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Revamped Agassiz soon ready for students

FARGO - It's nearly time to Occupy Agassiz. Woodrow Wilson High School students start classes March 5 in the repurposed Agassiz Middle School/South Campus II building. The alternative high school students are trading a 1917 vintage building for a...

FARGO - It's nearly time to Occupy Agassiz.

Woodrow Wilson High School students start classes March 5 in the repurposed Agassiz Middle School/South Campus II building.

The alternative high school students are trading a 1917 vintage building for a Heinz 57 structure - parts of which date to 1912.

But $4.5 million in renovations have made the digs they'll take over roomier and more climate-controlled, Principal Deb Dillon said.

"This will be really nice," Dillon said during an impromptu building tour Thursday.

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Students will get acquainted with the revamped Agassiz with a scavenger hunt on Wednesday.

The big move comes Feb. 24, with students being "volunteered" to load some school materials onto district trucks.

Classes resume at Agassiz on March 5, with grand opening ceremonies, lunch and tours on March 8.

"We don't have much time to get our act together," Dillon said.

Most classrooms for the 100 or so Woodrow Wilson students will be on the third floor of the eastside 1912 section of the building, with the main offices, counseling, library, art, and family and consumer sciences rooms on the second floor.

Students will also be able to use a full-sized gym, a wellness center, and a lounge and lunch area.

"The other schools have commons, and we have never had that," Dillon said, adding, "The gym space will be wonderful."

The school also has enough classrooms to add 50 students, which would put the enrollment at 150, the top level for an effective alternative school, Dillon said.

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Much of the nearly century-old woodwork has been saved in the classrooms and halls, Dillon said, retaining "what we could retain" of the character of the building.

New cabinetry has been added, and cork boards and white boards have been replaced as necessary.

All of the windows have been replaced for energy efficiency.

"They are wonderful. It's very light and bright in here," Dillon said.

The building is a mish-mash of additions. It opened in 1912, with additions made in 1930, 1950, 1971 and 1989.

Those additions meant a lot of work to bring it up to modern building codes for the Woodrow students.

The heating and air-conditioning systems were replaced, plumbing and electrical systems upgraded and fire alarms installed. There was also asbestos abatement, foundation repairs and other work completed that had been deferred for years as the district debated the future of the building.

Until last year, the southside building had served as South Campus II, holding ninth-graders for South and Davies high schools. The ninth-graders were integrated into the high school buildings with the opening of Davies High School.

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Beyond Woodrow Wilson High, the building will be home to offices serving adult education, GED and English Language Learners. Rooms are also set aside for School District psychologists, the Even Start preschool program and professional development.

The Southeast Education Cooperative and the district's alumni association and foundation also have offices at Agassiz.

InVEST, a program that trains the developmentally disabled for independent living, has an apartment mock-up on the first floor of the facility.

The north wing, built in 1930, is being used for storage.

Woodrow Wilson High School move timeline

  • Wednesday: scavenger hunt for students to acquaint themselves with the Agassiz building, 1305 9th Ave. S.
  • Feb. 24: students help with move.
  • March 5: Woodrow Wilson opens at Agassiz building.
  • March 8: grand opening ceremony at noon, including a program, lunch, and student-led tours.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583

Related Topics: EDUCATION
Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at hschmidt@forumcomm.com, or by calling (701) 241-5583.
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