The physical education staff at Beaver Dam Middle School has made quite a few changes while the school’s gymnasium is out of commission.

A little over a week before students returned to school, a car allegedly driven by Roy Cortez, 22, Beaver Dam, slammed into the back of the school, which led to a fire. The crash and fire caused damage that closed the school’s large gym, known as The Pond.

Cortez is charged with a felony count of fleeing or eluding an officer causing damage to property. He is scheduled to arraigned Oct. 2.

Staff of Beaver Dam Middle School, especially the athletic department, have tried to make the start of the school year as seamless as possible, while the damage was assessed and repairs begin.

Physical education instructor Katie Schmidt-Hahn said she had a meeting scheduled at the school the day after the crash and got an email saying the meeting was canceled. It wasn’t long after that she saw social media posts and found out what had happened at the school.

“At that point, we didn’t know what the damage would be,” physical education instructor Anna Brady said.

The entire school was closed for days as cleanup and damage assessment took place. The crash had damaged the school’s brick wall, but also started an electrical transformer on fire. Water used to put out the fire entered the building.

“Half the gym had standing water,” Schmidt-Hahn said.

The water got beneath the gym’s wood floor, BDMS athletic director Michael Wood said.

The physical education teachers had already been meeting throughout the summer to work on changing the physical education curriculum from yearlong to be complete in a single semester. The change is an advantage for the current physical education program at the school since only half the students are taking phy. ed. classes this semester, officials said.

The unexpected damage meant more changes, since the gym housed many of the physical education offerings in the school, including a climbing wall, fitness center, locker rooms and offices.

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Physical education instructor Mallory Lindert said they began by borrowing equipment from other schools in the Beaver Dam Unified School District.

The staff knew the only gym available the first semester for physical education classes would be the older gym, which also is used as a lunch room. The orchestra room was also repurposed for the physical education department to create more room, Schmidt-Hahn said.

“It’s the only space we have to use during cold weather during the lunchtimes,” Brady said.

Wood said they worked hard to maintain a normal environment for students and used in-service time to brainstorm ideas and collect equipment.

Brady said they asked, “What can we do with what we have?”

They also knew they could utilize the outdoor physical education area longer this year, Brady said.

The students are not required to change into gym clothes this semester due to not having locker rooms, Lindert said. She said students have been good sports about the changes.

This year’s phy. ed. curriculum added classes such as Zumba and Pilates, Brady said.

The staff also will look at different activities once it turns cold and there is snow to add even more variety, Schmidt-Hahn said. She added school officials hope the larger gym will be open for the second semester.

Follow Terri Pederson on Twitter @tlp53916 or contact her at 920-356-6760.

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