Community celebrates project
Event included tours, concert
By Angie Landsverk
The doors of Weyauwega-Fremont High School’s expanded and remodeled space opened to the community on Saturday, Oct. 13.
Students served as tour guides during the open house before those in attendance sat in the seats of the new Performing Arts Center for the first time.
“It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to our new PAC,” District Administrator Scott Bleck said before The Duttons took the stage.
The 400-seat PAC was among the additions built at the high school.
The $20.6 million project there also included four science classrooms, a multipurpose gym and fitness area, new school entry, HVAC updates and remodeling throughout the building.
Alex Lederer and Matthew Zeichert described various aspects of the project as they showed community members the new and remodeled spaces.
“We have so much more space in the school, which is something I enjoy,” said Lederer, who is a senior at W-F High School.
Zeichert, a sophomore at the school, pointed out the additional space for art classes.
The tour included stops in the new collaborative space, Family and Consumer Education classroom, community forum room and STEAM Innovate Wing.
The collaborative space offers varied seating choices, all in the school’s colors of red and black.
The hallway between the new science classrooms and remodeled area for woods and metals is another place where students may spread out and work together.
“They can come together as a group of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) students and collaborate, whether it’s in woods, metals, Project Lead the Way or biology,” said Dean Beeninga, a partner and architect at ATS&R.
ATS&R is the Minneapolis-based firm the district hired in early 2014 to complete a long-range facility study for the district.
The firm then completed an assessment of the district’s facilities and developed renderings.
“I’m just so proud of the community for improving this 1969 high school,” he said.
That was the year the school was built.
Previous additions to the school took place in 1991 and 1996.
“Education has changed. Jobs have changed,” Beeninga said.
He said students need learning spaces where they may work together.
Those who toured the school noticed those spaces, as well as the skylights and windows bringing natural light into them.
“It’s really nice – a lot of nice room,” said Sally Alix.
Her four children – Merle, Jenny, Tony and Adam – attended W-F High School years ago.
As area residents walked through the innovation wing, they saw the Fab Lab, which includes three 3-D printers.
Lederer said there are more computers and software in that area, where Project Lead the Way classes are taught.
That was the start of the district offering engineering classes, he said.
“Things are happening. Things are definitely happening,” Lederer said.
Mason Hildebrand lived in the area and said the school feels likes a technical college.
He noted there are lots of places to sit down and an attention to detail, including numerous spots where students may charge digital devices.
“It’s forward thinking,” Hildebrand said.
Bleck said the process began five years ago when the district started its strategic planning process.
In November 2016, voters in the district approved spending up to $21 million on a building and improvement program.
The approved referendum also included remodeling at Fremont Elementary to create a new entrance.
Bleck said the additions and improvements could not have not been completed without ATS&R and Miron Construction, and he thanked both firms on behalf of the district.
“It’s really nice to see a community care so much to give students what they need,” said Beeninga.
He said the administrative team and school board were responsible with every dollar spent.
“It’s a big process to learn the needs, cost, what you can afford. I’m so happy for you. Miron did a nice job,” Beeninga said.
Miron Construction served as the construction manager for the project and sponsored the performance by The Duttons as a gift to the district.
David Voss Jr., the company’s president and CEO, also attended the open house.
“Miron is the largest school builder in the state,” he said. “Schools are very important to us. You have to give the best facilities for students to learn.”
When Miron completes such a project, it likes to have the first performance in the school’s new PAC.
“You are about to meet one of the biggest family singing groups in the U.S.,” Voss said. “They kind of represent what Miron is all about – family.”