Rebuilt after explosion, Minnehaha Academy to reopen to students this fall

August will mark two years since a deadly explosion rocked part of Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis. Now rebuilt, the school will reopen to students in the fall.

Minnehaha Academy President Donna Harris took FOX 9 inside the new Minnehaha Academy for the very first time.

It’s been a two-year journey from the devastating natural gas explosion, which killed two staff members, to about 380 high school students set to return to the campus in August. 

“We are thrilled to be able to get back home, educate the wonderful kids that we’ve been blessed to partner with, families coming back,” said Harris. “There’s lots of excitement about being back.”

The centerpiece of the new school is a bright commons space with a pair of black olive trees flown in from Florida to honor the natural beauty of Minnehaha’s location along the Mississippi River.

Up above are two steel beams with signatures of past and present students, faculty and staff. FOX 9 captured the ceremonial signing events last year as the more than 100-year-old school tries to connect its past with its future.

“Beams are sign of strength in any building, and the strength of those students in our community over the years is represented in all those signatures,” said Harris.

Another way Minnehaha is connecting new with old is by providing bricks from the original school, which was destroyed in the 2017 blast, to graduating seniors.

Max Gifford says he treasures the gift as he heads off to the University of Saint Thomas.

“This brick – it’s pretty cool, excited to get the brick because it’s an original piece of the 1919 school,” said Gifford. “I mean, basically slice of old school and I can use it in my house and remember the days I went to Minnehaha and the two years I had at this special campus.”

Minnehaha Academy’s first day of school on their new campus will be August 21.