Hansberry College Prep Celebrates New Gym Renovation

This photo shows a group of Hansberry student-athletes with Noble Schools CEO Constance Jones, Principal Kashawndra Wilson, and Illinois State Representative Justin Slaughter standing on the bleachers of the new Hansberry gym renovation, smiling and clapping after cutting the ribbon at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Principal Wilson holds the large pair of shiny gold scissors that were used to cut the ribbon, which is now lying on the floor.

When Victor B., a junior and basketball player at Hansberry College Prep, first walked into the recently renovated gymnasium, he felt like he was in somebody else’s space. The once cramped, dimly-lit space was transformed—new bleachers, floors, and windows widening and brightening the space. While it took some time to get used to, Victor now feels proud to call it his home court.

“I feel like this is my gym now. Like, yeah, I go to Hansberry!—you see how we look now?” Victor said during last week’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, smiling at the big windows above the shiny new bleachers.

A gif that shows that transition from the old gym at Hansberry College Prep to the newly renovated gym. You can see a stark contrast in the quality of the floor and in how open and bright the space looks.

A before and after look at the Hansberry College Prep gymnasium.

The renovation has significantly upgraded the space—installing new, state-of-the-art floors, bleachers, and basketball hoops and increasing the seating capacity to over 300. This project is the result of a years-long effort by Hansberry and Noble Support Team staff, who partnered with IL State Representative Justin Slaughter to get the funding needed.

Slaughter and Victor joined dozens of students and staff at last Friday’s ceremony.

“I’ve been here several times, but, you know, I must say, I think this takes the cake in terms of what we’re celebrating here today,” Slaughter said to the crowd, “… What we’re doing here is expanding critical programming for our young ones—critical initiatives allowing for significantly more event space.”

The energy was high as Slaughter and Noble’s CEO Constance Jones spoke to the crowd. The Bengal Dance Collective, Hansberry’s championship-winning dance team, also performed for the first time in the new space.

This photo shows Illinois State Representative Justin Slaughter speaking behind a podium at the Hansberry College Prep new gym renovation ribbon-cutting ceremony. Behind him, Noble Schools' CEO Constance Jones is sitting on the brand new bleachers.

Photo shows the Hansberry College Prep dance team sitting with their instructor on the brand new bleachers at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Hansberry's new gym renovation.

Hansberry's dance team, the Bengal Dance Collective, take a group photo on the brand new bleachers with their instructor, Ms. Lemon. They are all excited to perform in the new gym.

This photo shows Hansberry College Prep's dance team performing in front of the new bleachers for the gym renovation ribbon-cutting ceremony. Three dancers are leaping in the air in front while the dancers behind them are kneeling.

The dance team's first performance in the new gym at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Students are excited about how the new gym will help them build community.

“We pass each other in the hallway and don’t really see each other. But if we sit next to each other, we have the opportunity to have a conversation,” Tiana G., a senior and member of the Bengal Dance Collective, said, “Maybe you will meet somebody new on the bleachers.”

Samuel F., a senior and player on the varsity basketball team, is looking forward to having more fans come to cheer them on.

“I am very excited about the new gym because that means more fans can come because all the games typically sell out, and now there is room for more of my friends and family to check me out,” Samuel said.

Teachers, both coaches and non-coaches alike, are also ecstatic about the completed renovation because of how it will improve the student experience.

“That’s what we’re most excited about. We want the kids to really enjoy being at Hansberry and having that space will allow us to do a lot more big events for everybody,” Delisa Greene, the athletic director and dean of students at Hansberry, said. She said, right now, they’re planning a big staff versus students basketball game to kick off these school community events.

This photo shows a crowd of people sitting in chairs on a gym floor clapping and looking in the same direction at the Hansberry College Prep ribbon-cutting ceremony for their new gym renovation.

A crowd of staff, students, and community members, clap as the ribbon is cut on Hansberry's new gym renovation.

This photo shows a young Hansberry College Prep student and dance team member, Tiana G, speaking at a podium in front of the brand new bleachers.

Tiana G. kicks off the ribbon-cutting event as the student speaker.

This is a group photo of all the speakers for Hansberry College Prep's gym ribbon-cutting ceremony. They are smiling and standing in front of the new bleachers.

All the speakers for the ribbon-cutting ceremony pose together in front of the new bleachers. From left to right: Constance Jones, Tiana G., Principal Kashawndra Wilson, and IL State Rep. Justin Slaughter.

“I’m excited to have a new and improved space that will benefit staff and students alike,” Erin Greer, a college & career counselor at HCP, said, “The new gym will give us more opportunities to build community during lunch, encourage our students to value their physical health and wellness, cheer our students on during sporting events, and celebrate important milestones together.”

The head junior varsity basketball coach and PE teacher, Kenneth Boyd, is thinking a lot about how the renovation will create new opportunities for athletics.

“It is amazing to have more space. It’ll help facilitate more opportunities for workouts and more space for movement,” Boyd said, “This is a long time coming.”

For Coach Al Brooks, one of the project’s biggest advocates and head coach for HCP’s boys’ varsity basketball team, this really has been a long time coming. He’s been at Hansberry for 10 years and has been an integral part of building and developing the athletics program at the school. The renovation is a dream come true for him.

“It has been a dream of mine to have a place worthy of the blood, sweat, and tears put into building the sports programs at Hansberry,” Coach Brooks said, “The gym will renew that feeling of joy over and over in the building as we build lasting memories, experiences, and relationships with our Bengals families in it.”

Victor can’t wait to build future memories with his team in the new gym.

“I’m proud to be a champion,” Victor said, referring to his team’s recent win at the Noble League Championship, “We’re gonna bring another one home next year, and there’s gonna be more people here to witness it.”

This photo shows the Hansberry College Prep boys' varsity basketball team all posing and smiling in front of a white backdrop with the HCP logo repeated on it.

Victor B. (second from left) smiles brightly with his teammates on the Hansberry boys' varsity basketball team.

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