New Owatonna High School offers career pathways for students

Step through the front doors, and you'll quickly realize this is not your Grandma's high school.

This is the first school year that 1,600 students have been at the 317,000 square-foot Owatonna High School building, paid for by a bond referendum and donations from local companies.

The school has two gyms, multiple sports fields and a first-of-its-kind weight room from Life Fitness.

"We were the first in the nation to get this equipment," Owatonna High School Principal Kory Kath told FOX 9.

The sheer size of the building is impressive, but what's even more stunning is what's inside. The school focuses on providing kids with career pathways, ensuring they are set up for success after graduation. 

One of those programs is nursing, complete with a real hospital room and outfitted with hospital beds from nearby Mayo Clinic. 

"It's really realistic to what they would see if they went to a college and had this class," said instructor Becky Wood.

One of the students taking the class is Mckayla Selle.

"My aunt really inspired me she's going into the medical field and I thought I really wanted to try it out just to see if I was really interested in it," she said.

Students can graduate with their Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certification and are just one semester away from becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), all for free.

"It's a good career if you want to do this after high school and not spend thousands of dollars at college and decide you don't want to do it," said student Cody Shaw.

The school also has a hydroponic greenhouse, construction courses and audio technology in their Wegner Performing Arts Center that allows students to play back recordings as if they were at Carnegie Hall or U.S. Bank Stadium.

There are also firefighter training courses, scuba diving certification and culinary instruction.

"As they come in as a first-year student and as they go through to their senior year, we want to make sure every student has the opportunity to explore all aspects of what their skills are, and what opportunities are once they leave high school," said Kath.

The mission of the high school is to make sure every single student is career ready, and the beautiful new building is a big step forward in achieving that goal.