The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

A Splash From the Past

Today’s weight room was once a natatorium where students learned to swim
1957 Gristmill
Swimmers launch from the starting blocks for a backstroke heat during a 1957 swim meet held at the high school’s pool.

The history of the high school is not nearly as dry as you would expect.

The high school was built in 1931, and one of its original features was a swimming pool.

The district sealed the pool in 1991 because by that time, the Woodbury and middle school pools were larger, newer and in better condition than the high school pool. In a Sept. 27, 1991 Shakerite article, former Principal Jack Rumbaugh said that the high school swimming pool would be renovated to a multipurpose room due to a lack of use and “serious mechanical problems.”

The multipurpose room was used for activities ranging from Raiderette practice to theater rehearsal, standardized testing and band class. During the 2020-21 school year, the room was renovated again to become the weight room.

Remnants of the pool exist in its former home. Bleachers where spectators could watch swimming events remain. Additionally, the hallway outside the weight room was once a part of the natatorium, the room that housed the pool; door frames and tile are still visible.

A Shakerite story published on Sept. 27, 1991, just before the pool was sealed over and after a minor cafeteria renovation was completed. Principal Jack Rumbaugh cited lack of use and mechanical issues as the reason for the pool closure. (Will Stewart)

Former physical education teacher Jill Woodard was hired as a swim instructor for the high school in 1985. She said the room was beautiful, with tiling along the walls and floors and long brass poles to help you get in and out of the pool. “It had every amenity appointment that you could want at the time, but it wasn’t deep in terms of a competition-type pool,” Woodard said. “They used to have a synchronized swimming team, and they would do their performances in there.”

“It had become not a competition-type pool, so we used it for instruction,” Woodard said. Learning to swim was a requirement for freshmen. Students had to pass a swimming test, and the goal was that every student who graduated from the high school would be able to swim.

Woodard said closing the pool in 1991 was the best decision. “The heater would often break, and we would have to wait for a part,” Woodard said. “There were just logistics as it went forward that it didn’t make sense to keep it going.”

She said that the pool’s closure was well received when it happened because the multipurpose room could better accommodate the changing needs of the school.

The 1953 synchronized swimming team, knows as The Sharcs, forms a human pyramid in the high school pool. (1953 Gristmill Photo)

Said Woodard, “I think everything that [the district has] done has been spot-on in terms of evolving and matching people’s needs where they go, because students are always changing, staff always change, and so facilities are going to change, too.”

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  • Coach Lowery | May 13, 2024 at 9:58 am

    Multi purpose room Housed the Shaker Wrestling Team for over 20 years before they renovated and got their own space while creating the new amazing weight room!