Excel Engineering and CD Smith join the Fond du Lac school stadium project

FOND DU LAC — Students in the Fond du Lac School District begin classes this week, but in just a year, back to school will mean upgrades to gym classes and some extracurriculars.

In January, the Fond du Lac School District Board approved a new sports complex with an artificial turf field costing up to $5.3 million at Fond du Lac High School, to benefit football teams, athletics and soccer, as well as physical education and marching band classes.

According to the August 9 school board meeting, Excel Engineering and CD Smith have joined the planning team. The stadium project will include new bleachers, lighting upgrades and a structure near the entrance with concessions, restrooms and a store, and is expected to be completed by August 2023.

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Fond du Lac is the latest Fox Valley Association conference district to make the switch to grass, school board member Linda Usselmann said at the January meeting. Practicing on a grass field would prepare students for the fields they would compete on, she said.

Fruth Field, 72 W. Ninth St., is the district’s current field and was shared with St. Mary’s Springs Academy until St. Mary’s Springs built its own artificial turf field last year.

Fruth’s grass pitch is prone to flooding in addition to regular wear and tear from using two schools.

The Fond du Lac High School training ground will be replaced by a stadium with a grass field for home football games and other activities by the 2023-2024 school year.

Fond du Lac High School principal Dave Michalkiewicz, who was previously the school’s athletic director and physical education coordinator before his new role this year, foresees the school’s ability to have space on the field for games, practices, lessons and other activities.

“I look forward to the increased usage that the new domain will bring to our students and our community,” he told The Reporter. “I am also thrilled that our student body can attend events on campus instead of having to travel across town to support our students/athletes.”

The stadium will replace the high school’s grass training ground, but it is not the only training ground; activities like the marching band also use yard marks in the parking lot in front of the field.

According to music director Chris Barnes, the marching band practices its annual show in the parking lot during its seven-day summer camp in August because of the way students learn the show.

The Fond du Lac High School training ground will be replaced by a stadium with a grass field for home football games and other activities by the 2023-2024 school year.

Each student is given a series of “points” in the show that they cycle between to put together the visual display that spectators see at football competitions and halftime shows, Barnes said.

They learn the show step by step, and the parking lot helps with the repetitive nature of memorizing the show and syncing it to the music.

After camp, practice moving around the grass field, but rain can blur those plans and make the grass field unsafe for students when walking with their instruments.

This year’s show is “NOW! That’s What I Call Boy Bands,” featuring music from The Jackson 5, *NYSNC, Backstreet Boys, One Direction, and BTS, with performances at home football games starting Friday. , as well as three competitions this fall – all on grass pitches.

The new stadium will provide students with constant space and the ability to practice where they play, but another benefit is that the equipment does not need to travel as far.

Members of the Fond du Lac high school marching band organize a drill during a practice on August 17 in the school's parking lot.

In particular, the marching band carries instruments, uniforms and other equipment, including front ensemble pieces – such as xylophones – and the podiums for the drum majors.

“I’m also very pleased that the needs of the marching band are considered when some of these decisions are made,” Barnes said. “It just shows the great relationship we have with our athletics department and the school community.”

For more information and renderings of the stadium, visit the school district’s website.

Contact Daphne Lemke at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @daphlemke.

Jack L. Goldstein