What’s up with the Dome?

No one can see in. No light can escape. No updates have been given. The previous location of crowd pleasing points, celebrations of school spirit and worship services, sits closed off from the community of Walsh Jesuit High School.

Although it opened along with the school in 1964, the main gymnasium has never been significantly renovated. Until now.

The Dome has always been an important part of Walsh Jesuit’s campus and culture, used by the school and greater community. “When I first came to watch a girl’s varsity basketball game, the first thing I noticed was how cool the Dome was,” reflected sophomore basketball player Gianna Anderson.

The new floor shines as the Dome renovation nears completion. (Anna Solomon)

Senior Kyle Miller commented on the structure’s history of water leaks and other issues. “It seemed like every time I walked outside, from 9th to 12th grade, there was always a construction team up there.”

Kyle misses the pep rallies and Masses that were held in the Dome. He said, “Hopefully the renovations will fix the constant issues, but it’s just really unfortunate timing for the class of 2022.”

The funding to update the Dome and build the weight room came from generous gifts of the Klein, Romanini, and Alberty families. The main focus of the project was replacing the floor.

When the gym was first built, concrete was poured under what would become the basketball court. The concrete dried unevenly, so a layer of cork was placed on top to make the surface level. This was covered with wood flooring which was then painted and sealed.

Every two years, the floor of the Dome was sanded and coated with a new poly resin. “We could not have sanded it another time; all that was left was the nails,” said Mr. Karl Ertle, president of Walsh Jesuit.  The floor also contained asbestos, a mineral fiber found in rocks and soil that can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis if inhaled over long periods of time.

The previous floor, photographed here,  could no longer be sanded down again and used safely. The replacement floor will also reflect a logo in keeping with the school’s new direction on the topic. (Anna Solomon)

The new asbestos-free, floating floor was installed by the Cincinnati Floor Company, who installed the Cavs’ court at Rocket Mortgage and their courts in Independence. The main feature of a floating floor is its high shock absorption which leads to fewer and more benign injuries. “It’s better than what colleges have!” exclaimed Mr. Ertle.

The roof was replaced last year in preparation for the current construction project. Foam paneling was added to improve the acoustics, and the gym will be fully air conditioned.

New bleachers will back up against the Commons kitchen to increase the capacity by 110 spectators. The locker rooms located off the Dome will also receive new carpeting.

“I’m most excited that our students will have more facilities that are state-of-the-art and along the same outstanding caliber as our spirituality, education, and service,” said Mr. Ertle.

The school is planning to open the Dome for all students in late October. All basketball games and practices will be held there.

Reaghan Norton, a junior basketball player, joins other students in looking forward to using the new Dome. “I am excited to play in the Dome because I can’t wait to see what it looks like. But I’m sure it’ll be super nice,” she said.