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

2d9861f7dfa371a841ce6730b641ed6c XLTwenty-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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  • For Hillcrest Principal Greg Leavitt, the sight of a row of golden-tipped shovels on the school’s soccer field on Thursday was monumental.

    The shovels marked the beginning of a three-year project, made possible by a $283 million bond approved by voters in November that will result in a new building to replace the current, 55-year-old structure. But the implements also reminded Leavitt of the importance of the hard work that goes into gaining an education.

    “These shovels are signs of cultivation,” Leavitt said, "not of money, but of hearts and minds, of generations to come. The culture you’ve built here isn’t in the bricks and the desks, it’s in the community.”

    A crowd of Hillcrest students, parents, and educators gathered at the school to celebrate the old building and mark the beginning of the new project. Also in attendance were members of the Canyons Board of Education, Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe, other District administrators, Midvale Mayor Robert Hale, members of the Midvale city council, Utah State Board of Education member Kathleen Riebe, Sen. Brian Zehnder, R-Cottonwood Heights, and Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy. A group of alumni from the class of 1968, honored guests, including Board member and Husky alumni Mont Millerberg, in lifting the symbolic shovels to mark the beginning of the project.

    “So many people have such great memories of going to school here, myself included,” Millerberg said. “We’re thrilled to be able to build a new school so the next generation of students can build memories here, too.”

    A committee of Hillcrest administrators and District administrators is working with FFKR Architects and Westland Construction to create a new Hillcrest that will meet the demands of a 21st century education without sacrificing elements of the old building that are rooted in tradition, such as the inlaid “H” in the school’s atrium, and the DelMar Schick Stadium. The new school will have a new field house and performing arts complex, a commons area, emphasis on open spaces illuminated by natural light and collaborative spaces for students to gather and create new traditions.

    Hillcrest is among the first of several improvement projects to be completed in with funds from the 2017 bond, including new campuses at Union Middle, Midvalley and Peruvian Park elementary school and Brighton High and other locations. Alta will be remodeled extensively. Celebrations for the beginning of that project will take place at the school on June 7 at 5:30 p.m.

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  • In 1957 when Midvalley Elementary was built, a piece of candy cost .5 cents, frisbees were all the rage, and most of the area surrounding the school was farmland.

    The home of the junior huskies started as an eight-classroom schoolhouse, and every December the Midvale community would decorate the length of the building with ceramic lights and holiday murals, says the school’s Principal Tamra Baker. “They called it Candy Stick Lane. It was like a ZCMI [department store] Christmas.”

    Today, the school serves a diverse and growing suburban population, and is in need of an upgrade, which it will soon be getting when it’s rebuilt with proceeds from a $283 million, voter-approved bond — but not before the community gets a chance to say farewell to the schoolhouse that has served them so well.
    edgemont.jpg Midvalley is one of two CSD schools turning 60 this year. Edgemont Elementary also is celebrating its diamond jubilee. The home of the Eagles serves White City, which also will be receiving a new school as part of the 2017 bond. Both schools will be hosting birthday celebrations in the coming weeks to which current and former employees and students, parents and the community are invited (see details below).

    If walls could talk, these schools would, no doubt, have stories to tell of generations past. They might recall the creation of NASA and ensuing influx of federal funding for science and math instruction triggered by America’s race to space. Maybe they’d exchange anecdotes about the open-classroom designs in vogue during the sixties and seventies, the desegregation movement, the push for the equitable treatment of students with disabilities, and the rise of vocational education.

    “I think we’re one of the last schools with a civil defense bomb shelter,” Midvalley’s Baker says. “We still have radiator hemidvalleyflyer.jpgat. The old boiler was called the gray dragon, and when they put in a new one, the custodian named it the little blue mule.”

    Facility upgrades may breathe new life into schools and the communities they serve, but they don’t erase the memories of those who have taught and learned there, says Edgemont Principal Cathy Schino.

    Come see old friends, pictures and scrapbooks, share some memories, and enjoy some food at these 60th birthday celebrations:

    Edgemont Elementary, 1085 E. 9800 South
    Enjoy food, auctions, games, and more during the school's 9th Annual Grand Event on Friday, May 18, 5-8 p.m. The school’s annual fundraising will mark the school’s 60th anniversary.

    Midvalley Elementary, 217 E. 7800 South
    Enjoy food, a piece of birthday cake and student performances while getting a sneak peek at the school's new logo at a birthday celebration held to coincide with Midvalley’s Multicultural Fair on Wednesday, May 30, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
    Canyons District knows the invaluable impact our art teachers have on students. From music to a multitude of mediums, art gives a voice to those who can’t speak. It can provide a haven for struggling students and enhance the learning process. 

    Two of Canyons’ superstar advocates for the arts have received recognition from the Utah State Office of Education — with support from the Sorenson Legacy Foundation — for their contribution to the arts in Canyons District. Arts Consortium Chair Sharee Jorgensen received the 2018 Sorenson Legacy Award for Excellence in Arts Administration, and Sandy Elementary Music Specialist Debbie Beninati received the 2018 Sorenson Legacy Award for Elementary Music Instruction. 
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    These educators have been recognized for their willingness to “embrace the arts with excellence in their practice,” according to the Utah State Office of Education.

    Jorgensen, CSD’s Fine Arts Specialist, got her start in the classroom teaching middle school and high school band, orchestra, guitar, choir, theater and general music. A decorated educator, she is constantly looking for ways to give back32116505_10155183372271580_7296134139994963968_o.jpg and now serves as Executive Director for the Utah Music Educators Association. “She goes above and beyond her job description, constantly asking what she can do to make our jobs easier,” says Corner Canyon theatre teacher Case Spaulding. “From creating the District costume warehouse to getting set donations….and bringing us treats on our birthdays, she truly cares about each individual person.” 

    Beninati models the joys of music for children at Sandy Elementary as a Music Specialist, and when she’s not teaching, she’s advocating for the importance of making comprehensive elementary music education available to all public schools. For her advocacy, Beninati was named Elementary Music Teacher of the Year by the Utah Music Educators Association (UMEA) in 2017. Also, in 2013, the self-described music education “junkie” received the prestigious Huntsman Award for Excellence in Education Award for her work volunteering to head up a 61-student, before-school orchestra at Lone Peak Elementary.

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    The goal is in sight!  The last day of school for the 2017-2018 academic year is rapidly approaching — and Real Salt Lake is helping Canyons kick off the summer break.

    To celebrate the end of school, as well as the heights of success achieved by the Canyons community over the past nine months, Real Salt Lake is hosting Canyons District Night at Rio Tinto Stadium. The Saturday, June 2 event, featuring a game against Seattle Sounders FC, will be a celebration of students, educators, parents, volunteers and community partners.   

    Discount tickets to the 7:30 p.m. game can be purchased by clicking here. The reduced cost — $23 per ticket — is available to the Canyons District community so more people can attend to cheer all of the 2018 Teachers of the Year from every CSD school.

    Halftime will be dedicated to honoring the excellence and commitment of the 46 top teachers from all CSD elementary, middle and high schools in Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Midvale, Sandy and the town of Alta. Right after the 35th minute of the game, the teachers will be escorted to the middle of the field at Rio Tinto to be applauded by thousands.

    Special recognition will be given to Corner Canyon High’s Amber Rogers, who was announced last month as the District’s 2018 Teacher of the Year. Rogers, who is the department head of Corner Canyon High’s social studies department, is Canyons’ official nominee in the Utah Teacher of the Year competition.  CSD’s top middle school teacher is Midvale Middle’s Lena Wood and the top elementary teacher is Alta View’s Jamie Richardson. 

    Each of CSD’s Teachers of the Year were given complimentary tickets for themselves and a guest, courtesy of Real Salt Lake, in appreciation of their service to students and the larger community.
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