Aitkin High School

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Aitkin High School
306 2nd St. NW
Aitkin, Minnesota,
United States
Type Public high school
Motto We believe everyone can learn and can experience success.
Established 1894
Principal Paul Karelis
Asst. Principal Chad Pederson
Faculty approx. 90
Grades 7–12
Enrollment approx. 600
Color(s) Red, Black, and White
Athletics Jason Cline
Mascot Gobblers

Aitkin High School (AHS) is a public high school in Aitkin, Minnesota. The school serves students in grades 712. The school enrolls approximately 600 students per year, with 400 students in the high school and 200 attending middle school. The school is a combined middle and high school, since the town does not have the needed population of adolescents to include a separate middle school. Class sizes are around 100 students, while some classes, such as the Class of 1978, have enrolled up to 160 students at one time. The Class of 2010 is one of the smallest Aitkin High School classes in history, with a class size at graduation of 83. The class entered with 98 students in 2004.

The school is a member of Minnesota's Independent School District 1 (Aitkin School District), and is affiliated with the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL). The school is a member of the Great River Conference. The AHS mascot is the Gobbler.


Aitkin High School was established in the year 1894 and the oldest school building was completed in 1901. Many additions have been added to the school since. When the school was first built, many children that lived outside the city of Aitkin attended local country schools, and then attended AHS after they graduated from 8th grade. At that time, Aitkin High School served grades 9–12 only. In 1928, an addition to the school was built and it became a 7–12 school, even though many students were in country, primary and parochial schools (particularly Catholic) until 8th grade. Several modifications took place during the following decades, including a new cafeteria, band area, and auditorium. The old gym and auditorium was created in a 1941 project and the west wing was added in the 1950s. The most major change after 1928 took place in 1976, when the school was remodeled and the old school building was demolished. The west wing still remains. Not many major modifications took place after that until the year 2000, when a new band area was established. The 1941 auditorium was remodeled in 1994 while keeping most of the classic features. In 2005, a new weight room was built. The school was modified once again in 2006 with a newly added commons area, in the 9th grade locker area, and a new 7th grade locker area built on the second floor of the school, along with an LED sign in the front of the building. In 2007, a more advanced security system was installed and a speed limit regulation was implemented around the school. In 2008, a wall was removed in the cafeteria which will enable more students to have lunch in one lunch period, and signs were posted on all entrances of the school. Paintings by students were placed on the walls to give it a more friendly atmosphere. A new student parking lot was added to the school in 2009. Pavement was planned to take place in Summer 2010 but never occurred. In 2014, plans for remodeling the high school were considered once again. Some of the plans include an expansion of the new gym area and an addition for collaborative learning/special education program, along with a few other minor updates and modifications. The plans were voted down in a county wide election on January 6, 2015, although alternative plans are still being contemplated. Some plans include minor remodeling projects along with the possibility to building a brand new school. In July 2015, reports of 1.75 inches of rain fell early Sunday morning, July 12, in Aitkin and nearly three more inches fell during the evening during an outbreak of severe thunderstorms that brought widespread damage throughout Central Minnesota, which includes the Brainerd Lakes Area and the Aitkin area. According to Aitkin Superintendent Bernie Novak and head of maintenance, Jim Bright, the weight of the water on the high school roof caused a rubber membrane around a drain to tear, creating an 18-inch by 6 foot hole around a roof drain. Large amounts of water on the roof gushed through the hole into the building and through the ceilings on each of the three levels of classrooms. One-half to three-fourths of the ceiling tile were drenched with water and at one point there was as much as two inches of water on the first floor hallway. The media center along with new Macintosh computers was damaged; the first floor server room, a special education room and the third floor chemistry lab also received extensive damage. Repairs are currently taking place and despite the damages, school will start as normally scheduled.


In Fall 2009, AHS had 900 students.[1]

The Aitkin School District's Superintendent is Bernie Novak. The high school principal is Paul Karelis, a 1980 graduate of Aitkin High School. Chad Pederson is the Assistant Principal and the Athletic Director is Jason Cline.

Curriculum and scheduling[edit]

Aitkin High School is on an 8-period quarter/semester schedule. Each semester lasts 9 weeks. Class periods are currently 46–52 minutes in length with 4 minutes passing time in between classes. Some classes, such as the ones in the Industrial Arts area are 2 periods in length. Additionally, middle school and high school students share the same time schedule. From the years 1998–2007, the school used a block schedule, where classes were 84 minutes long. In 2007, the trimester schedule used at AHS during the 1960s and 1970s was reinstated. Independent study periods were added on a rotation basis. (e.g. Day 1 is 1st hour, Day 2 is second hour, etc.) Independent study periods enable students to have time to finish class assignments, get help from another teacher, attend meetings and school assemblies, and much more. In recent years, the rotation basis has changed to a daily class period at the end of each day during Period 8.

In 2010, a new student database, Infinite Campus, was integrated, to enable students, teachers, and parents to keep track of their students performance in school. The online learning tool has many feature such as the ability to register for classes online, check grades and finding missing assignments.

More than 110 classes are offered.[2] This includes subjects in agriculture, business, media arts, computer science and information technology, English, family and consumer science, art, music, physical education, industrial technology, mathematics, science, social studies, and World Languages.

Although AHS does not offer any AP or IB classes, it offers college credit for advanced classes with a program called College in the Schools through the University of Minnesota, Central Lakes Community College, Mesabi Community College, and Vermilion Community College and the option of PSEO. These enable students to receive college credits at select colleges free of tuition and book and may even obtain enough credits to get an Associate of Arts Degree.


The school features a newly added commons area, two gyms, a band area, an auditorium, a Strength room, a choir area, and three floors of classrooms and laboratory type classroom for industrial arts, home economics, fine arts, and agriculture.

Extracurricular activities[edit]


Athletic teams include:





Aitkin High School wrestlers and dance team (known as the All Starz) have gone to state competition numerous times. The Aitkin All Starz had been known to go to state annually for more than a decade and the momentum still continues. The last time the Aitkin wrestling team went to State as a whole was in the year 2008. Aitkin High School had a great stretch of athletic ability in the 1950s, while the football, wrestling, and track team made many outstanding achievements. A lag in athletic ability took place for most of the 1960s and the 1970s with an exception for baseball and softball. The baseball team made the conference championship both in 1977 and 1978, and made it to the sections in 1977, but never made it to state throughout the decade. 1982 was a magical year for sport in Aitkin High School, which included the momentous boys basketball state tournament in 1982 along with the progressing to state with the football team that fall. During the 1990s and 2000s, Aitkins athletic ability with an exception for the wrestling and the newly formed All Starz dance team has declined and its performance has shifted to mainly more artistic and academic achievements. The school has gradually transitioned into more athletic competence in the later end of the 2000s, and many changes were added to the school to improve athletic competence and school spirit. In 2005, a weight room facility was constructed with the addition of newer weight room equipment in circa 2007–2008. A new scoreboard was added in 2009 in the new gym. In 2013 the football team appointed a new head coach Tom Sanford. Sanford made significant changes to the program, modeling the team similarly to Brainerd's. These significant changes lead to the teams first winning season (2013) since 2005 and bringing "The Stump" back to Aitkin. The 2014 season was also a winning season under the continued direction of head coach Tom Sanford. The success of the continued weight training program for all students was highlighted in the two night "Strength and Honor Liftathon" where athletes were able to raise $7,500 the first year and $10,000 in 2015 going to area Veterans programs. On 9/11/2015 the football team dedicated the field renaming it "Veterans Field", having veterans, active military personnel and their families form the tunnel that the players run through during their entrance, and having several fly overs.

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Coordinates: 46°32′01.5″N 93°42′40″W / 46.533750°N 93.71111°W / 46.533750; -93.71111