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Published January 10 2012

Lessons learned are helping guide West Fargo with latest athletic endeavor

West Fargo - West Fargo High School had a few logistical problems for many of its athletics programs when it transitioned to a new building in 1987.

There was no football field, soccer facility or track on

site. The wrestling room was small and the weight room was tiny.

Now district officials are looking to make sure the athletic department at a new high school in West Fargo won’t have similar problems.

“The plan for the new site is to have all the space that West Fargo High School had to do in stages,” said Packers activities director Curt Jones.

Jones said he and several other administrators and coaches at West Fargo High School provided input to YHR Architects, the Fargo company creating the plan for transitioning the Sheyenne Ninth Grade Center into a new high school.

The new school – part of an $82.5 million bond that was approved last year – is scheduled to be fully operational in 2014.

Jones said the plan is to have competitive varsity baseball and softball fields, and six varsity tennis courts at the new school. The expansive area at the Sheyenne site will also include facilities for sub-varsity football, soccer and track and field.

There will be a main competitive gymnasium, and there could be at least one auxiliary gym.

Jones said varsity football for both West Fargo schools will be played at the current high school field. Varsity soccer for both schools will be played at the Lodoen Center site.

The West Fargo School Board will likely vote on the new high school building proposal during its Jan. 23 meeting, Jones said. Jones said that none of the building plans for the school are final until they gain board approval.

“The indoor part of the facility will be pretty comparable with what we have here (at West Fargo High School),” Jones said. “Their interior physical education space, music space and theater department should all be comparable.”

Attendance boundaries for the new schools – a new middle school and elementary school are also in the building stages – remain a little trickier to finalize.

A committee met last week to hammer out details of how to create boundaries for the new-look district. The committee will forward their recommendations to the school board on Jan. 23, Jones said.

Another committee will be formed to help create activities programs for the elementary and middle schools that are expected to transition students to the new high school following approval of the boundaries.

Jones said officials are being careful to not negatively affect any of the West Fargo schools in drawing boundaries. The makeup of each school’s student body is important to the district, Jones said.

“You want a mix of students to come from different backgrounds to get kids used to what people are like, and to get kids to respect one another,” he said. “More so, you have to be careful in drawing boundaries to give students the opportunity for the same support programs that they are getting right now.”

Names for two of the new schools were released Monday when the school board approved Freedom Elementary and Liberty Middle School.

A name for West Fargo’s new high school has not been finalized.

“We’re going to have everything we need to work with at both (high schools),” Jones said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562.

Hotzler’s blogs can be found at www.areavoices.com