Leech Lake Holds Groundbreaking Ceremony For New Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School
State officials and local community leaders gathered Wednesday to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new, replacement Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig High School with a ceremony and reception at the school complex.
The new high school, located on the same property as the current school in Bena, Minnesota, is expected to be completed in July of 2017.
Attendees at the groundbreaking ceremony included members of the LLBO School Board, superintendent, administration officials, teachers, students, community leaders, elders, members of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Tribal Council, as well as local, state, federal elected officials and staff.
The program included an opening drum song, invocation, and welcome remarks by LLBO Chairman Faron Jackson, Sr. Comments were also given by School Board Chair Bob Whipple, Superintendent Mary Trapp, Senator Al Franken, Congressman Rick Nolan, Congresswoman Betty McCollum, Minnesota Commissioner of Education Brenda Cassellius, and Security and Ground Supervisor for the Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig High School John Parameter.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and LLBO are working cooperatively throughout the process and continue to work closely together through the completion of the replacement school. Currently, the school and LLBO are reviewing space allocations of 44,283 square feet. Once approved, contractors will proceed with design, demolition, and construction.
Earlier this year, after efforts from Sen. Franken and Reps. McCollum and Nolan, the Department of Interior (DOI) granted nearly $12 million for repairs and improvements at Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig—a place where students and teachers have had to endure years of deplorable conditions, including inadequate construction, freezing temperatures, leaky ceilings and doors, faulty electrical and air systems, exposed wiring, mold, and sewer backups. Today’s groundbreaking is the first step in rebuilding the school, with the new modernized facility expected to be completed in 2017.
“Students at Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig have faced horrendous conditions in their classrooms for years—it was disgraceful, deplorable, and terrible for learning,” said Sen. Franken.
“Students, teachers, and faculty had to deal with freezing temperatures, leaky pipes, dangerous wiring, and mold and sewer problems. That’s why this groundbreaking is so important: it means that so many bright young students in Indian Country will be able to feel safe and comfortable to learn and reach their full potential.”
Earlier this year, LLBO announced it was successful in long-pursued efforts to secure federal replacement funding for its high school from the United States Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs. The Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig High School’s run-down conditions have been documented in the Huffington Post, The New York Times, and in a series of articles in the Minneapolis Star Tribune noting its rotten flooring, poor insulation, rodent infestation, broken heaters, and substandard and exposed wiring.
We’ll have the full story tonight at 10 p.m. on Lakeland News.