- Associated Press - Sunday, September 11, 2016

GRENORA, N.D. (AP) - Superintendent Troy Walter took his position at the head of Grenora Public Schools eight years ago, when there were 44 students enrolled. Now that number is 180 and climbing.

Like many of the school districts throughout the western portion of the state, Grenora gained more students than the facility could handle, the Williston Herald (https://bit.ly/2c9FsjF ) reported. This often forced instructors to be creative with space, sometimes requiring closets to be used as administrative offices.

Understanding the children’s and educators’ needs, Grenora residents passed a bond referendum three years ago, giving the district funds to build an addition, as well as remodel the current facility. The $9.98 million project came in under budget, even when classroom and technology upgrades were included.

The project has been completed in under two years and held its first open house on Monday, welcoming 200 guests, as opposed to their usual 20 visitors.

“The community members are seeing what they’re paying for,” Walter said. “It’s been an incredible thing Grenora.”

With a spark of excitement, Walter proudly gave a “5 cent tour” of the facility showcasing a waiting room, new administrative offices and seven new classrooms along the corridor of the school’s addition, all awaiting the arrival of children.

Interactive smart boards will take the place of whiteboards to aid in immersive learning. Students will also have access to state-of-the-art equipment in their first school computer room.

Walter pointed out a new library with ample reading space, and an expanded special education room. He showed off the former locations of those services, which have now been converted to offices, to give a concept of the space the school used to have to work with.

The multipurpose building serves as a second gymnasium for sport activities or community functions. A grant helped afford a weight room that is available to both athletes and community members.

Students are the focus, but care for faculty wasn’t an afterthought, like it can often be with school construction projects. To ensure their staff educates to their optimum ability, floor plans were drawn out to separate the teacher’s lounge and conference room.

“We’re the largest employer in Grenora,” Walter said. “When we started this the one thing really wanted to do was ask the teachers what they wanted. They came back and said they wanted someplace where they could be with other adults or spread out to plan their lessons.”

Educators will finally have a room of their own to refocus, separate from the classroom, starting today - the first day of school in the revamped facility.

“People were so excited of the updates and parents like that we provide more one on one time with our teachers,” Walter said. “We’re giving our kids a lot of opportunity.”

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Information from: Williston Herald, https://www.willistonherald.com

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