The event was the school’s annual parent teacher organization auction to raise funds to replace fall festival and school spirit items destroyed when the April 27, 2011, tornadoes hit the gym.
The gym was packed with parents and community members as items, many of them specialized by students, were sold.
“It looks like home,” Michigan Avenue principal Robert Brittingham said.
A certificate of occupancy was received on the one -year anniversary of the 2011 tornadoes, according to Cason Conn of Tricon Inc.
“Our goal when we started construction was to have it completed on the one-year anniversary,” Conn said.
Michigan Avenue celebrated the completion with a school assembly on the day the certificate was received.
“I didn’t want to make it a somber event at all,” Brittingham said.
The principal said he wanted to focus on the progress that had been made and celebrate it. Many teachers made the connection to the significance of the date, and were touched by it, he said.
“When next year comes I hope these kids have forgotten about the tornado,” Brittingham said.
He hopes that students, as well as the school, will be able to move on and look to the future.
An official dedication of the gymnasium is being planned for early next school year, Brittingham said.
He hopes the event will be held within the first few weeks of school, but nothing has been decided, yet.
The only missing pieces of the project are the bleachers and sporting equipment, which are set to be installed in June. The gym walls will also be personalized with murals at a later date.
In the renovation, the structure was expanded by 16 feet. Other modifications included making the new stage handicapped accessible, a rubberized floor and office space for the physical education teacher.
Throughout the process, construction crews worked to be conscious of their effect on the schools everyday operations.
“They were very protective about being out of the way when they saw children and parents needing to leave,” Brittingham said.
He said crews also stopped noisy work during testing to help students concentrate.
Construction was scheduled to take advantage of when school was not in session.
“It’s been an aggressive timeline,” Conn said.
The insurance process took a couple of months and the company worked closely with the insurance company throughout this time.