As students, alumni, and community members who attended Alta High’s ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday night found out, the Hawks’ massively upgraded nest includes a variety of new features.
A top-tier athletic fieldhouse, first-class Performing Arts Center, panoramic views of Wasatch Front peaks in the commons area, and school-spirit-approved artwork, are just a few of the much-needed upgrades found in every nook and cranny of the building that opened in 1978.
Student Body President Autumn Engstrom loves those improvements, which blossomed during a three-year building process that began her freshman year. Some of the school’s new additions have already been put to good use by the athletics and arts departments.
Engstrom’s favorite part? OK, aside from the eye-popping views from the commons area, which doubles as a lunchroom? The vastly-improved bathrooms. The old ones were, well, ready to be replaced after four decades. The school leader said students first worried that new facilities in the new facility might not be on the to-do list. “Now that we see we have renovated bathrooms, everybody is stoked about that,” Engstrom said. “They were pretty bad.”
There’s not a bad seat in the house now, though — from the theaters, including a black-box theater, to the classrooms, and the upper level of the fieldhouse, which offers a bird’s-eye view of the football field through large windows.
Alta High principal Brian McGill reminisced about being a student at Alta in the late-1980s, a period that helped shape him into who he has become today (which includes being a commercial actor and the reigning Utah Principal of the Year, not to mention a proud husband and dad).
“Alta is home,” McGill said during his speech. “And this beautiful renovation is a symbol of further uniting us as fellow Hawks.”
The Aug. 12 unveiling of the new school was the second ribbon-cutting of three for Canyons District high schools this week. Brighton’s new school was on display Wednesday, while the new Hillcrest High will open its doors to the public on Friday night. Those are just a few of the many major building projects the District has been able to accomplish thanks to a voter-approved, tax-rate-neutral $283 million bond that got the green light in 2017.
“There were a lot of reasons to renovate Alta. Originally constructed in 1978, the campus had plenty of years of useful life.
But there were technological and space limitations, so instead of rebuilding the school, we chose to renovate it,” Canyons Board of Education member Amanda Oaks said in her speech. “From day one, the focus of the design has been about creating the best learning environment for our students. Honestly, looking at the school, you would think it had been rebuilt from scratch.”
District business administrator Leon Wilcox humorously noted that Alta’s reconstruction was challenging.
“We were essentially building a school on top of a school while holding school,” he said.
Canyons Superintendent Dr. Rick Robins thanked the Board of Education for having the foresight to ambitiously seek resources for the school improvements. “The pace at which construction costs are soaring shows no signs of slowing,” Robins said. “With those costs, other inflationary pressures and Utah’s labor shortage, it’s fortunate we started all of our school improvement projects when we did.”
Added Robins, “Anyone with ties to this high school knows how central it is to the community. This isn’t just a structure to house classrooms, this is A-Town, the home of the Hawks, a community resource and safe haven for students to explore new ideas and master information. Within these halls, lifelong friendships are built and dreams are inspired.”
The wait was worth it for students who’ve had to study and socialize next to a construction zone for the past three years.
“It’s nice to see all that dust and chaos … come together into something amazing,” said Engstrom, who participated in the night’s festivities along with other SBO’s, cheerleaders and the drum line.
That will feel even more real on Monday, Aug. 16, when Alta’s doors open up for the 2021-22 school year.