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Investment in schools

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In 1998, my community voted yes on a bond referendum that set aside $53million to build a new high school to replace the old high school that had been built in phases from 1919 to 1960. Enrollment growth and degradation of the building were concerns for building a new building.

The new building was completed in 2000, with students moving in in January 2001. I was one of these students (a hint as to how young I am!). They seemed to spare no expense on the new building and still had enough money left over ($10 million) to build a new elementary school, something the community was very happy about. (Government coming in under budget?)

The new high school featured among other things:

A state-of-the-art acoustically amazing 1,200 seat auditorium complete with sunken pit and state-of-the-art sound and lights equipment. Also connected was a blackbox theater. Acoustically sound choir, orchestra, and band rooms were also completed (including sand in the walls to muffle sound).

A 4,500 sq. ft. weight room was built into the phy ed with an olympic sized swimming pool. Also, a full court sized gym was put in that can be divided into three basketball courts, and has top loading stadium style seating with a track around the edge.

The media center was built with technology in mind. 50 Apple laptops were purchased that you could sign out and use anywhere in the media center with wireless internet. A 35 iMac computer lab was also put in.

The school also sought to continue its banking and school store services by building permanent places for them. The bank offers savings accounts and small cash loans to students through a partnership with a local bank. They also offer cash checking. The school store sells school supplies, spirit wear, and candy.

The industrial tech wing was also state-of-the-art, and is very large compared to most schools. A complete 3 stall auto shop was built along with a welding shop, two woodworking shops, a small engines shop, and several small, general purpose classrooms. Also built were two drafting classrooms, one for traditional drafting, and one for CAD. A television studio was put in to accomodate media classes. The main goal was to put on a weekly television program for students by students highlighting events, etc. going on around the school and in the community.

The commons area is a 10,000 sq. ft. area where students could meet up and eat lunch. Skylights, and access to the media center and the offices and connectibility were the main focus of this area. Two large jumbo-tron televisions were put in so students can watch the news or other programs while they eat (the school included MTV in its cable access).

The main academic clusters were built to promote several types of learning. In addition to the 12 general purpose classrooms (each with 6 high speed internet hookups and built in TVs), large "break-out" areas complete with tables and internet hookups were put in place to encourage small group discussions and activities that require more space. Each cluster has a 35 computer computer lab (PCs), a teacher planning center (where teachers have a small office area where they can prepare and eat lunch, etc.). There are also smaller classrooms for paraprofessionals to use to help people that need personal attention. The wings include the social studies, math, english, and world language/business.

The Science classrooms are state of the art. Many have skylights to promote natural light. Each room has a small lecture area complete with demonstration tables with hookups for gas/water. There is also a lab area in each room to accomodate 30 students.

The art rooms were built with plenty of natural light and a kiln for cermamics projects. The "family and consumer science" rooms were built to accomodate cooking and sewing as well as general lecture classes.

The school has also made environment a huge part of its mission. The school sits on 260 acres of land, mostly wooded that abutts the Mississippi river. Several trails have been created for environmental science/biology classes to use for hands on study. They are also used by phys. ed. classes for running and by other classes simply to create reflection for art/writing classes.

There are also several student created art projects around the "campus" like a traditional english circle garden. When you enter it, you hear very little of what's going on outside the circle, but hear everything going on inside. It's a great place for personal reflection.

All in all, I think this school represents everything a high school should be. it's a place that promotes the full high school experience beyond reading, writing, and arithmitic. Strong investments in arts, music, and sports have created a culture within the school. Christmas concerts put on by the choirs (which, dear me, include songs about GOD.. and CHRISTIANS, and CHRISTMAS) regularly have standing room only attendence. There is also a strong native American presence at the school and that is shown through indian art classes and the offering of the Ojibway language.

Some see this as excess, I see it as providing students and teachers with the opportunity and tools to provide a well rounded education well into the future.

Media Center


Aerial view the fall before completion.




Science classroom


Commons area


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Nice facility.

One thing that bugs me about schools is that they're very sprawly. Often they have one floor but take up a square mile. Structurally, economically, and for purposes of leaving room for expansion, this is completely stupid. Schools could have five floors and occupy a respectable lot instead of a giant campus you can see from orbit, with only 2000 people in it.

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On the other hand, this particular case: The school sits on 260 acres of land that is becoming more and more surrounded by developments. This land will be protected from development and will be an unaltered path to the river for wildlife.

Also, the heating system only heats the air to 58*F. It lets body heat and sunlight do the rest. This has saved the district a lot of money.

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Thats a nice school. Mine was built in the 70's, but its pretty nice. Theyve done a lot of renovations to it including a new weight room/ phys ed equiptment, and a nice new stadium.

The district built a new "intermediate" school a few years ago, its really nice. Huge media center and such.

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My high school was built in the mid 1950s. It's gone through a lot of renovations, the most recent was a window replacement. Before that in 1990 they added a two story science wing. Before that they added an away side to our stadium so that brought the current capacity to about 8,000.

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