Onalaska Middle School holds groundbreaking ceremony

Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 4:40 PM CDT
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ONALASKA, Wis. (WEAU) - A groundbreaking was held Wednesday at Onalaska Middle School for the construction of a brand new middle school which will also serve as the 9th location of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse. The club will be named after John Lyche and his late wife Linda.

“It’s a beautiful collaboration. It’s a project that will serve the community and quite frankly, the students for many years to come. And we couldn’t have been more delighted to see it happen and get the springboard effect that’s happened. And then over and above that, the boys and girls club being willing to take on the additional task of a ninth club and a significant sized club. This will be over 21,000 square feet embedded in the middle of the school,” says Lyche.

The 50 million dollar project is being funded from a 75 million dollar referendum that was passed in November.

“Today’s an exciting day for our community, an exciting day for Onalaska kids and families. This partnership with the Onalaska school district and putting a boys and girls club right in the center of this, going to be, state of the art middle school is just a really exciting day for our organization,” says Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse CEO Jake Erickson.

Principal Jed Kees says the old middle school is outdated and needed upgrades.

“Very exciting day. Didn’t know if we’d get to this point in my career here, but to have everybody here to get this off and running and the excitement with it with the kids and the band,” says Kees. “Everything was fantastic.”

Leaders with both the Boys and Girls Clubs and Onalaska Middle School say they are happy with how their collaboration got this project to where it is now.

“One of the things we’ve been missing in our community for a long time is afterschool programing for our middle school age students, 11 to 14 year old’s. To have the boys and girls club within our building and within our community is going to be a wonderful thing for our middle school age kids,” says Kees.

“Having partnerships with schools and serving kids and fitting the needs of the kids, both during the school day and in the after school hours and in the summer. It’s a perfect partnership. We’re going to be working side by side with the Onalaska school district and the staff and making sure that kid’s needs are taken care of,” says Erickson.

Changes include moving the main office, rebuilding the gym, and creating larger and more modern classrooms. The project isn’t expected to be completed until June of 2025.