By Kate Raddatz

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — School leaders Friday unveiled plans to rebuild a Twin Cities academy leveled by a deadly blast.

A natural gas explosion killed a custodian and secretary at Minnehaha Academy‘s Upper School in Minneapolis last August. Since then, students have attended class in Mendota Heights.

It’s been seven months since the explosion at Minehhaha Academy’s Upper School took the lives of two staff members and injured several others. Now school officials are looking to rebuild here, keeping in mind the history of the old school while looking ahead to the future.

Designs for the new Minnehaha Academy Upper School build upon the already two standing buildings that are on each side of where the explosion happened.
There are an additional three academic wings being added, and early plans for a garden where the building crumbled.

minnehaha academy redesign Minnehaha Academy Unveils Rebuild Plans

(credit: Minnehaha Academy)

“At the center is a memorial garden where where we hope to acknowledge and and pay homage to those aspects,” Judith Hoskens with Cuningham Design said.

School officials say they took input from staff members on the designs, who wanted to keep some of the old school, but also add more modern looking buildings that do away with the brick.

The new campus would also handle nearly twice the size of the current study body of 350 students in the upper school.

“It really is about thinking about the future it’s a pivotal time We need to think about what does 21st century learning look like,” Minnehaha Academy President Dr. Donna Harris said.

It’s been a unique school year for the upper school students, who have had to temporarily uproot from their Minneapolis campus to Mendota Heights.

“People are on a continuum of how they’re doing. Some were doing well Aug. 3. Some took a longer time to adjust to the space and circumstances,” Upper School Principal Jason Wenschlag said.

The new plans would combine the middle and upper school, giving a bigger sense of community for many who experienced tragedy.

These are still early designs so school officials don’t know yet just how big the campus will be or how much it will cost. The goal is still to open in the fall of 2019.

Federal investigators say the explosion happened as two contractors tried to move gas meters from the school’s basement outside.

The state later fined Master Mechanical $50,000 for safety violations. The company is challenging that.


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