Mahnomen School Improvements

Mahnomen, Minnesota

Often, communities wonder why they should collectively support improvements to their local school, more specifically referring to those without children or those who believe school projects only benefit a small population of students and faculty. Time and time again, we see school improvements do far more than meets the eye, making an impactful and positive contribution to the entire community. Such is the case with the Mahnomen Public School District improvements, which recently broke ground on their new addition and remodeling project.

Since 2021, the community, staff, students, and school board have worked together to set a vision for the district facilities and identify improvements to the facilities and site – providing new opportunities for learning, celebrating the unique culture of the school district, and embracing their community. The ground-breaking event was the culmination of these intense efforts by everyone involved.

Mahnomen was intentional in presenting improvements that would properly reflect the school population within its spaces. In fact, three years of planning went into the design, which included meetings with students, teachers, administration, and community members. While making sure the design would meet the educational needs of the school, the discussions leaned into the school as a Center for Community, and as such, should provide spaces that can support the needs of not only the students but also their families. Also important to the district was properly honoring the Anishinaabe culture, which represents most of the student body.

The design includes additional classroom space by improving the existing 1952 classrooms and adding classrooms to accommodate three sections for the elementary grades. The choir and band rooms displaced by this remodeling are replaced in an addition. The project includes a replacement of inaccessible lower-level locker rooms with new locker rooms that have direct access to outside fields, in addition to a remodel of main-level locker rooms to add accessibility and freshness.

Together, we ensured the addition would be equipped to serve the entire Mahnomen community, including an Indian Education space and a home for the program’s drums and support for cultural educational activities. The addition will bring a Commons and a large meeting room, which will support school activities and be available for use by the community for gatherings and community events, located directly off the main parking area. The spaces all face east, which is important in the Anishinaabe culture. The commons is also important for the building’s security. Coupled with the district office space, it provides a secure entry to the south from the main student parking area.

In the coming months, the 1952 classroom updates will be completed. Driving by the school, the community will begin to see excavations for the installation of footings, and the precast concrete insulated panels will arrive and be set to enclose the new spaces. The Mahnomen School will soon have a new face that will have a critical role in serving both the school and its community.