SOUTH PLAINFIELD - The South Plainfield Board of Education (SPBOE) held a special dedication for the new Jost Field House on Sept. 27. A ribbon cutting and dedication was held during halftime of South Plainfield High School’s first home football game of the season, when the Tigers versed Saint Joseph’s High School. The field house is located at the Jost Field Athletic Complex off of Avon Avenue behind the PAL.
“It was a tremendous honor to be the person to present the dedication of our new field house at Jost Field to the residents of South Plainfield,” said Doug Chapman, President of the Board of Education.
Members of the SPBOE stood before a plaque erected in front of the field house, which reads: “Dedicated to the residents of South Plainfield for fully supporting the development of our students in all areas of academic, athletic and musical education.” The South Plainfield Board of Education September 2019
“When we asked the residents to support our school district improvement and modernization plan, they overwhelmingly voted in favor for our referendum,” said Chapman. “They listened to our vision, supported it, and trusted that we would do a good job."
The former 45-year-old field house was demolished in late February. Construction of the new facility began shortly after and continued through the summer. The new facility is double the size of the old one, with both street access and field access. There are visitor and home team locker rooms and each has a coach's room. Spacious, ADA compliant restrooms and family restrooms were constructed for spectators as well as room for storage and training areas.
“The field house is awesome,” said Kevin McCann, SPHS Athletic Director. “I went to school here. I’m seeing the changes that Dr. Lishak, the Board of Education, and the town of South Plainfield voting for the referendum have done to improve the facilities here for athletics. I’m proud to be part of it and I hope there are many great things to come.”
“It’s a beautiful complex,” said SPHS Coach Don Panzarella. “It’s been a long time coming for the athletes here in South Plainfield. I think it’s going to be put to great use for them and it’s top-notch. The administration played a big part in getting it done and Mr. McCann. The kids should be really proud of what they’ve done here.”
The Jost Field House is one of over 60 projects that are being funded by a school bond referendum for $28 million approved on March 28, 2017, by South Plainfield residents. The construction of the field house took several months. Coaches and student athletes say the result is a state-of-the-art facility that South Plainfield will use for years to come.
“I think the new field house is fantastic,” said Panzarella. “It’s not only for the football team. It’s for the track teams that are here and I think it’s going to come to great use for everybody. It’s exciting!”
Family members of Scott Ribar, a South Plainfield graduate who died tragically in 1996, were present at the dedication. A plaque in honor of Ribar hangs on the side of the field house.
“This means so much to our family, especially my parents, who grew up in South Plainfield,” said Kendall Ribar, sister of Scott Ribar. “My dad played football, my older brother played football and Scott played football. I’m a teacher at Grant School and South Plainfield is our home. So we appreciate everyone keeping is memory alive.”
Chapman expressed his gratitude to his fellow Board of Education members, the administrative support team, the architect, school officials and all the teachers for their work in helping to get the referendum approved and their continued dedication to the children of South Plainfield. Chapman added a very important thank you.
“With all those sincere thank you's that I have, I have a huge thank you to the taxpayers and the residents of South Plainfield,” said Chapman, his voice echoing through the stadium as he dedicated the field house. “Without your overwhelming support, our referendum would never have happened. With this in mind, I would like to dedicate this field house to all the people, the residents, and the taxpayers of South Plainfield.”