“It may not be the easy way, but it’s the Cowboy way.”
This message is displayed along the wall of Cooper City High’s brand new state-of-the-art weight room. On January 24, at 8:15 a.m., a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held in order to commemorate the immense transformation of the facility.
The ceremony began with brief introductions and refreshments for attendees in the CCHS media center. The event was attended by CCHS administrators Principal Wendy Doll and 11th Grade Assistant Principal Robert Herzog. Others in attendance included the major coordinators of the reconstruction, along with various Broward County school board members, including Superintendent Robert Runcie and District 6 Commissioner Laurie Rich-Levinson.
The reconstruction coordinators made the room’s renovation a success and the cooperation between the different departments of the county allowed the project to run smoothly.
“So I asked Shawn [Cerra] and his team to ensure that they had a good strong representation of women on the committee that was looking at what goes into the weight rooms… the bond money and the commitment to the community with the weight rooms [demand] they work for everybody.”
“We had to present a compelling case to the school board, and our school board members— especially Ms. Levinson here— gave us the authorization to secure the funding and prioritize the work,” Superintendent Runcie said. “Then we need to ensure that the teams in this work are [keeping this as] a priority; we ask questions, timelines [and] status, because these projects have been very important to us.”
Construction of the new weight room began in May of 2018 and was finalized around early December. Before the renovation, the CCHS weight room was in dire need of improvement— it wasn’t of much use for student-athletes and didn’t really catalyze any improvement of school teams.
Not only did the project have a huge impact on the athletic department at CCHS, but also that of other Broward County high schools. The implementation of the rooms, in particular, is a facet of the SMART Bond, a county-wide initiative to improve schools in various ways.
“The S stands for safety, and [that includes] single-point-of-entries in all of our schools and fire sprinklers and fire alarms,” District 6 Commissioner Laurie Rich-Levinson said, “The M is for music and art; we had over 50,000 music instruments [delivered out to schools] and art kilns was the other piece of that. Athletics [include] the weight rooms. The R is for renovations, and the T is for technologies.”
The countywide budget created for the gym renovation portion of the SMART Bond allocated $121,000 per school— subject to vary based on the school’s personal preferences and the resources available to them.
Besides improving the logistics and quality of schools through the bond, school board members also hope to increase student enthusiasm toward the programs the schools provide, as well as making these activities appealing to all.
“I hope it encourages kids for both taking pride in the new weight room and maintaining it, and wanting to sign up for it because it’s a great place to work out.”
“One of the things that our team was very specific about was that sometimes weight rooms and companies that build weight rooms have a tendency to build them for men, or perhaps football or a particular sport,” Chief Portfolio Services officer Leslie Brown said. “So I asked Shawn [Cerra] and his team to ensure that they had a good strong representation of women on the committee that was looking at what goes into the weight rooms. Not only because of Title 9 requirements, but also because the bond money and the commitment to the community with the weight rooms [demand] they work for everybody.”
All in all, the weight room transformation— and the further implementation of school improvement programs within CCHS— provides the Cowboys with a fresh new facility and encourages students to participate in the different activities the school has to offer.
“Right now, flag football and softball are using [the weight room], which are two girls’ sports,” Principal Doll said. “I hope it encourages kids for both taking pride in the new weight room and maintaining it, and wanting to sign up for it because it’s a great place to work out.”
Photo by Emma Huerta