Gatton students move in to renovated Schneider Hall

Gatton Director Lynette Breedlove has an office in the renovated part of Gatton Academy. Ebony Cox/HERALD

Emma Collins

With the completion of the construction in Schneider Hall, students of the Gatton Academy are able to once again call Schneider home.

Kerra Ogden, project manager, said the construction, which resulted in the closure of Schneider for the 2015-2016 school year, was completed on Aug. 11, just in time for the new junior class to move in on Aug. 14 for the new school year.

During this past school year, the academy students were housed in Bates-Runner Hall, a dorm typically used to house upperclassmen in the Honors College.

The $10 million project, which stayed within budget, included additions to the two wings which will allow for an additional 80 students to be added to the school. Four rooms were added on the end of each of the residential wings, and several old offices were also turned into rooms.

The center of the building was also expanded, and it can now accommodate up to 200 students. The Great Hall, as the expanded area is called, will serve as a place for students to study, attend a weekly seminar and listen to guest speakers.

The former space where students attended the seminars and studied could only hold 120 students. It will now serve as a place where students can socialize.

In addition to adding more rooms, the renovations also included the addition of more office space for staff members. Lynette Breedlove, director of the academy, said an increase in students necessitates an increase in staff members.

Lexington senior and member of the academy Tyler Smith said he approves of the new additions despite the fact that the building is now very different.

“I like it, all the community space we get,” Smith said. “I like how the building promotes a strong community aspect.”

Smith, who lived in Bates during the previous school year, said although Bates is a nice residence hall, it did have its drawbacks. In Bates, residents had to gather in the rooms because of the small common space Bates offered.

“In Gatton we have common spaces, so I guess I’d say [I like] Schneider over Bates,” Smith said.

Smith is one of nearly 160 students who will call the renovated Schneider home for the next two semesters. Breedlove said next year the junior class size will increase to bring the academy’s total enrollment to around 200 students, which was the goal of the renovations.

Breedlove said the idea for the renovations began when the state legislature decided to expand the school to accommodate more students.

“The legislature gave approval for our school to be expanded to 200 students instead of 120 and our building to be renovated in order to house those students,” Breedlove said.

Funding for the project was provided by private donors including the family of Carol Martin “Bill” Gatton, the man who donated money to fund the construction of the academy, which opened in 2007. The two residential wings of the building have been named Henry W. Gatton Senior Wing and Edith Martin Gatton Wing after Bill Gatton’s parents.

Bryan Russell, chief facilities officer, said later this year a dedication of the building is expected to be held.

“[President Gary] Ransdell has reached out to the Gatton family to schedule a dedication, but at this time we have not been notified of when that will occur,” Russell said through email.

Reporter Emma Collins can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected]