BIGFORK — On a recent Friday evening, Rick and LouAnn Baird sat inside the new wing of the high school, marveling at the historic transformation. The husband and wife both graduated from the original two-story high school in the early 1960s and have remained closely tied to the community institution, including Rick’s 26-year tenure as librarian. Now their two daughters both teach in town.
The Bairds were among the group of community members who rallied together to support a $14 million makeover of the high school, the largest renovation since the 1960s. Last fall, voters passed a bond approving the work, which will add an estimated 30,000-square feet to the facility and upgrade existing space. The additions include a new community room for all types of local events as another way to welcome residents into their lone high school. After basketball season, crews will turn their attention to renovating the gymnasium, among other final phases.
“This is wonderful. I can’t stress enough how grateful we are that the community came together and overwhelmingly passed this (bond),” Rick Baird said.
“It was desperately time.”
A year after the bond passed, crews with Hammerquist Casalegno are ahead of schedule, with the eight new classrooms slated for completion this winter.
As with the residents who supported the bond, the team building the school is invested in making the project a success.
“I feel a lot of ownership,” Mark Casalegno, co-owner of Hammerquist Casalegno and a lifelong Bigfork resident, said. “I went to school here and my kids went to school here. My wife’s parents went to school here.
“I feel like this is my community duty. It makes it a lot more personal.”
School superintendent Matt Jensen said there will be a community tour in December to show the progress of the new work and keep the excitement building.
“We just want the community to celebrate this,” he said. “It’s their school. And it’s something to be excited about and proud of.”
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