Get a glance inside the new St. Henry's Area School in Perham

The classrooms inside St. Henry's brand new school are ready for the year. The rest of the building will be ready toward the end of September.

The front entrance of the new St. Henry's Area School nears completion for the 2022-23 school year.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus
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PERHAM — Students of St. Henry's Area School in Perham will have a bit of a different view when they return to class this fall for the 2022-23 school year. After nearly seven years of planning and over a year of construction, the brand new school building is ready for class .

"(The construction is) kind of like a roller coaster," said Jason Smith, the principal of St. Henry's. "Watching the kids that helped move (the classrooms) in the other day, they just kind of lit up when they went in there. I would expect at our open house to see a lot of smiling faces. It'll be nice, and it's just nice to get out of the old building."

While the fellowship hall won't be ready for the beginning of the 2022-23 school year, the classrooms are already set up for student use.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus
This sitting area in the new St. Henry's Area School has comfy furniture underneath a skylight for students and staff alike to relax.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus

Construction on the over $8 million project originally began in summer 2021, and on Aug. 15-16, 2022, the school officially moved its classrooms into the new building with the help of community families. The rooms are now fully set up and ready for the school year, complete with desks, cubbies, sinks, storage, large windows, decorations and more.

With lightly painted walls and tall windows in each room, the space feels fresh and bright. Even the cubbies and cabinets are constructed out of light wood.

The communal space, located toward the center of the school in an open hall, sits under a large skylight. Modern and plush furniture, such as cushioned blue chairs, rest under the light for students and staff to relax throughout the school days when needed. The light wood cabinets and a sink are also available in the space for possible school activities.


Large windows, light woods and bright paints are featured throughout the new school to open and lighten up the space, giving it a fresh feel.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus
This cross — made of wood from the old St. Henry's Area School building — is one of several being constructed to display throughout the new school.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus

While there are plenty of new and fresh features throughout St. Henry's Area School, not everything from the old school is being left behind.

"We are going to try to tie in a couple of things from the old school," Smith said, showing a cross made of dark wood taken from the old building. "We are having a few of these made to be on display. People who went to that school like 15 years ago remember this wood."

Even the outside of the new addition pays homage to the buildings that preceded it. The red bricks blend almost perfectly into the church where they connect at the new southeast-facing fellowship hall entrance. The southwest-facing school entrance, which faces the buildings on Third Street Southwest, features the same red brick.

School pickup and drop-off will occur at this entrance, and during the school day, these front doors will be locked for safety. Anyone entering through the front doors will need to go through the office off to the side and receive entry permission.

"What's unique about our school is it's very secure," Smith explained. By the time it's complete, it will have 13 security cameras.

The fellowship hall, which will also be used as a gym and cafeteria, is still under construction, but it should be complete by late September.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus
The kitchen, located at the back of the fellowship hall, is also still under construction but is nearing completion.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus

The fellowship hall doors will be closed and locked while construction is completed during the start of the school year in September. While the school will be done and ready for class, the fellowship hall, also to be used as a gym and lunchroom, will be worked on throughout the first month of school.

The flooring will be put in on Sept. 6, equipment needs to be set up, and the kitchen located at the back also needs to be finished. The hall that connects directly to the church, where the Adoration Chapel is located, will also be completed throughout September.

Doors will also be locked where the school connects to the church on weekdays for the safety of the students. Once the space is complete, however, community members will still be able to access the Adoration Chapel throughout the day. Landscaping and places for children to play during recess are also still in the works.


In the meantime, St. Henry's students will eat lunch in the church basement like they always have. While Third Avenue Southwest between St. Henry's and its preschool will be open for public use and traffic soon, the school may need to continue to close it during recess times for kids to have a safe place to play.

The new fellowship hall's outdoor entrance connects seamlessly with St. Henry's Catholic Church, constructed in the same style.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus

"Everything (in the new building) is current," Smith said. "It's just fresh, and it's been exciting… Once it's done, it's going to be awesome."

The bishop will be visiting St. Henry's to bless the new school after Mass on Sunday, Sept. 4. Afterward, there will be light refreshments and a modified open house for interested members of the congregation. Once construction is officially and entirely complete, St. Henry's will host a full community open house toward the end of September with food and games. The old school will likely be demolished around November or December this year.

For more information about St. Henry's Area School or its future open house, go to . The church can also be found on Facebook at St. Henry's Catholic Church- Perham . The school teaches grades K–6, with a separate preschool. You can reach them at 218-346-6190 or

"We couldn't have done it without everyone chipping in," Smith said.

Elizabeth (she/her), 23, graduated with a degree in Journalism and Communications from the University of Wisconsin–Stout in 2020. Elizabeth has always had a passion for telling stories about people and specializes in community features, which she uses for her Perham-centered content.
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