Park Rapids High home builders are off to an impressive start

Principal Jeff Johnson held up Jeff Dravis's building trades class as an example of the progress students can make in only the first two weeks of school.

After only two weeks of school, the walls were partially framed in by lunchtime Sept. 20, 2022 on the building trades house at Park Rapids Area High School.
Robin Fish / Park Rapids Enterprise
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High School Principal Jeff Johnson told the Park Rapids School Board on Sept. 19 that after only two weeks of school – one of them being homecoming week – building trades teacher Jeff Dravis and his students have already set the floor joists and subfloor of their house, and the walls are ready to go up.

“If that can happen in building trades, just think what’s already happening in the classroom,” said Johnson. “As crazy as it is, things are moving forward.”

In other staff reports, the school board heard:

  • Superintendent Lance Bagstad report that upcoming meetings related to the district’s facility improvements included one on door hardware; opening bids on the precast concrete wall panels for the new gym; a high school staff meeting on furniture, fixtures and equipment; and another on playground equipment.
  • Century Principal Mike LeMier quip that “we’re done with fun until June,” reporting that 119 kindergartners are enrolled, and teachers are wrapping up their fall benchmarking and starting to look at ways to “support, intervene and grow our kids over the course of the year.”He also reported that an online safety presentation by Pemberton Law was well received by grades 4-8, and new CTE/agriculture teacher Ashley Anderson is teaching sixth grade hunter safety and seventh grade fur trapping safety. “Our kids have some pretty cool opportunities,” LeMier said.Asked about Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) results, LeMier said they can be accessed via the ParentVue portal. 
  • Century Assistant Principal Steph Mercil discuss staggered starts for pre-K classes, a just-completed bus safety week, upcoming picture days, a recent first fire drill of the school year and plans for a fire safety program, and a book fair next week.
  • Co-Assistant Principal Mike Frank say he is impressed with students’ conduct so far this year, and reported progress on building routines and reminding grades 5-8 of what is expected of them.
  • Community Education Director Jill Dickinson report the Century Adventures after-school program for ages 4 through sixth grade has been seeing 110-120 students per night, and Activity Director Jeremy Nordick’s Panther Pack football program for grades K-4 has 122 participants. “He’s handling it very well,” she said.
  • Facilities Supervisor Alan Vanderstad report that a faulty sensor in an air duct triggered a fire alarm at 11:30 p.m. Sunday; baseball bleachers have been moved to the newly rebuilt tennis courts; and the day after the courts opened, a roller blader marked them up. “I guess, next time you do a contract, make sure you get signs up on the tennis courts,” he suggested.
  • PAWN Director Eva Pohl report that hiring and training is still underway for special education staff, with trainings being planned for early-out days. 
  • Bagstad report for Director Jill Stevenson that many of this year’s Park Rapids Area Virtual Academy (PRAVA) are involved in extracurricular activities and taking in-person electives at the school. Also, PRAVA has been awarded a supplemental learning grant through the MDE. Bagstad said this creates the possibility of students enrolling part-time in PRAVA courses, allowing the school to meet individual students’ needs on a smaller scale.
  • Transportation Director David Synstegaard report that buses are full, and he is considering adding an in-town route on the east side of Park Rapids to take pressure off other routes or to provide emergency coverage. 
  • Johnson report on behalf of Nordick that fall sports are already approaching mid-season and starting to look toward section tournaments.

Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at or 218-252-3053.
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