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Independence day: A peek inside West Fargo’s newest school

West Fargo's newest elementary school, Independence, features a gym with a rock wall and room for two, regulation-sized volleyball courts. Nick Wagner 1 / 4
Celeste Cox, a third-grade teacher at Independence Elementary School, discusses her class list with the next-door teacher on Monday in West Fargo. Nick Wagner2 / 4
Independence Elementary School is split into three educational wings. Nick Wagner3 / 4
Pete Diemart, director of buildings and grounds for the West Fargo School District, points out the features of the media center to Principal Michael Shea during a tour Monday of the new Independence Elementary School in West Fargo. Nick Wagner4 / 4

West Fargo School Board members got the first peek at the district’s newest school, Independence Elementary, on Monday.

Board members and administrators toured the building at 3700 54th St. S. in Fargo that will be the district’s ninth elementary school.

The roughly $11 million facility can house up to 550 students.

“It looked great,” board President Patti Stedman said.

She said although it’s the same floor plan as other schools, minor changes and unique color schemes give Independence a feel for its namesake.

“The minor changes they made really made it its own school,” Stedman said.

Principal Mike Shea said about 467 students are expected to be enrolled at Independence when school starts on Aug. 25.

The district was expecting about 470 additional students this year, on top of the 488 newly enrolled during the 2013-14 school year.

Between new buildings and additions, the West Fargo School District has added 1,011,462 square feet of space since 2004. Another 66,403 square feet was built between 1994 and 2004.

If current estimates hold, the district will be at capacity in the high schools with 3,100 students by 2020.

While the school is done and work continues on Legacy Elementary in

The Wilds subdivision – another south of I-94 that crews broke ground on

earlier this year – construction is also ongoing on 40th Avenue South,

which will make first-day drop-offs tricky for some.

Crews have been working on 40th Avenue South from Sheyenne Street to the bridge over 50th Street all summer. The road is now open between 50th Street and Veterans Boulevard but work from Veterans to Sheyenne is not yet done.

A delay in equipment arrival pushed back the schedule.

Traffic to Independence can use 36th Avenue and traffic to the new Sheyenne High School should use Veterans Boulevard for easiest access.

Road construction is slated to wrap up in October.

Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt contributed to this report.

Wendy Reuer

Wendy reports for The Forum and West Fargo Pioneer, where she is also assistant editor. A University of Minnesota Morris graduate from North Dakota, Wendy started her career in television news and entertainment in Minnesota and and at CBS Television City, Calif. before working at newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota. 

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