New gymnasium to usher in future for Heber Elementary School

Heber Elementary School Board members and community members shovel the first of many piles of dirt Oct. 5 to break ground for the new Heber Elementary School gym.

HEBER — Heber Elementary School broke ground Oct. 5 for the future home of the new school gymnasium that school officials and community members expect will push the school into the future and improve student experience and education in Heber.

The gym will be built with funds from Measure J, a bond that was approved by 82 percent of the Heber community in 2015. Under former Superintendent Jaime Silva, the board was able to push the $6 million measure. Silva recognized the need in the Heber community, and with board members, went from door to door to explain measure, and ultimately, get it passed.

“Our community had been growing and Heber school needed to provide amenities for facilities equal to schools of this size,” said Silva.

Pompeyo Tabares, the board president in 2015 and now a current board member, said the board agreed with Silva that now was the time for a new gym. They noted other schools around the Valley have been building gyms due to an increase in usage, and an acknowledgement that students need them.

“Everyone wanted a gym, because now they see that sports really generates and helps with education as well as healthy living standards,” said Tabares.

Heber Elementary has more than 600 students, and 1,200 total for the whole school district. The new gym will be available to all students as well as the community once it is opened.

Current Heber Superintendent Juan Cruz said the gym will be a state of the art facility with lockers, showers, two classrooms, and an overall sound structure. He said he hopes the community will benefit from having the gym on campus.

“It is essentially vital to our program, and healthy lifestyles and exercise are such an important part of our curriculum and our students’ wellbeing,” said Cruz.

The gym will give students the chance to have Physical Education classes out of the heat indoors, officials said. Tabares added that the gym will also give junior high athletes a place to practice. Currently, basketball and volleyball teams have to travel to other cities like El Centro and Calexico in order to practice.

“I would prefer to practice in a gym where I didn’t have to fear diving for the ball on cement,” said ASB President Sophia Lomeli about the future gym.

The project is scheduled to be finished September 2018, in time for the new school year.  Cruz said they want the grand opening to coincide with open house next year, and he hopes to see everyone there.