Ribbon cutting honors namesake of new Dorothy Dodds Elementary School
September 27, 2017
Moorhead Area Public Schools celebrated the completion of the district’s new K-4 elementary school and recognized the school’s namesake during a ribbon cutting Sept. 26 as part of homecoming week.
Dorothy Dodds Elementary School at 4400 24th Ave. S., Moorhead, opened this fall with approximately 680 K-4 students.
Superintendent Lynne Kovash thanked the community for its support and the design team that worked together to imagine the school, and
Brandon Lunak, assistant superintendent of finance and operations, reiterated the district’s thanks to those who worked on the construction project.
“Our children have a place where academics as well as creative passions can be expressed,” Kovash said.
Kovash also acknowledged learning from Dorothy Dodds, whose name graces the new school.
, a 1941 Moorhead High School graduate, taught kindergarten at the Moorhead State Campus School from 1949 until it closed in 1972, and then she taught in Minnesota State University Moorhead’s education department until retiring in 1986. A lifelong educator and advocate for children, Dodds was inducted into the Moorhead High School Hall of Honor in 2012. She died in December 2012.
Mayor Del Rae Williams said she had worked with Dodds through the former Moorhead Healthy Community Initiative and remembers her fire.
“I remember thinking, when I grow up I want to be just like her,” Williams said.
Lori Rippentrop, a niece of Dodds, thanked the naming task force and School Board for recommending and approving the school’s name.
“But most of all, thank you to the voters of the Moorhead School District for passing that bond referendum in 2015 that allowed this school to be built,” Rippentrop said. “With this vote you all carried on the legacy that Dorothy began. You showed, with your hard-earned tax dollars, that the children of the greater Moorhead community are important and deserve high quality, safe and forward-thinking schools.”
Rippentrop said Dodds, who was called Dorothy Ann by her family, received many awards during her lifetime for her work on behalf of young children.
“But I believe that this, a school named in her honor, would hold an extra special place in her heart,” Rippentrop said. “Because Dorothy Ann loved kids.”
Besides teaching kindergarten, future early childhood teachers, and Sunday School, Dodds had tea parties for kids in her neighborhood and helped found Moorhead Healthy Community Initiative to support youth.
“And, oh, she loved us, her nieces and nephews,” said Rippentrop. “She talked to us and listened to us; she read to us; she took us along on some of her travels and told us stories about others. We miss her dearly and wish that you all could have known her. You would have loved her too.”
Principal Robin Grooters shared a final thank you during the program.
“What an honor it is to be working in a school bearing Dorothy Dodds’ name,” Grooters said.
Representatives of the Moorhead School Board, Dodds family, district and school administration, teachers, parents, and students helped cut the ribbon.
Fargo-Moorhead Chamber Ambassadors celebrated with the school district at the ribbon cutting, and the Chamber presented the district a plaque. Guests toured the school following the ribbon cutting.
The formal dedication ceremony and school tours will be held in February 2018 to celebrate the completion of the district’s construction and renovation projects approved by voters in November 2015. The dedication ceremony will be held after construction is done at the Horizon Middle School Campus.
About the construction projects
The community and the school district have been growing steadily since 2005 and growth is projected to continue. To accommodate this growth and provide students with the 21st century learning experiences they need to succeed, Moorhead Area Public Schools engaged in an extensive community-driven facilities planning process in 2014-15.
The facilities task force process created a 10-year Facilities Master Plan for the district to address current and future needs. This plan led to the
Nov. 3, 2015 bond referendum to invest $78.2 million in renovation of existing schools and construction of new space.
The bond referendum provided for growth and learning by:
- Adding secure entries in school buildings;
- Creating adequate and appropriate learning environments for students from early childhood through grade 8;
- Building a K-4 elementary;
- Building a grades 5-6 school connected to Horizon Middle School to create a shared grades 5-8 campus reducing transitions for students;
- Building an auditorium for school and community use at Horizon Middle School; and
- Returning Probstfield Center for Education to an early childhood and district education center focused on the needs of our youngest learners.
The new Dorothy Dodds Elementary School, the new Horizon Middle School West Campus for grades 5-6, and the three newly renovated elementary schools opened Sept. 5 for the 2017-18 school year. Construction continues at Horizon West with the north academic wing scheduled for completion in November and the auditorium to be completed by February 2018.