New Take on an Old Elementary School


Amelia Kirt and Deeanna Dornisch

Oakwood Elementary School has currently been under construction for nearly five months and it will be finishing up in time for the 2020-2021 school year.

Oakwood currently holds about 500 students, and it is way over capacity. Because of the amount of incoming students, the school needed an expansion. 

The construction began in the fall of 2019. “The west side is going to be a gym, and the east side will hold early learning and some district offices,” said Principal Sarabeth deNeui. 

Since the construction is being added to an already pre-existing building, there are a few concerns about the construction being a potential distraction. 

“We were having a parent teacher conference and the parent teacher conference and the parent stopped the meeting to ask if the room was shaking I said ‘yes’ and I guess I am just used to it,” said Mrs. deNeui.

“Working around an already existing building with students in it creates a lot of safety and coordination challenges,” said the project superintendent Brandon Larkin.

Oakwood prepared and moved any potential noise affected classrooms to avoid any problems during the process. “We planned ahead so we know the construction would start this fall, so we moved the teaching spaces last spring” said deNaui.

A week into the project, the project faced a large setback. It began to snow which put a fork in the road, but thankfully Mr. Larkin had experience with construction in Minnesota.

“They built the exterior first so during the winter they can work on interior, but it hasn’t slowed down the process at all and the gym went up in a week,” said Mrs. deNeui.

Austin and Omar are both 5th graders at Oakwood and are both fascinated with construction. They are very interested in being construction workers when they are older.

Larkin said, “It’s fun to see their excitement and joy on their faces… We go out every Friday as a reward for good behavior for the week.”

“We are trying to complete the construction project as they [the students] continue with their normal school day,” said Larkin.