MENDOTA HEIGHTS, MN - It took two weeks and the hard work of tireless contractors and volunteers to transform the empty building that once housed the now-closed Brown Institute in Mendota Heights into the new school for students of the Minnehaha Academy's Upper School.
The first day of classes is Tuesday.
Principal Jason Wenschlag said, "the fire marshal came here the other day and approved things and as he was walking out, he said, 'I have never seen anything like this in my career, a building transformation in 2 weeks and I probably never will.'"
Last month, a deadly gas explosion heavily damaged the upper school building, injured nine people and killed two beloved staffers, Ruth Berg and John Carlson.
The school is naming an administrative section of the building in memory of them.
Last week, scores of volunteers helped assemble and organize 900 pieces of furniture.
"I think it’s a testament to this community. People are wanting to rally for Minnehaha Academy, from the contractors, to parents to students," marveled Wenschlag. "The attitudes and hearts and minds are so committed to making this happen."
Although the building has large classrooms, available parking spaces, and a fitness center, there is no gym and no kitchen, meaning meals will be have to catered.
"It's going to have a very corporate, collegiate feel to it and I think that’s going to be different for kids and it will be certainly different from what we had in the past and I think they’re going to enjoy it," added Wenschlag.