New school on the block: Menahga High School opens its doors

Each high school department selected the inspirational quotes that's pertinent to their respective fields. These sayings now adorn the hallways.
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Families toured the new Menahga High School Thursday.

“The kids are getting their schedules, so they’re ready for Tuesday,” said Superintendent Kevin Wellen. “It’s really coming together.”

Music floated throughout the sunny, two-level building as choir teacher April Hodge serenaded visitors on the school’s other new acquisition: a 1920 Steinway baby grand piano. Valued at $50,000, the refurbished piano was offered to the school for $5,000.

Hodge is thrilled with the new choir room, which boasts tiered seating and “beautiful” acoustics. “Isn’t it awesome?” she asked, noting the seating will double as a graduation stage in the new gym. Since she joined the district, Hodge said the senior choir program has grown from 12 to 70 students.

A formal dedication of the school is planned for October when the building is 100 percent complete. The commons area, classrooms and hallways are ready, Wellen said.


“We won’t have the gymnasium for two or three weeks,” he said. “The kitchen will be done by early next week, but then we have to get trained on it, so we’re going to feeding out everyone out of the existing kitchen probably for a week or two. The new shop we’ll have for the first day of school, at least one of them.”

On Thursday, teachers welcomed students into their new classrooms and answered questions.

Ashley Bachmann teaches ninth and tenth grade math. This is her third year in the school district.

“It’s great space,” she said, adding it is an adjustment moving into such “fancy” digs. She and her colleague, Tim Wurdock, love the floor-to-ceiling, south-facing window in the second-floor hallway, complete with cushy seating. Tables wrap around wooden pillars with chairs as well.

“There’s so much natural light coming in,” Bachmann said. “I like all the different work spaces they’ve created, with tables and chairs. I think that’s so cool. It’s such a neat idea for kids to work versus just the classroom.”

Tara Hammer is the high school’s new science instructor. She’ll be teaching physics, chemistry and physical science in state-of-the-art labs. Previously, she taught physics and nuclear power to submariners in the Navy.

High School Principal Mark Frank reported that families “are ecstatic about the new space. It definitely warms your heart when you see the smiles on their faces.”

Moving in was down to the 11th hour, he said, with construction equipment in the building less than a week ago.


When finished, the new metal shop will feature 10 welding stations. “That’s going to be a huge addition,” Frank said.

The industrial tech shop also hosts small engine and small projects space. Frank said the long-term goal is to create student teams who design and build their own ice-fishing houses, “giving those kids life skills. Then our cabinet construction class can build the cabinets to go in them.”

The new scoreboard for the gymnasium uses the same software as U.S. Bank Stadium, Frank added. He plans for students to create the graphic ads in-house, like “make some noises,” starting team lineups with photos, etc.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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