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Enrollment climbs for both Wadena-Deer Creek Schools

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Wadena-Deer Creek student enrollment returned to the 2010 opening day total of 1,001 Tuesday, according to District 2155 figures.

The opening of the new $38 million high/middle school building on the north side of Colfax Avenue Tuesday morning brought eight grades of WDC students under the same roof for the first time.

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"There are a lot more kids in the building," WDC Secondary Principal Tyler Church said. "We had a very chaotic first day with a lot of wide-eyed stuff going on."

Church likes the design of the new secondary school, and he is not the only one.

"I've heard nothing but positive comments," Activities Director Norm Gallant said. "The whole school, in general, is just awesome."

Gallant was one of the WDC staff members displaced by the June 17, 2010 tornado that tore through Wadena and destroyed the old school. The destruction of the 1965 secondary building forced District 2155 to undergo a rebuilding project, while simultaneously finding class room space at M State-Wadena, the Deer Creek School, St. Ann's in Wadena and WDC Elementary.

Attendance numbers at the new building are a big plus for many school leaders.

"I am very pleased to be in two locations and I am very pleased with how the first day of school went," Wadena-Deer Creek Superintendent Virginia Dahlstrom said. "We are looking into adding another bus route due to the increase in the number of students."

It is the first time since Dahlstrom arrived in 2008 that the school enrollment has gone up from the previous year.

"We have a larger Kindergarten class, the second grade is growing, the early childhood is also growing and I believe we also have students enrolling that would like to be in the new school," Dahlstrom said.

In addition to new facilities and technology, Dahlstrom is also proud of the stance District 2155 has taken against bullying.

"We have two very strong anti-bullying programs, Rachel's Challenge and Olweus, in place," Dahlstrom said. "I think these two programs have proven themselves in other schools."

The WDC Elementary School has also seen a rise in numbers this year. Enrollment grew from 367 to 393.

"We've got some good numbers here. We have like 26 more K-4 than last year," WDC Elementary Principal Louie Rutten said.

The K-4 students will be joined Monday by 130 preschoolers, who are three and four-year olds. Rutten believes the pre-school experience is very helpful in preparing children for Kindergarten.

"It has been a big push from the state to get them ready. Research says that is where the big bang for the buck is," Rutten said. "I think that good pre-school experience makes all the difference."

Rutten pointed out one significant difference from last year, which is the release time at WDC Elementary. Students will be released at 3:10 p.m. this year, instead of 2:55 p.m., because of a different bus schedule.

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