MHS teacher Bonnie Stafford outside her classroom in the new MHS

As the doors opened on Phase 1 of the new Moorhead High School, MHS social studies teacher Bonnie Stafford stood outside her classroom, waiting to greet students before classes started. At the same time, she stood at an intersection of Moorhead Area Public Schools’ (MAPS) past, present and future: the third of four generations to attend and graduate from MHS, her family has been Spuds since the 1920s.

Bonnie’s grandfather, John Ingersoll, was a 1926 graduate of MHS—among the first classes to graduate from the Townsite building at the corner 8th Street South and 4th Avenue South. Her father, Wayne Ingersoll, graduated from MHS in 1963 before a long career as a junior high teacher for MAPS and a term as mayor of Moorhead in 1978 and 1979. Bonnie is a 1994 MHS alumna and has had three children graduate from the school—Ryan in 2018, Kate in 2020 and Olivia in 2023—while her youngest, Brady, is currently a freshman at MHS. Her husband, Thad, is also a Spud, having graduated from MHS in 1992.

“When I tell my students that our family has four generations of Spuds, many students aren’t all that impressed,” said Stafford with a laugh. “It speaks to how many people grow up here, graduate and find something in our community that either makes them want to stay or come back to raise their family in Moorhead. I think a lot of that comes from the experience of being a Spud.”

Being an alum, a teacher and the parent of multiple MHS students gives Bonnie a unique perspective on the move into a new high school building.

“As someone who went to this school, it’s exciting to walk into this new building and see how much we’ve progressed since my time as a student,” noted Stafford, who is in her 25th year as a teacher.  "And if you ask any teacher in this building, they’ll tell you that the windows and the light that we’ll all have is a big difference-maker. I taught on the first floor of the old building, and it was dark down there.

“My kids are all excited. My daughter who just graduated last year is a little disappointed she didn’t get to experience the new building, and my youngest is in the unique position where he’s a freshman but will be having the same new experiences as the sophomores, juniors and seniors. I joked with him ‘the nice thing is that you’ll be just as lost as everyone else!’”

Aside from the abundance of natural light in the new building, another feature that has stood out to Stafford and her fellow teachers is all the available places for students and staff to be able to collaborate.

“One of my colleagues pointed out that the open areas are like a student union you would see on a university campus,” she explained. “There are a lot of spaces students can go to, and that makes the whole building very inviting.”

Ultimately, to Stafford, a nice, modern building will only be part of being a Spud for future generations.

“What really makes a great experience isn’t so much a building as it is the people. Students need strong relationships with their teachers and to be as involved as they can be—this building will add to that.”