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Prairie invitation accepted; high tunnel discussed

The District 2155 school board was given glimpses of the future Monday night at its May meeting.

With high school commencement just 11 days away, the board looked at futuristic topics that ranged from a high tunnel greenhouse to credit requirements for high school graduation.

The board approved a one-year leave of absence for secondary art teacher Jim Formanek and the resignations of special needs teacher Margaret (Mo) Smith and para-professional Mike Holzer. Smith has been with the district for more than 30 years. Superintendent Virginia Dahlstrom recommended that the board retain Holzer, who works with shop classes on a part-time basis.

Activities director Brian Silbernick briefed the board about an invitation to join the expanding Prairie Conference in football beginning in 2011. Wadena-Deer Creek is currently a member of the Heart O' Lakes Conference in football. Belonging to the HOL has meant trips to Roseau and Warroad, which are both four hours away for the Wolverines.

The rest of the Prairie North would include United North Central (Menahga and Sebeka), Otter Tail Central (Battle Lake and Henning), West Central Area (Elbow Lake, Barrett, Hoffman and Kensington), Osakis and Upsala/Swanville Area. The Prairie South includes Barnesville, Royalton, New York Mills, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg, Browerville and Parkers Prairie. The Wolverines would play the five teams in the Prairie North and three teams, Barnesville, Royalton and New York Mills, in the Prairie South. The longest trip, to Barnesville, would be 81 miles one way.

"It would be a great move geographically, nice close travel and I think there can be some rivalries generated now with local stories and competition wise I think it will be good for the football program," Silbernick said.

The board voted to accept the invitation.

Wadena pastor Del Moen and Village Emporium owner Dave Evert, both supporters of the green movement that is sweeping America, are working with Stimulating Economic Progress (STEP) on a high tunnel project for Wadena-Deer Creek High School.

If a grant comes through later in May, STEP could develop high tunnel farming education at high schools throughout Wadena County. A donated greenhouse would be built on school property. Evert asked for an area 50 to 100 feet long and at least 34 feet wide. In addition to the educational benefits, the local produce would served in the WDC cafeteria.

Secondary principal Tyler Church is in the process of creating new credit requirements for graduation. WDC is abandoning the block schedule and going to a seven-period day. Students in grades 9-12 will be working toward 52 credits for graduation instead of 60. Under the block system, WDC students have been able to take up to 64 credits. Under a seven-period system, they could take up to 56. Church will give the board his final report on graduation requirements in June.

The 2010-2011 school year schedule was approved. Classes will begin Sept. 7 with commencement slated for May 27. The winter vacation will be Dec. 23-Jan. 2. Students will attend 172 days of school and teachers will work 182 days.