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Voyageurs adds middle school

BEMIDJI — Voyageurs Expeditionary High School now is accepting applications for grades 6-8.

The charter school, located at 3724 Bemidji Ave. N, will accept 15 students in grades 6-8 for the 2013-14 school year.

“We want to make sure we’re doing it well,” said director Julie Johnson-Willborg, on the school’s decision to keep class sizes small for the middle school’s first year.

Voyageurs, which opened in 2003, had 56 students in grades 9-12 this past year. Voyageurs utilizes a hands-on, project-based education model in its curriculum.

Johnson-Willborg said the school first began considering an expansion into middle-school grades about two years ago.

She previously has said the school fields multiple calls each year from parents looking for a non-traditional middle school.

In order to expand, Voyageurs needed to obtain approval from both its authorizing agency — the Audubon Center of the North Woods — and the Minnesota Department of Education. The school learned last week that approval was granted.

“We’re excited,” Johnson-Willborg said.

Voyageurs is now accepting applications through Aug. 2. A lottery, if needed, will be held Aug. 6 for available spots. Charter school law gives first preference to siblings of existing students.

Applications can be found online at Staff can be reached at 444-3130, Tuesdays through Thursdays, to answer questions.