Construction workers raised the final steel beam of the project’s structural phase into place. The beam had been signed by students, teachers and staff and will remain visible after the additions to the school are complete.
“Thank you to the citizens of East Grand Forks,” School Board Chairman Tony Palmiscno said to the small crowd. “This is a salute to all of us.”
Construction project manager Tom McDonald explained that the tradition of a topping-out ceremony dates several centuries back to Scandinavia, intended to bring peace to tree-dwelling spirits disturbed during a construction process and instill positive spirits in the building for the future.
In the U.S., the tradition has expanded to include draping the American flag over the steel beam to show patriotism.
Work on the $20.6 million project began last May. The additions include facilities for physical education and locker rooms, fine arts and STEM programs. The construction is expected to finish next fall.
“We’ve met a milestone on this project,” McDonald said. “We want to take a moment to celebrate that.”