Bonduel dedicates school gym, other projects

Celebration touts growth in the district, many opportunities for learning and fun
Lee Pulaski
City Editor

Bonduel School District celebrated the completion of its big referendum project, a new gymnasium at the middle/high school, just one day before putting it to the test by hosting graduation.

The district held a dedication and ribbon-cutting May 25 in the gym. There, officials touted how the district is bucking the trends of other districts, which are seeing declining enrollment.

School board member Nina Rouse pointed out to those in attendance that the new and renovated buildings were only half of the story for the school district. Rouse was particularly pleased with how the district, which recently implemented full-day 3-year-old kindergarten, is now looking at providing before and after-school programs to help working parents.

“In case you weren’t paying attention, the growth of our district — a small, rural one — is quite significant,” Rouse said. “At this time, many districts like us are shrinking in numbers or, in best case, maintaining steady. That is not the case in our district, and that is not a result of our facilities. That is a result of the work we’ve been doing inside at the hands of our teachers are our support staff.”

The district had 693 students in 2021, but has exploded to 784 as of the latest student count from last September, according to online numbers from multiple sources.

“We’ve been introducing more hands-on learning opportunities, including the outdoor skills and ice fishing clubs, an elementary school garden,” Rouse said. “We have bees on campus and chickens, too, to give our kids some additional education opportunities. We are proud of all of those things.”

Board president Dennis Bergsbaken noted that a lot of work and planning went into all the referendum projects. Improvements included new security adjustments at all of the schools and renovated classrooms at the middle and high schools that were originally built in the 1950s, many of them not even having air conditioning.

“I’m proud to see all of this,” Bergsbaken said. “It took a lot of people from the beginning stages of planning, and everybody bought into it. This is amazing. I’m proud — very, very proud that these things will be here for the community for years to come.”

Superintendent Joe Dawidziak was very animated as he declared the ceremony a “celebration” with students from all schools present, throwing his hands up in the air to generate cheering and applause.

“If you remember, this took place at the height of COVID, and we were told it couldn’t be done,” Dawidziak said. “Yet we persevered.”

He noted that the students and staff had to endure almost a full year of construction work in the area, but that they handled it well.

“It involved a lot of switching days of school, switching physical places in the building, and a lot of other things that were not the most conducive to learning, but we had an incredibly successful year educationally and academically anyway,” Dawidziak said.

Miron Construction oversaw the referendum projects, and Dawidziak said because of the company’s attention to the needs of rural schools like Bonduel, this renovation outshines previous projects.

“There are no corners that were cut. It was done right,” he said. “It was done right the first time, and that was at our request. We had to get it right.”