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Vicki Gerdes, Forum Communications Co., Published May 22 2011

LP-A event set to honor 1922 school building

AUDUBON, Minn. – Starting on June 6, the 1922 building that comprises a large portion of the current Lake Park-Audubon Elementary School facilities is slated to come down.

And though the demolition will make way for a brand-new school entrance, lobby and central office area, in many ways, “it’s hard to see it go,” said LP-A Elementary Principal Sam Skaaland.

After all, the building holds 89 years of history within its walls – history that will be commemorated with a special “School History Day” at the school Monday in Audubon.

The event will include a school assembly at 2 p.m., in which past and current students will be invited to come together for a celebration of the building and what it has meant to the district.

Local entertainer Larry Swenson will perform and speak to students, after which the school’s sixth-grade classes will present a special slide show. The presentation will include historic photographs of the current and 1922 buildings and the district’s original school, which was built in 1886 and was known as “Old Faithful,” Skaaland said.

Also available at History Day, for the first time, will be a commemorative history booklet with stories, original artwork and historic photographs collected by LP-A Elementary students and staff since last fall.

The booklet and History Day presentation are the culmination of a yearlong historic preservation project at the school, Skaaland noted.

Every month, students at the school met with groups of past graduates, who would tell them stories about the school’s history – many of which have been compiled in the history book, Skaaland said.

“There’s the one about the cow on the roof of the old school and the one about the gun training,” he said. “(The students) brought their guns to school for the training. The story is that one of them went off and scared the living daylights out of someone upstairs.”

To see more of these stories and learn how the above-mentioned tales turned out, you’ll have to get a copy of the book, Skaaland teased.

After the assembly, former students at the 1922 school will be invited to take one last stroll through the hallways and “reminisce about old times,” he added.

But it’s not just the alumni who have memories from that building, Skaaland noted. The facility has been in “continuous use” since it was built in 1922, so some of the school’s current fifth- and sixth-graders have memories of attending classes there.

However, one final aspect of the history project won’t be completed in time for the Monday event, Skaaland said.

Construction for a wall expected to hold a large glass mosaic mural, which will be 6 feet high by 10 feet wide, has not yet been completed on the wall, delaying the mural’s unveiling.

Becky Mitchell, the Lake Park glass artist who created the original mural design, said it consists of eight different panels that will need to be assembled as part of the installation process.

Because it will be difficult to move the heavy glass mural once it has been installed, the decision was made to delay the unveiling rather than to install it in a temporary location, Mitchell said.

Though Mitchell created the original design, much of the actual work was done by LP-A students, staff and community volunteers.

“It’s been fun,” she said. “There are a bunch of parents and community members who’ve really gotten into it – they took the reins and helped to make it happen.

“There’s a lot of community ownership in this mural.”

LP-A alumni can bid on 1922 mementos

Want a piece of the woodwork from the old Lake Park-Audubon Elementary School building for your very own?

Make them an offer.

The LP-A School Board decided to open up the 1922 school building Tuesday to prospective bidders.

Former students who attended school in the 89-year-old building will be invited to make bids for the purchase of a memento from their alma mater.

Superintendent Dale Hogie said the district will accept bids on some of the woodwork, cabinets and lockers in the building.

Bids will be accepted from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday. Bidders will be provided with a bidding document, which they will be asked to fill out after touring the building and deciding what they would like to keep.

“Due to liability concerns, winning bidders will not be responsible for removing their items from the 1922 building,” Hogie wrote in a news release.

“Items will be removed from the 1922 building by an employee of the school district and placed in a designated area in the school. Minimum bids have been established to cover the cost of removal.”

Winning bidders must pay for and remove items on June 3.

Demolition of the 1922 facility begins June 6 to make way for the new entrance, lobby and central office area that will be the focal point for the newly remodeled and expanded elementary school.

LP-A Elementary Principal Sam Skaaland said some teachers have already begun moving supplies out of classrooms.

Some items from the 1922 school will be retained by the district, Hogie noted, but bricks from the structure will be made available to the public at no cost once the demolition is complete.


Vicki Gerdes writes for the Detroit Lakes Tribune