Students have already moved into the new athletic areas of Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. During a reception and open house Nov. 19, members of the Catoosa County school board and city officials toured the completed athletic areas.

The two-year project to construct a new basketball gym, weight training area, locker rooms, meeting spaces, offices and cheerleading room were an early Christmas present for school officials.

The gym portion is two levels, with a walking track on the second floor. The railing around the second floor has a warrior head etched at intervals along the rail.

The new weight room is a massive addition for athletic director and head football coach Todd Windham. Football players were utilizing the football field house for weight training, which was about a third of the size of the new weight room. About 98 percent of the equipment is new. The room features 16 weight tracks. The room will be used during the day for weight-lifting classes as well as after school for sports teams.

The football house will now have a designated purpose as a meeting room instead of the many functions it played before.

“It will make things a lot more efficient,” said track coach and assistant football coach Houston White.

The gymnasium was finished just in time for the basketball season. LFO’s first home game, against Heritage High School, will be Dec. 3. Windham expects a packed crowd to support the Warriors in their first home game in the new gym.

Connecting the old gym to the new athletic section was a challenge for architect Ray Boaz from DH&W Architecture in Chattanooga. Making the new and old work together, while simultaneously bringing the gym and bus canopy design into the 21st century, was successful, said Boaz, as he proudly surveyed the finished product during the reception.

“It’s incredibly rewarding,” Boaz said of the completed gym. “We started with sketches and 3-D models. There is tremendous satisfaction when it all comes together.”

The former gym was used for many athletic teams, especially during winter and rainy days. The boys and girls junior varsity and varsity teams would have to stagger practices. Some teams would not be finished with practice until 9 or 10 p.m. and that was often times with two teams practicing together, according to principal Terri Vandiver.

“The best part … is it’s something the community can be proud of,” Vandiver said. “The school is right in the middle of the city and we have a lot of people who graduated from here who have children or grandchildren going to school here now.”

Vandiver graduated from LFO and says the school has a family atmosphere.

The new addition garnered a lot of business and community support over the last two years, she explained. The final phase of the project is the cafeteria expansion, which should be completed by the first of the year.