MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minneapolis school damaged during last summer’s unrest has reopened nearly a year and a half later.

The charter school, MTS Secondary, had to be completely gutted as part of a $17.4 million renovation project. The school was redesigned to have a modern, coffee shop or college campus feel for its 165 students.

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MTS Secondary school was destroyed in the civil unrest following the murder of George Floyd. The building was torched and looted. Principal Shawn Fondow said the bulk of the destruction were water damages from the sprinkler system.

“From that evening into the next morning, there were 27 fires set throughout our space,” Fondow said. “Everything was gone or destroyed and I was incredibly sad.”

Mall of America decided to help donate a space at the mall for in-person learning for the time being. Several other community members stepped in to help furnish and supply technology.

Students returned to the building on Thursday. With its natural lighting, high ceilings and soft seatings, Fondow said the redesign is meant to feel different than a traditional public school.

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“We want it to feel different. Some of the parents we serve, some of the students we serve have got a difficult relationship with public school and potentially even trauma involved with that,” Fondow said. “So, when they walk into our space, I don’t want it to feel like a school. I want them to feel like, ‘What am I seeing here?’ To make them get into a thinking space instead of a defensive state. And that way we have a chance to really have a conversation with you on what school is going to look like for you here.”

The 88,000 square foot building includes a professional music studio, full service science lab, creative learning spaces, and more. Fondow said the goal is to meet the needs of every individual learner.

For ninth grade Enrique Landan, his favorite part about the new building is the science lab and music studio.

“For rating here, it’s 10/10. Incredible. It’s like we’re in the next future,” Landan said.

There are 165 students currently enrolled, just under half of them are still doing distance learning.

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