Unique dome gym taking shape at Wasuma Elementary School in Ahwahnee

AHWAHNEE, Calif. (KFSN) -- Teachers in the mountains are busy preparing for the start of school. Monday, class will resume for Wasuma Elementary School in Ahwahnee.

With the start of school quickly approaching, Wasuma Elementary teacher Leslie Peterson is making sure every book and pen has its place.

"I'm looking forward to having them and jumping right in with reading and writing. Second grade is pretty neat," said Peterson.

However, when students head to class Monday, they'll notice one unique building taking shape on campus: the dome gym.

"We're very excited about it. It's going to allow us to have various programs. Our athletics will be able to move inside as opposed to playing basketball and volleyball outside," said Principal Jason Mercier. "It's going to be the only facility of its kind in the Ahwahnee area."

Mercier said the school chose to go with a dome design to be more cost effective and energy efficient.

"There's quite a few of these in the Midwest. This is the first of its kind in a California school," said Mercier. "As you can imagine, a lot of different state agencies are interested in it."

California Dome Builders contractor Glen Lauterbach says the building is durable and even earthquake proof. But as for the shape, he says it's all about thinking outside the box.

"A round dome, you know people kind of get scared of it. How do you put your square furniture inside a round dome? I don't know," said Lauterbach. "I think people will get used to it, and once that happens, maybe it will take off a little."

Lauterbach says his crews have been able to get the dome up and walls constructed, but now it's full speed ahead on the interior work. The 8,000-square-foot gym is being paid for with a bond that was passed by taxpayers. It cost about $2 million, which officials say is considerably less than a traditional gym.

School officials say they're not sure what they'll name their new dome gym, but they may host a contest. The dome gym at Wasuma is expected to be completed this winter.
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