A year and approximately $5 million dollars later, Frankfort High School's F.D. Wilkinson Gymnasium is now open. A grand opening revealing the gymnasium's renovations was held Friday, and on Saturday, students led tours for the public.
"The whole thing is more than I could have hoped for," Jina Greathouse, chair of Frankfort Independent Schools Board of Education, said Saturday during the public tours. "There are lots of really special aspects of the gym that the students are having a good time sharing today."
Renovations included window replacement, water bottle filler stations, lighting replacement, signage, a new gym floor, locker room renovations, bathroom renovations, classroom renovations and more.
In the gym, a four-sided basketball scoreboard is suspended from the ceiling and large video screens hang on the wall at either end of the gym.
"The scoreboard and video boards bring it up to a higher level," Greathouse said.
Frankfort High School Principal Tyler Reed said they opted to put a college basketball court down in hopes to attract college tournaments.
"We may host some smaller college tournaments," Reed said.
Reed also really likes the large video screens.
"We can put the kids' pictures there and have unique things to highlight our students," Reed said.
The principal also said they tried to preserve as much as possible in the renovations
"We were able to preserve the legacy of the building," he said. "The floors on the stage are original. The stands are the same."
Greathouse said, for the most part, the renovations went smoothly.
"I can say that because he was doing the heavy lifting," she said about FIS Chief Operating Officer Bobby Driskell.
"The hardest part was getting 65 years of stuff out of here," Driskell said. "Every closet had something in it."
One of his favorite gems he uncovered during the renovations was a note that was found under the gym floor that was left there in April 1989 after a flood. Before the water could destroy the floor, students and staff picked the floor up and put it on higher ground.
When they laid the floor back down, four students at the time — Greg Miklavcic, Scott Kennedy, David Snyder and Ben Wiley — all signed the note, dated April 1989, and left it under the basketball floor. It was found in November of last year.
“It was pretty easy taking it up,” the note reads. “But it’s a pain in the a-- to put back together!”
As hard as the work was in 1989, so was the current renovation work, but for Driskell, it was all worth it.
"I love the look on peoples' faces when they see it and remember what it looked like," he said. "We have the best gym in Central Kentucky. We’d love to have KSU (Kentucky State University) down here to play some games, and even Coach Cal. The invitation is out there."
FHS senior Diamond Moore was one of the students leading tours of the gymnasium that held it's first basketball game in 1956.
"People are more shocked than anything," she said about people's reactions Saturday.
One of the things people really liked were the renovated bathrooms, which are larger and include several stalls.
"We had all this extra space to change," Moore said.
Moore said the old stage in the gymnasium was transformed into a space where alumni and special guests can sit during games and events. Next to the stage area is a room with tables and chairs where physical education classes will be held.
FHS junior and basketball player Carter Gilbert also helped to lead tours. Gilbert is a big fan of the renovations.
"It’s so much better," Gilbert said. "From the locker room to the bathroom to the water fountains, it's so much nicer than what we had before. My favorite part is coming out of the landings in the bleachers and getting a full view of the gym."
Carter said his teams first home game will be against Christian Education Consortium on Nov. 29.
FHS alum Steve Dungan — who comes from a long line of Frankfort graduates — toured the facility on Saturday.
"My mom graduated here in 1944," Dungan said, "my grandmother before that — I graduated in '73."
Seeing the gym was really special to him, because he played basketball in high school.
"It’s great to see that something old is made new," he said. "It means so much to FHS. I love what they’ve done with it."