Monona Grove School District officials gathered Aug. 28 for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the expansion of MG21, the Monona Grove Liberal Arts Charter School for the 21st Century.

This fall, the school will expand its teaching to include middle school students along with the high school students already there. They will be located in classrooms in what is being referred to as the middle campus and upper campus, respectively.

“Behind the scenes and in a very quiet but determined way, we have seen this school through 10 years of success, and this is the latest step,” said Phil McDade, vice president of the MG21 Governance Board. “We’re going to have more successes. We’re excited for what this project is going to mean to our school.”

Rebecca Fox-Blair, executive director at the school, said there are 30 sixth through eighth graders enrolled this fall. That number will eventually grow to 50 to match the 50 in the high school classes.

“We’re really excited about this,” she said. “It’s been a lot of hard work on the part of everybody.”

Fox-Blair and other staff began putting the pieces together in late 2016 to write for a grant to expand the school. The grant was applied for in early 2017 and was received later that year. Last year was used to create the curriculum for the middle schoolers.

MG Superintendent Dan Olson credited the staff with helping to make the expansion happen.

“The timing of that (grant) coincided so perfectly with our district facilities referendum that we were able to use some of those resources as well,” he said, referring to the remodeling of the classrooms, bathrooms and kitchen spaces, as well as the creation of a secure entrance and office area.

“The thing that I’m most proud of is really two things with this project that you’re going to see,” Olson said. “MG21 stands alone as its own building. It’s equitable to all the schools in the district. We talk about having a safe and secure environment for our children, and, secondly, and most importantly, a learning environment where our children can thrive.”

McDade thanked Olson, the district’s administrative team and the Monona Grove School Board for their past support of the charter school.

“Their support of this charter school, which began 10 years ago, really provides the foundation by which this charter school has been able to thrive and succeed,” he said.

He said the staff was instrumental in creating the middle campus.

“This project and vision is really part of their vison for what the school can be, McDade said. “I want to thank the MG21 faculty and staff for what they’ve brought in terms of their ideas of what’s going to be fulfilled in this school every day.”

Tuesday marked the first day of classes for all students in the Monona Grove School District.

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