Taking the tour

It was the hot ticket in town Saturday.

While the red coupons were free for the asking at the door, visitors to the new Fort Dodge Middle School still needed one to take the tour.

They lined up across the sidewalk waiting to get in and filled up both parking lots.

Jennifer Lane, director of communications, led one of the first groups through.

“I’m thrilled that we have you guys here,” she said in welcome.

She said she was enjoying the experience of being able to show the school to the public and the feedback from the public.

“There’s been a very positive response,” she said. “It’s a proud day for Fort Dodge.”

Niari Newman, of Fort Dodge, was among her group. Her husband, John Newman, will be teaching eighth-grade science in the building this fall.

The structure exceeded her expectations.

“It’s a lot cooler than what he described at home,” she said.

Reed and Emily McCullough, of Fort Dodge, were taking the tour with their daughter, Eliza, 4.

A quick bit of math revealed that she will able to attend class in the building at the start of the 2020 school year.

“It looks like a good future place,” he said.

She was impressed with the openness of the layout, the natural light and the homey feeling of the classroom pods.

Emily McCullough had her own favorite thing too – the colorful carpet squares.

Terry Coleman, of Fort Dodge, is a retired language arts teacher who taught at Fort Dodge Senior High School.

“It’s nice to see a brand new building,” he said.

He said he likes the pod concept that the school will employ and the amount of up to date technology included in the construction.

“It’s important to have the newest,” he said.

Tiffany Strutzenberg, 16, of Gowrie, will be a junior at Prairie Valley this fall.

“It’s nice,” she said after her tour. “It seems more advanced than most I’ve seen.”

Were she able to, she said she would gladly be a student there.

One aspect that impressed her were the areas devoted to creative arts.

“I’m an art student,” she said. “I loved the art rooms.”

Among the district staff giving tours Saturday was Superintendent Doug Van Zyl.

He was getting good feedback from the guests.

“They seem to be enjoying it,” he said.

“It’s a proud day for the whole community,” he said.

At the end of the day, there were still a few of the numbered tickets left. Jennifer Lane said that 1,500 had been printed. The last one given out was No. 1,302.