by Mike Knaak
The Sartell-St. Stephen Education Foundation campaign for Riverview Intermediate School has reached nearly three-fourths of its goal.
As of mid-May, the foundation has raised more than $70,000 of its fundraising goal of $100,000. In addition, the foundation’s projects will be boosted by a matching grant of up to $100,000 from Pat Lynch and Granite Logistics.
Even with the virus business shutdowns and layoffs, giving continues.
“It’s slowed down but not stopped,” said Amy Trombley, foundation chair. “It’s exciting to see people wanting to give. The community has a giving nature and supports our kids.”
During the summer, the current middle school will be transformed and renamed Riverview Intermediate school to serve third-, fourth- and fifth-graders.
During the past year, the school’s teachers and administrators developed a vision and programs for the school specifically designed for young adolescents.
Principal Zach Dingmann says the plan supports hands-on learning, environmental education and community engagement. The foundation money will support those programs.
There are three components to the plan.
The first is STEAM (for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics). Materials and instruction will focus on leading-edge experiences such as flying drones, experiencing computer programming and working with engineering kits.
The former middle school swimming pool has been filled, and the space converted to a flexible activity space. For active students, the foundation says the space will “celebrate and capture that energy in ways that can propel them to learn in new ways, promote healthy lifestyles, engage in teamwork and community-building, and simply provide an outlet to get the wiggles out and play.”
What was the pool seating area has been carpeted to provide a space to sit or stretch out.
The foundation’s website describes the space: “Promoting physical experiences for students such as scaling climbing walls, using yoga mats, interacting with a MotionMagix screen and participating in games that will engage their minds and bodies in a safe, positive and fun environment.”
The space has been named The Pier to reflect Sartell’s history and geography, Dingmann said. “The Pier was a great name,” Dingmann said. “It ties into a water theme.”
The media hub will be in the center of the school. The space is designed for exploring books, reading, multi-media and collaboration with flexible seating. Throughout the years, the media hub space has been a multi-purpose room, classrooms and music rooms.
“It’s the center and heart of the building. We wanted our kids to be reading there,” Dingmann said.
Last winter, the woods to the west of the school was designated a School Forest by the Department of Natural Resources. That designation will boost the school’s environmental focus. The forest presents opportunities beyond the obvious biology and nature lessons. Dingmann said the plan is to involve all disciplines including art and technology. Art students, for example, could draw and design wood duck houses while technology students could explore how to more efficiently maintain the forest.
The fundraising and school conversion continued during the district’s distance learning period this spring and while families and businesses are facing economic challenges. With the school closed, construction crews got a head start on remodeling. To help families and to support local businesses, the foundation bought gift cards for teachers and staff as a part of its teacher appreciation program, Trombley said.
“We are moving along in these trying times,” Dingmann said. “We have to plan and prepare for next fall. We’re optimistic and positive and excited to welcome kids back here this fall.”
Drawing shows the Pier, a space converted from the swimming pool.