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Owatonna community breaks ground on new high school

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Owatonna community breaks ground on new high school

{p dir=”ltr”}School administrators, community leaders and students gathered on a plot of cropland in Owatonna on Thursday afternoon to celebrate the beginning of a new era.

Construction on the much anticipated new Owatonna High School located at 1945 18th Street SE has begun following a groundbreaking ceremony. Owatonna Public Schools staff shared their excitement about the development to the crowd of attendees. Guest speakers included Superintendent Jeff Elstad, School Board Chair Mark Sebring, High School Principal Kory Kath and Owatonna Education Association President and teacher Todd Andrix.

Elstad thanked the many corporate partners, Wold Architect and Engineers, Kraus Anderson, OPS staff leaders and the many others in the community who have shown their support for the long-awaited project.

“As all of you know, it takes many hands and heads to bring a project like this to fruition,” Elstad said.

Henry Orchard class of 2034

Henry Orchard, class of 2034, shovels some dirt using one of the golden shovels used in the new Owatonna High School’s groundbreaking ceremony Thursday. (Annie Granlund/

Several community partners, corporate representatives and members of the high school planning committee — a group of people that were highly involved in the facility’s design process — grabbed some golden shovels to participate in the first removal of dirt.

The breaking of ground was an exciting event for many in attendance as the building’s planning and designing phase has been many years in the making and involved many people. The community’s approval of a new high school did not come right away, but after some adjustments to the proposal, voters approved building a new school by 55.71% in November 2019.

Jeff Elstad at groundbreaking

Superintendent Jeff Elstad thanked the many community partners, local businesses, staff and community members who made the project possible. (Annie Granlund/

“This new high school is the environment that our children in this community need and deserve. This town has a way of keeping education at the heart of all we do and the staff of OHS are committed to continuing the traditions and the pursuit of excellence, finding new and innovative ways to embrace the physical, cultural, and sociological changes that come as time marches on,” Andrix said.

Owatonna High School groundbreaking

Owatonna School Board members and Superintendent Jeff Elstad toss the dirt during the groundbreaking for the new Owatonna High School. (Annie Granlund/

Andrix proceeded to hand out gifts to honor the Rypka family, members of the “Vote Yes” committee, various leaders, community members and businesses that helped make the project possible.

Students at groundbreaking

Future graduates of the new Owatonna High School participated in a photo opportunity following a handful of speeches. (Annie Granlund/

The new building will allow for expansion of existing programs and the introduction of new programs that will explore career opportunities in manufacturing, agriculture, health science, culinary science and business. Kath described his pride in the way his staff and his students work every day and their dedication to learning. Kath believes the new building will help students prepare for a better future, stating repeatedly throughout his speech that the next generation of all students’ futures “is right here.”

“I am grateful for the amazing team of students, staff and community members that partnered with Wold to set our vision that sees all, and makes a space for all,” Kath said.

The cost of the school is $104 million. In addition, local businesses have donated a combined $22 million plus in-kind donations. The new high school is set to open for students in August 2023 and is designed to educate 1,600 students.

{div class=”asset-tagline text-muted”}Reach reporter Ashley Rezachek at 507-444-2376. ©Copyright 2021 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.{/div}

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