Rock Ridge High School Construction on Iron Range Begins

VIRGINIA, Minn.– A new era began earlier today on the Iron Range. Virginia and Eveleth-Gilbert education officials joined forces to break ground for the new Rock Ridge High School.

The historic project will not only bring the two schools together but will also ramp up efforts to help students get knowledge and experience in their potential career paths.

The schools wanted to find a way to create more opportunities for their students. Including getting them more involved in the local workforce. The schools hope to keep more of them on the Iron Range after graduation.

Before they began work on the new building, Virginia and Eveleth-Gilbert school leaders met with businesses around the Iron Range to find the best ways to keep the area workforce going strong. They created four different career academies to help students dive deeper into different career paths.

“We realized that kids don’t think the opportunities are here but they are,” said Virginia High School Principle Lisa Perkovich.

Students will choose academies after their ninth grade year. They will focus on areas like business management, communication, healthcare, engineering, manufacturing, and more.

Students can also change their academy if they want to try a different path. Perkovich says it’s a great way to set students up for the future and work with the community she’s been in her whole life.

“Our mission is making sure that they have real world, hands-on, real impact opportunities so when they do graduate they can either say ‘I love that and want to continue,’ or they can say, ‘You know what, I’m glad that I did that but it’s really not for me,’” said Perkovich.

The building was designed for project based work including double classrooms and work stations for both small and large groups.

Rock Ridge Superintendent Noel Schmidt says the team-up will allow for more student choices to take classes that make sense to them. And provide hands on experience while still having a strong emphasis on traditional learning.

“Parents and business people I know are interested in this model because I talked to them and after I go for about three minutes, they’re there,” said Schmidt. “They always say, ‘Why wouldn’t we do this?'”

They aren’t the only ones who are excited. Eveleth-Gilbert Junior Eli Boldt says many students from both communities are excited for the opportunity to come together at Rock Ridge.

“Students will have a fantastic sports team and a fantastic education to go along with it,” said Boldt. “And I can’t even begin to imagine how much that is going to set up so many young adults for a very successful life road.”

Along with the new high school, Rock Ridge will also build two new elementary schools. The total cost for all three buildings is more than $178 million, with around $100 million coming from the Minnesota Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board.

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