PLYMOUTH — Wayzata Public School District’s North Woods Elementary School is almost ready for the school year.
Two weeks before the school’s debut, construction workers, paraprofessionals and teachers are bustling around the school getting it ready for the students who will file into the building on Tuesday, Sept. 3.
North Woods Elementary Principal Jenny Berg is excited for the new school year. Berg has been working over the summer to connect with the new staff and new students and parents. The school hosted an open house on Aug. 28. The school’s playground also opened earlier in the summer so local families could use it before the school year begins.
Some students are new to the area, but many were part of the redistricting process — moving from Meadow Ridge, Oakwood and Greenwood elementary schools in the Wayzata Public School District. The elementary schools serve students in kindergarten through fifth-grade.
Berg is optimistic about the start of the school year, telling Lakeshore Weekly News “kids are resilient.”
“Our challenge is to make sure every student and staff and family member feel welcome,” she said. “I think coming to a new place can bring out a wide variety of emotions for people, from excitement to a little bit of anxiety.”
The new school at 8995 54th Ave. N. in Plymouth is a mirror image of nearby Meadow Ridge Elementary, which was completed in 2016. North Woods also includes the 10 rooms that were added onto Meadow Ridge in 2018. The building is two stories and 104,611 square feet.
The school is split up by grades, which are designated by colored carpeting. Kindergarten through second-grade students share the bottom floor, while students in third- through fifth-grade share the top floor.
Berg’s favorite part of the school is how “bright” it is because of large windows in most classrooms and shared spaces. Many of the classrooms have glass walls that open up into the hallways, allowing the grade to gather and learn as one.
“I remember schools in the past had much more rigid facilities and I think ours spills out into different places where teachers can be creative and flexible in how they teach and do different things in different ways,” Berg said.
Staff and students
Berg met her staff team in May. Some teachers and staff transferred from other schools, like Berg who was previously the associate principal of Wayzata Central Middle School, while others are new to the district.
“I feel like when you sign up or are interested in coming to a new school, you are sort of interested in new opportunities,” Berg said. “You realize you’re going to make new relationships with your colleagues, you’re going to be part of creating a new community.”
The group is creating new traditions for the school, Berg said, which is the exciting part of working for a brand new school.
North Woods students picked one new tradition for the school, their mascot. The elementary school kids voted to have a wolf represent them as their mascot, with 70% of votes, according to Berg. She said the students and staff will be called the wolf pack.
The new school has room for 850 students, Berg said. Enrollment as of Aug. 23 was around 560 students for the 2019-2020 school year.
The school district expects enrollment to grow in the North Woods Elementary area over the next five years, which would put the school at capacity.