The public school in Winifred is getting a high-tech upgrade. The K-12 school will soon feature lab spaces, areas for woodwork, agricultural science, car repair, and a competition-standard gym with an indoor running track.
The renovation will double the size of the original school and is the brainchild of Winifred native Norman Asbjornson, the founder of AAON, Inc.
Working with Dusty Eaton of A&E Design, the school started the early stages of construction on March 30th.
The vision, particularly from Norman and the design team as a whole, is that we could start to see this level of educational facility ripple throughout the state, that this will be a model for others to look to and say, ‘How do I accomplish that?’" Eaton explained.
The school design is meant to foster collaboration and changes in the way engineering is taught with multidisciplinary workspaces.
“I want them to be the best people they know how to be and achieve the most that they can and not be limited by their lack of educational opportunities. In other words this school will be able to provide for them the education they need to be whatever they want to be,” said Asbjornson.
Eaton has worked on numerous schools in rural communities and says a school is the hub for social events in a town. He designs his schools to cater to the needs of the whole community.
The school renovation is fully funded by Asbjornson and will cost more than $40 million dollars. Eaton hopes to see the project complete by August 2022.
Asbjornson attributes a large part of his success to his hometown, which has a population of less than 200.
He explained that he’s been pleased with what he’s seeing in the community over the past few years, and that it’s clear to him that the people of Winifred care very much about making the town as welcoming a place as it can be.
He said that other people have given back to the town just as much as he has, even if their contributions have taken forms other than monetary.
“They don’t have the money to do what I have the money to do, but it doesn’t mean that they have given any less than I have, it just means their giving is of a different nature,” he explained. “The town is becoming a better town all the time and it’s raising a lot more prime citizens for the future, who will hopefully someday return the favor to the town when they’re capable and continue to make Winifred and Montana a better town and a better state.”