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New school celebrated

It's been a little less than a year -- 11 months, to be precise -- since the voters of the Lake Park-Audubon School District approved a referendum authorizing the sale of $21.1 million in school construction bonds.

This coming week, LP-A district residents will get to see the tangible results of that vote in not just one, but two public events.

The official groundbreaking for the new LP-A High School is set to take place Monday, April 18 at 5 p.m., on the school construction site at the west end of Vigen Lane in Lake Park.

LP-A Superintendent Dale Hogie said the groundbreaking on the $17 million project would take place one day before the actual start of construction at the site.

"The company that's doing the excavation is planning to start on Tuesday the 19th, and we wanted to hold the ceremony prior to that," Hogie said.

Besides school board members and city officials, Hogie said he would like to see as many members of the public make it to the event as possible.

"It's a ceremonial activity -- a celebration of all the hard work" that went into getting the new school built, he added.

And while LP-A Elementary students won't be getting an entirely new school, the existing building in Audubon has been getting an extensive facelift this year, with the renovated and expanded facilities set for completion at the end of this summer -- just in time for the start of the 2011-12 school year.

"It's been progressing extremely well," Hogie said of the $3.5 million elementary construction project.

"All of the things they (the contractors) had planned to get done during the current school year will be wrapped up on schedule," Hogie said. "They've actually taken on more than what they thought they could get done during the school year."

But there is still much to be done over the summer months, he added, from the demolition of the original 1922 school building -- scheduled to start as soon as classes for the current year have finished -- to construction of the new main entrance and office areas for administration, social worker, community education, early childhood and speech departments.

"There is still a substantial amount of work to be done in June, July and the early part of August," Hogie added.

Residents will get their first of two opportunities to view progress on the construction at LP-A Elementary School on Tuesday, April 19, as district administrators and school board members will be offering guided tours of the facilities from 7 to 9 p.m.

A second opportunity to view construction progress at the Audubon school will be offered on Friday, April 29, in conjunction with the annual elementary carnival. Tours will be offered that evening from 6 to 8 p.m.

As construction at the Audubon site is ongoing, and will continue through the summer, Hogie said that the tours would be what construction manager Steve Gehrtz called a "dusty shoe walk through."

Each tour is expected to last approximately 15 minutes, though the exact length will be determined by the curiosity of the participants, Hogie noted.

"We'll take groups of 12 to 15 people on guided tours through all the new areas under construction, and the renovated spaces, so people will have a good idea of what it will look like when school opens in September," Hogie said.

Some of the areas tour participants will get to see are the new mechanical room and custodial work area, six new classrooms, a new computer lab and new restrooms, all in the addition that has been under construction since late last summer.

Renovations on the school's secondary gymnasium, still a work in progress, will also be part of the tour, Hogie noted.

"We've fielded a lot of questions about the project this year, and we're finally at the point now where we can safely walk people through and show them what our updates are going to look like," he said.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454