Walker Natatorium Makes a Big Splash at Groundbreaking at KHS
Electricity was in the air on Aug. 6, as rain, lightning and thunder delayed the Kirkwood School District “Splashbreaking” for The Walker Natatorium on the campus of Kirkwood High School.
An audience of more than 300, which included students, parents and community members, attended the event, which had to be moved indoors to the school's Denver Miller Gymnasium. Greeting them was the KHS Band, playing the “Pioneer Fight Song.”
The rain clearly didn’t dampen the crowd's excitement, as Earl E. and Myrtle E. Walker Foundation trustees and District officials kicked off the official groundbreaking of The Walker Natatorium. A rendering of the outside of the facility that will house the pool was on display and an outline of the future site of the pool was drawn on the ground with chalk and set off by balloons.
Principal Dr. Mike Havener welcomed everyone to the high school and introduced the foundation trustees who were in attendance: Nance (Walker) Frost, Peggy (Walker) Swisher and Brian Humes.
Two student athletes, Sóley Hyman and Jared Hankinson, spoke about the students' excitement for the natatorium and expressed gracious “thank yous” to the trustees.
As Hyman said in her speech during the ceremony, “While the announcement of the grant for the pool was made over four months ago, it still feels like a dream.
“Many schools have families who donate money to help improve their schools,” she continued, “but only Kirkwood has the Walkers. Without them, our community and high school would not be the same. Without them, we would not have Walker Lake or Walker Park, the Walker Commons or the orchestra pit in the Keating Theatre, the Walker Science Building, Myrtle’s Turtles, and now, finally, The Walker Natatorium at Kirkwood High School!”
The crowd was definitely in agreement as trustee Frost stepped up to the podium and received a standing ovation. She thanked everyone on behalf of her mother, Mrs. Walker, and the other five trustees, and encouraged everyone to get involved in raising funds for an endowment, which will protect the pool for generations of Pioneers.
As Hankinson mentioned in his speech, his younger brother, who attends North Glendale Elementary School, already is poised to join the effort to endow the pool. Prior to the announcement of the grant to build the natatorium, Jared’s brother was planning his own fundraising efforts by selling lemonade and soliciting donations.
“The point of my story is to show that the need for a pool isn’t just for current high school students,” Hankinson said. “The Walker Natatorium will provide a home for water-sport athletes and (help) teach swimming and fitness for years to come.”
The event ended with the trustees leading high school and District officials in volleying beach balls, imprinted with The Walker Natatorium logo, into the crowd as the KHS Pioneer Pride Marching Band led the attendees in “Varsity Valor” and “Hail! Kirkwood High School!”
The weather began to clear at the conclusion of the event and a group of students completed an impromptu water-balloon salute, representing the year the construction will be complete (2015), by launching 20 red and 15 white water balloons into the chalk-outlined space of the future Walker Natatorium. Dignitaries, including trustees and staff members, also splashed water from commemorative galvanized metal buckets onto the area where the new competitive swimming pool will be constructed.
Attendees mingled and enjoyed snow cones, checked out Walker Natatorium apparel and also learned about endowment opportunities.