JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – Addressing a crowd at the opening of the Richland School District’s new tennis courts on Friday, Superintendent Arnold Nadonley said it was a “big day” for the district.
“We are very proud to hand this over to our students,” he said.
As part of Rachel Hill’s roughly $ 2 million demolition project, the current elementary school entrance plaza has been redone, including additional parking, a new basketball court and a tennis, among other improvements. There are six new courts in the district’s red and blue colors, two of which will be available for public use.
“It’s really exciting,” said senior Melanie Gerko.
She was at the inauguration as a member of the women’s tennis team, which she has played for since she was a freshman. Knowing that she has new grounds to play on in her final year of school means the world to her, she said.
“We were just hoping they would be ready to play,” said Gerko.
Prior to the construction of the campus facilities, Richland’s tennis teams played on the courts on Luray Avenue.
Friday’s groundbreaking ceremony featured comments from people connected to the school, from former board member Kathy Glattke to current board member Julian Beglin.
“We are thrilled to have this new tennis facility on our own Richland campus,” said Bonnie Kidd, Richland athletic director.
The demolition of the old primary school started about a year ago. This work paved the way for improvements, although Nadonley said the original goal was laid out 14 years ago in the district’s master plan. He credited the foresight of the old Richland school boards for making this moment possible.
Boys and girls tennis coach Bill Stanko said he appreciates the investment in the sport.
“I think it’s great,” he said of the new courts, adding that he thought they would help get more students interested in playing.
Vignesh Elangovan, a recent Richland graduate and former tennis team member who returned for the event, was happy to see the additions.
“It shows that Richland really cares about all of his programs,” he said.
Elangovan agreed the courts could attract more students to the sport and said he could return Friday night to play.
Nadonley said building the courts was an investment in the community that shows Richland is more than an educational institution.
Joshua Byers is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 814-532-5054. Follow him on Twitter @Journo_Josh.