The Turtle Mountain Community School (TMCS) is located on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in north central North Dakota in the community of Belcourt. It is governed by a complex structure representing the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, the Belcourt School District #7 and the Bureau of Indian Education. The Bureau of Indian Education and the Belcourt School District #7 jointly operate the school system through a cooperative agreement. The high school, middle school and elementary school are each accredited by the State of North Dakota and North Central Association.
The Turtle Mountain Community High School offers a comprehensive elective course selection to serve the needs of students who are preparing for college, trade or technical school, the military or the workplace.
The first TMCS complex was completed in 1931 at a cost of $150,000. Its doors opened in the fall of 1931 for students in grades one through eight. The 36,762 square-foot structure contained only 16 classrooms; hence was inadequate space-wise to accommodate students in grades nine through twelve. These high school students were sent out to boarding schools or attended nearby public schools. The ninth year was finally added in 1939 with an additional grade each year thereafter. Hazel DeMontigny, Mabel Grant, Marion Morin, Leona Poitra, and May Thomas, the first senior class, graduated in 1943. In 2007, a total number of 106 students graduated.
In 1962 a new high school was built at the cost of $1,917,605. The 56,503 square-foot structure was designed to handle 400 students. A new elementary building was constructed in 1972 at an initial cost of approximately $3,380,000. The 67,600 square-foot building contained 30 classrooms, four kindergarten classrooms, a band room, office space, etc. Two more kindergarten units were added in 1974.
A second high school building was erected in 1984. The middle school students moved into the old high school. The new structure cost was $8,800,00 with 92,000 square feet. The new high school was complete with a gymnasium, music room, science rooms, computer lab, counseling and office space.
On October 26, 1984, an early morning fire did considerable damage to the middle school and the adjoining elementary school. Immediately, using available spaces, half-day schedules were arranged for all students K-12 including double bus runs. In January 1985, the improvised structures formerly used, once again accommodated the middle school students until the fire-damaged area was rebuilt in 1989.
The third new high school (123,000 square feet at a cost of $27,000,000) was completed in late 2007. The high school students moved into the new structure in January 2008. The middle school plans to eventually occupy the former high school building. The elementary school will then be housed in the both the middle school and elementary school complexes.
With these present facilities, we are better able to house our student population of 1600 in a conducive academic environment in order to provide quality learning for all.