It was one of the largest crowds ever to attend a Canyons District groundbreaking. With smiles as bright as the day’s clear skies, hundreds of current and former Junior Huskies and their families came to cheer the rebuild of Midvalley Elementary.
Built in 1957 when there was such a thing as penny candy, frisbees were all the rage, and most of the area surrounding the school was farmland, Midvalley is now Canyons District’s oldest school building “So many people have such great memories of going to school here,” remarked Canyons Board member Mont Millerberg. “Five of my six children went to school here. My wife, Kris was the PTA President, and I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to see this day finally come to fruition.”
To officially kick off construction, Millerberg in front of the cheering crowd hopped in a massive earth-mover to scoop up and deposit the first ceremonial shovel-full of dirt. Leo the Lion, the mascot for Real Salt Lake, made a surprise appearanceand handed out soccer vouchers, pencils and note pads to delighted students who later performed a few songs. Joining the festivities were parents, alumni, teachers, members of the Canyons Board of Education, Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe and other District administrators, Midvale Mayor Robert Hale and City Councilman Paul Hunt, the Police Chief, School Resource Officer and City Manager Kane Loader, and Canyons District’s representative on the Utah State Board of Education, Shawn Newell.
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Midvalley is the first elementary school to be rebuilt with proceeds from a $283 million bond approved by voters in November, 2017. NJRA Architects designed the building, and crews with Bud Mahas Construction will start their work this spring.
The new school will be built on the eastern edge of the campus so as to allow students to stay in the existing facility during construction. Expected to open for the 2020-2021 school year, it will be seismically safe, more energy-efficient, and better able to support today’s teaching technologies. It’s also being built with Midvale’s growing population in mind to accommodate nearly double the number of students it serves now.
Principal Tamra Baker says school staff and faculty collaborated on the design and plans for the building, which will feature large skylights that allow for natural light to reach all floors, a brightly-colored kindergarten playground, and a faculty lounge that opens onto an outdoor courtyard. Collaborative space throughout will support team-teaching and group learning.
Safety is a big factor in the design. The building will have a security vestibule that will require all visitors to be seen by school staff before they enter the building.
There will be a new gymnasium and media center. No detail has been overlooked, Baker says. All that’s missing, in fact, is a stand-alone computer lab, which faculty agreed wasn’t necessary, since the school is well on its way to having one computing device for every student in every classroom.
“We have some pretty amazing students and teachers who, over the years, have achieved great things despite the roof leaks and sometimes uncomfortably hot and cold classrooms,” Baker says. “Imagine what’s possible when the excellence we have come to expect from ourselves is mirrored by our surroundings. This simply wouldn’t be possible without this community’s support.”
Midvalley is the fifth Midvale-area school to be rebuilt with proceeds from two voter-approved bonds since the inception of Canyons District on July 1, 2009. Among 13 major improvement projects already completed were Midvale Elementary and Midvale Middle. Underway now are the reconstruction of Hillcrest High and Midvalley, and coming soon is the remake of Union Middle. Also slated for a rebuild is Sandy-based Peruvian Park Elementary, a feeder school for Hillcrest High.