Major construction coming in 2020

Boone getting turf field, performing arts center, and other improvements


Bayleah Vogel

One of the facility upgrades involves replacing the natural grass at Irv Goode Field with turf after the fall 2020 athletic season. Administrators hope that the turf project will be finished in time for the fall 2021 season.

Morgan Daniels

On Feb.14, an assembly was held at Boone to not only celebrate the cheerleaders performance at nationals, but to inform the students of a major announcement.

With nearly the whole school gathered in the gymnasium, principal Tim Schlotman revealed the major renovations that Boone’s campus will undergo within the next few years.

Over the summer, the district plans to begin construction on a new two story building that will house a 400-seat auditorium and band and choral rooms.

The second project will include new turf fields for all Boone County schools, and the possibility of a track rebuild for both Boone and Conner.

Schlotman said that the current band room will become a much needed athletic field house, and that the back hallway lockers will be renovated and improved.

He also mentioned that the school’s lobby area will receive a touch up.

According to the Northern Kentucky Tribune (NKY Tribune), the new building will be located on the south end of the campus between the baseball field and the parking lot.

The new addition will include ancillary spaces, concessions, and restrooms, as well as a pathway that ties into the back wing.

The current auditorium, which was part of the school’s initial design when it opened in 1954, will be repurposed into four to six multimedia classrooms.

“Everybody is excited,” Schlotman said. “(These renovations) are much needed improvements.”

Principal Tim Schlotman

Junior band member John Wharton said that the renovations are a “really good thing for the whole school.”

He also said that the new additions would “increase student morale” and be something that the students could take pride in over the upcoming years.

These upgrades stem from a large sum of money that the district acquired as a result of a tax settlement from a major unnamed company, Schlotman said.

According to the NKY Tribune, Boone County Schools got $16 million worth of revenue that will fund various large projects.

Boone is receiving the largest portion of money, with an estimated $6.2 million going towards campus renovations.

According to Linda Schild, the director of finance for Boone County Schools, the funds remaining after the district high schools get new turf football/soccer fields will go towards SEEK (Support Education Excellence in Kentucky) funding to prevent position cuts.

Students excited for new arts space

If the cheering and clapping after Schlotman made the announcement about the new music suite is any indication, the students are eager to experience the upcoming renovations.

Although senior band member Aiden Shinkle won’t experience any of the upgrades personally, he is still excited for what the new auditorium and band/choir room mean for the music programs.

“The auditorium is horrible, so the choir has a hard time doing things,” Shinkle said. “The actual auditorium is designed for speeches, so it sounds horrible and (the band) can’t even all fit on the stage.”

There are around one hundred members between the two bands combined, so the commons has been the programs’ performance space for years.

Despite that, not even the cafeteria holds enough space for everyone to come and enjoy the bands’ concerts all at once.

“Sometimes we have to turn people away from the concerts because we can legitimately cannot fit that many parents in the cafeteria,” Shinkle said.

Shinkle didn’t have an issue with the current band room, but did comment that the new additions would allow everyone to be able to fit comfortably during performances.

Shinkle is not the only one excited for the band to have a new rehearsal and performance space.

“For the band room, I am most excited about having a space that will function better than our current room, and being connected to the rest of the school,” band director Dan Barnhill said. “The band and choir students will be proud to have a rehearsal and performance space that is functional and exhibits their best musical qualities.”

While the band has at least had their own practice facility for a while, other programs at Boone haven’t been as lucky.

The music programs plus the theatre clubs have had to share the auditorium space for years.

Many of the school’s organizations have had to practice in subpar conditions and could not thoroughly prepare for their performances.

Schlotman said that it has been in the plans for a while to do something with the auditorium, but the funds had never before been available.

Once the district acquired the tax return money, however, the renovation finally became possible.

“For the auditorium, I am most excited about no longer having to perform high level music in a cafeteria,” Dan Barnhill said. “The auditorium will provide a great space for many different groups in our school and community.”

Choir director Lauren Barnhill said that the whole school will benefit by having an auditorium that is not used as a classroom. It will open up space for other groups to use, such as guest speakers, awards nights, traveling shows, and in-school performances.

Choir Director Lauren Barnhill

Still, Lauren Barnhill feels that the choir students will be most heavily impacted by these improvements.

“I am excited about the addition of our new choir room and auditorium because I was told so many times that it would never happen,” she said. “In my 12 years teaching at (Boone), I have considered moving to another school on several different occasions simply because of the poor conditions in which I teach. Our school is far behind other schools in our district in these areas and even farther behind other schools in the state. We are the only successful high school choral program that I know of that meets without a classroom.”

Wharton believes that after twenty plus years of not having a space of their own, the choir deserves their own stable rehearsal room.

Lauren Barnhill said that with the addition of a larger auditorium and choral room, her members won’t have to constantly be moving around the choir props whenever there are other activities going on in the auditorium.

“Many people don’t realize that any time there is a play, we have to completely change how and where we rehearse, which is a huge obstacle for our program,” she said.

Her class shares the auditorium space with drama classes, school plays, award ceremonies, and productions from other schools.

Having a choir classroom will also mean having the ability to do more things, because the choirs won’t be reinventing their classroom several times throughout the year. It will allow the members to focus on the content of their class and not worry about how or where they will practice or perform.

According to Lauren Barnhill, a personal choir classroom will do much more for her students than just simplifying and lessening the struggles during rehearsal.

“Having a space of our own makes my students feel more respected by our district,” she said. “I am happy that they will have a performance space that reflects the high quality of music that they perform.”

The auditorium only seats 280 spectators and has no backstage space, exits, or storage. At one point, the district had to build a wall that would allow students to be able to exit from backstage during a performance; these are all issues that would be expected with an auditorium built over 70 years ago.

“I hope that this addition means that our district is setting a new standard for arts support within our district,” Lauren Barnhill said.

Dan Barnhill agreed.

“It is so exciting to have a facility that will take our exemplary music programs to the next level,” he said.

Natural grass field will be turfed

The combination of a week of soccer and Friday night football games during fall takes a toll on Boone’s grass field.

Fortunately, the time has finally come for the dirt to be replaced with turf.

After the last football or soccer game of the 2020 season, the construction of the new turf field will begin.

To what extent the track will be modified is dependent upon the deconstruction process, said athletic director Lance Melching. That would mean no home track meets for the 2021 season.

From soccer to softball, the renovations will impact many of the school’s athletic teams.

“Because we’re landlocked and we do not have a practice field, football and soccer and baseball and softball all have had to share the same spaces,” Melching told the NKY Tribune. “As you can imagine, that puts quite a burden on those fields and none are in great shape by the end of the fall season. Now we will be able to lessen the burden on the existing fields as well as keep our kids on campus more often.”

Both the boys and girls soccer teams have to drive to the Boone County Peewee Football Field after school for practice, while the football teams have to use the baseball and softball outfields as a training space, consequently putting holes and divots in the dirt. Not only would a turf field allow training to be held at Boone, but the renovation would increase the quality of play for all Boone sports affected.

“(Having a turf field would be an) excellent opportunity to allow our athletes the competitive balance with all the other schools in the area,” girls soccer coach Mike Hughes said.

He has been hoping for a turf field since he joined the program in 2007, a dream that nearly all of his teams have shared.

For Hughes’ team, having a turf field will allow his players to train and play on a quality surface, as well as give them the opportunity to play at their highest level.

He said that playing on a turf and grass field are entirely different experiences, and that most of their opponents train on a turf field.

Sophomore goalkeeper Hailey Carter agreed. She said that diving during a game will be much easier because the ball will not take unexpected turns when it hits holes, and she will no longer be diving on top of mud and rocks.

Carter said that not only will it be easier to get to practices, but less games will be canceled due to a muddy field, and training on the home field will yield better results for her team.

Hughes said that injury wise, females are 75% less likely to get injured on a turf field compared to a grass field.

For the football team, freshman Jamarion Hocker said that having a turf field would make the game easier.

He said that with a turf field, the players wouldn’t slip and slide in the mud when trying to cut and make throws.

Both Hocker and Carter said they are excited to be given this opportunity.