For Principal Brian McGill, the long-awaited renovation of Alta High is personal.

Twenty-seven years ago, he walked the same halls that his students walk today — and he’s thrilled to see how the new additions will add to the culture and climate of the school. "Even as a student, one of the things I loved the most about this school is the sense of tradition and a drive for excellence,” McGill said at a June 7 groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of construction. “It’s a place that doesn’t settle for second best, whether it’s in the arts, academics or on the athletic field. This is A-Town! It’s how it’s always been — and how it will always be."

To officially kick off construction, McGill, in front of a cheering crowd gathered for the groundbreaking celebration, hopped in a massive earth-mover and pulled some levers to make a giant steel claw scoop up and dump a bucket of sand. 

Joining McGill in celebrating the improvement project were members of the Hawks’ student council, drum line, color guard, and cheerleading squad. Also in attendance were parents, alumni, teachers, members of the Canyons Board of Education, Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe, other District administrators, Sandy Mayor Kurt Bradburn, Rep. LaVar Christensen, R-Draper, Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, Rep. Robert Spendlove, R-Sandy, and Canyons Education Foundation Board Members Suzanne Harrison and Greg Summerhays.

Alta is among the first of several improvement projects to be completed with funds from a 2017 voter-approved bond. Work also starts this summer on rebuilds of Hillcrest and Brighton high schools. A groundbreaking for the Hillcrest project was held on May 31, and a celebration for the beginning of the Brighton project will take place at the school on Thursday, Aug. 9 at 5:30 p.m.

“With all of our schools, special care is taken to involve students, parents, teachers and the broader community in the planning process,” remarked Board President Sherril H. Taylor. “We take pride in building schools that reflect the communities they serve and that serve those communities well.”

The Alta High remodel will be completed in phases over two years so as to allow students to stay inside the building. “This is going to be a complex project to do,” said Canyons District’s Business Administrator Leon Wilcox, expressing appreciation for careful attention that VCBO Architects and Hughes Construction have given the project. “We’re basically building a school on top of a school, while holding school. That’s quite a challenge and these guys are going to do it while making sure everything is safe for all involved.”

Among major additions to take shape during the first phase of construction are a new field house and 1,400-seat Performing Arts Center, which will be configured to capitalize on mountain views. A new commons area will be a space where students can gather to make new traditions. The ceiling of the commons area will be lifted to 35 feet, and the new open space will be illuminated by natural light. Traffic flow will be improved, making it easier for students, employees, and visitors to safely enter and exit the campus. 

“From day one, the focus of the design has been about creating the best learning environment for our students and a great work environment for teachers,” McGill said. “I hope you’re as thrilled as I am with the plans for the school, which will stand as a testament to our community’s investment in education for at least the next 40 years.”

See more on Facebook or the Alta High groundbreaking photo album.

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  • A new era of great heights is on the horizon for the Alta High Hawks. 

    A groundbreaking celebration to cheer the start of work on a major two-year renovation at Alta High will be Thursday, June 7. All Alta students, teachers, parents, volunteers, alumni, and boosters are invited to the 5:30 p.m. reception and 6 p.m. ceremony at the school, 11055 S. 1000 East. 

    No time has been wasted starting on the major renovation project, which is funded by the $283 million bond voters approved in November. Construction crews have already started site work on the northwest corner of campus where a 1,400-seat performing arts center will be built. By January 2020, the state-of-the-art center is scheduled to be complete and ready for productions.

    Crews also will soon begin work on the Hawk Fieldhouse immediately north of the football stadium. By next summer, Alta students in activities ranging from football to marching band will be able to practice on an turf-covered indoor field. The second-level gallery of the fieldhouse, which will have a 30-foot ceiling, also will feature windows facing the football field so guests can watch Friday Night Lights action out of the chilly fall air.

    In addition to the new performing arts center, the remodel also calls for the construction of a black box theater where the current auditorium is located. Among other upgrades, several offices will be relocated, the ceiling in the commons area will be raised to about 35 feet, and windows will be added on the front of the building and throughout the entrance to bring in an abundance of natural light. A security vestibule will guide visitors to the Main Office before they can gain access to the hallways. 

    A new red, grey and glass façade on the front of the performing arts center will be replicated along the front of the current building, adding to the school’s curb appeal. In addition, a new marquee and electronic sign will be placed at the corner of 11000 South and 100 East to inform the community about Alta High events and student accomplishments. 

    The renovation project is being designed by VCBO Architecture. The general contractor is Hughes Construction.
    With better insulating materials and sustainable building products, today’s schools are more energy efficient than those built 50, or even 20, years ago, which translates to lower energy bills and an immediate cost savings for taxpayers.

    As schools and school districts grow larger, however, to meet demands of growing student populations, those energy gains can be quickly wiped out. Yet Canyons District has managed to reduce its carbon footprint by 39 percent over the past eight years — even with the addition of 1 million square feet of new construction.

    Since Canyons’ inception, the District has worked to address the life safety and technological deficiencies of the aging stock of buildings it received from a previous school district while also planning for growth. Among 13 major school improvement projects financed with proceeds from a bond approved by voters in 2010 were the construction of the first high school and middle school in Draper.

    Yet, even with these new buildings and the added burden of having to power modern teaching tools, CSD’s conservation efforts have reduced carbon emissions by 39 percent since 2009. That’s the equivalent of taking 1,473 cars off the road per year, says Chris Eppler, CSD’s Energy Conservation Specialist.

    The energy savings is partially due to a push to place mechanical systems in unoccupied mode when schools aren’t being used, while the rest is tied to heating, cooling and lighting upgrades, Eppler says. “It really comes down to doing things right. If you repair, build and operate schools correctly with an attention to quality, you will reduce energy consumption while keeping classrooms more comfortable.”

    For his environmental stewardship, Eppler has received numerous awards, including being named an Energy Pioneer by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert. His conservation efforts have not only saved money but have resulted in better learning environments for thousands of children.

    Among other steps CSD has taken over the years to cultivate healthy schools:

    WATER USAGE: Canyons is doing its part to curb water usage; the district has about 370 acres of turf to maintain. With a $15,000 grant from the Central Utah Water Conservancy District, CSD hired and trained students to help survey, monitor and adjust school water schedules based on the root zone, type of grass, shade, soil type and evaporation rate. In July 2014, the district used 16.5 million gallons less than in July 2012 and 9.5 million gallons less than in July 2013. 

    RADON TESTING: The District was recently honored by the Utah Division of Environmental Quality for its radon-testing program. CSD is the only district in Utah that regularly tests schools for radon with all buildings tested at least every two years.

    NO IDLING: On Earth Day, 2016 Canyons became the first school district in Utah to go idle free at all of its campuses. The campaign kicked off early in the morning at Ridgecrest elementary school where no-idling signs were installed and students greeted drivers with placards, informational pamphlets and window clings to place in vehicles. Eventually, signs were placed at all Canyons schools and no-idling pledges were sent home with students, encouraging parents to voluntarily pledge to “turn their key and be idle free.”

    The City of Midvale has officially expressed support for a school improvement bond that Canyons District is asking voters to consider on Election Day.

    “The City Council feels it is in the best interests of the City and its residents to support the Bond Proposal,” which would generate funds without raising taxes to “rebuild and remodel several schools as well as install windows and skylights for natural lighting at several more schools,” reads a resolution approved by the Midvale City Council on Sept. 19. The resolution was signed by all five council members and Mayor JoAnn Seghini.

    Canyons District has made strides toward addressing $650 million in repair and safety upgrade needs inherited from a predecessor school district in 2009. Next fall’s completion of the remodel of Indian Hills Middle will be the 13th and final project promised to voters as part of a 2010 bond. Passing a second bond would allow the District to improve and modernize an additional 27 schools benefitting 17,000 children, while adequately planning for growth.

    A detailed list of the improvement projects that would be made possible by the bond can be found on CSD’s website.



    Canyon_School_District_Bond_Support_Resolution_No._2017-R-37.jpg
    The recognized parent group for Canyons’ schools has endorsed the District’s $283 million tax-rate-neutral bond proposal that voters are being asked to consider this Election Day. 

    The Board of the Canyons’ Region 17 PTA, which encompasses all Parent-Teacher and Parent-Teacher-Student Associations within the District, voted Tuesday, Sept 12 to publicly support the measure, which would generate funds to build and renovate schools. 

    The endorsement reflects the trust and support that Cottonwood Heights, Sandy, Draper, Midvale and Alta families have placed in our schools, teachers and staff, said CSD Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe. “We are fortunate to live in a forward-thinking community that puts children first and that values education.”

    Canyons District has made strides toward addressing $650 million in repair and safety upgrade needs inherited from a predecessor school district in 2009. Next fall’s completion of the remodel of Indian Hills Middle will be the 13th and final project promised to voters as part of a 2010 bond. Passing a second bond would allow the District to improve and modernize an additional 27 schools benefitting 17,000 children.

    “The success of our children is directly linked to the success of our schools. All Canyons District students deserve safe and healthy learning environments wired for the demands of today’s high-tech educational standards,” said PTA Region 17 Director Tonya Rhodes said. “The Board of Education has wisely committed to turn dirt in every corner of the District while focusing on the oldest schools with the highest-priority safety needs, and they’re designing the bond so that it won’t raise property taxes. It’s a fiscally-sensible plan that will benefit generations of children to come.”

    A detailed list of the improvement projects that would be made possible by the bond can be found on CSD’s website.
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