Editor's note: This story is part of a series looking back at some of the biggest stories of 2018. Find the rest of the series here: Top Ten 2018.

The new Oltman Middle School in Cottage Grove welcomed its first students Sept. 4. The $72 million school, located at 65th Street and Geneva Avenue South, was built on former agricultural land purchased from Bailey Nurseries.

The site was chosen for its proximity to areas of where Woodbury, Newport, St. Paul Park and Cottage Grove meet. The building was designed by ARY Architects, who also designed East Ridge High School. Classrooms are outfitted with glass folding doors that open up onto collaborative learning spaces. All teachers will wear microphones that are wirelessly connected to speakers in the ceiling.

Other features include a 400-seat theatre and a remote control lockdown system.

Former reporter Katie Nelson contributed to this story.