The Pilot Independent: Leech Lake Band holds groundbreaking ceremony for new Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig H.S.; efforts to secure federal funding celebrated with local, state and federal leaders and officials
CASS LAKE — The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe (LLBO), School Board and Superintendent, along with additional local, state, and federal leaders, celebrated the groundbreaking for the new replacement Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig High School Aug. 24 with a ceremony and reception at the school complex.
The new high school, located on the same property as the current school in Bena, is expected to be completed in July of 2017.
The program included an opening drum song, invocation, and welcome remarks by LLBO Chairman Faron Jackson, Sr. Comments were also made by School Board Chair Bob Whipple, Superintendent Mary Trapp, Senator Al Franken, Congressman Rick Nolan, Congresswoman Betty McCollum, Minnesota Commissioner of Education Brenda Cassellius, and Security and Ground Supervisor for the Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig High School John Parameter.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and LLBO are working cooperatively throughout the process and continue to work closely together through the completion of the replacement school. Currently, the school and LLBO are reviewing space allocations of 44,283 square feet. Once approved, contractors will proceed with design, demolition and construction.
LLBO Chairman Faron Jackson, Sr., stated in his remarks at the ceremony, “Today’s groundbreaking ceremony of the new Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig High School is an opportunity to honor and thank the many people who have worked so hard through the years to bring us to this step, one day closer to a high school facility that we all can be proud of. This day would not have been possible without the hard work, dedication, sweat, and certainly tears of many individuals, administrations, school boards, students, teachers, parents, elders, and local, state, and federal elected and appointed officials, to name a few. Thank you.
“I can assure you that as Chairman of Leech Lake, it is one of my highest priorities to ensure that our students have the opportunity to learn in a safe environment, and I will work hard to build on the efforts of so many throughout the years. There is much excitement about this movement forward, and I’m looking forward to an opportunity to continue to work with you to carry on the legacy of so many.”
Mary Trapp, Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig Superintendent, stated, “The new school is an example of the success of our community coming together to help our students succeed. We are all looking forward to it.”
Earlier this year, LLBO announced it was successful in long-pursued efforts to secure federal replacement funding for its high school from the United States Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs. The Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig High School’s run-down conditions have been documented in the Huffington Post, The New York Times, and in a series of articles in the Minneapolis Star Tribune noting its rotten flooring, poor insulation, rodent infestation, broken heaters, and substandard and exposed wiring.