'Vote Yes For Kids' aiming to support MHS athletic facilities ahead of bond vote

“We want to make sure that all of the facts are relayed, so there's no confusion at all,” said committee member Jeff Smith.

Shown is a rendering of the proposed main gymnasium at the new Mitchell high school building.
Courtesy of the Mitchell School District website

MITCHELL — Mitchell’s youth deserve better.

That’s according to the advocacy group known as “Vote Yes For Kids!” and supporters of a proposed $17 million bond that remains front and center of the public consciousness as a June 6 vote approaches.

VYFK, a committee of eight — Leann Farnham, Jeff Smith, Jen Bradley, Lynnette Kreutzfeldt, Trish Bates, Jill Luque, Sheila Bruscher and Vicki Adams — first met around one month ago with the mission to communicate with the community. The committee is advocating for the public to learn more about exactly what's being proposed and voted on.

“We want to make sure that all of the facts are relayed, so there's no confusion at all,” Smith said.

If approved, the $17 million bond will be used to construct athletic facilities — including gymnasiums, other multipurpose areas and locker rooms — with Mitchell’s new high school building. The portion of the project including academic facilities has already secured funding, and the site is being prepared for the start of construction.


The question

The Mitchell School District’s website has a page dedicated to informing the public about the bond. Found within the webpage is a frequently asked questions section. However, a few of the questions listed don’t have an answer attached as of Friday, April 7. Among them is the query at the heart of the issue.

Why can’t we continue to use the current high school athletic facilities?

In the eyes of the VYFK committee, the answer is plain.

“I think anyone who has been in the Mitchell High School main gym or auxiliary gym in the past 20 years, we all know the answer to that,” Farnham said.

Though not involved on the VYFK committee, Ryker Kreutzfeldt also feels it’s his responsibility to be a source of information regarding the current situation. As the current MHS boys basketball coach and a 2014 graduate of MHS, he has first-hand experience with the facilities in Mitchell as well as around the state.

“What we have in Mitchell in terms of facilities is bottom of the barrel,” Kreutzfeldt said. “Truthfully, the worst I've ever seen.”

“They’re inadequate would be one way to sum it up,” Mitchell activities director Cory Aadland told the Mitchell Republic in February. “They’re aged, and so many things are different than when they were built. We have added more sports. These facilities were not designed to do what we’re trying to make them do.”


Shown is the current main gymnasium at Mitchell High School in August 2022.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

'Way past needed'

Should the June 6 bond vote fail, estimates are it will take between seven to 12 years for the district to raise the funds to add athletic facilities on to the new high school building.

As such, there’s an immediacy to the information the VYFK committee is trying to provide. In the committee’s view, securing the necessary upgrades not only serves future Kernels in the short term and long term but can also aid in strengthening the community.

“We’re doing this for Mitchell, to be progressive and to get gyms that are way past being needed,” said Lynnette Kreutzfeldt, Ryker's mother.

“I love Mitchell and want to see it succeed, but there's no way we can compete with what we've got for facilities right now,” added Smith.

In its efforts, VYFK has shared messages from coaches and student-athletes on social media that expose some of the inadequacies.

In the main MHS gymnasium, heavy rainfall or snowfall frequently leads to a leaking roof. During the summer and early fall months, temperatures in the gym make it a health and safety concern (last fall, a home volleyball match had to be relocated to the Corn Palace for this reason). Space is also a major issue, with more than 20 athletic programs today attempting to occupy the same areas that four teams did when the building was completed in 1962. Further, neither gym at MHS has a wooden floor, the standard competition surface for multiple sports, to practice on.

In the first student testimonial published by the VYFK committee, senior Dylan Soulek described the current state of MHS athletic facilities as "detrimental" and "miserable."


From Soulek to Kreutzfeldt to the VYFK committee, the hope for the future of MHS athletics is aligned.

“Whether you agree with how the high school was passed, it's irrelevant at this point because that's already passed,” Ryker Kreutzfeldt said. “So now the aim is, since we're doing this, can we do this right?

“I think it's really important that people let their voices be heard, and that’ll continue to grow as we get closer (to the vote),” he continued. “People are starting to understand how important this is to have something that the community can be proud of, because right now it's nothing to be proud of; it's embarrassing.”

Dierks covers prep and collegiate athletics across the Mitchell Republic's coverage region area, focusing on Mitchell High School football and boys basketball and area high school football, volleyball and basketball, as well as Dakota Wesleyan women's basketball. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Gridiron Spotlight, producing video and providing live play-by-play for the traveling weekly prep football broadcast during its first season in the fall of 2021. Dierks is a Mitchell native who graduated from South Dakota State University with his bachelor's degree in journalism in May 2020. He joined the Mitchell Republic sports staff in August 2021. He can be reached at and found on Twitter at @LDierksy.
What To Read Next
Get Local