TOM BEAN — It is the end of an era in the city of Tom Bean. As Tom Bean Elementary prepares for renovation and expansion, the community is preparing a send-off celebration for the school’s gymnasium, which served the school district for decades.

TOM BEAN — It is the end of an era in the city of Tom Bean. As Tom Bean Elementary prepares for renovation and expansion, the community is preparing a send-off celebration for the school’s gymnasium, which served the school district for decades.


Voters in Tom Bean passed a $10 million bond in April to fund renovations and build some new facilities on the campus of Tom Bean Elementary. The project, which is expected to begin in early December, will involve the demolition and reconstruction of the main office, kitchen, cafeteria, transportation building, library, gymnasium, and fourth and fifth grade wings, said Tom Bean Independent School District Superintendent Kathy Garrison. The project will also fund the renovation of the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten wing, first and second grade wing, and the third grade wing, said Garrison.


The renovations will be used to alleviate overcrowding at the school, address safety concerns, update the technology in the school and bring the school into compliance with Texas Education Agency regulations by increasing the square footage of classrooms. Safety concerns that will be addressed include: updating the security cameras in the school and adding extra security to school entrances, relocating the playground away from Highway 11 and separating bus and car drop-off locations.


The project is not expected to affect classes at the school. Construction is expected to begin with the transportation building and bus maintenance building in December. The construction on the classroom buildings is expected to take place over the summer break, said Garrison. The entire project is scheduled to wrap-up in late 2014.


On Tuesday night, the gymnasium, which was built in 1936 and served as home for Tom Bean High School basketball for over 50 years, will see one final game as a send-off before it is scheduled to be demolished. The boys and girls high school basketball teams will play a non-district game against Savoy in the gymnasium in what Head Basketball Coach Wes Chapman is calling a ‘throwback night."


"I am trying to give (the gymnasium) one last hoorah," said Chapman.


As a part of the event, both Tom Bean teams will be wearing uniforms previously used by the school. The cheerleaders are also planning on using previous versions of the Tom Bean cheerleader uniform. Chapman also said he has arranged for the team to run out to music from the decades when the gym was in use for district basketball.


"At the end of the game, we are looking to ask anyone who has ever played here to come down onto the court for a photo," said Chapman.


The gymnasium holds fond memories for many people in the community. The gym once held the banners from the four consecutive district championships the boys basketball team won in the 1940s, and three consecutive championships the girls basketball team won in the 1970s.


"It’s crazy," said coach Chad Ashlock, who has taught in Tom Bean for 19 years, "my first experience with varsity basketball was in that gym."


Ashlock recalled a popular story he’s heard about the gym decades ago: A police officer had to come in mid-game to keep the peace in a rather volatile game.


Girls basketball coach Bobbie McAdoo graduated from Tom Bean High School in 1975 and has been teaching in the district since 1983. She recalls many events being held at the gymnasium as a child, ranging from basketball games to boxing matches.


She said she remembers weekends when, as a kid, she’d sneak into the gym through the windows with friends and play basketball or other games.


"This last game is just about bringing the community together one last time before (the gymnasium) gets torn down," said McAdoo.