1. CHANHASSEN HIGH
The school's opening accommodates continued growth in the west metro and coincides with a $2.2 million secondary curriculum redesign meant to prepare every student for postsecondary education.
Projected enrollment, fall 2009: 1,050 in grades 9-11
Square feet: 405,000
Cost: $93 million
Notable features: A "black-box theater" will accommodate small productions; students can record music in soundproof practice rooms; dorm-like lounge areas and a lecture hall create a college campus feel.
2. EAST RIDGE HIGH (WOODBURY)
Conceived when the South Washington County School District's other two high schools were bursting from new development in and around Woodbury, the school is large but carved into smaller academic areas to be friendly.
Projected enrollment, fall 2009: 1,150 in grades 9-11
Square feet: 380,000
Cost: $95 million
Notable features: A 2,500-seat "top-loading" multi-use stadium has artificial turf and sports panoramic views.
3. FARMINGTON HIGH
Built to handle community growth, the school replaces the old Farmington High, which becomes a middle school.
Projected enrollment, fall 2009: 1,750 in grades 9-12
Square feet: 435,000
Cost: $97 million
Notable features: Gym classes have easy access to a "top-loading" artificial-turf stadium; a recital hall will host concerts and small theater productions; and a 150-seat lecture hall under the main staircase reflects the building's "leave no space unused" design.
4. ST. MICHAEL-ALBERTVILLE HIGH
Enrollment has nearly doubled in the past decade, transforming this once-rural district.
Projected enrollment, fall 2009: 1,350 in grades 9-12
Square feet: 410,000
Cost: $77 million
Notable features: A 1,450-seat theater, one of the largest high school theaters in the state, will foster a growing arts community; potting wheels, digital kilns and a greenhouse offer hands-on learning opportunities; and technology is "wireless for flexibility and wired for reliability."
AIMEE BLANCHETTE, SARAH LEMAGIE, GREG PATTERSON