Manawa school upgrades completed
Public gets chance to see building improvements
By Greg Seubert
It’s been almost three years since School District of Manawa voters gave their approval to a referendum to finance additions to the junior/senior high school, district-wide renovations and safety upgrades.
Several people showed up at the Manawa Middle School/Little Wolf High School building Aug. 31 to get a first-hand look at the finished product, one day before the 2021-22 school year began.
That finished product includes a new fitness center, which is now available to community residents; and improvements to the Manawa Middle School and Little Wolf High School building.
The district also dedicated the building with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Students and Manawa School Board members also led visitors on tours of the building. The tour guides included senior and Student Council president Amber Fietzer.
“This remodeling project represents a bold, new direction for our school district,” she said shortly before helping cut the ribbon.
“The collaboration spaces, the stage, the fitness center and the agricultural expansions have all been great additions to the educational architecture of the school,” she said. “There will be many new and expanded opportunities for students and staff with these spaces. The community support for this project has been wonderful and will be vital to our success as a school district moving forward.”
COVID-19 concerns kept the district from letting the public see the improvements.
“The community members that have passed by are just thrilled to be out and visiting our school,” District Administrator Melanie Oppor said. “We’re hearing a lot of stories and recollections of the days when they went to school here and how much everything has changed for the better.”
The fitness center opened last fall and is now open to the community.
“We’ve done a great deal of improvement with electrical systems, heating and cooling, plumbing, natural gas,” Oppor said. “All of those things lend itself to a more comfortable learning environment, even though it may not be something you actually see every day. The kinds of things you do see are more contemporary learning spaces like the collaboration spaces at the middle school and high school.”
Schools are large buildings that require a lot of maintenance
“It’s taken the pressure off of the immediate budget and enabled us to space things out over a more extended period of time so that it is more manageable for the taxpayer,” Oppor said.
Grades 6-8 attend Manawa Middle School, while grades 9-12 attend Little Wolf High School.
“I’m so excited with spaces like our science labs or the ag lab and to see those movable tables so that students can work in groups,” Oppor said. “We can simulate what our employers are looking for in terms of young people in those initial stages of employment, that they understand how to work effectively together.”
Year of planning
Construction took more than a year, as did the planning, according to Oppor.
“The planning process alone was over a year,” she said. “We did a couple of surveys to focus our efforts to ensure that we were making the changes that the community would support.”
“The Manawa community can be proud of their commitment to high expectations and recognizing the need to provide facilities that mirror these same high expectations,” middle school/high school principal Dan Wolfgram said. “The Manawa voting public has demonstrated through their support of the referendum project the passion that they have for excellence in this community.”
“People are so happy to see each other again and the building’s come back to life,” Oppor said. “We are immensely proud of this space and finally, after all this time, be able to share it with the community. We are thankful every day to be able to come to this school district and provide our amazing staff and students with this learning environment.”