Wednesday night was an eventful one for the Peruvian Park community, which arrived in droves to celebrate and check out the new elementary building that has been under construction for the past year and a half on the school’s old campus in Sandy.
Kids, most wearing red, white and black Peruvian Park T-shirts, danced in the gymnasium, skipped through halls, and sang their hearts out when it was time to perform the spunky new school song that evokes “Panther Pride.” Parents and grandparents proudly checked out their loved ones’ artwork on the school’s walls and visited their new classrooms. Teachers, who’ve been busy the past week preparing for Thursday’s first day after moving from their temporary digs at the Crescent Building, cheerfully greeted students and guests.
And Principal Leslie Jewkes, who has overseen the construction and design details along with District personnel, beamed while welcoming her school family to their new home during the emotion-filled ribbon-cutting ceremony. “When you fill a building with light and you fill a building with children, there’s going to be success,” she said.
Jewkes expressed appreciation to Tiffin West form NJRA Architects for collaborating on the finer details and laughed while recalling how she collected rocks in Little Cottonwood Canyon, and then asked West if she could incorporate it into the school’s sharp-looking exterior (West did). The construction crew from Hogan Construction was also thanked during the ceremony for building a school that is safe, functional, and sustainable while also offering loads of natural light and wired for teaching technologies for today and the future.
“What an exciting day for Canyons and the Peruvian Park community,” said CSD Superintendent Dr. Rick Robins, noting that the Panthers have achieved Blue Ribbon status through the U.S. Department of Education and routinely rank in the top three elementary schools in Utah. “This is such a proud school with a strong tradition of academic excellence. … Now, Peruvian Park’s students will have a school that reflects their ambitions and persevering student.”
Robins gave a touching acknowledgement to longtime Board of Education Member Steve Wrigley, whose term ends at the end of 2022 after 12 years of service to the District. “Anyone who has served with Mr. Wrigley will speak to his selfless dedication to the best interest of students,” Robins said. “That has always been his payment.”
Expressing gratitude for being part of Canyons District’s earliest years and bright future, Wrigley said: “Today truly feels like coming full circle. …Twelve years ago, we could have scarcely imagined the complete makeover of this school — or the makeover of 27 schools in all corners of the District — all of which was made possible by the community’s vision, vote of confidence and passage of two school bonds.”
The night also had a fun surprise. Music teacher Haley Hanzon was awarded with the final Innovation Grant from the Canyons Education Foundation. The Panthers music program will receive $10,000 to use toward Orff instruments, such as xylophones and glockenspiels, to help students learn music on a higher level.
The new Peruvian Park Elementary features efficient heating and cooling, state-of-the-art technology, collaborative spaces, and a library with 5,000 new books.
“To all the parents, grandparents, homeowners and business-owners here tonight, I say thank you for the investment you’ve made in this school …. and in this community’s children,” Wrigley said. “To the students: You are among the first to step foot in this new school, and I know you’ll show your gratitude by making the most of your time here. I know you’ll show us all what it means to have Panther Pride.”