A crowd of people gathered around a 14-foot-tall garage door Thursday, Aug. 29, at Cromwell-Wright Public School for a ribbon-cutting and tour of the new industrial technology facility.

The project has been a long time coming, Superintendent Nathan Libbon said at the ceremony. In September 2018, the Cromwell-Wright School Board approved the estimated $2 million building addition, but conversations around the need for an updated facility started years before.

“We decided that in order to best educate our children and best put them in a position for success in the future, our current facility wasn't adequate,” Libbon said. “The community got behind us and through a lot of planning, we were able to accomplish this.”

The 6,000-square-foot facility prioritizes safety and adaptability in its design.

In terms of safety, the wood shop tools are on a separate side of the room as the welding station so as to avoid the collision between wood dust and welding sparks, Libbon said.

The welding area of the new industrial arts facility has its own space. Andee Erickson / Pine Journal
The welding area of the new industrial arts facility has its own space. Andee Erickson / Pine Journal

A walled classroom with windows stands in the middle of the shop space so students can work on design projects in the classroom and others can build in the shop space while still under teacher supervision.

Behind the wood shop area of the new industrial arts facility sits a classroom with windows into the shop. Andee Erickson / Pine Journal
Behind the wood shop area of the new industrial arts facility sits a classroom with windows into the shop. Andee Erickson / Pine Journal

Another goal the district had was to ensure the space would be able to withstand future changes in technology, education and the economy.

“We really wanted to create a facility that could be flexible to accommodate the ever-changing needs that our kids our going to have, that we're going to have in the future,” Libbons said.

Design plans for the 14-foot-tall garage door, for example, address possible future needs. Extra storage space incorporated in the design will also accommodate for ever-changing needs, as will the floor drain with an oil and water separator.

“We decided that was probably not going to be important immediately,” Libbons said, “but could be down the road, and to do that after the fact would be really economically prohibitive.”

The school’s new shop class teacher, Jeremy Rach, will teach eight classes in the new facility this school year, including gas metal welding, small building trades, small gas engines, home maintenance and wood class, as well as architect and design.

Jeremy Rach replaces Paul Webster as the industrial arts teacher at Cromwell-Wright Public School. Andee Erickson / Pine Journal
Jeremy Rach replaces Paul Webster as the industrial arts teacher at Cromwell-Wright Public School. Andee Erickson / Pine Journal

Rach comes to the position from Menahga, Minn., and with seven years of teaching under his belt.

“I’m just excited for the students to get to use this new facility and to be able to teach them new things,” Rach said.

There’s a possibility for certain pieces of equipment to be added that professionals in the trades are using, such as a computer numerical control router and plasma table, which is a computer-controlled cutting machine.