School started a week early this year in South St. Paul, to accommodate the major building project that’s currently underway and will be complete for the 2015-16 school year, said Principal Butch Moening.
That project is based around creating space for sixth-graders when they move up to the secondary building. The remodeled space incorporates classroom space, a new gym, a totally remodeled STEM wing and an updated media center and lunchroom area, among other things. The footprint of the school had to remain about the same, so the focus was on repurposing space and building up, he said.
Academically, the school is adding a new ninth-grade class called “Packer pathways” that will focus on college and career readiness.
There are also 20 new staff members this year at the secondary building, which is “quite an addition” for a school with 1,400 students.
St. Croix Lutheran
Principal: Rick Gibson
Enrollment at St. Croix Lutheran, a private Christian school in West St. Paul, continues to climb, said Principal Rick Gibson.
This year’s senior class is the biggest ever, with 126 students, and the school is currently building a 150-student dorm because it outgrew the old one, he said. While about a quarter of the student population lives in the dorms, the majority of the growth is coming from local students looking for a Christian school. There’s also been a small increase in international students.
This year the school started a one-to-one device program that requires students to bring their own laptop or iPad.
A new engineering course, the second in the Project Lead the Way curriculum series, was added this year, and the school will continue adding classes, he said.
St. Thomas Academy
Principal: Matt Mohs
Matt Mohs is one of a few novelties at St. Thomas Academy, a Catholic, all-male military academy in Mendota Heights. Most recently, he was the chief academic officer in the St. Paul district, and before that, the St. Thomas alumnus taught at a Catholic school in New Orleans.
“This opportunity is really the only one I would have considered leaving St. Paul for,” he said.
One change the school will face is the end of its status as a Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) military school. After 99 years, this year will be its last participating in JROTC.