Ground broken for Cerro Gordo school project

After a fairly formal ceremony indoors as part of a groundbreaking ceremony for Cerro Gordo’s $8 million building renovation project, Superintendent Brett Robinson couldn’t help but show some joy as administrators, parents, school board members and students gathered for photos outside where the real action will take place.

With students gathered around him, the Cerro Gordo superintendent pointed to the architectural rendering of what the middle/high school campus will look once the project is complete and exclaimed, “does that not look awesome? I want to go to school there!”

Temperatures at the April 6 groundbreaking hovered around the freezing mark so it was not easy for dignitaries to turn the ceremonial first spadefuls of dirt. But that did not stop board members, student representatives and others from taking their turns with shovels in their hands and hard hats on their heads.

Plocher Construction of Highland is the general contractor for the work, which will include construction of a 14,000-square-foot building to connect the current 1929 building with the separate 1963 gym, cafeteria and band structure.

The work, a majority of which is expected to be completed by the start of the 2019-20 school year, will allow the school district to funnel all traffic through one main entrance, increasing security at the seventh through 12th grade campus.

“If you look around right now at our junior high/high school campus, there are 15 means of egress, 15 doorways that people can go in and out,” said Cerro Gordo School Board President Todd Henricks. “Today, as we unfortunately know in 2018, that’s not secure, that’s not safe.”

The connector structure is aimed at increasing safety by consolidating those entrances, and will house new district offices, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) labs, a new library, student commons area and a secondary gymnasium.

Students currently walk outside – sometimes several times per day – as they travel from the main high school to the gym/cafeteria building.

The construction project, approved by voters in the spring of 2017, also includes renovations of the 1929 building that will convert its gymnasium into an auditorium and the top-floor library into a pair of classrooms.

“So this complex is going to be virtually a new state of the art complex by the time we’re finished constructing this addition. It’s something that this community can be extremely proud of, and something that can go on for generations,” said Henricks, who has extensive ties to the high school. One of his grandfathers was secretary of the school board that constructed the current building, while another was a mason who helped lay its cornerstone.

One student each from seventh through 12th grades was selected to be a part of the groundbreaking. Those were (starting with seventh grade) Kiley Brunner, Ella Walker, Nicole Sullivan, Tyler Van Vatre, Josh Stump and Christina Hoving.

Also recognized were Plocher Construction Owner Scott Plocher and Site Supervisor Dale Krump; the Cerro Gordo school board members and Damien Schlitt of BLDD Architects, the firm that has helped develop the building plan.

Cerro Gordo constructed an elementary school in 1900, followed by the 1929 high school. A junior high school on in 1957, followed by a new gym and cafeteria structure in 1963. In 2000 a bandroom, two classrooms, storage and a weight room were added to the 1963 building, and in 2001 a new elementary school was constructed across the street from the high school.

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