It might be the first day of school in the Shakopee School District, but it’s the 440th day of construction for the expansion of Shakopee High School.

Students heading to class entered the school through a construction tunnel. The 335,000-square-foot expansion is expected to be fully done by summer 2018.

“A tremendous amount of progress has been made with construction over the course of the summer,” Communications Supervisor Ashley McCray said in an email. “However, there is still a lot of work to be done. The changes people will notice include a temporary tunnel access for students, parents and visitors to enter the high school, new academic spaces and our new competition gym.”

Future phases include work to the field house and commons expansion to be done in December, south end east classroom wing additions and performing arts additions to be done in August 2018 and interior remodeling of existing spaces to be done in August 2018, McCray said.

As of the Aug. 28 online construction update, work continued on the southwest classroom tower, competition gym, locker and training rooms, commons area, field house, Arts and Communication wing, parking lots, southeast classroom tower and east classroom tower.

Though students will be going to school as construction continues, the goal is to minimize impact on learning, McCray said.

“A year’s worth of construction was completed with an occupied building during the 2016-17 school year with minimal disruption to students and staff,” she said. “Our priority is to continue construction with, again, minimal disruption to students and staff.”

The Shakopee School Board wanted to keep the learning experience small for students and had originally proposed two separate high schools to split the population size. After community pushback, the board decided on a $102.5 million expansion that will nearly double the original school size.

To keep the learning focus smaller, the district chose to move forward with the Academy model, which splits learning into six academies — Arts and Communication, Business and Entrepreneurship, Engineering and Manufacturing, Health Sciences, Human Services, Science and Technology and a Freshman Academy.

The expansion allowed for the creation and redesign of spaces that serve the academy models.

“It’s a dynamic learning environment with not just classrooms, but extensions off of classrooms for independent learning and small-group learning,” said Scott McQueen with Wold Architects, the firm that is designing the addition, in a previous Shakopee Valley News article. “It’s a very kinetic environment with places to power up and places to collaborate.”

Students started two weeks earlier in 2016 so that construction could start earlier at the end of the year.

The academies will start in fall of 2018, right after the construction is expected to be complete.

Maggie Stanwood was born and raised in small-town Iowa before moving to Wyoming in middle school. After her brief stint in the Wild West, she attended the University of Missouri - Columbia, where she graduated in May 2017 with a Bachelors in Journalism.