Before all of the academic excellence, athletic achievements, and artistic masterpieces ever happened at Corner Canyon High, a small tight-knit group of administrators, educators and and Education Support Professionals spent a year working behind the scenes at the District Office to prepare the way.
The group, which jokingly refers to itself as “The Magnificent Seven,” couldn’t be prouder of how the school and Chargers have blossomed over the past decade since opening their doors in 2013.
The seven organizers recently gathered — as they do whenever one of them retires or moves on from Corner Canyon — and reminisced about what the Herculean task they accomplished of getting a large high school up and running.
The group includes Mary Bailey, Corner Canyon High’s inaugural principal; Brian McGill, the first-ever assistant principal; Kathy Hilton, head secretary; Debbie Clark, registrar; Allison Hanks, counselor; Steve Park, athletic director; and Wayne Dittmore, Career and Technical Education coordinator.
“It was everybody’s talents there that helped put that school together,” Bailey recalled.
“We were a great team,” said Clark, who retired at the end of the 2021-2022 school year.
As the Chargers charge through their 10th school year, Hilton is the only member of the original Corner Canyon crew still working at the Draper-based school that was built with funds from a $250 million bond graciously approved by voters in 2010. Corner Canyon High was one of the first new schools built in Canyons with money from the successful bond measure.
Corner Canyon, named after the geography and beauty of the mountainous area for which Canyons District is known, also remains the only new, from-the-ground-up traditional high school built in Canyons. It joins Alta, Brighton, Hillcrest and Jordan, which were all founded decades ago and were inherited from the former Jordan District, as the District’s comprehensive high schools.
How long does she plan on staying at Corner Canyon, which recently won the Homecoming game against American Fork High? That’s top secret. She jokes that she’s warned the current principal, Darrell Jensen, “I’ll walk out the door (someday) and you’ll never know.”
There are a few other Corner Canyon-related things this group, which was lauded on-field at half-time against the Cavemen, knows that not many others do.
For one thing, they know what’s in the time capsule that was stowed away until a future date. Also, Dr. McGill, who later left CCHS to become principal of Corner’s rival Alta High, laughs about something he knows that nobody else does. He playfully hid a plastic cougar toy in the walls of CCHS as the sheetrock was being installed. Which classroom or office or gym? Good luck prying that info out of him.
“The cougar’s still there,” said a laughing McGill.
Why a cougar?
Long story short, the list of potential mascots for Corner Canyon also included Cougars, Diamondbacks, Falcons, and Raptors. The Board of Education veered away from Cougars to avoid being too similar to BYU and because of a negative double entendre of the word “cougar.” Bailey was forced to change her phone number because she received so many phone calls about the controversial subject after it was reported on by national media.
Ten years later, Chargers seems like a perfect fit, so all’s well that ends well.
Bailey made great efforts to build a strong culture that brought the best out of the area’s high school students while recognizing the Draper community, which transformed from a quiet farm town to a vibrant city in the decades leading up to the school’s construction.
The most noticeable ode to Draper’s past is visible at the entryway of Corner Canyon High.
Architects wanted to incorporate tie-ins to the Draper community, but they couldn’t come up with a fitting tribute to how the town was considered to be the “Egg Capital of the World” in World War II, when many locals either raised chickens or worked in the handling and transportation of eggs.
That led to the side of replicating the picturesque gazebo at Draper Historic Park with an elegant dome above the main entrance. The dome-shaped gazebo was put in its place at the park to commemorate the old Round House that was the center of the town’s social scene for years, hosting weddings, roller skating, and dances in the first half of the 20th century.
The organizers also found a spot for a magnificent mural to be transported from the old Draper Park Elementary School. That historic fresco is now on the wall of the CCHS Alumni Room next to the library.
The Victory Light above the dome was another nice touch. It came about thanks to a posthumous donation by Marvin Elston, who donated money to the community before his death to help people and make the world a better place.
Ever since, the Victory Light has been set ablaze when the Chargers claim a victory, whether it be at the football stadium, in FBLA competitions or on the Sterling Scholar stage. The aim of the electric-blue lights is to unify the community behind the achievements of the school.
“The idea behind it,” Bailey said at the time, “is that it serves as an announcement to the world that great things are happening at Corner Canyon.”
Smiles on The Magnificent Seven’s faces beam about how brightly Corner Canyon’s light has shown over the past decade. The Chargers continue to exemplify the motto Bailey put into place back then — Semper Excelsius, which means “Always Higher.”
“It was the best and one of the hardest things I ever did is to open that school from nothing,” Clark said. “It was so fun.”
Added Bailey, “It took all seven of us.”