MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — High school students at Minnehaha Academy should have started classes for the school year.

But an explosion on the Upper School campus three weeks ago destroyed much of the building and killed two school employees. The school pushed back the start time because of the tragedy.

On Thursday, they thanked the Mendota Heights city council for approving a permit so that classes to be held at the vacant Sanford-Brown College.

And they explained why this temporary location is a considered a good fit.

Instead of this being the first week of class for high school students at Minnehaha Academy, it is another day that engineers are studying the structural damage done on Aug. 2.

A gas explosion that day tore through the building, causing a section of it to collapse.

It’s still not clear how much damage was done.

“We don’t know the full report just yet. Obviously there are parts of the building more seriously damaged than others. We are waiting to get that final analysis from them,” Minnehaha Academy President Donna Harris said.

After looking at several options for a temporary location, school leaders chose a building eight miles away and signed a two-year lease while they wait to rebuild.

Work is already underway inside Sanford-Brown College in Mendota Heights.

“We’d looked at other viable options and when I walked into Brown College I thought this is doable place. It’s a modern building that has been used as a school,” Harris said.

Contractors are remodeling some of the classrooms and open areas. Design plans show there are plenty of classrooms available, as well as a cafeteria and space for a chapel.

But there will be no lockers, and no gym.

“I think normalcy is coming around. And now we have a space and they know school is going to start on September 5 along with a lot of other school districts. I think they are feeling pretty good about things,” Principal Jason Wenschlag said.

Lower and middle school students returned to class on Wednesday.

The Upper School students met at Fort Snelling Thursday morning to get their schedules and meet their teachers.

Injured school worker Bryan Duffey is still in the hospital. His wife says his discharge date has been pushed to next Tuesday.


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