Plenty of wow moments during walk around Rock Ridge’s career academy high school

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“Wow, and, I can’t believe it,” are the two most popular general reactions to the new Rock Ridge High School.

That’s according to school leaders, who’ve brought people through for tours already.

The nearly 300,000 square foot building sits on the edge of Virginia and Eveleth. And in the fall, it will be where about 1200 kids show up for education each day.

But it will be different than what most of us are used to. And that’s by design, since it is a career academy model.

Willie Spelts, Fundraising Coordinator, said, “Industry has been telling us, we need kids to work together, talk together, struggle together. They have to be able to work together. And so we’re encouraging collaboration in these spaces.”

There’s not traditional classrooms in the learning wings. Instead, there are different size learning studios and rooms, with all kinds of fun and non-traditional furniture for the students to use.

Teachers have started moving some items in. “We’ve had a meeting with teachers from both buildings already. There is some anxiousness because teaching is going to look different here. But there’s also a lot of excitement,” shared Mark Winter, the principal at Rock Ridge and the current VHS principal.

The shops classes are enormous, with a crane, laser engravers, and so much more.

There’s also an area focused on health care, and down by the cafeteria, a culinary arts kitchen.

For performing arts, there is an 800 seat auditorium that has all the bells and whistles needed for a Broadway show.

The U.S. Steel Gym hosted its first basketball games two Fridays ago. And the atmosphere was just awesome, according to athletic directors.

“I think the coolest thing was seeing the kids reaction. Their expressions and emotions were pretty cool,” shared Josh Lamppa, one of the directors.

Chad Hazelton, the other director, added there are other benefits to having this three-station gym set up. “It’s going to allow teams to practice earlier in the day, and not have practice till 9pm at night,” he said.

Plus, they have two turf baseball fields, two turf softball fields, and a turf football stadium.

Kraus-Anderson completed the construction. The company also built Laurentian Elementary.

This all came together after voters said yes to consolidating the two formerly rival districts.