Minnehaha Academy Blog

Senior Evelyn Ramgren on the Challenge of Place

Posted by Amy Barnard on Jul 14, 2020

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This content is from recent Minnehaha graduate Evelyn's baccalaureate speech.

When I first received the email asking me to speak I honestly had the gut reaction, “No!” I had no clue what I would say, but then I thought: I have to. It's like that thing you dread doing the most, but once it is done you feel successful, like cleaning or doing homework. But here I am today with a speech written and hopefully some words that impact one person, even if that is just my mom, because sometimes that is what matters the most.

To share a part of my faith journey is hard for me. There are many areas I could touch on, but one that has been a consistent struggle for me is place. The different transitions throughout high school have been greater and more challenging than I initially thought and during this time at my fourth school building of high school (my house) I’ve had some time to reflect on how place has changed and challenged my faith.

The Normal Year

Looking back, freshman year was maybe the most normal high school experience I had and perhaps was the easiest transition as well. Different school building, longer class periods, and taking physics was difficult, but fun. (Mr. Terfa, sorry, but honestly I don’t think I can still name Newton’s Laws).  Even though we came in as new ninth graders, the actual building felt like home. 

I remember on nice days when people would go into the courtyard and just sit during activity period relaxing under a big oak tree or “studying” while talking to friends. But personally my favorite place was the library. I would arrive early every morning and go up the three flights of stairs to a bench right near the big bird book. Sometimes I had homework and other days I would sit there and read a book, loving the sun shining in through the windows. Ms. Morris often would come over and say good morning and check in on me. I just knew I was in a location that was safe and it was a place that made me want me to grow in knowledge and in spirituality. The old Upper School Campus was my place. The library was my place.

"Minnehaha Academy Strange"

The next two years of high school were weird in what I am now categorizing as “Minnehaha Academy strange." Very few people I meet going forward in my life will be able to say they spent two years of Upper School in a business park due to their building getting destroyed in an explosion. Going from a pretty big campus with a gym and a chapel to a place that was pretty much one hallway was quite an adjustment. I struggled with feeling at peace with where I was physically which then affected me inwardly. I felt more anxious and unsure about what my future held after knowing anything can happen, both bad and good.

One place I could calm myself was in choir. I didn’t see it necessarily at the time, but having the opportunity to express my feelings and thoughts was freeing. During the crazy polar vortex of junior year, we were preparing for the Madrigal review and even when school was closed Ms. Lutgen had us gather and sing. I clearly remember how anxious everyone was, but during those moments of singing the feelings of uncertainty, worry, and stress were pushed aside and replaced with laughter, joy and peace. In that moment, I realized that gathering together and supporting one another was my place. Making music was my place.

Walking Through Grief

Senior year arrived and that is where a new MA strange was forming.  It was exciting and hopeful to be in our new building, but I was surprised about the mixed emotions I felt. The first time I walked into the new building I clearly thought “This smells like a new car and there are so many lights." I also was not prepared to have stairs again. Walking up to advisory or English on the third floor was a struggle some days, and I honestly wish we could walk across the roof to move more efficiently. After the first three days of school though, a wave of loss hit me. I hadn’t thought about how much felt wrong being in a brand new building because it also felt right to be back at the Upper School campus. 

That Friday I had a guttural feeling that I could not be in the new part of the building anymore. I decided to go to the chapel before I had to go to soccer practice to be alone. Entering through the dark stage was calming, but it was also the first moment that I began to reflect on my journey to get to that moment, and I broke down. The loss of the old Upper School campus felt strong as did the loss of Mendota Campus, which to be frank, felt unexpected. Yes, I spent the majority of my Upper School career there, so I should have expected more grief, but somehow I had just blocked it from my mind until that moment.

I could have stayed in that room for the rest of the day, but Mr. Freeman walked in looking for Shannon, and instead found a wet faced Evelyn of whom he asked what was wrong and allowed me to stay there without getting a detention (even if he did mention it being a possibility).

Finding My Place

After I left, I attempted to continue on to a normal afternoon, but something new occurred to me: it is okay to feel loss and renewal at the same time. The chapel and the stage are my place. Being reflective helps me find my place.

Coming up with a conclusion to my Upper School career is hard, but two Bible verses come to mind. Our freshman year theme verse was Hebrews 10:23, which reads “ Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.” This year’s Bible verse, Isaiah 43:11, says “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” These verses remind me that no matter the wilderness we are in, the truth is that God is making a way that is greater and bigger than any of us can imagine. God knows our place and he can be trusted to keep his promises.

We can hold tightly to a place, knowing place is not always a location. It could be a library, or a stage, or making music with others. It may even be a wilderness. God knows our place.  He will meet us there through people, experiences, and physical locations.

Minnehaha Academy is my place. Class of 2020, Minnehaha Academy is our place. Amen

Topics: Upper School, 3100 Campus

Ruth Berg and John Carlson Honored During Window Installation

Posted by Amy Barnard on Dec 16, 2019

Last week Empirehouse installed the stained glass windows in honor of Ruth and John, as well as a central piece that reflects our Christian mission. The three windows float above the six panels that were that were moved from the former prayer chapel.

We invite you to watch this video of the installation and take a moment to remember these two beloved colleagues.

Topics: 3100 Campus

Mary Meyers '61: An Unexpected Opportunity to Give

Posted by Amy Barnard on Dec 12, 2019


Mary (Tildahl) Meyers ‘61 had always wanted to give something significant to Minnehaha Academy. It never quite seemed that life arranged itself in a way to make that possible, however.

When her children, Christy (Meyers) Waldon ‘87 and Todd Meyers ‘88 were in the throes of college, Mary came into an inheritance from her mother. She and her husband, Dan, agreed to put the money towards their children’s education, but with the understanding that at some point in the future if they were able to come up with another large sum of money it would be a sort of “replacement” for the inheritance money, for Mary to use or give as she wished.

Fast forward roughly two decades and Dan sold his financial planning business.

Just as the money came through, the Meyers family received a call from fellow alum Dan Parten.

“He shared how we as a class of 1961 were coming together to give with this goal of—perhaps—being able to name a classroom,” Mary shares. Both Mary and her husband felt drawn to this vision and Mary decided that this was where she wanted to give.

Each time Mary shares this story, she becomes visibly emotional.

“This now was my opportunity to give,” she says. For the first time in years, it felt as though she could give away something substantial. And she knew exactly where she wanted to give it.

“It was the first thing in my mind,” she comments, when asked why she chose to give to MA. In retrospect she observes that there really was no other option, as far as she was concerned. She had a rich experience at the school with deep relationships and teachers like Ann (Franklin) Kauls who drew things out of her she didn’t know were there.

“I remember thinking...that she must see something in me that I don’t see in myself.”

After graduation, Mary continued to meet yearly with a handful of friends from MA, at times flying across the country for the get-togethers. Once her own children came along, she and her husband sent them to MA as well.

And now it was Mary’s chance to give back. She set aside a significant portion of the money and contacted MA, letting the school know she’d like it to go towards a classroom, the goal set by her graduating class.

I received the blessing of being able to give. I never had that before…to have the joy, to know what that joy was, of giving, was a blessing. It’s worth whatever money you have [and are] able to share. It’s a gift to be able to give.”

Topics: Alumni Stories, 3100 Campus

Minnehaha Receives AIA Honor Award

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Dec 4, 2019

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Minnehaha Academy recently received the 2019 American Institute of Architects - Minnesota Honor Award for the rebuilt Upper School. 

"The Honor Awards recognize outstanding architecture and urban design by AIA Minnesota members and Minnesota member firms.

 69 projects were submitted in 2019 and were evaluated in five categories: architecture; interiors; renovation and restoration; and urban design and master planning. Entries were evaluated by three internationally-renowned architects for their degree of design invention, attention to detail, advancement of sustainable design, and other factors." AIA-MN.org

View photos of the Upper School.

Thank you!

Many thanks to our community who helped to make this rebuild possible with financial support and prayers. Your support has helped launch Minnehaha's next 100 years.

Thanks also to our partners who brought the project from concept to completion: Cuningham Group Architecture; M.A. Mortenson Construction (Construction Manager); Palanisami & Associates, Inc. (Structural Engineer); Metropolitan Mechanical Contractors (Mechanical Engineer Design/Build Partner); Obermiller Nelson Engineering (Mechanical/Electrical Consulting Engineer); Gephart Electric (Electrical Engineer Design/Build Partner); Loucks (Civil Engineer Design/Build Partner); PritchardPeck Lighting (Lighting Consultant); Rippe Associates (Food Service); Manage.net LLC (Technology Consultant); Augeo (Visible Mission Integration); Kvernstoen, Rönnholm & Associates, Inc. (Acoustical Consultant)
Photo credit: Corey Gaffer

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Topics: Upper School, 3100 Campus

Upper School at Minnehaha [Video]

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Nov 6, 2019
Do you want to know what it is like to be a student at Minnehaha's Upper School? Follow along with these students and find out! 

Topics: Upper School, 3100 Campus

Upper School Campus [Photos]

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Nov 5, 2019

If you haven't had a chance to tour our rebuilt Upper School at Minnehaha Academy, check out this photo gallery of the campus. Then, be sure to schedule your visit in person!

If you are considering sending your child to Minnehaha, schedule a personal tour with our Admission Team. 

If you are an alum, we'd love to give you a tour as well! Contact Nicole Sheldon at sheldonnicole@minnehahaacademy.net to schedule your visit.

Topics: Upper School, 3100 Campus

Building Dedication: A Service of Remembrance and Hope

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Oct 8, 2019


On September 29, 2019, the Minnehaha Community - alumni, current families, current and former faculty and staff, and current and former Trustees - gathered for a service of remembrance and hope at the Building Dedication. Together, we remembered the tragic events of August 2, 2017, and God's faithfulness through the days, months, and years that followed as we rebuilt the Upper School.

Holding the tension of tragedy and hope can be a challenge at times. We mourn the loss of two dear friends and colleagues, but also look to God’s faithfulness and His promise to His people in Isaiah 43:19:

See, I am doing a new thing!

    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

I am making a way in the wilderness

    and streams in the wasteland.

This promise has been imprinted on many of our hearts and is what we look to as we dedicate the rebuilt Upper School to God for His glory. Composer Daniel Kallman of Northfield, MN, wrote a beautiful composition to mark this new chapter in our school’s history. The piece was performed at the Building Dedication by the Minnehaha Academy Singers, Orchestra, and Symphonic Wind Ensemble. This commissioned piece is based on Isaiah 43:19, Lamentations 3:22-24, and Hebrews 10:23.

Our community appreciated the special remarks by President Rev. Dr. Donna Harris, NWC Superintendent Rev. Mark Stromberg (‘74), former faculty member Rev. Paul Swanson (‘51), Chair of the Board of Trustees David Anderson (‘67), and Chair of the Together We Rise Campaign Marc and Alicia Belton.

Together We Rise Video and Program

Watch the video that was created for the service to mark the events that happened from the explosion on August 2, 2017, to the opening of the new building. 

View the Building Dedication Program.

Thank You

Thanks to all who worked to make the Building Dedication Service a beautiful and meaningful event. Thanks to all who attended the service and to those who have offered their support over the past two years as Together We Rise!


Topics: 3100 Campus

Together We Rise: Building Dedication Video

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Oct 4, 2019

On September 29, 2019, we remembered the tragedy of August 2, 2017, and God's faithfulness through the days, months, and years that followed as we rebuilt the Upper School. We look to the future as Together We Rise!

Topics: 3100 Campus

3100: Home at Last

Posted by Amy Barnard on Oct 3, 2019

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On the morning of August 21st the doors to the new Upper Campus at 3100 West River Parkway opened for the first day of classes for the first time.

For the students who spent the last two years navigating the tight halls and "Chapelteria" at Mendota, the spacious commons area, expansive windows, and bright classrooms felt like a deep breath of fresh air.

"I am really glad that the architects were able to incorporate more windows and natural light into the new space. It helps me feel more connected to nature and the beauty right outside the school," said junior Leah Wasson.

"Some of the rooms are like having class in a treehouse," observed multiple students.

As a community we were blessed and honored by all of the people who made it possible for students to study at Mendota, and made it happen in record time. Coming home to the 3100 building, however, brought with it the excitement of the new interlaced with the memories of the many years and many people who came before us. 

From alumni to students, faculty to parents, numerous individuals and groups had a hand ensuring that the new, modern school would retain aspects of past as well as honor the heart of who we as the Minnehaha Community are.

Join us as we walk through the new building, sharing the history and significance of the various spaces.

Monument Sign & Time Capsules

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Students arriving at the main entrance (see header image) encountered one of our most valued items rescued from the blast: the 1912 cornerstone and monument sign. Workers carefully recovered these pieces from the original building and reinstalled them at the main entrance to the school. Additional cornerstones found new homes in the 3100 building as well, and you can see the 1922 cornerstone to the left of the brick installation on the previous page. The cornerstone and other parts of the building contained time capsules from 1912, 1922, and 2002. 

The capsules included numerous papers in Swedish, including a letter from Andrew Skoog that Swedish faculty member Katja Ornberg worked on translating. There were also early copies of the Arrow, two bibles, a songbook, and the senior prank video from the class of 2003. Of special note was a letter from the class of 2003 that reflected on the fear they saw in society after 9/11 and their desire to not let that fear prevent them from opening their arms to individuals from around the world.

Senior Lockers

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A longstanding tradition at Minnehaha has been for the seniors to decorate "their" hallway. Several recovered senior lockers have been installed in the Watson Art Gallery to commemorate fond memories and the traditions of Minnehaha alums.

Brick Installation

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Entering through the front door, students found themselves immediately face to face with an homage to our history and strong foundation. The 1922 brick installation in the Sundet Commons artfully hangs in front of an image of the original Minnehaha buildings. The 1922 bricks feature new (at the time) brick technology—three holes in the center of the brick—a design that allowed bricks to be made just as strong, but with less material and weight. The bricks are hung with wires through these holes. Along the wall in what was once the school's main entryway a second display includes bricks from the 1912 building, each inscribed with names of donors who helped make the new building possible.

Prayer Chapel


As you enter the prayer chapel, you can't help but look up. Three stories up.  A window at the very top lets in a beam of light that reflects down to those below. Located in the heart of the school, the prayer chapel reflects the heart of Minnehaha as a distinctively Christian school. Students, staff, and visitors are invited into this sacred space. The Prayer Chapel quite literally is also one of the primary physical supports, connecting the new riverside buildings to the existing chapel building. The Prayer Chapel is a load bearing structure, holding up many other elements with its strength.

Olive Trees

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Two black olive trees stand in the heart of the new school beneath a large skylight as symbols of peace and friendship. The trees also represent the unwavering strength and unity of the Minnehaha Academy community, a reminder for many generations of students to come.

Stair Treads

At the north end of the school’s first 1912 building was a staircase that continued from the basement up to the third floor. The cement stair treads on that staircase were used by all students for 105 years. These same stair treads, recovered after the explosion, line the area in the commons area near the two trees, allowing students to quite literally step through history. It is exciting that generations of future students will walk in the footsteps of those that came before them.

Signed Beams

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The signed beams are installed above the olive trees. They are covered with signatures from students, alumni, staff and parents who signed the beams in the fall of 2018. The beams serve as a daily reminder of the strength and resiliency of the community.

Timeline Wall


A prominent display students encounter daily is the timeline that stretches along the wall across from the Student Services office. This wall draws readers along from T.W. Anderson's becoming president to the centennial celebration in 2013. From the founding of the Minnehaha Singers in 1934 through Guido Kaul's introduction of soccer in 1961 and the approval of dancing in 1990, students encounter an expansive overview of some of the more interesting moments in MA history.

Campus Visits

If you haven't had a chance to visit the new school yet, we welcome you to call and schedule a tour. For alumni, call Nicole Sheldon at 612-728-7796. For families interested in learning more about the school, call Michelle Ulland at 612-728-7763.

Topics: Upper School, 3100 Campus

Minnehaha's First Day of School: In the News

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Aug 23, 2019

The first day of school at Minnehaha is always a wonderfully exciting day. This year was especially thrilling, as we welcomed our Upper School students to the rebuilt Upper School campus for the first day of classes.

Media were on hand to witness this historic event in our school's history. If you missed it, here are the top stories from the day!

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Topics: Upper School, 3100 Campus

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