By Tracy Briggs
Ben Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
Fargo-Moorhead has taken that quote to heart. With an investment in quality schools, colleges and universities, the area produces capable students who are prepared for the future. Between Fargo, West Fargo and Moorhead, area students have an abundance of learning opportunities from elementary education through graduate-level collegiate studies.
Public School Districts
The Fargo Public School District is the second largest school district in the state, serving more than 11,000 students and families from kindergarten through 12th grade. The district includes 15 elementary schools, three middle schools, three comprehensive high schools and one alternative high school. Eagles Kindergarten Center in south Fargo is being converted and remodeled into a full elementary school and will open in the fall of 2016. Trollwood Performing Arts School, which offers art programs for students of all ages, is also part of the school district. Trollwood’s mainstage musical is one of Fargo-Moorhead’s most popular summertime attractions, featuring student performers from across the region
With an enrollment of about 9,500 students, the West Fargo School District is one of the fastest-growing school districts in the state. The district includes 10 elementary schools, two middle schools, two high schools and one alternative high school. Brooks Harbor Elementary will open in the fall of 2017 with another West Fargo elementary school scheduled to open in the fall of 2018. West Fargo has been a leader in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. The curriculum from its STEM Center Middle School has now been integrated into curriculum at both Cheney and Liberty Middle Schools.
Moorhead Public Schools strive for excellence through enhancing opportunities in multicultural education and the arts. Approximately 5,400 students from kindergarten through 12th grade attend the district’s three elementary schools, one middle school, one high school or one alternative middle/high school. A new elementary school as well as a 5th and 6th grade wing to Horizon Middle School are coming in 2016 and 2017, in addition to other district-wide improvements. Students interested in becoming fluent in a second language can enroll in Moorhead’s Spanish Immersion Program where students are completely engaged in Spanish language and culture while learning other academic areas including science, mathematics and social studies. Moorhead High School has received international recognition for its musical theatre program and has been named one of the top 20 speech schools in the nation.
Fargo-Moorhead’s private schools offer education through faith-based, as well as, secular education. The John Paul II Catholic Schools Network had its start in 1882 when the Presentation Sisters arrived from Ireland to start Fargo’s first Catholic school. Today, through commitment to Catholic education, the network hopes to inspire its 1,100 pre-K to high school students to grow in faith while striving for academic excellence. The network has three elementary schools, one middle school and one high school.
The mission of Oak Grove Lutheran School is to express God’s love by nurturing students for academic achievement, lifelong Christian commitment and loving service throughout the world. The school, which is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, has been named one of the 50 best Christian high schools in America. Approximately 500 students pre-K through high school attend classes in the school’s two buildings located in north and south Fargo.
Park Christian School was formed in 1981 as an elementary school after a merger of the Central Christian School, Daystar School and Bethel Evangelical Free Church. In 1998, the school welcomed its first group of high school students. Now 432 students from 20 local communities attend class on the Moorhead campus. Its mission is to be a Christ-centered academic community equipping students to think biblically, live wisely and serve faithfully.
Grace Lutheran School, which is affiliated with the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, is committed to providing Christ-centered learning for its 100 students pre-K to 8th grade.
Three Montessori schools in Fargo-Moorhead offer pre-K through 6th grade students private education that is not faith-based, but seeks to promote learning through self-motivation, persistence and concentration while utilizing interactive tools.
State Colleges and Universities
North Dakota State University was founded in 1890 as a land grant research university. More than a century later, approximately 14,500 students enrolled to pursue bachelor’s or postgraduate degrees. Best known for degrees in agribusiness, engineering and computer studies, NDSU expanded its reach in the Fargo-Moorhead community during the last decade. The campus now includes several buildings in downtown Fargo where students can learn in a vibrant and developing scene. The university has become a catalyst for cutting edge scientific research. The NDSU Research and Technology Park is a place where university researchers and private industry can work together to develop new technologies, methods and systems for the future. National attention has also come to NDSU in a completely different realm – the NDSU Bison football team has won an unprecedented five consecutive FCS national championships.
Minnesota State University Moorhead is a four-year public university that offers undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. Founded in the 1880s as the Moorhead Normal School, the institution trained teachers in northwestern Minnesota. After several name changes, the school adopted its current name in 2000 and now serves approximately 5,800 students enrolled in diverse fields of study. The most popular majors include elementary education, business administration, social work and nursing. MSUM’s banded tuition helps make college affordable for students by allowing them to take 19 credits for the cost of 12.
Two technical colleges, North Dakota State College of Science and M State-Moorhead, offer students in Fargo-Moorhead the opportunity to pursue two-year programs, degrees and certificates in a number of fields of study.
Concordia College in Moorhead is a private four-year liberal arts college founded in 1891 by Norwegian immigrants who valued education and their religious heritage. The school currently welcomes about 2,200 students from 38 states and 26 countries. Concordia’s emphasis on global learning is reflected in its mission “to influence the affairs of the world by sending into society thoughtful and informed men and women dedicated to the Christian life.” Students across all disciplines learn to think critically, develop a broad global perspective and consider creative responses to the world’s most important concerns. The college is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and offers more than 50 majors, including 15 honors programs, as well as 12 pre-professional programs in medicine, law, engineering, dentistry and more.
The University of Mary is a private university that welcomes students of all faiths and backgrounds. The Fargo Butler Center is the largest Mary satellite campus and has been serving the region for more than 20 years. Undergraduate and graduate curriculum is specially designed for the working adult looking to finish a degree that fits his or her lifestyle.
Rasmussen College is a regionally-accredited college offering career-centered undergraduate and graduate degrees. Founded at the turn of the 20th century by Walter Rasmussen, the college has grown to 23 campuses across six states and serves online students across the country.
The thousands of students attending school in the Fargo-Moorhead area are not only improving their quality of life through education, they add to the vibrancy of the community and assure its continued success into the future.
The preceding story is published in Impact: The magazine for Fargo-Moorhead business and industry 2016