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St. Cloud high school says goodbye to century-old building

June 8, 2019
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In a May 31, 2019 photo, Bob Henkemeyer keeps the hallways clean during the last day of school at Tech High School in St. Cloud, Minn. The school opened in 1917. Students will attend classes in a newly constructed building in the fall. (Dave Schwarz/The St. Cloud Times via AP)

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) — Technical High School has garnered more than 32,000 graduates in its 102-year history.

Math teacher Mick Boatz, who started at Tech in 1970, has been there for about half of those years.

“I’m ending my 49th year at Tech and my 50th in the district,” Boatz said on May 31, which was the last day of school for students at Tech.

It also marked the last day of school — ever — for the building, which opened in January 1917 and has seen five building additions. The new Tech High School is on track to open for the start of the 2019-20 school year, the St. Cloud Times reported.

“I do think it’s a little sad,” said Jodee Blair, a language arts teacher, about Tech’s last day. “It was bound to happen soon because the building was built five years after the Titanic sank. That puts it into perspective. It’s the end of an era.”

The seniors had their last day of school on May 30. They graduated the following night. June 3 was the last day for teachers, who will pack up boxes to be moved to the new school on the south side of town.

The move to the new school is bittersweet for teachers.

“I really like the old Tech. I’m going to lose my blackboards,” Boatz said. “It’s going to be a different, different building than I’m used to. I’d love to be coming back to the old Tech for another year or another five years.”

For teachers whose classrooms are in the west wing at Tech — including Blair and Leanne Klett, a Spanish teacher — the new building will bring the much-anticipated climate control and more reliable technology.

Tech’s west wing doesn’t have air conditioning and the Wi-Fi is spotty.

“I’m so excited this is my last day of sweating at Tech High,” Klett said with a laugh. “But I’m going to miss the personalities of the classrooms.”

Blair has spent 19 years in the same classroom at Tech. Besides not having air conditioning, the wiring is so old that her wall phone hasn’t worked properly in 10 years and the heat sensor was too old to be replaced. To access WiFi, she needed to walk two steps east and seven steps north in the hallway.

“There are so many pluses and minuses to a new building that everyone will have to adjust to,” she said. “I’ll miss having my own room, but will welcome having WiFi that actually works.”

Klett agreed it will take a while for teachers and students to adjust to the new open learning spaces at Tech.

“We just have to wait and see, and we’ll figure it out,” she said.

Principal Charlie Eisenreich, who is a Tech graduate and former Tech teacher and coach, said the last day didn’t feel any different.

“Maybe in a couple of weeks when I actually have to move out of my office,” he said.

While preparing for the move, Tech staff have found things to get rid of such as chairs, desks, tables and file cabinets. The district will hold an auction on those items on June 22.

“There’s going to be 102 years of stuff,” he said.

And staff — as they’ve been cleaning — have been finding items from the 1930s and 1940s that are now obsolete such as old textbooks, microscopes and glass slides of historical photos.

“It’s tough to throw some of those things away,” Eisenreich said.

Boatz said he found old textbooks and old slide rules — used before calculators — in cupboards.

“I found a math textbook with Charlie’s name in it, too,” Boatz said. He said he gave the textbook, likely from the early 1980s, to Eisenreich.

“I’ve had a good run at Tech,” Boatz said. “I’ve liked it there. I like the parents. I like the kids. I like my colleagues.”

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Information from: St. Cloud Times, http://www.sctimes.com

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