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SEELEY LAKE - Thursday marked the groundbreaking for the Seeley-Swan High School-Community Media Center, a project close to the heart of departing Principal Kim Haines.

Construction of the 3,250-square-foot building, which will be behind the gymnasium, was financed by a high school improvement bond issue passed by voters in 2000. The project carries a $340,000 price tag.

"This new facility will enhance the existing positive relationship between Seeley-Swan High School and the Missoula County Public Library, as well as provide a technology access point in the community," said Haines.

Haines is hopeful he can furnish the new building with a $94,641 grant, for which he already has applied.

A previous building used in this capacity will be turned into two badly needed classrooms, he said.

With the schools functioning as focal points in small communities, Haines thinks such a building, which will house a county library and technology center, is a necessity.

"It's important for, and draws the community to, the school," he said.

"It's an opportunity for us to step into a new era for educating our kids," said MCPS Superintendent of Schools Mary Vagner after several school board and community members took turns breaking ground with a gold-plated shovel.

"The community is responsible for supporting this bond," Vagner said. "I'm very excited."

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