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Wadena has a school full of technology

Photo by Dain Sullivan Multiple patrons eagerly gather around an iPad Wednesday evening at the new Wadena-Deer Creek Middle/High School, following the building's dedication ceremony. Students attending the new school will be able to use iPads this year, rather than using certain books.

A school built for the 21st Century is opening in Wadena.

Not only will Wadena-Deer Creek's new secondary school offer some of the latest technology to students in grades 5-12, it will incorporate "green" features that Integration Specialist Kelly Shrode feels will make a positive impact on the entire community.

Green technology is weaving itself into the fabric of life all over the planet, and the design of the new WDC secondary school incorporates pages of ideas - from external and internal natural lighting to geothermal heat. The whole idea is to find ways of meeting the needs of people in sustainable ways.

"Some of the things you're not going to be able to see, but in the future they will be noticed," Shrode said.

WDC Superintendent Virginia Dahlstrom said the District 2155 School Board was already talking and incorporating new technology into the curriculum when an EF4 tornado destroyed the secondary school in June 2010.

Building architect Perkins + Will provided WDC school officials with pages of green technology innovations before construction began. General Contractor Krause-Anderson has been responsible for seeing they are incorporated in the design.

"This will be a high-performance facility with sustainable energy and technology," Dahlstrom said.

The size of the $38.4 million secondary building was enlarged earlier this year by the addition of a $1.8 million storm shelter, a feature the earlier building did not have. People who were inside the secondary school when the tornado struck took shelter in gymnasium locker rooms. The building's storm shelter will double as a gym, but in case of an emergency it can provide a haven for more than 1,000 people.

WDC Technology Coordinator Aaron Johnson has called the experience of equipping the new school "exciting but stressful."

Johnson said the new school will have many features of a "smart home," with technology playing a lead role.

A central core of servers will run the building's phones, lights, security system, heating and air conditioning. A problem with heating, for example, can be fixed by Climate Makers from their offices in the Twin Cities.

There will be 640 iPads in the new secondary school. Faculty members received their iPads in April, and students will be issued there iPads when school begins. The iPad can be quickly and easily updated with information, making it a cost-effective alternative to textbooks.

In addition to the iPads, WDC students will find white board projectors in every class room and 57 wireless access points throughout the building.

"I think they are going to be excited," Johnson said.