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Thinking about the future: Dickinson Public Schools hosts public forum about the future of Dickinson High School

More than 100 people gathered at Dickinson High School on Tuesday night to discuss the future of the high school and what education could look like by the year 2030. (Sydney Mook / The Dickinson Press) 1 / 4
Chris Gibbs from DLR group talks to a crowd of community members during a forum about the future of Dickinson High School. (Sydney Mook / The Dickinson Press)2 / 4
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More than 100 people gathered at Dickinson High School on Tuesday night to discuss the future of the high school and what education could look like by the year 2030. (Sydney Mook / The Dickinson Press)4 / 4

More than 100 people gathered at Dickinson High School on Tuesday night to discuss the future of the high school and what education could look like by the year 2030.

DPS Superintendent Doug Sullivan spoke to the crowd which included teachers, parents, students and many other community members about the growing number of children being born in the area which could have future implications for Dickinson High.

"It is now time to make a transition and address Dickinson High School because one of the things that is happening in our community is that every year St. Alexius continues to set live birth records," Sullivan said during the meeting. "The projection, which is more a trend indicator, is that in three short years this school district could have a kindergarten class over 500 students. So when you roll those numbers forward, the implications for Dickinson High School become obvious."

Chris Gibbs, from architecture firm DLR Group in Minneapolis, started the collaborative discussion by talking about the changes in education over the past few decades, telling the crowd that the path from kindergarten to high school graduate to a member of the workforce.

Gibbs had everyone in the crowd complete an "I see/we see" form which challenged people to think about what Dickinson High School would look like in 2030. For example, what would learners be doing at the time, what would teachers and other adults be up to, what would the space look like and also what would you not see if you walked in to DHS in 2030. After writing down their thoughts, everyone had the opportunity to share what they wrote with their neighbor and table members.

Some said they believed that learning would be more collaborative, with classroom setups changing to allow students to cross grades and subjects. Many also believed there would be a lot more technology for students to use and learn from. Other ideas included more work with the community and local businesses coming in to help give students real-world instruction and experiences.

Later Gibbs gave the crowd a scenario where DHS had been named one of the top 10 high schools in the nation in 2030. Gibbs had the tables work together to design what the home page of The Dickinson Press website would look like with related stories and headlines. Common themes included the idea of being global citizens, increased technology and the idea that the students were making a real-world impact through their education at Dickinson High School.

"I thought (Tuesday night) was awesome," Gibbs said after the event. "I think it provided an opportunity for the community members to have a discussion and kind of think about things a little bit. They can have a discussion with their friends and neighbors and think about things that they don't often get to think about and the challenge is how do we pull all of this together that allows us to start to formulate a vision of what Dickinson High looks like in some number of years out and then develop a plan to get there."

Sullivan said he was "very excited" by the turnout of the community and noted the district is planning more discussions for community input.

"I'm really excited about the start to this process," Sullivan said. "... I think everyone clearly understood that life in 2030 is going to be way different in 2017."

On Monday evening the DPS school board approved a land purchase for just over 114 acres of land for $1.7 million. The money used to purchase the land came from the district's capital projects fund. The land is east of Dickinson Middle School along 21st Street. The motion passed 5-0. Sullivan said the board's decision to do this "provides a myriad of opportunities and alternatives."

"So I think whatever school board has to deal with the increased growth will have the flexibility to do whatever it feels will be most appropriate to address the student population," Sullivan said.

Sydney Mook

Sydney Mook has been covering higher education at the Grand Forks Herald since May 2018. She previously served as the multimedia editor and cops, courts and health reporter at the Dickinson Press from January 2016 to May 2018.  She graduated from the University of South Dakota with a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science in three and half years in December 2015. While at the USD, she worked for the campus newspaper, The Volante, as well as the television news show, Coyote News. She also interned at South Dakota Public Broadcasting and spent the summer before her senior year interning in Fort Knox for the ROTC Cadet Summer Training program. In her spare time, Sydney enjoys cheering on the New York Yankees and the Kentucky Wildcats, as well as playing golf. If you've got an idea for a video be sure to give her a call!

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