Minnetonka High School's Student News

Minnetonka Breezes

Minnetonka High School's Student News

Minnetonka Breezes

Minnetonka High School's Student News

Minnetonka Breezes

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New VANMO Building: The How and Why

Photo+by+Cash+Wagner
Photo by Cash Wagner

Since its inception, there’s no question that VANTAGE has had a significant impact on Minnetonka. At nearly 500 students enrolled for the 2023-24 school year, the program can be considered a very successful addition to our district. However, it has grown to a point where questions about its future could become more and more relevant.

Recently, the brand new VANTAGE/MOMENTUM building finished construction adjacent to Clear Springs Elementary School. At 36,300 square feet, this building provides additional space for students to learn and carry out work in their respective “strands,” as they are known in the program. The building itself is impressive for its usage as an extension to high school, housing multiple glass-encased meeting and classroom spaces. However, one major question prevails for this new construction – why was it needed in the first place? According to the Sun Sailor, a local publication, the building cost a total that came to just under $14 million, a staggering number for a program that still has many questions behind its growth. 

While the construction of a brand new building may at first seem like a move without reason, it seems that there are a handful of notable improvements made with the change.

Jos Buffington, ‘25, is a current VANTAGE student in the Public Policy strand of the program. After first attending classes at the building on March 5 after usually being at the old VANTAGE East location, their first impressions were very positive. “I feel like I’m never going to occupy a building as nice ever again,” they said. “There’s a lot of really nice workspaces with nicer seating areas than you’d find in most offices.” Buffington says that “our classroom is smaller,” compared to those at the old VANTAGE East building, saying that “it is nicer to be in the smaller classroom because we had a big space for a small class,” which allows for more opportunities to connect and share ideas with fellow peers. 

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This concept of peer connection is an important element to all learning. Roger Andre, the executive director of the VANTAGE program, says “the format of VANTAGE is not a teacher at the front of the room, talking to a class very often, it’s much more working.” Andre says that “there’s just lots of great spaces and because it’s all one building, I think there’s at least a dozen conference rooms that students can go work in, and they’re full all the time.” Andre goes on to explain that, with the consolidation of the strands into one location, students are able to connect with those who are in separate strands that would never usually converge. With this, “[students] feel an identity with a broader program, which I think is really important and will help students understand what’s different about VANTAGE.” 

Principal Jeffery Erickson says on the matter of VANTAGE’s presence in time for the district, “it took us ten years to figure out what we wanted [VANTAGE] to be.” With the addition of this new building he says, “we feel really confident that how we built it is what we wanted it to look like.” Erickson compares the timeline of VANTAGE to that of how a school may create a walkway, “and then they’ll find students making paths of what the batter way is. I think we’ve had ten years of figuring out what that path should look like in terms of space and what it needs to be. Now we built it.” 

At first glance, this construction could turn some heads. However, VANTAGE is still very much growing, and after just a handful of days of operation in the new space, positivity and excitement seems to fill the air about where the program will go next.

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