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New athletic field with lights at South High

Posted on 08 November 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Those honored for helping make the new stadium at South High a reality include (left to right): South High Foundation President Judy Ayers, 2014-2019 South High Principal Ray Aponte, MPS Superintendent Ed Graff, MPS School Board member Siad Ali, Harvey Feldman, South High School Site Council Field Committee Chair and former SHS parent Scott Schuelter, Parents United for South High representative Anita Newhouse, and MPS District Athletic Director Tony Fisher. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Families can finally watch home games at updated South High

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
Thanks to South High parents and students who pushed the district to upgrade the field for 20 years, South High’s teams can finally play night games.
Scott Schluter was part of the group that made the final push towards making this a reality for South High. His two children attended South High, and that’s when he realized what bad shape the field was in and how unsafe it was for athletes. The old grass field was usually a mud field, and players had to avoid the dangerous storm grates on the corners. Much of the track was torn up and jagged parts exposed concrete underneath.
“If you see something you believe could be better, not only say something, but do something positive to help create that outcome,” encouraged the 28-year Ericcson resident. “You might not be able to do everything, but you can do something.”
For him, it was hearing from another soccer parent that the district was not planning to construct a better athletic field as promised nor did it intend to switch the field to a north-south layout in July 2016 with land it had bought and cleared just north along E. Lake St. Instead, the district planned to erect a brand new $29 million, 87,000-square-foot educational building at E. Lake St. and 21st Ave. The new building replaced the adult basic education (ABE+) facility being torn down to make room for a new Hennepin County Service Center and related multi-use development at Hiawatha and Lake.
That parent went to the school board. “She couldn’t do more, but mentioned it to me and then I started,” recalled Schluter.
“Other parents, students, and soccer players took time to go the board meetings and write letters. Each had a role. Each was important.”

‘Shining example of what we can accomplish’
A few of the people involved were honored at a short ceremony and given a commemorative coin by new principal Brett Stringer prior to the South High vs. Breck School football game on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019.
Among them was Harold Benson, a 1950 graduate of the ‘old’ South High and football player. After working as an elementary school teacher, Benson moved into principal positions and then consulting work, totaling 34 years with Minneapolis Public Schools. He served on the South High Foundation from the mid-1980s to recently, and was instrumental in helping raise funds and finding workers to build the concession building in 2006. The bronze tiger by the building was donated by his family.
Benson pushed hard for the field upgrades, which include a synthetic track and field improvements, lights, bleachers, scoreboard, press box, and sound system.
“This is a shining example of what we can accomplish,” said Benson, who was given a special plaque as a thank you for never giving up on the students at South.
Also honored was Harvey Feldman, who heard that funds were too short to cover the press box or sound system, and stepped in to pay for both. (Feldman also paid for upgrades at the Southwest High School, where he attended school.)
“Being part of a team, whether it be athletics, arts, or parent organizations, is essential for positive change,” stated Minneapolis Public Schools District Athletic Director Tony Fisher. “It also cements a strong sense of belonging, which is paramount in our community. This new stadium is a metaphor for a launchpad into continued greatness for South.”

‘Football will be a family event’
“We have parents of football players who’ve never seen them play at home, because with no lights, our games have been scheduled immediately after school, at 3:30 p.m. Finally, football will be a family event at South High,” said South High Athletic Director Amy Cardarelle, who noted that the impact of these upgrades on many sports, like soccer, track and field, is significant, but particularly so for the football team.
The first 500 people at the Aug. 29 game received a commemorative t-shirt. At half-time, they also met new incoming Principal Brett Stringer, who replaces Ray Aponte.
Contact editor at tesha@longfellownokomismessenger.com.

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