Foundations are being laid for the new OHS


Kennedy Wilker

The first two floors of the new OHS begin to go up

Kennedy Wilker, Writer

The new Owatonna High School is under construction and the doors are expected to open in fall of 2023. The three story building will accommodate roughly 1600 students with new classrooms, state-of-the-art industrial art labs, an 825 seat auditorium, gymnasium and a large cafeteria/common area. The school will also feature a parking lot for 890 vehicles, a fieldhouse with a track, a football stadium with a full track, eight tennis courts, four soccer/lacrosse fields, two softball fields, two baseball fields, and a synthetic turf football field.

In November 2019, Owatonna Public Schools received opinions from the community for the idea of building a new high school. The community voted to build a new high school and granted eight million dollars towards repurposing the current high school campus to fit the district and community needs. The construction kicked off a year after approval, starting with the groundbreaking ceremony. Sophomore Kate Sande helped out with the groundbreaking for the new school. Sande said, “It was cool watching them break ground. I was happy I got the opportunity to be there alongside my fellow classmates.” The groundbreaking was the first step in the process of construction for the brand new high school.

The skeletal structure and foundation is done on the buildings; it’s all coming along well.”

— Mr. Bob Olson

The construction process is moving forward. The exterior storage building, athletic facilities, ponds and the stadium foundations have been started. All of the utilities and the parking lot are also in the process of being built. The outside structures are getting closer to being completed. Facility Director Mr. Bob Olson said, “The skeletal structure and foundation is done on the buildings; it’s all coming along well.” The team is working hard to accomplish their goals to open the school on time. The team of Kraus-Anderson has been in charge of the construction of the project from creating the blueprint to building the finishing product.

The new school will be a change in the right direction for Owatonna. It will provide resources for new learning opportunities and improvement for all. The school will offer new programs and is looking towards more hands-on learning projects like a nursing lab and onsite construction projects to provide career insight. The current underclassmen will be the only two classes to step foot in both high schools. Sande said, “I am excited to be the first ever graduating class from the new school. It will be interesting to see how the staff and community input will improve the school.” The future of Owatonna High School will highlight a lot of flexibility for students.

The existing high school will no longer be used for educational purposes once the school opens. Last week a district  taskforce of 25 people looked at the existing campus to figure out the best use for it. This plan is currently in the brainstorming process, but it is looking to be used for the district’s needs as an office or maintenance facilities. Ideas were thrown in the air about an apartment building, a community/recreational center or theater for productions and entertainment. Superintendent Mr. Jeffrey Elstad said, “There are a lot of ideas and possibilities to explore. The taskforce is actively looking at all of them.” The taskforce will come forward to provide a recommendation of what will be made of the space to the school board in January.