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Top 10 2017:Construction continues at High School

The Hudson High School Auditorium was nearly complete when Hudson School District Superintendent Nick Ouellette showed it to school board members during a meeting Monday, Dec. 18. It has since been completed, Ouellette said. Gretta Stark / RiverTown Multimedia

Editor's note: This story is part of a series recapping the top stories of 2017. Read the other top stories here.

This April, Hudson students and residents saw ground break on additions to Hudson High School. Work started with outside work, including a new parking lot, field and stadium.

Those items were completed before school started in the fall.

The stadium was opened in September, with an open house celebration, including performances by the Hudson Marching Band, Hudson Raidaires, Hudson Cheer and Stunt team and more.

"I tell people the stadium's nice. It's something to be proud of, but the real gem is going to be what happens 200 yards to the west," said District Superintendent Nick Ouellette. "It should be second to none in the state."

Ouellette was talking about the construction on the high school building itself, which has been ongoing through the school year.

"We're doing almost $85 million worth of construction in about 17 months while 1,900 kids go to school there," said Ouellette. "That means, that including teachers and staff, some 2,100 people go through that school campus every day. The logistics of trying to do all those things, keep things moving, trying to mitigate the impact to education, make sure that we're always keeping safety at the forefront of what we're doing are the biggest challenges."

Since school began, updates to the auditorium have been completed, and work on the west gym has continued. In academic wings, classrooms are framed up, and utilities. are starting to go in.

Half the cafeteria has been sectioned off for work.

Since the auditorium has been completed, the band is practicing there, while the band room is under construction. A new space for the choir is also under construction.

About 18 classrooms have already been finished, Ouellette said.

Four science classrooms and four regular classrooms should be finished by the middle of March, he added.

The building was designed with the future in mind, Ouellette said. The goal was to think about not just what current students need, but what the next generation of learners will need.

"Trying to think of potentially two generations of kids going through this building," he said. "How do you make the building flexible enough that as learning changes, as resources change, the building is able to adapt without a lot of cost."

Hudson School District has an early start to summer vacation this year, to allow for a longer summer construction season.

By the time students come back in fall of 2018, Ouellette said, the building should be about 95 percent complete.

He's looking forward to welcoming students to the new space.

Middle School

Hudson Middle School also saw construction in 2017. There were 12 classrooms and another gym added to the building.

This allowed the district to have a "pure house middle school concept," said Ouellette.

"Where kids are clustered in smaller groups and they share the same 4-5 teachers of their core subjects," he said. "So it makes that large building feel smaller."

The extra gym has been a benefit both during the school day and in evenings.

"I think our community partners that use the facilities love the fact that there's another gym available to rent," Ouellette said. "The majority of our gyms are rented almost every night from end of September until probably end of April."

The new gym, he said, helps take the pressure off scheduling.

Both the middle school and high school projects were part of a referendum.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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