The makeover is already underway at School of the Osage.
With the backing of voters on a $23 million bond issue last April and the resources of a capital improvement fund, visible changes are taking place with numerous facilities on campus receiving upgrades and athletics are among the primary beneficiaries.
“It is exciting for our community because of the support we get from them,” said Devin Johnson who serves as the head coach of the football and boys’ track and field programs and noted that the upgrades can be enjoyed by all and not just the athletic programs. “To know they came out there and voted to approve all these building upgrades is huge for us as a program. In the big picture, it is big for our school… and it has been really fun to see our buildings get upgraded.”
After the installation of a new press box and turf field last summer, a new scoreboard at the stadium went up this past spring and construction on the parking lot at the high school and Upper Elementary kicked off the day after the school year ended. However, that was just the beginning of a number of projects that the district intends to have all completed by the end of 2019.
“I think that if you want to be successful in your bonds and growth, you have to set timelines, they have to be short and people have to see results and so forth,” Activities Director Clinton Hague noted. “Once you follow through on that, you are going to have more and more support each time you do that. It is very important that you have goals, you meet your goals and you follow through with what you say you are going to do.”
In terms of athletics, the work is just getting started.
The softball field will feature a new scoreboard that is consistent with those seen at the stadium and baseball fields and there will also be a new backstop and netting that is identical to the one seen at the baseball field. Right by the softball field, a sidewalk is also being put in that will allow people to avoid any muddy fields on their path to the tennis complex.
The stadium will also see the addition of a new field house that will stand near the existing one, which has housed locker rooms and the concession stand. The new 9,000 square-foot structure, similar in size to its predecessor, will be two stories and double the space featuring new locker rooms and a storm shelter in the bottom while additional classroom space, a meeting room and new possible offices sit above. The original field house will also see an upgrade with additional locker room space, restrooms and a larger concession area.
“The oldest building on campus is actually our field house if you don’t count Heritage (Elementary) because of the renovations done there. There has been a lot of need down there at that field house… and when I was here in high school it felt like it was old then so it has definitely been something that has needed a tuneup or touchup,” Johnson pointed out.
“Our guys are appreciative and our seniors are thinking, ‘Man, I wish I had one more year’ because the field house won’t be quite done until their freshman year in college. It is good for our guys and makes it safer… and it is better for our guests. We have to keep our opponents at the school, which is 300 yards away, and now they can be right next to the field next year.”
Also on the agenda is the expansion of the practice field near the turf field, which will be expanded by about 60 yards according to Hague. Hague went on to note that several thousand dollars were saved in this process by transitioning the rubble from the parking lot to the field instead of having to move it off site, which would have required more trucks. With the expansion, the javelin throw can now take place near the track instead of by the softball field at the back of the campus.
The middle school campus is also included in the makeover. Hague said that by next year the intention is to have middle school football practices take place at the high school instead of behind the middle school so those teams may have better access to equipment and locker rooms. As a result, the intention is to also have the field behind the middle school transition to a soccer field that will serve as the home of all Osage games with the addition of fencing, a scoreboard and bleachers.
Last but not least, some changes will be taking place inside as well as the high school gym will have new paint, new lighting and new basketball goals that will raise and lower while new bleachers will be installed during Christmas break.
There is plenty to be done, but Hague emphasized that the endeavor was well worth it.
“I just think it is good because you are just continually improving and that is what everybody wants is to see improvement whether you are getting better on the field, in your facilities or in the classroom,” the activities director said. “Continued improvement is why I came here and chose to come to Osage because they have the means to be successful in that way and it is not like that everywhere.
“That is really what people need to understand is that there are a lot of opportunities for growth here these kids have that kids across the state are not seeing. We just want to continue to get better and use our resources in the right way.”