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Photo by Dana Pavek Workers hired by Riverport Insurance haul classroom desks from the storm-damaged high school last week. The desks were then stored in semi-trailers to be used at M-State and Deer Creek schools this fall.

WDC Schools move forward, find classrooms for students

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It's been a month since the tornadoes that ripped through Wadena and the surrounding area changed our lives forever. But through this adversity, Wadena-Deer Creek Schools is looking ahead to the future with the students' education in mind. One important "to do" on their list is finding locations for students for the next two years while a high school is under construction.

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Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE)/Preschool/Head Start

St. Ann's School classrooms will house the ECFE program and WDC Preschool as well as the Head Start program. According to Superintendent Virginia Dahlstrom, this facility is geared for young students with adequate classroom space, an area for eating and a playground. While an official approval is pending from the St. Cloud Diocese, WDC Schools and St. Ann's Catholic Church are working together to prepare the space for these young students.

K-6 students

WDC Elementary students in kindergarten through sixth grade will remain at the elementary school. There will be a few classroom assignments that will change from last year. One exciting possible change is the addition of a fourth section for kindergarten to accommodate the increased enrollment.

Seventh- and eighth-grade students

These junior high students will be located in the Deer Creek School. WDC High School principal Tyler Church will split his time between Deer Creek and Wadena.

"Deer Creek School is a great location for us. We are fortunate to have this space as an alternative," said Church. "We plan to have an open house later this summer for families and students to tour the Deer Creek School and see the students' classrooms, gymnasium and cafeteria."

Also, housed at the Deer Creek School is the White Pines/Leaf River Academy, which is located in a separate closed wing. This is a completely separate program, which is monitored by the academy's principal, Cory Lund, who is on site full time.

Ninth- through 12th-grade students

When WDC Schools was looking for space for its senior high students, M-State didn't hesitate to offer space in their school, despite suffering their own storm-related damage.

M-State Dean of Students Monty Johnson and staff rearranged M-State class schedules so the northeast portion of the college could house WDC students. This includes about 17 classrooms and a commons area. Music, art and physical education classes will be taught at the elementary school.

Offices for the principal, activities director, principal's administrative assistant and student services will be located at M-State as well. Furthermore, a security guard will be present during the school day. WDC students and staff will have their own entrance on the east side, along 5th Street. Bus transportation will be ready in time for school to start as well.

As WDC Schools continue on their journey of recovery, Superintendent Dahlstrom believes WDC students and staff will adjust and with these new locations providing a positive learning environment. She indicated new computers will be ready for students and staff when school starts on Tuesday, Sept. 7, as originally scheduled.

Dahlstrom said she is grateful to partner with St. Ann's Church, the community of Deer Creek and M-State on securing space for students.

"We are very fortunate to have a community that's stepped up with space to accommodate our students and staff. This will ensure that we will start on Sept. 7," Dahlstrom said.

WDC Rally planned for July 27

On July 1, WDC Schools hosted a WDC Parent/Student Rally to answer questions families and students may have about WDC. Because the rally was very successful, WDC Schools will host another rally at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 27 in Wadena Memorial Auditorium. If families cannot make the rally, Church will be available to answer questions by calling the school at (218) 632-2155.

"We want to keep our families and students informed of our progress throughout the summer. We also value their questions and concerns as we move forward. Our focus remains on the students and moving forward," said Church.

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