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Killdeer Cowboys ride into school year with a new building

Killdeer junior high and high school students kicked off the academic year on Wednesday at their newly completed school building.

KD HS school
Students go for a walk during P.E. class, as the new gymnasium will not be ready later this fall.
Jason O'Day / The Dickinson Press
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KILLDEER, N.D. — Friday Killdeer’s 7th through 12th grade Cowboys completed the third day of school at their recently finished junior high and high school building. After more than two years of planning and construction, Killdeer Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Simmons hosted a grand opening to celebrate the milestone.

Mr. Elkins
Social studies teacher Sean Elkins helps an eighth grader with a geography assignment.
Jason O'Day / The Dickinson Press

The school moved away from the traditional style cafeteria toward something more akin to a large coffee shop or college campus dining area. All the bathrooms have automatic toilets, soap and paper towel dispensers for increased sanitation. It’s also one of the few facilities in Killdeer that has a gas generator in case of a power outage.

Fifth year social studies instructor Sean Elkins said he’s thrilled to be teaching in the new building.

KHS 1
Killdeer High School freshmen work on an assignment during their physical science class on Friday morning.
Jason O'Day / The Dickinson Press

“It’s awesome. There’s so much room. You’re not on top of each other and in someone else’s space. I have cupboards and a window. I didn't have a window for five years,” Elkins said, explaining that his first year at the previous building was as a student teacher.

When Elkins arrived at Killdeer Public Schools in the 2016-2017 school year, the district had a total enrollment of 455 students. By last year that figure had increased to 618. With 255 enrolled this year at the new location, they’re well positioned for continued growth.

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KHS weightroom
The school's new weight room has state of the art equipment to give the Cowboys a leg up on their competition.
Jason O'Day / The Dickinson Press

“It holds 600 students but it’s designed so that we can build on one of the corridors going east, engineered for an additional 200 students. So we’d go from 600 to 800 pretty easily,” Simmons said, adding that changes to enrollment levels can be difficult to predict. “It’s hard to say, but we are growing.”

Killdeer senior Camy Kuntz said she’s also fond of the new school.

Computer lab
One of the rooms in the new computer lab.
Jason O'Day / The Dickinson Press

“I’m really enjoying the new building. It’s big but it’s an easy complex to get around,” Kuntz said.

She plans on attending Bismarck State College next year to study liberal arts.

The gymnasium is still under construction, scheduled for completion by late October. The upper level will feature a 200 meter track, with three full size competition floors for basketball down below. This space is so large that Simmons said it’s only three yards short of a football field.

Killdeer Cafeteria
The new cafeteria feels like a coffee shop.
Jason O'Day / The Dickinson Press

Despite some plumbing delays due to supply chain issues, he said overall the process went smoothly. He alluded to an incident that occurred during a project when he was an administrator in Sturgis, South Dakota.

“We had just finished the floor in the gym. One of the contractors was pulling a wire and they pulled the head off a water suppression sprinkler. That got 1,000 gallons of water on the brand new floor, had to replace the whole thing,” Simmons said.

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Jason O'Day / The Dickinson Press

At the CTE center adolescents can hone their expertise in woodworking, welding, agriculture and small engine repair. The meat shop has a walk-in freezer and cleaning stations for students to learn how to process and butcher a variety of animals. The center was supposed to have a greenhouse but Simmons said that will have to wait because they ran out of funds.

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Originally estimated at $34 million in early 2021, he said the final bill for the project came to a total of $39 million. The school sits on a 40 acre campus and Simmons has big plans for that land over the next two decades. During that span he envisions a new football stadium and practice field, elementary school, eight lane track, baseball and softball diamonds.

Killdeer Cowboys
Jason O'Day / The Dickinson Press
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Jason O’Day is a University of Iowa graduate, with Bachelor’s Degrees in Journalism and Political Science. Before moving to Dickinson in September of 2021, he was a general news reporter at the Creston News Advertiser in rural southwest Iowa. He was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. With a passion for the outdoors and his Catholic faith, he’s loving life on the Western Edge.
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