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Standing together: DPS offers classrooms to Trinity students displaced by blaze

Press Photo by Katherine Grandstrand Dickinson Public Schools Superintendent Doug Sullivan, left, speaks with Dickinson Catholic Schools President Steve Glasser Thursday about logistics. Trinity High School students will occupy several public school buildings beginning Monday and have classes until the end of the school year.

Dickinson Public Schools will take in 174 students from Trinity High School.

Dickinson Catholic Schools will rent space from DPS for the final 10 weeks of the school year after a fire, allegedly started by Trinity’s own principal, severely damaged the Trinity school building and closed the facility for the rest of the school year.

It will act as a trial run for the growth the school district expects to experience in the next year.

“This is a short-term solution to a long-range problem for Trinity,” Dickinson Public Schools Superintendent Doug Sullivan said. “We’re able to help for 10 weeks. Next year, the options for Dickinson Public Schools are extremely limited.”

Little has been figured out regarding Trinity’s extracurricular activities. Instead, faculty and staff are focused on getting a sense of normalcy back for their students.

“Our No. 1 priority was getting instruction resumed — teaching our kids,” Dickinson Catholic Schools President Steve Glasser said. “We set a timetable, we knew we were not going to be in school this week. But we wanted to do everything possible to start classes up on Monday.”

There will be open houses Sunday so parents and students can see the facilities that are about to become their temporary academic homes.

“Having those open houses is going to be of great value for our students and our parents,” Glasser said. “What we didn’t want to have happen is our students would show up Monday morning for the first time at these buildings. … I think that will really ease a lot of anxiety in our students and our parents.”

Effect on upperclassmen

Trinity’s 37 juniors and 40 seniors will have class in the Pine Room at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in south Dickinson.

“We’re going to be more creative there,” Glasser said. “We’re going to combine some juniors and — there might be a class of 40. We can do some things there because there’s — the way they totally renovated their facility, it actually can be divided into eight classrooms if you need to — or one, or two or four.”

The senior class is probably the most affected, Glasser said.

“I feel bad for our seniors,” Glasser said. “They will not be able to walk across that stage. A lot of them, generations went through Trinity High School. Their grandparents may have walked across that stage, their parents walked across that stage, brothers and sister walked across that stage.”

The administration is working with the community to find an alternative location to hold graduation, prom and other spring events, Glasser said. The date and time of graduation will stay the same. Glasser said they’re working on prom logistics.

The senior class has been rallying together, and will likely bond with the juniors, Glasser said.

“Hopefully this will create new relationships that are lifelong relationships,” Glasser said.

Test run for DPS

Seventh- and eighth-graders will be housed in Prairie Rose Elementary’s empty classrooms that are set aside for fifth-grade classes. The school is designed to be a K-5 facility, Sullivan said, but opened with grades K-4 last fall.

“That’s why we have the capacity at Prairie Rose to be able to assist in this instance,” Sullivan said. “Next year, the school district has to reclaim those classrooms because we will be K-5, and we know the enrollment in the school district is going to increase.”

Students, faculty and staff at Prairie Rose were working hard Thursday preparing to welcome Trinity students, Principal Sherry Libis said.

There won’t be much interaction between Prairie Rose and Trinity students. Though staff wanted the students to be prepared if they see the older kids in the hall or at lunch, Libis said.

“They’re pretty much going to be their own little entity and we’ll be functioning on our schedule, same as always,” she said.

Trinity freshman will be at Berg Elementary and sophomores will be across the street at Hagen Junior High School.

The plan for Hagen, Sullivan said, is the same plan Hagen Junior High Principal Marcus Lewton “had already established to put in place next fall for our increased student population — we’re just implementing it 10 weeks earlier than anticipated.”

Trinity students in public school classrooms — there will be two sections of each grade — will stay put while teachers move to accommodate students.

“The Trinity faculty is going to be educating the Trinity students on a Trinity schedule in the Dickinson Public Schools,” Sullivan said. “The schedules have been designed to minimize the mingling between the students, but it won’t be eliminated.”

Logistical challenges

In an effort to minimize teacher movement, there may be some shuffling of classes, Glasser said.

“It’s much more challenging to develop the logistics of our faculty because we have so many faculty that teach multiple grade levels,” Glasser said. “Someone that’s teaching sophomore history might be teaching eighth-grade history now, just because of where they’re going to be located.”

Core classes are the priority, but students should be able to resume electives once the new schedules are worked out, Glasser said.

The Department of Public Instruction has approved Trinity to start its fourth quarter on Monday and Glasser is working on the paperwork to have the missed week of class excused. If DPI does require the week to be made up, Trinity will look at all options to make up the missed days.

All Trinity students will be served a hot lunch in the public school cafeterias, but details are being worked out as to how Trinity cooks will be supporting Dickinson Public Schools staff, Glasser said.

“We have to feed our kids at St. Joseph’s, too, and we don’t want them chasing all over the country,” Glasser said.

Trinity will also provide custodial and other support as needed, Glasser said.

Dickinson Catholic Schools will be paying for the public school space it uses for its final quarter of the school year. Financial arrangements have not been completed while the districts wait for insurance numbers to come through.

Each public school building will have a Trinity lead teacher in the building as a point person for any concerns, Glasser said.

TMI Systems Design is donating office space for Trinity’s administration and possibly a work room for teachers.

Glasser said other local companies, businesses and individuals have offered their help.

“The last three days, the outpouring of support has been phenomenal,” Glasser said. “(It is) very humbling, the support that we’re receiving.”

Because of parking constraints, Trinity students will not be allowed to drive to Dickinson Public Schools.

The school will provide transportation to appropriate buildings from Queen of Peace Catholic Church. Students can also be dropped off by their parents and those that live close enough to their new classrooms could also walk or bike.

Pickup and drop-off times for Trinity students will be before or after the public school times to help eliminate congestion, Glasser said.

“We feel that’s a very good situation,” Glasser said. “We’re not adding to the congestion of Dickinson with traffic the way it is.”

All information was saved on an on-site server that is being cleaned, Glasser said. The fire will change the way the district handles computer data.

“This will make us much better and much stronger,” Glasser said.

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
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