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New high school tour brings planning, blueprints to life

Alexandria School Board members toured the third floor of the classroom wing at the new high school construction site. The building is still very much under construction, but soon, the building will be entirely enclosed and interior finishing will be under way. (photo by Amy Chaffins)1 / 4
Director of business services for District 206, Trevor Peterson, pointed out a feature in what will be the commons area at the new high school. (photo by Amy Chaffins)2 / 4
Jason Rentmeester (left), project manager with Kraus-Anderson Construction, pointed out elements of the courtyard area to school board members Pam Carlson, Jean Robley, Sandy Susag and Angie Krebs. (photo by Amy Chaffins)3 / 4
This will be the main entrance to the new high school. Natural elements, including an abundance of natural light, are incorporated into the design. (photo by Amy Chaffins)4 / 4

Alexandria School Board members donned hard hats and safety vests Monday evening and ventured inside the shell of the new Alexandria Area High School.

The tour of the new high school construction seemed to breathe life into months and months of meetings, blueprints and planning.

Dean Anderson, school board chair, said, "I was impressed with the quality of the construction. Both the exactness and accuracy of a project of this size and the strength and robustness of the structure. We are getting a very quality building. Credit goes to the design team, the architects, the construction managers, the contractors and especially the workers who seem to take a great deal of pride in their work and the product they are producing for us. The tour was also a real motivational boost of adrenaline as I think about all the progressive programming and the new teaching techniques going into making Alexandria an exemplary high school for the rest of the state and the nation."

The tour included a swing through the auditorium, gymnasiums, student commons, media center and classroom wings, as well as a third-story view over the stadium, tennis courts and ballfields.

Director of Business Services for District 206, Trevor Peterson, said, "Despite the winter-like spring, the favorable weather the past month or so has allowed the project to say on schedule, and even a little bit ahead. The soggy conditions earlier this summer made some areas of the site difficult to work in, but with the roof on the majority of the building to keep out any rain, the progress inside the building has really taken off. The exterior work across the entire campus is coming along very quickly. Within the next month or so, the entire building will be entirely enclosed and the interior finishes will start ramping up."

Although the building and campus are still very much under construction, the tour was an opportunity for school board members to get a feel for the space.


Here's what's under way at the construction site:

--Classroom wings: Interior framing and fireproofing are under way; mechanical, electrical and plumbing work is being roughed in above and below grade; and windows, bricks and metal panels will be installed.

--Commons, cafeteria, kitchen: Moisture mitigation is under way; mechanical, electrical and plumbing work is being roughed in above and below grade; and exterior and interior metal stud framing work will be done.

--Fitness, locker rooms and gymnasium: Moisture mitigation is under way; mechanical, electrical and plumbing work is ongoing in the locker rooms and fitness area; sprinklers are being installed; and window, brick and metal panel work will be done.

--Auditorium, music and arts wing: Mechanical, electrical and plumbing work is ongoing; the auditorium balcony steel will be placed; and window, brick and metal panel work will be done.

--Campus work: Details on the stadium, tennis courts and ballfields are in the sports section of this issue of the Echo Press.

"With a project this size, and by breaking the bids into three different bid packages, one could expect to have a fair number of change orders. However, we have not had to deal with any substantial change orders to date," Peterson said. "The design and construction teams are working together wonderfully with all the contractors to ensure any potential change orders are dealt with fairly and in a timely manner to minimize the impact on project budget and schedule."


In early March, the Echo Press updated the community on progress made over the winter. Since then, in the classroom wing, exterior walls went up, below-grade electrical and plumbing work were done, concrete slabs were poured and interior mechanical, electrical, plumbing and technology work were well under way.

The commons and cafeteria construction included erection of steel and installation of glued laminated timber.

During the spring, work also included installation of below and above-ground mechanical, electrical and plumbing in the fitness center, locker rooms and gymnasium.

In the auditorium, music and arts areas, load-bearing masonry, joist and decking work and below and above-grade mechanical, electrical and plumbing were installed.

Construction crews also worked on the stadium, tennis courts, concession building, fencing, final grading and landscaping.


Now and into early fall, windows will start being installed in the building, and brick and metal panels will go up.

Across the campus, stadium pavement, bleachers, concessions, surfacing and turf will be installed along with surfacing and fencing for tennis courts and ballfields. Plus, parking lots and landscaping will be placed.

Alexandria Area High School is scheduled to open in the fall of 2014.

Amy Chaffins

Amy Chaffins is a journalist working for the Echo Press newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota.

(320) 763-3133