SARTELL -- A chef's kitchen, a black box theatre, a student ran coffee shop and plenty of group collaborating areas are all in the works for the new Sartell-St. Stephen High School.

Since the passing of the bond referendum in May the school board has been working on a construction timeline and development details for the new high school as well as some of its other buildings that will receive updates.

Sartell- St. Stephen High School design (Chrissy Gaetke, WJON)

The current Sartell-St. Stephen Middle School and Pine Meadow Elementary will be going through a remodel beginning in the summer of 2017. The new high school will also break ground in the summer of 2017.

During Wednesday night's district facilities plan meeting Superintendent Jeff Schwiebert outlined the designs for new high school and what features will be included in the new space. Over the course of the next four years, besides the building of the new high school, many buildings in the school district will be shifting grades as well as getting some upgrades.


Schwiebert says safety has been a top concern while designing the new high school, which has an open concept.

"The amount of glass, the amount of visibility to be able to see what is going on. We're also talking about how we can isolate sections of the building. So those are the things we heard the most from a safety stand point."

Sartell- St. Stephen High School design (Chrissy Gaetke, WJON)

The community raised questions about the visibly open design and if that design is safer than a more enclosed design. Schwiebert says based on research and the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary the board has concluded an open plan to be safer for students.

"Predominately it's taken from the research and if folks want to get out and look on the internet and talk about the different ways, the Sandy Hook Elementary is probably the best example of that, a community that had great sorrow decided to rebuild a building. How to make it safe was in all the peoples judgments that they were working with and all the experts today say is you want to see what threats are in front of you. That's the best way to handle those problems."

Other than safety the school is expected to incorporate more career orientated programs such as learning culinary arts while working in a full sized restaurant style kitchen and working in hands on learning labs centered around technical fields such as mechanics, manufacturing and welding.

Schwiebert says the new high school will give teachers more options to incorpate different styles of teaching into their lessons.

"It's really exciting as an educator to think about what is in the building, the general classroom space is open, it's visible so I can see what is happening so I can have greater access to my kids, I can have flexibility. From an old world history teacher that I was, I used to have kids bring in foods from different countries, we actually have space where we can do that now and it doesn't mean I'm destroying the carpet."

Part of the modern design doesn't include a key element found in most schools, a library.

"Our kids are all on one-to-one, so they have availability to everything available on the internet, we teach them how to use that material, however we also know in our language arts area the love of books and still having books is very important so we'll still have book collections and collections throughout this whole building they just won't be housed in the traditional library sets."

The new high school is expected to be completed by the fall of 2019. During the fall of 2019 through Spring 2020 the current Sartell-St. Stephen High School will be closed to remodel it into a middle school for grades 6-8. By fall of 2020 the renovations are expected to be completed on the current high school to open as the new middle school and the current middle school to open as an intermediate school for grades 3-5.

Another district facilities plan meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, December 7 at 6:30 at the Sartell-St. Stephen High School.

Upper Level Sartell- St. Stephen High School Design. (Sartell- St. Stephen School District)
Main Level Sartell- St. Stephen High School Design. (Sartell- St. Stephen School District)