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W-DC unveils new school design

Wadena-Deer Creek School Superintendent Virginia Dahlstrom spoke to a group of a

Despite a snowy Monday, the Wadena-Deer Creek School District was able to go ahead with its meeting to unveil a new school design.

The high school was destroyed by a June 17 tornado. Construction on a new school is expected to take two years.

Monday, a community meeting provided an opportunity to get a look at what the interior space may look like. Dana Pavek, WDC communications coordinator said one thing is certain - the school's interior will be totally different. Work is still progressing on renderings for the exterior and what the school will look like on the outside - windows, roof, exterior materials - wasn't expected to be part of Monday's session.

What is known is the new school will have an expected enrollment of 800 students grades 5 through 12.

About 35 people attended the Monday meeting. Wadena-Deer Creek School Superintendent Virginia Dahlstrom addressed the group.

Perkins+Will architect Steve Miller wasn't able to attend. Miller previously stated work first looked at the original school's facilities, then grade-level configuration, numbers of students and staff, the state's Department of Education standards and the company's own experience in designing new schools. Miller has spent 21 years specializing in education projects.

The Chanhassen High School was one of 19 school buildings WDC school board members toured around the state to get input. One of the ideas gleaned from those trips was the use of a visibly sloping roof.

 "We realized as a school board what a great responsibility this is to plan the right kind of school for our students and staff," Steve Techam, school board member said in a news release. "At these school visits, we learned what worked and what didn't work. Then we pulled all of our notes together and shared that with Perkins+Will. I think we're on track in planning a school that will serve us well for many years to come."

The layout shows an L-shaped school building with an entrance plaza and room for a future performing arts theater, future pre-kindergarten through 4th grade elementary school and future elementary school gym along with outdoor play area on the school's west side. A circular bus drop off area surrounds a wind turbine on the school's north side. A community garden with technology courtyard is to the school's east side. Just north of the school is the design for a new Wadena Regional Wellness Center.

One goal with the school design was to be able to move people through the building without congestion. Miller said earlier he believes the community will be pleasantly surprised by many features in the new school's design.

"I think what people will like is the organization of the building on the site and the flow of spaces within the school," Miller said in a written statement.

Features in the new school include:

• A central commons to act as a welcoming entrance.

• Separation of high school and middle school with separation of grades 5 and 6, grades 7 and 9, and grades 9 through 12.

• Energy efficiency emphasis - with a geo-thermal heating and cooling system.

• A two-story academic portion of the school instead of a single story.

• Natural light emphasis and effort to bring natural views into the building.

• Community gardens with a focus on horticulture/agriculture in the science and technology areas.

• A building of 167,000 square feet, the same footage as the former school.

The architects are creating a three-dimensional computer model for the school.

"The project is moving forward well, and we believe that we now have the framework established for a very successful project that will represent the vision for Wadena-Deer Creek Schools," Miller stated.

RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at renee.richardson@ or 855-5852.