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Wadena-Deer Creek enrollment drops 45

Photo by Brian Hansel Deb and Bill Hartman walk their kindergartener, Libby, to her first day of school Tuesday morning in Wadena.

Summer break ended Tuesday as a new school year arrived for Wadena-Deer Creek's K-12 student body and the faculty.

The first day's head count found 956 students within the walls of WDC elementary, junior high and senior high classrooms.

While the opening day enrollment is 45 under last year's first day enrollment of 1,001, it fits neatly into the pre-school estimate of the WDC administration. Only 20 students separate the largest class from the smallest in District 2155 this year.

"We've leveled off," WDC Superintendent Virginia Dahlstrom said.

The largest class this year is the 83 students of the kindergarten. The senior class stands at 81.

Dahlstrom's only concern on the first day of school this year was the roadwork being done on Minnesota Highway 29 between Highway 210 and Wadena interfering with school traffic. The work began on Wadena's Colfax Avenue in early August. Dahlstrom said the work did not prove to be a big handicap.

District 2155 is 16 months removed from the catastrophic June tornado that destroyed the WDC secondary school and threw the entire district into disarray. A $38 million school is going up on the same site as the 2011-2012 school year begins. The new school is expected to be occupied by grades 5-12 when the 2012-2013 school year begins next September.

"I was over at the construction site this morning and my there are a lot of workers," Dahlstrom said Tuesday. "Things are going well and we're on schedule."

The new school will allow District 2155 to expand their curriculum in areas such as engineering, technology, agriculture and the culinary arts. It will also feature geo-thermal heating and cooling.

The district has been in conversation with M State Wadena regarding its curriculum choices for the new school and it is expected to have a stronger vocational appeal to students.

This year's student body will once again be divided between the former St. Ann's elementary school, WDC elementary, the Deer Creek school and M State-Wadena.