Minnehaha Academy Blog

Upper School Updates

Posted by Melissa Mortenson on Aug 9, 2017 2:51:53 PM

Check back periodically for updates as we make progress on rebuilding efforts and events.

We appreciate your support. You may give online or send gifts directly to the school at 4200 West River Parkway, Mpls 55406
https://www.minnehahaacademy.net/giving/funddonation/

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Updated: 12/6/17
Preserving the Upper School's Architectural Artifacts

During the demolition process, a team will be working to preserve artifacts from the Upper School, including significant pieces of architecture and exterior bricks. It is still unclear how much we will be able to preserve and how much was damaged in the blast. However, it is our hope that we will be able to recover some pieces and use them in the new building. 

Updated: 12/5/17
Sunrise at Minnehaha Academy

This week the process of demolition of the 1912 and 1922 buildings of Minnehaha Academy's Upper School begins with debris removal. Since the tragic explosion on August 2nd, our hearts and minds have been heavy with the loss of John and Ruth and the injuries that other Minnehaha Academy staff experienced. As we look forward, we are forever grateful to the efforts of the many volunteers who came to our aid. We are looking forward to the next 100 years of exceptional education at Minnehaha Academy and we ask for your continued support and prayers as we move forward. We have faith that God will bring great good out of great tragedy. #TogetherWeRise#MyMinnehaha

Updated: 12/1/17
Demolition Scheduled to Begin Tuesday at Minnehaha Academy

Demolition is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, December 5, 2017, at Minnehaha Academy's Upper School Campus, 3100 West River Parkway in Minneapolis.  The school has secured the necessary permits from the City, and crews, over the next  two weeks, will be working to remove debris from the site. Following debris removal, the destroyed portions of Minnehaha Academy's Upper Campus will be pulled down.

Prior to demolition, construction crews had to stabilize the athletic and arts wings of the school. Originally, they were not designed as stand-alone buildings, and with the central portion of the school gone, the wings needed to be reinforced.

Updated: 11/7/17
Sod Installation Begins

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The glass contaminated grass on the soccer field has been stripped away and new sod is being installed this week.  This is the only certain way of making sure the glass is gone.  The plan is to have the field in service for spring sports activities.

Updated: 11/6/17
Letter from President Dr. Harris and Board Chair David Anderson

As noted in our previous communication, we intend to provide ongoing updates to keep you informed. The clearing of the remains of our historic buildings still is yet to begin.  The permits have been issued, the necessary notice to the MPCA has been given, and the salvageable buildings’ contents have been removed.  An engineering report, though, revealed a need for unanticipated additional work, which caused our insurance company to re-bid the demolition contract.  Hence, more delay.  In the meantime, the work to separate the healthy gym and fine arts wings from the damaged structure is underway.  The demolition will start when the separation is complete.

Permits have also been issued for the “mothballing” of the healthy wings.  Electricity and gas service will be restored soon, so the wings can be heated and preserved from the effects of winter cold.  A report is also being prepared on repairs and additional utility services needed to actually put the wings back in service.  We await the report to decide the feasibility of doing so.

The glass contaminated grass on the soccer field has been stripped away and new sod will be installed this week, weather permitting.  This is the only certain way of making sure the glass is gone.  The plan is to have the field in service for spring sports activities.

As reported in our previous letter, the Board resolved to engage the services of an owner’s representative.  We chose The Tegra Group, an extraordinarily capable firm that is eager to help our School.  Tegra just finished managing the remodeling of Target Center and thus has capacity for our project.  With Tegra’s help, we’ve assembled a list of candidates for architecture and general contracting firms.  Requests for proposal will be issued to the architects this week (November 6) and to the contractors next week (November 13).  This is the first step in the process of selecting both service providers.

A number of people have stepped forward to provide professional and other services on a gratis basis to help the School through the thicket of issues the explosion and its aftermath have presented.  Many are alumni or parents of current students or graduates. We offer our profuse thanks to all of them.  We’ll thank them by name in future communications, but there are simply too many to list in this letter.

Please continue to hold up Minnehaha Academy in prayer.  The School’s successful recovery requires your continuing support.

#TogetherWeRise
 
Yours sincerely,
 
David Anderson, Chair, Board of Trustees
Donna Harris, Ed.D., President
Minnehaha Academy

Updated: 10/12/17
Letter from President Dr. Harris and Board Chair David Anderson

When we last communicated on September 15th we reported that the demolition of the historic portion of the Upper School campus would begin soon. “Soon” has turned out to take a bit longer than first thought. The School’s insurance company had determined that the 1912 and 1922 buildings and the STEM lab needed to be taken down. It took longer, though, for the company to decide that the foundations of the historic buildings were also damaged beyond repair.  That determination was made earlier this week, which is actually good news.
 
We now anticipate the demolition permit to be issued in about two weeks. The process includes a ten-day waiting period and a neighborhood meeting before the demolition can begin.  Part of the procedure involves the proper separation of the healthy gym and fine arts wings.  This needs to be done in a way that preserves their structural integrity and prevents environmental contamination.  The demolition, including the “mothballing” of the healthy wings, as discussed in our previous report, should be completed by Thanksgiving.
 
At its October 10th meeting the Board of Trustees selected an owner’s representative. This is the first step toward our goal of a new twenty first century Upper School campus. The firm will oversee all aspects of the reconstruction from now through the opening of school.
 
Under continuing study are ideas to recover use of the soccer field next spring by re-sodding and putting the gym and fine arts wings back in service.  
 
We thank you for your continued confidence in Minnehaha Academy, but also need your prayerful support as we move forward.  We will keep you updated as things progress.
 
#TogetherWeRise
 
Yours sincerely,
 
David Anderson, Chair, Board of Trustees
Donna Harris, Ed.D., President
Minnehaha Academy

 

Updated: 10/3/17
Bryan Duffy Fundraiser

Richville United Methodist Church in Richville, MN, is holding a fundraiser for Bryan Duffey (whose in-laws are members of the church) on October 7,2017, from 5:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. This will help Bryan and his wife Jamie maintain appropriate housing and secure transportation for the months ahead. For more information, contact Pastor Rod Tornquist, Richville United Methodist Church,  (218) 346-5656

Updated: 9/15/17
Letter from President Dr. Harris and Board Chair David Anderson

In recent days all emphasis has been on getting Upper School open in its Mendota Heights location.  As you all know, that was accomplished on September 5th. The Board of Trustees authorized acquisition of the site on August 15th. The lease was then negotiated and signed on August 16th. A mere twenty calendar days later school was open. Many have termed this a miracle. If not quite that it is certainly a testimony to the dedication of our administrators, faculty and staff, many volunteers, and the construction and architectural firms involved. 

Having accomplished that and with some data now available as to the condition of the 3100 West River Parkway site, we have changed focus to the longer term future.  Since the explosion, a disaster recovery team has been on the site. As was widely reported, the National Transportation Safety Board also conducted an investigation. During that time the NTSB prevented outside access to the site, even by the School’s own agents.  After our access was restored, a preliminary engineering study was performed. The report shows that the entire core of the campus―the 1912 and 1922 buildings, the link between them, and the STEM lab―was so intensely shaken by the blast that it must be razed. The demolition, which will start soon, will take at least a few months to complete. The gymnasium and fine arts wings, however, survived with minimal damage and are free of environmental contamination. However, there is no utility service to them. We are investigating the options of placing them back in service or merely “mothballing” them to avoid further damage. The amount of destruction that needs to be addressed is much larger than a lay-person’s look at the structure would indicate.

With that as background, we are considering all available means to bring the School back from this tragedy and to a better and brighter future than we could have imagined before – and as soon as is reasonably possible. We will continue to communicate as the plan takes shape. Thanks to all of you who have pitched in to help and who have remained our committed friends through this time. 

With our Christian mission at our core – TOGETHER WE RISE.

Yours sincerely,

David Anderson, Chair, Board of Trustees
Donna Harris, Ed.D, President

Updated 9/6/17
Pioneer Press Coverage of First Day of Upper School
Be sure to check out these great photos of the first day of Upper School by Scott Takushi from the Pioneer Press.

Updated 8/29/17
Building Dedication & Ribbon Cutting
Building Dedication Service
Monday, September 4, 2017, 7:00-7:30 p.m.
All are invited to attend a special building dedication service. This will be a time of prayer, thanksgiving, and dedication of our building, its space, and the learning that will happen there.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Tuesday, September 5th, 7:45 a.m.
All students are welcome to attend our ribbon cutting ceremony on the first day of Upper School. This event is for the seniors who will cut the ribbon and be the first to enter our doors and officially start the 2017-2018 school year! 

Updated 8/28/17
Please Beware
We are overwhelmed by the support of our community during this tragedy in the life of our school. However, we know that there are people who wish to take advantage of this situation. We have been alerted that there is a person soliciting gifts in the name of Minnehaha Academy near the State Fair entrance in St. Paul. This person has a laminated sign with the Minnehaha name and logo. Please know that this is NOT a legitimate fundraiser for the school; this person is in no way affiliated with Minnehaha Academy. If you wish to help, you may make a secure donation on our website: MinnehahaAcademy.net  

Updated: 8/25/17
Upper School Virtual Tour

Get a glimpse into the temporary site for Minnehaha Academy's Upper School with this virtual tour. This is an excellent facility that will serve students’ learning needs and provide an environment for the transformational Minnehaha Academy experience.

The Mendota Heights location is a modern building that will provide students and faculty with spacious classrooms, a chapel space, a media room, science labs, and other state-of-the-art classrooms. This facility supports the school’s high quality programs, with ample room for specialized classes such as its International Space Station program, visual arts and music. The facility also provides offices for key Upper School personnel, including principals, counselors and the nurse. The space is being intentionally designed with the needs of students and faculty first. The Minnehaha community is one of the unique aspects of the school, and the layout of the space will foster connection and community. 

Minnehaha Academy’s Upper School will be temporarily located at 1345 Mendota Heights Road, right off 55, and just across the Mendota Bridge from South Minneapolis. This location will allow easy access for families that have children at both campuses and for students who participate in athletics after school.  There is ample parking for faculty and students on site. 

Updated: 8/24/17
Dr. Donna Harris Statement
Over the past few weeks, we have focused on honoring our colleagues, Ruth Berg and John Carlson, and coming together as a caring community of faith to draw strength from God, our Savior, and one another. We have also been intensely focused on securing a temporary location for the Upper School that would keep our 9th through 12th grade students together, provide needed space for the same high-quality programming our students have always experienced, and be ready for occupation by September 5th. We are very grateful for the unanimous decision of the Mendota Heights City Council to approve an interim use permit for Minnehaha Academy. I was moved by the heartfelt expressions of welcome by Mayor Garlock and the members of the City Council. We look forward to getting to know our neighbors and making positive contributions to the community while in our temporary home—we have already been blessed by the well wishes of the community and I’m certain our students, staff, and faculty will lead efforts to be a blessing to Mendota Heights. 

Our desire is to be back in a permanent location as soon as possible. Minnehaha signed a two-year lease, as required by the owner of the Mendota Heights site; we believe the two-year lease provides maximum flexibility for Minnehaha Academy as we look towards rebuilding. The process for assessing the structural soundness of our Upper School and conducting rebuilding analyses with a partially destroyed structure is complex, so it is prudent and beneficial for Minnehaha to have a longer time window at the Mendota Heights site if needed.

We are grateful for the partnership with Mortenson Construction and ATS&R; within a very compressed time window, they have marshaled the energy and creativity of dozens of workers to design a beautiful and functional learning space that supports the high-quality programming our students have always enjoyed.  

Finally, we are thankful for the support and loyalty of our families who remain committed to partnering with Minnehaha as we seek to advance our mission in providing high-quality education integrating Christian faith and learning.

Updated: 8/22/17
City Council Approval of Mendota Heights Site
Minnehaha Academy is pleased to announce a site has been finalized for its Upper School.  The Mendota Heights City Council approved Minnehaha Academy’s interim use permit for students in grades 9-12 to occupy the former Brown Institute.

“Over the past couple of weeks, we toured and appraised many sites,” said Dr. Donna Harris, Minnehaha Academy president. “We selected our new site based on how well it met the needs of the Minnehaha community and our commitment to providing an exceptional academic education in a caring community. We also used surveyed data from our parents, faculty, and staff to determine priorities for our new facility. Those priorities included: maintaining and growing our high quality academic program, keeping all Upper School students in one building and traveling a distance of fewer than 10 miles from 3100 West River Parkway.”

Minnehaha Academy’s Upper School will be temporarily located at 1345 Mendota Heights Road, right off 55, and just across the Mendota Bridge from South Minneapolis. This location will allow easy access for families that have children at both campuses and for students who participate in athletics after school.  There is ample parking for faculty and students on site. 

“It is an excellent facility that will best serve our students’ learning needs and provide an environment for the transformational Minnehaha Academy experience,” Harris said. 

The Mendota Heights location is a modern building that will provide students and faculty with spacious classrooms, a chapel space, a media room, science labs, and other state-of-the-art classrooms. This facility supports the school’s high quality programs, with ample room for specialized classes such as its International Space Station program, visual arts and music.  The facility also provides offices for key Upper School personnel, including principals, counselors and the nurse. The space is being intentionally designed with the needs of students and faculty first. The Minnehaha community is one of the unique aspects of the school, and the layout of the space will foster connection and community. 

Busing and shuttle options will continue to be available for students.  As of this time, we expect Upper School classes to begin on Tuesday, September 5, 2017.

Updated: 8/17/17
MPR News: Interview with Dr. Donna Harris
But [Dr. Donna Harris] keeps praying and keeps coming back to the Proverbs passage, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your path."

Updated: 8/15/17
Pioneer Press Article: Minnehaha Athletics
“I’ve shared with them [student athletes], flat out, that they can bring the community back to a better place by just going out there and playing hard and representing us well on the field,” Athletic Director Josh Thurow said. “By (kids) coming back, it takes a little more focus off a tragic event. We don’t ever forget those things, but this can get us back toward some real positive things." 

Updated: 8/14/17
Unity Walk Music
Calling all Redhawk musicians! Be ready to join in singing "The Lord Bless You and Keep You" or bring your instrument to play in the pep band!

Updated: 8/11/17
Unity Walk
Join us on Tuesday for a Unity Walk – an opportunity to come together, to pause, to remember, to call on the Lord, and to look forward together. We will meet on the grassy side of the tennis courts at the Upper School at 6 p.m. and walk to the Lower & Middle School. Please WEAR RED and join us!

Date: Tuesday, 8/15
Time: 6 p.m.
Location: Minnehaha Academy Upper School, walk 1 mile to Lower & Middle School
 
 

Updated: 8/9/17
Letter from the President
Dear Minnehaha Community,

We are so overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, love, and prayers from this community in the aftermath of last week’s tragic accident at the Upper School. We stand on a firm foundation; God has been faithful to Minnehaha Academy for more than 100 years, and we trust in Him for the future.

This community is strong and resilient. We are blessed with a supportive and strategic Board of Trustees, talented administrative leadership, faculty and staff. Our alumni, alumni parents and current parents are loyal and supportive. We remain committed to our mission and we know that the Lord will bring beauty from these ashes.

So many of you have contacted us asking how you can be of assistance. Here are three ways:

1. Pray. Continue to pray for everyone who was involved in the incident, for the families of John Carlson and Ruth Berg, for our leadership team as we make decisions, for our staff, faculty, and students, and for the future rebuilding of the Upper School.

2. Help. Let us know your expertise. Sign up to let us know how you can be of service during this time. https://goo.gl/forms/PYD7EE4uE9yOKvmf2

3. Give. In the rebuilding process, we will make an even better Minnehaha. Your gifts will support the school in this transition and cover expenses beyond our insurance coverage. www.minnehahaacademy.net/giving/givenow

In the midst of the hurt, sadness, and grief, we are confident in the Lord’s guidance and direction, and most of all, His love. We are held up by your prayers. Minnehaha Academy is so much more than a building; we are a caring community across this city, nation and world. My prayer continues to be that we will lock hands and hearts and do the hard work of rebuilding together. We have been and will continue to be strong because we are in this together.

Thank you again for your support.

Donna Harris, Ed.D

Updated: 8/9/17
Ruth Berg Memorial Service
Ruth Berg was an important part of the Minnehaha Academy community and we will celebrate her life with a memorial service on Sunday, August 13 at 5 pm in our Lower & Middle School Chapel. Her family will receive visitors prior to the service, starting at 2 pm. 4200 West River Parkway, Minneapolis, MN.

Updated: 8/8/17
Continued Prayers
Thank you all for your offers to help! At this time the Upper School is not secure or safe for anyone to be moving debris or other materials. We are grateful for everyone's generosity and desire to help, but please do not go to the Upper School to offer your services at this time – we want to make sure everyone stays safe! Please continue to pray for our community. 

Updated: 8/4/17
Donations & Support
We appreciate the support of the Minnehaha alum who started the GoFundMe page. For those who would rather donate directly to Minnehaha Academy for a tax donation or to take advantage of your employer’s matching gift program, you may do so. You may give online or send gifts directly to the school at 4200 West River Parkway, Mpls 55406

https://www.minnehahaacademy.net/giving/funddonation/

Updated: 8/3/17
John Carlson Memorial Service
We will celebrate John Carlson’s life with a memorial service on Sunday at 6 pm in our Lower & Middle School Chapel. His family will receive visitors prior to the service, from 4-6 pm. 4200 West River Parkway, Minneapolis

Updated: 8/3/17
Bryan Duffey Update
This morning our prayers are with Minnehaha's facilities team member Bryan Duffey and his family. We pray for his healing and for the wisdom of the doctors and nurses caring for him at this time.

Our hearts and thoughts are with all of those in the Minnehaha Community. We continue to pray for the families of John Carlson and Ruth Berg. We are thankful for the outpouring of support from emergency responders and members of the community. Thank you.

 

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