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Getting ready for school

Roosevelt Elementary first-grade teacher Luke Karlsgaard welcomes new student Wyatt Jorgenson to his classroom at a recent open house. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham

Parents and students in Detroit Lakes got their first opportunity to view what the school district had done with its $600,000 investment into facility improvements at a district-wide open house on Thursday —and most were pretty impressed with what they saw.

“They’ve done a nice job with the security cameras at the front door and the aesthetics of the building,” said Matt Boeke, whose daughter Mya will be attending kindergarten at Rossman Elementary this fall.

Fellow Rossman parent Marcus Lacher, who has also been a substitute computer teacher at the school, admitted that he was a bit saddened to find that one of the computer labs had been converted into a classroom — but perked up when he later learned that two new computer labs had been added in other areas.

“It’s great, and it’s needed,” he said.

“I believe they have some COW’s (computers on wheels) and iPad carts to share, but having that dedicated space (for computer use) is important.”

It’s especially needed for student assessment tests, which are pretty much all computerized now, he added.

His daughter Julia, however, was more excited about the fact that, as a fifth grader, she would now be able to work in the school store.

“I get to sell stuff,” she said, smiling. “And I get to play percussion in band.”

(Her dad admitted he wasn’t quite so enthused about that last part.)

Over at Roosevelt Elementary and Detroit Lakes Middle School, improvements to the schools’ shared parking area were the main topic of discussion.

“They’re still working on the parking lot, and I hope that’s done before school actually starts,” said Shanna Braton, mother of Roosevelt students Coie, 6 (entering first grade), and Zoie, 8 (third grade).

“Hopefully once that’s done it will free up the flow (of traffic), ease up on the bottleneck, and we’ll be able to drop off and pick up our kids more safely,” she added.

“It’s a little bit better than it was before,” said Shantel Hess, mother of Roosevelt student Ella and Middle School student Nick.

“But we have so many students here it’s still going to be pretty congested.”

Overall, however, Hess said that she’s been quite impressed with how both schools have handled their space limitations.

“My son Nick started at the middle school last year as a fifth grader, because there wasn’t enough room at the elementary,” she said. “It’s a pretty big transition (from elementary to middle school), and I was very impressed with how they handled the fifth graders.”

New Detroit Lakes resident Phil Gilbert and his daughter Ava, 11, were also impressed by what they saw.

“It all looks great!” Phil Gilbert said.

“This is a good school,” Ava agreed.

Their family made the move from Georgia to Detroit Lakes this summer, and Phil Gilbert said, “The schools were one of the attractions for moving up here.”

“We’re also looking forward to our first winter here,” he said, while admitting that not all members of the family were equally enthused.

While agreeing with her father that she was excited about discovering what a Minnesota winter is like, Ava also tempered her enthusiasm, noting, “That might only last a couple of days.”

What she was looking forward to, however, was meeting new friends and discovering all the fun activities both the school and community had to offer.

Maggie Rousu, who was checking out the Roosevelt facilities with her nephew A.J., said that she was just as impressed with the school as she’d been when her son had attended classes there.

“I like the way it (the building) is laid out for this little guy,” she said, pointing to A.J. “My niece and nephew, Annie and Riley, also went here, and it was wonderful for them. I think it’s going to work out great for A.J. too.”

A.J. said he had enjoyed meeting his teacher, and “I liked my mailbox.”

Attendance for the open house was good at all the district’s public school buildings.

“The kids are excited to be back, and to meet their new teachers,” said Rossman Elementary Principal Sandy Nelson.

“They’re excited to get their locker assignments, and to walk through their classes,” said Middle School Principal Mike Suckert.

School is in session Tuesday for all Detroit Lakes school buildings.

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

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