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Published April 12 2012

Park Christian eyes new school on donated land

MOORHEAD – After nearly three decades in its current building, Park Christian School here has its eye on the future.

The K-12 school, which currently sits on 14 acres of land in north Moorhead, recently unveiled designs for a new building on 40 acres of donated land south of town on 40th Avenue South, just east of 28th Street.

Park Christian President Kent Hannestad said the new land was acquired on March 6 as part of a future expansion process that’s been several years in the works.

“There’s no big need for us to move right now, but if we’re going to be somewhere and hopefully grow, we need more space,” Hannestad said. “I felt like we needed 40 to 60 acres.”

The new building could house 800 students, with the potential for expansion to 1,200, up from the current enrollment of 350 students.

The new facility would be split up into several “pods,” which would each house three to four grades.

That structure would give the school an intimate feel, Hannestad said, even if enrollment would eventually grow to fill up the entire building.

“I want to have room for growth but also feel like it’s a nice, small, personal school,” he said.

In addition to simply having more space, the new building is being designed with an eye on the community, including features such as extra gymnasiums, a football field, a full track and a 1,500-seat auditorium.

“We want to be an integral part of Moorhead and the whole community,” Hannestad said. “We wanted to make that available to the community as much as we could.”

Over the summer, school officials plan to involve parents, teachers and administrators in discussions in order to fine-tune the plans and designs.

“We’ll figure out what meets our needs, and what helps to reach into the community,” Hannestad said.

At the end of that process, the school will then turn to Zerr Berg Architects and Gehrtz Construction Services of Fargo to get a cost estimate for fundraising.

And even though nothing is set yet and the process is still in its early stages, Hannestad hopes the school could be completed in the next three to five years if Park Christian raises enough money.

But regardless of how long it takes, Hannestad is looking forward to seeing what the future will bring for the school and how its relationship with the Moorhead community is going to change.

“I’m really excited to turn the corner and be able to have a little bit more to give back to the community and to be a real vital part of the future of Moorhead,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535

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