Bowling Green Middle School

CIVICS LESSON: Student Lighthouse Council leaders, from left to right, Gavin Outlaw, Lily Bowen, Audrey Lovell and Miranda Orf, stand on the refinished gym floor. They wanted it for their class and those classes that will follow theirs in the years to come. Photo by Stan Schwartz

BOWLING GREEN—If you’re looking for an applicable civics lesson in this community, then you need go no farther than the Bowling Green Middle School.

It was a simple request from their school principal, David Koogler; use some of the money they raise during the school year to help with the cost to refinish their gymnasium floor.

“I told the kids last spring that if you follow the program, I’ll make sure to get you guys in the paper,” said David Koogler. He is not one to go back on his word, so he contacted the Bowling Green Times to outline how a group of seventh-graders made the decision to help not only their class, but all the grades that use the middle school gym now, and possibly for the next 50 years.

The gym floor had not been redone in 50 years, Koogler explained.

“It cost about $14,000 to get the whole thing sanded down and redone. The kids appropriated a bunch of money from their SLC budget (Student Lighthouse Council). They make money through concession stands and by charging for dances and things like that. They’ve been making some money lately. So, each year for the past couple of years, they’ve been working on a school improvement project. One year they got water bottle filling stations. Last year, there were about 21 kids (the group), and I drew up this power point, so I could sell them on the idea of using some of the money for the gym floor. They voted on it. Twenty voted yes, one voted no.”

Koogler only made the pitch; it was up to the students to make the decision and then vote on what to do with their funds.

SLC President Gavin Outlaw said of the gym floor, “It just needed it, and it is something the entire school can use.”

The other SLC leaders agreed.

“We needed to redo the floor. The last one was old, had cracks and the sidelines were crooked,” said Audrey Lovell, secretary for the SLC.

Lily Bowen said, “I thought we needed a new gym floor. (The old one) was too slippery and dangerous. I feel like we have not had a new one in a long time and it needed an upgrade.”

Aesthetically speaking, Miranda Orf said, “The old floor really looked nasty and it was very slick. People were falling and getting hurt.”

In July, Koogler contacted a company that specializes in redoing gym floors for colleges and high schools in the state. 

“It was Charles Luebbert. He did all the floors at Mizzou and all across the state.

“They started on a Saturday morning, and by Tuesday morning they were all done. It’s top notch, and it just looks gorgeous.”

Koogler is originally from Wynona, Mo., a small town in southern Missouri. He majored in political science at the university of Missouri and planned on going to law school, but that was about when the big recession hit.

“A lot of the law jobs dried up overnight, so I went back to school to get my master’s in teaching.” From there, he took a job in Columbia, South America for two years. After he returned to the U.S., Koogler took a teaching job in Jackson, Mo., where his soon-to-be wife was working. And eventually he landed the principal position at Bowling Green’s Middle School.

Outlaw said, “I really like the new logo in the middle. This represents our school much better than a plain circle at half court. It makes the school look more professional.”

“I really like the new floor, “ Orf added. “It is not near as slick. The colors are vibrant, lively, and look much better!”

Bowen said, “There is more traction and you do not slip or slide. I like the new design with the interlocking BG instead of the old circle. In addition, we have painted, volleyball lines, which the old floor did not have.”

Lovell added that the new edges are finally straight. “I really like the grey staining inside the perimeter. Updates like this make the school look much better!”

When asked about Koogler’s PowerPoint presentation, Lovell said, “It was very persuasive.”

“I am very proud of our kids for stepping up and taking the initiative to make our facilities better,” Koogler said. “They saw a problem, devised a solution, and made it happen. This is something tangible they can point to and say, ‘I did that.’ We spend a tremendous amount of time talking about leadership, but these kids went above and beyond. The students did more than talk a good game; their words translated into action.”

The contractor guessed that it had been 50 years since the last time the floor had been refinished.

“If this time span remains constant,” Koogler said, “that means the kids led the effort in major facility upgrade, which their children and grandchildren will be able to enjoy.”

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