Next fall, North High School will house a career and technical education center for students throughout the Minneapolis Public School District.
But on Friday, the $88 million renovation project attracted city and district leaders, including Mayor Jacob Frey and Acting Superintendent Rochelle Cox, who waved gold shovels at the official opening.
“It will be groundbreaking in many ways,” Cox said, adding that the center will be a “first-class” opportunity in the metro area.
The program will give students in the city the chance to gain hands-on experience and earn post-secondary credits and industry certifications related to engineering, robotics, drones, computing and the arts media.
“What I think this project signals is that we’re betting on ourselves,” Frey said. “We are betting on the students of the Minneapolis public school system” and their future as business leaders and entrepreneurs in the city.
“There is no more important message we can send to students in our system at this time,” he said.
The project will also make much-needed improvements to North High School itself.
Next year’s Polars will enter the school through a new, brightly lit entrance that opens into a newly configured plaza and leads into classrooms that also have larger, brighter windows. The school’s common area will be updated, as will the kitchen and dining areas. The studio of KBEM-FM, the neighborhood radio station, will also benefit from renovation and new equipment.
Other changes include a new storm shelter and improvements to the ventilation system and parking areas around the school building, which is around 50 years old.
“This isn’t a token renovation – it’s a profound, structural overhaul,” said Steve White, assistant principal at North High.
About a third of the building is already “offline” to allow construction work, White said.
“Everyone is really excited to see it done,” he said.
Current seniors are already expressing disappointment at graduating by the time the upgrades are complete, but there is still an air of excitement, White said.
“Everyone has a little brother, sister or friend they know can enjoy [the improvements]”, he said. “It’s really going to be beautiful.”
Minutes after Cox thanked North Side families and community members for their involvement in the planning stages of the project, school board member Sharon El-Amin emphasized that she wanted to see continued involvement and hopes the North High community will directly benefit from the new career and technical center.
“We need to make sure our families are part of this process,” she said. “That’s what our families fought for. … [The center] gives our children the opportunity to explore other careers. I will push our community to really be part of it. »