Pine Ridge school sees first day back after weather, construction delays

PINE RIDGE, S.D. – With the school year already underway for many, Tuesday was day one for students at the new-look Wolf Creek School in Oglala Lakota County. The much-anticipated start introduced students and staff to their newly renovated Elementary School.

School was planned to be back in session in mid-August but pushed back to after labor day. After weather delayed construction through the spring and summer, the start was pushed back another week, then another day. “We had some delays with electrical problems, water problems,” said Darrell Eagle Bull, Principal of Wolf Creek School.

The school itself was built in 1979. Eagle Bull has been with the district for 30 years. He says he’s seen the school more than double in that time from about 250 kids and four buses to nearly 600, including jr. high students, and 28 buses that bring kids from as far as Porcupine and Manderson.

The renovation gives a new face to the school, expanding the building outward to provide a new entryway and offices for staff. Classrooms were also renovated.

Before the expansion, students were packed into classrooms, some 30 to 35 a room. Teachers, even set up shop in the library.

“We had to convert the library into several classrooms and we actually had students in the hallways to get additional support from their teachers and all,” said Superintendent, Dr. Anthony Fairbanks.

But the addition of ten more classrooms brings the total to 40.

“The staff really came together and worked so hard to make the school safe for everyone and it took a long time and I know it was hard for the community but it took the community to really build what we have here,” said Angela Anduja, 2nd grade teacher.

Teachers and administrators all highlighted the need to bring students back to school in a clean and safe environment. School security is also adjusting their protocols to the new layout.

“With the new school, we’re just reorganizing a bit with the new doors, the new entryway, the new parking lots and things and staff getting organized as well,” Jesse Lloyd Trueblood, director of security for the Oglala Lakota County School District.

There’s still more work to do in the building, like finish the middle school portion of the building. Students in the 6th to 8th grade level are currently bused out to the Suanne Big Crow Boys and Girls club for class, but only for a few more months.

That project is set to wrap up around Thanksgiving.

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