It isn’t unusual for kids to play in dirt, which is perhaps why Peruvian Park students jumped at the chance to toil in the soil as special guests of a groundbreaking to mark the start of the construction of their new school.
These prideful Panthers joined Canyons District administrators and local elected officials with golden shovels in their hands and commemorative hard hats on their heads to turn some celebratory dirt at the Tuesday, March 30, 2021 event. The evening signifies the transition from the careful planning stage to the actual construction of a beautiful, tech-friendly, two-story educational facility.
Second-grader Ellie Haymond of Mrs. Hemingway’s class is among those who are excited for the rebuild of the 56-year-old school. “I think it’s going to be super, duper fun,” Ellie said. Her older sister, a sentimental fourth-grader who’ll be in middle school when the new Peruvian Park opens the fall of 2022, chimed in from the background and softly said she wants the school to remain as-is.
Fond memories notwithstanding, change is necessary when it comes to Peruvian, as was pointed out in Tuesday’s ceremony. For one thing, Principal Leslie Jewkes jokingly hinted they won’t miss the “unusual noises in the school” that are attributed to George the Ghost. Teachers look forward to having more than one working outlet in classrooms and not having to worry about microwaves shutting off if too many appliances are simultaneously in use.
The biggest benefit will be the enhanced educational experience in a seismically safe, energy-efficient building that will be infused with updated teaching technology in all 30 classrooms, natural light and spectacular views of the nearby Wasatch Mountains and tree-filled neighborhood. Two classrooms will be dedicated to music and art instruction.
“We have some pretty amazing students and teachers who, over the years, have achieved great things,” Jewkes said during her speech. “Imagine what’s possible when the excellence we have come to expect from ourselves is mirrored by our surroundings.”
In addition to the technological advances that will far exceed the current school, built in 1964, the new Peruvian will also reflect the natural beauty of the surroundings, particularly the picturesque Little Cottonwood Canyon. The school’s color scheme includes earth tones and splashes of dark aqua.
“The new school will be a light, cheerful learning and working environment for our students and teachers — and it wouldn’t be possible without the support that parents and others in the community give our students and teachers,” Jewkes said.
Funding for the project comes from a voter-approved, tax-neutral bond that passed in November 2017. The school was designed by NJRA Architects and will be built by Hogan Construction.
“Peruvian Park is a great school with a great history, and we’ll continue to build on that legacy,” Canyons Superintendent Dr. Rick Robins said. “So many people have such great memories of going to school here. We’re thrilled to be able to build a new school so the next generation of students can build memories here, too.”
Board of Education member Steve Wrigley, who represents Peruvian Park, said it was important for the District to mark this special occasion with a proper ceremony. Attendees wore masks and remained socially distant.
Joining Wrigley at the event were: Panther Pride student reps from each grade who earned the opportunity; Board of Education President Nancy Tingey, Board Vice President Amanda Oaks, and Board member Mont Millerberg; Business Administrator Leon Wilcox; School Performance Directors Alice Peck and McKay Robinson; Sandy City Council members Alison Stroud, Kris Nicholl, Cyndi Sharkey and Monica Zoltanksi; NJRA Architects representatives Selvam Rajavelu and Tiffin West; Hogan Construction builders Steve Spencer and Jared Buckley; and Region 17 PTA Director Tonya Rhodes and Associate Director Terri Francis.
Wilcox said the construction will be quick. The timeline, in order:
- Original Peruvian Park Elementary closes (April 1, 2021)
- Temporary transfer to Crescent View Building (April 12, 2021)
- Demolition and debris removal (by end of May 2021)
- Utility and foundation work (Summer 2021)
- Steel and masonry work (Fall 2021)
- Students attend Crescent View Building (Fall 2021-Spring 2022)
- Building enclosed: interior electrical, framing, drywall, painting (Jan. 2022)
- Construction continues, finishing touches, etc. (Jan. 2022-Aug. 2022)
- Ribbon cutting, school opens (Aug. 2022)
“If you’ve seen NJRA’s designs, I’m sure you’re as excited as I am to see the new campus rise from the ground we’re breaking today,” Wilcox said. “The finished product will be a proud addition to the District and this proud community.”