The weather may have been cool and wet for Browning School District 9’s welcome back events held on Thursday, Aug. 22, at Arrowhead Stadium, but things cleared up on Friday for a double groundbreaking held at Browning Middle School (BMS) and at Browning High School (BHS).
Browning School Board members were joined by middle school staff and BPS administrators at BMS Friday morning, as well as Tim Peterson and Mike Anderson with Sletten Construction, Miss Blackfeet Alia Heavy Runner, Princess Alyssa Blackman and Blackfeet Chairman Tim Davis in groundbreaking ceremonies. Pat and Everett Armstrong sang victory songs, and Pat prayed in Blackfeet, blessing the site and the project.
At Browning Middle School, the original cafeteria was built to hold 60 students, but now serves 280, split into two shifts. Several folding tables accommodating some 160 students are placed between a set of gymnasium bleachers on one side, and two required exit doors that swing into the tables on the other side. Utensils are provided with a can that protrudes into the main corridor width. The line for serving students works through a small corridor that was not intended or designed for that occupant load.
Plans call for turning the old gymnasium into classroom space for the sixth grade since space is running short at Napi Elementary. There will be a new corridor leading to a new gym that will be large enough to contain two regulation size basketball courts, as well as a set of bleachers. Upstairs, the new gym will hold a weight room and office space.
Additionally, BMS will get new boilers. Designed to last around 25 years, the originals are now entering their 40th year of service.
Moving to Browning High School, everybody hiked up the hill opposite the front entrance of the high school as a Sletten rep explained how tens of thousands of tons of earth will be removed from the other side, with the remaining hillside forming one bank for the grandstand. The football field itself will have the 50-yard-line running directly opposite the high school’s front entrance. With the earth removed, the field itself will be lower down, hopefully out of the wind. Not only will the stadium serve as a gridiron for the pigskin players, track and field may also be held there as well as soccer. Other amenities include a practice field, tennis courts and outdoor basketball and volleyball courts. The new stadium will have three levels, with lockers, referee rooms, mechanical and storage on the first level. The main entrance sits on the second floor, as well as an outside concession stand, while the third floor is reserved for elder and handicapped seating.
The Armstrongs sang and prayed at the site, and folks got their backs into throwing dirt with their ceremonial shovels. Then one and all adjourned to the BHS cafetorium for a celebratory lunch.