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TEACHER WANTS NEW GYM, BUT FUNDS ARE SCARCE

Aug. 28, 2001 – Sentiment aside, if Arthur Solomon had his way, the 40-year-old gymnasium where he played basketball prior to his graduation with the Charlotte Amalie High School Class of 1971 would be demolished and rebuilt from scratch.
It's his opinion that "the whole structure is outdated." And on that basis, he invited top government officials to CAHS Tuesday to help him "explore the possibilities" of replacing it.
Beginning his second year as chair of the CAHS Physical Education Department, Solomon is sorry "if some people are upset," but he says his action is "not for Solomon. It's for the school."
He envisions a new $4.5 million gymnasium along with a $3.5 million sports stadium and field house for the high school.
Delegate Donna Christian Christensen and Education Commissioner Ruby Simmonds met with Solomon in the CAHS gym. "I didn't remember it as looking this bad," Christensen commented from the center of the floor. "I remember it looking a lot better at night filled with the basketball teams and all the fans."
While sympathetic, Christensen and Simmonds both said there are no public funds available at present for replacing the gym. And "the chances of finding federal grant money are slim," Christensen added. She said that it would be more fruitful to identify community partners, "corporations like Innovative which do that kind of giving to the community."
Simmonds noted that she, too, like "most of us on St. Thomas and St. John," graduated from CAHS — or "High School," as it is often called, a term dating from the days when it was the only one on the island. "One of the things that we haven't really looked at," she continued, "is tapping the alumni of CAHS."
She said various fund-raising options are worth investigating. As an example, "Many people have lost their yearbooks," she said, and funds might be raised by "selling new books to people who want them."
Solomon said exhaust fans are scheduled to be installed — "hopefully before school gets started" — to improve the poor ventilation inside the old gym. The first full day of classes is Friday.

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