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New high school in Minnesota provides career pathways for students

K-12 Schools

New high school in Minnesota provides career pathways for students

This 90-acre school campus also features myriad sports facilities.


By John Caulfield, Senior Editor | October 4, 2023
The new Owatonna High School in Minnesota was in development for nearly 10 years
The new Owatonna High School in Minnesota, which was completed last August, had been in development for nearly 10 years, and was funded partly by a bond referendum passed in November 2019. Images: Troy Thies

Owatonna Public Schools in Minnesota recently completed the $99 million, 317,000-sf Owatonna High School for Independent School District 761.

The school, which accommodates 1,600 students, has classroom and lab spaces supporting career pathways toward nursing, culinary arts, digital fabrication, science and engineering, publishing and digital content creation. Students can earn certificates, college credits, and career credentials, said Jeff Elstad, superintendent of Owatonna Publics Schools.

The project’s Building Team was led by Wold Architects & Engineers and the construction manager Kraus-Anderson. Federated Insurance, which is headquartered in Owatonna, donated $20 million plus the land for the new high school. Other private donors, contributing more than $4 million, included Mayo Clinic Health System, Viracon, Wenger Corporation and Wenger Foundation (Wenger’s name is on the school’s performing arts center), Gopher Sport, Life Fitness/Cybex, Owatonna Foundation, and 761 Foundation.

St. Paul-based Wold had been attached to this project for nearly a decade. “We are excited to see how this school realizes the district’s vision for education for many years to come, and becomes a role model for the area in high school education,” said Paul Aplikowski, a Partner at Wold, in a prepared statement.

School offers a sense of home
 

Career path learning spaces in Owatonna HIgh School
Owatonna High School's design provides students with spaces that are more like lounges or hotels.

This school construction is part of a $112 million district bond referendum, which voters passed in November 2019. Construction began in May 2021 and was completed last August.  The new building combines structural steel and precast concrete, with an exterior facade comprised of brick and metal panels along with a substantial amount of glazing to bring abundant natural light into the building. 
The main curtain wall at the entrance to the building is 66 ft wide by 31 ft tall.  Interior finishes include terrazzo flooring throughout the commons and fitness areas, prefinished interior panels in the auditorium, and numerous locations of tile, hardwood panels and metal panels covering the walls and column wraps.
 

The three-story school on 90 acres features a commons area that, according to Wold, evokes a town square. The classrooms are designed to provide a sense of home and place. 

Gymnasium at Owatonna High School
A new gym is one of several sports areas that are part of the new Owatonna High School.


The campus includes a 3,451-seat football stadium, two multipurpose athletic fields and two grass fields, eight tennis courts, two softball fields, two baseball fields, a gymnasium, and an 825-seat auditorium. The campus also has four storage buildings for athletics, and 890 parking spaces.

“Owatonna Public Schools has been a fantastic partner during the entire construction process, where close communication and coordination was needed to meet all expectations,” said Michael Stenbeck, Kraus-Anderson’s project manager, in a prepared statement. “It has been amazing to witness jaws drop as students and the community walk into the new facility.”

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