all-sport floors so that [students] can do a variety of different activities in there,” as Beirao articulated, implying the opposite of a dance studio-esque feel.
In the past, East has used the gym for Mind and Body Connection classes, wrestling matches, indoor throwing, and cheer practices.
“It’s a great workout space here on the upper level,” said Beirao, referencing its location at the back of East. “It’s close to the locker rooms, [so] it’s easily accessible.”
Beyond just specific groups in the future using the Dance Gym, Beirao explained that when Physical Education classes in the DiBart or East gyms become too full, students and teachers can go to the Dance Gym as an additional area to complete their lessons.
As another physical change, Board also intends to eliminate the room’s dangerously positioned windows, which, according to Mr. Beirao, could send a wrestler flying in the middle of a match!
Though the Board’s modifications seem necessary and undoubtedly helpful to our East community, the Dance Gym’s construction timeline is currently unknown.
“If you’ve ever done construction around schools, timelines are usually not great,” said Beirao. “I’m not sure about the timeline for [the Dance Gym]. I’m not sure if it’s this year or next year.”
Currently, Mr. Beirao only has certainty regarding the roof and stadium renovations slated to take place this summer.
With our ever-growing East community, no matter when it arrives, the newly-furnished Dance Gym will be a welcome space for all students to partake in all sorts of athletic activities.