New facilities relieve crowding at 4,100-student Hamilton High - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

New facilities relieve crowding at 4,100-student Hamilton High

September 12th, 2018 SanTan Sun News
New facilities relieve crowding at 4,100-student Hamilton High

By Zach Alvira, Sports Editor

Students and faculty at Hamilton High were greeted by new facilities for the 2018-19 school year, including an academic building and athletics field house.

“We began programming the new building during the spring of 2017,” said Terry Locke, Chandler Unified School District director of community relations.

The $6.8 million project was completed this June. It was approved by the district Governing Board in August, 2017. Funding came from a $192 million bond that passed in November, 2015, for capital projects.

With a final cost of just over $2.3 million, the new field house gives the school’s athletic teams additional space.

“The facilities here at Hamilton are pretty top notch,” Hamilton athletic director Brett Palmer said. “The support and financial funding we receive from our district and community is tremendous and we appreciate everything.”

Palmer was hired as Hamilton athletic director in May, replacing Shawn Rustad after he was reassigned in September, 2017, amid sexual-abuse allegations in player hazing within the football program.

Palmer spent the past four years as athletic director at Centennial High in Peoria, which has one of the state’s top football programs.

For Palmer, the position at Hamilton was hard to overlook.

“I’m an East Valley guy born and raised from Tempe. I had an awesome experience at Centennial and worked with some great people,” Palmer said. “But a job like this doesn’t come open often.

“To be a part of this district and the support you receive — not to mention Hamilton is well known for premier athletics across the board — it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

Palmer now oversees all of Hamilton’s athletic facilities, including the new field house that has a 9,585 square-foot weight room.

The weight room has had constant use since its opening, mostly by the football team and boys’ and girls’ soccer academies in the morning. The new locker rooms for the varsity and junior varsity football teams has opened up the old field house, just steps away from the new one, for the soccer teams and Hamilton’s Soccer Academy.

“We are fortunate to have those type of resources and to have a space that we take some ownership in and call our own,” said Dave Belfort, head coach of the Hamilton Soccer Academy. “Obviously having a weight room is great to develop the physical aspect of the game and transform our athletes.”

The soccer academy runs Monday through Friday during first and second periods. Designed for the school’s soccer teams, it uses a combination of weight training, drills and live action to keep players active during the off season.

“We really try to monitor the physical aspect, but still be developing players on and off the field, and to be students of the game. It’s definitely beneficial,” Belfort said. “One of the things I tell parents is that with Hamilton being such a large school it allows players to gain an identity and socialize with each other.”

Along with the field house came a $4.5 million addition to the N Building, adding a wing and second level. The 27,530-square-foot addition brought 20 new classrooms and offices for administrators.

The building now is the hub for all freshman classes.

“High school can be tough, and when you throw freshmen into a large campus like this and have them go across the school, each class can be tough,” Palmer said. “Just the consistency they have with everything in that building is huge for their success as they start to branch out in their high school career.”

With 4,100 students at Hamilton, space for academics was an issue. Now all freshmen are in the same building throughout the day, allowing them to socialize among peers while not having to navigate across campus.

Hamilton continues to see an enrollment growth, even with newer schools nearby. Locke traces that growth to Hamilton’s history in academics.

“Hamilton has a well-earned reputation for achievement in academics, arts and athletics,” Locke said. “The 2018 graduating class earned $36,294,225 in college scholarship offers, 9,642 hours of college credit through AP and Dual Credit classes and performed 25,057 hours of service learning.”

Hamilton also had 22 National Merit Scholarship winners last year, the most of all public schools in the state.

The additions have been well-received by students and faculty. They have improved space issues in the main building.

“It’s been a huge asset and it’s helped alleviate some of the other areas in terms of capacity,” Palmer said. “We are very lucky, fortunate and grateful for what we have. We want to utilize it to the fullest.”

Kimberly Carrillo/Staff Photographer

Hamilton High athletic director Brett Palmer stands in the 9,585 square-foot weight room that is part of the new $2.3 million field house that gives the school’s athletic teams additional space.