Hillcrest High principal Greg Leavitt shared an interesting fact about his new jewel of a high school during Friday night’s well-attended ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house. The Huskies now have the only school in Utah, he noted, that stands four stories high.
With its location and height, Hillcrest’s majestic views of the Salt Lake Valley and its towering mountains were factored into the way the building was designed and constructed.
“We built this school on the concept of a view,” said Leavitt, regarding the Oquirrhs to the West and the peaks to the East. “We wanted to expand the view of these hard-rock, granite Wasatch Mountains.”
Days before he welcomes thousands of students through their new school — 59 years after the old Hillcrest opened — Leavitt has another beautiful vision in mind for their futures.
“Look for the long view, because Hillcrest will be here for a long time,” Leavitt told an audience of several hundred current students, alumni, community members, teachers, custodians, local politicians, and other dignitaries. “You’ll see state championships. You’ll see academic accomplishments. You’ll see strong students come out to run their community. That’s the view Hillcrest will have.”
The much-needed rebuild was made possible thanks to a bond that residents approved in 2017. Funds from that $283 million bond helped Canyons build schools in each corner of the District, including Alta High and Brighton High, which also celebrated their grand openings this week with community events.
Leavitt was among the speakers who thanked the community and the CSD Board of Education for passing the bond and approving new schools like Hillcrest.
“You voted yes,” Leavitt said. “Before you is the power of your yes, right before us — this big building that will benefit students for decades to come.”
Hillcrest student Cameron Jessop was wowed by the new seismically safe and technologically advanced school, which sits on a 38-acre campus. Along with spectacular views, the building is higher to make the most efficient use of space, seeing as 55 acres is the preferred size for new high schools.
“I’m really excited for what we’ll be able to do with a new space and how the class officers are going to help make it feel like home,” said Jessop, who is a junior class officer. Jessop and his siblings have been part of Hillcrest’s theater program, so there are some bittersweet, nostalgic feelings now that they’re moving away from the old auditorium.
“That stage meant a lot to us,” he said. “They had a huge wall with handprints from all the past graduating seniors who were on production companies. Luckily, they were able to move that to the new school. I think that’s going to be really cool and really special to break in the new auditorium. I’m really excited about the shows we’re going to be doing this year.”
With so many modern and state-of-the-art additions to the theater — and the entire school — there’s no doubt there will be smiles as the show goes on in a different location.
“So many people have such great memories of going to school here,” CSD Board of Education member Mont Millerberg said in his speech. “We’re thrilled to be able to build a new school so the next generation of students can build memories here, too.”
Millerberg’s memories stretch back to the early days of Hillcrest, so he’s familiar with the excitement of experiencing life events and building traditions in a new school.
“The building was originally constructed in 1962, a time when the space race was just heating up,” Millerberg recalled. “I entered Hillcrest as a freshman in the fall of 1964. I guess I could say I attended Hillcrest the last time it was a new school.”
One thing that’s certainly changed since then — the number of stairs students will have to climb to get around school.
The view will make each step worth it.