BLACKFOOT — Family and friends of Chris Gardner gathered at Blackfoot High School Thursday afternoon for the dedication of the new gym in his honor.
Gardner, who died in 2010 in an ATV accident, was a teacher, coach and principal in the Blackfoot School District before retiring in 2008. He also officiated high school football and basketball games for 30 years.
The Blackfoot School Board of Trustees in June unanimously voted to name the new gym at BHS in honor of Gardner after a group of teachers at I. T. Stoddard Elementary—where Gardner spent much of his career—petitioned the board to rename the school.
Opting to name the gym for Gardner instead is a fitting tribute to the man who worked tirelessly to get the new gym and performing arts center at the school and who was so dedicated to education, Superintendent Scott Crane said.
"This is something I think should have happened a long time ago," Crane said. "It's a wonderful memory and honor to Chris and the Gardner family."
The large wooden plaque with Gardner's photo centered between two bronco heads and "Chris L. Gardner Gymnasium" in block letters hangs above the west entrance to the new gym. It was designed by the family and constructed by BHS art teacher Brenda Bodily. "Chris L. Gardner Gymnasium" was also painted on the east wall of the gym. Roger Spillman and his maintenance crew installed the plaque prior to the dedication.
The plaque was revealed during a small ceremony Thursday at the school attended by Gardner's family and friends.
"This meant a lot," Chris' brother Skip Gardner said. "This would just be appropriate for Chris."
Skip said his brother was low-key and was dedicated to giving back to his community through teaching, coaching and eventually serving on the Blackfoot City Council. He also feels the dedication is a fitting way to honor Chris.
"Chris basically gave his life to the school district," Skip Gardner said. "That's just how he approached it."
Chris' wife Wendy said they appreciate the staff at Stoddard Elementary who set the dedication in motion and the entire community for their support.
Prior to the basketball game Thursday evening Crane officially opened the Chris L. Gardner Gymnasium.