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The City Journals

Construction begins on Indian Hills Middle School year-long renovation

May 25, 2017 02:31PM ● By Julie Slama

As Indian Hills Middle School Principal Doug Graham looks on, students help break ground for the school’s year-long renovation. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]
Canyons Board of Education President Sherril Taylor admits when it came time for Indian Hills Middle School’s groundbreaking ceremony for its year-long renovation, he had a personal connection.
“I loved teaching here,” he said. “It was an exciting time working with kids. We did a lot of lab work with microscopes. We dissected frogs and a few sharks.”
However, he said the school’s classroom design wasn’t ideal, even back when the school was opened in 1980.
“It was dark. There aren’t very many windows, and I was in an inner room, so we had flashlights if anything happened,” he said.
Part of the renovation project will be to reconfigure the school so not only will they be wired for high-tech demands and become energy efficient, but it also will be filled with natural light with sky lights, said Hogan Construction Vice President Dennis Forbush, who helped lay the burnt-orange carpet in the building when it first opened, which is still there today.
“Glass was more expensive than brick, and when they built the school, there was open classrooms so it felt less restricted, but it was a concept that never really worked,” he said about the design that was used for multiple schools during that era. “The district first bought this land when there wasn’t a neighborhood. In fact, the first road into the school was from the south cul-de-sac. It was a smart move. And now, they’re making another smart decision by renovating this at half the price of a new school.”
Principal Doug Graham said the $20 million renovation project will include two additions, with one wing offering career and technical education classrooms with a tech lab and a prototype design room, as well as a fixed computer lab with about 40 computers. Some existing classrooms will be enlarged to allow more space for science and two- and three-dimensional art classes.
A new student commons area, which will have natural lighting from sky lights, as well as moving the main and counseling offices to the front of the building, will allow a more inviting feel to the school, he said.
“We will be giving our school a facelift — not just to keep up with the infrastructure of technology of these past 50 years, but also the next 50 years,” he said. “We’re lightening the school, giving it an upgrade and refreshing coat so our kids, teachers and patrons feel proud of it and we’re saying, ‘We value you and want to welcome you to a warm and welcoming place.’”
In addition to new coats of paint, carpet and matching furniture, the Media Center will be moved to align with the hallway, allowing for a revamping of its circulation desk and its work room. The music rooms will be moved and expanded to include a music library, practice rooms, instrument storage, built-in risers for the choir and the kiva stage will be expanded. The physical education locker rooms will be reconfigured with new lockers and individual shower stalls and the school kitchen and serving area will be upgraded with five serving lines for students. The parking lot also will be redone and a fire road will be put in place around the school.
Along with the renovation, a new Indian Hills Warrior logo will be unveiled and Native American geometric patterns will be incorporated throughout the building, Graham said.
“We want to keep with our tradition and identity, but be respectful of Native Americans,” he said.
The groundbreaking ceremony, which included ceremonial turning over of the dirt by education and community leaders as well as current, former and future students, was met with cheers and a bang as wind tore through the balloons, popping some and sending others sailing into the air — and reminded Canyons School District Jim Briscoe of his former Chicago stomping grounds.
“This is going to be the best project,” he said. “It’s going to be beautiful and I can’t wait to be back here in a year to celebrate the opening of a new school.”
For the 2017–18 school year, students will attend the former Crescent View Middle School during the construction.  The renovation project is similar to that of Albion Middle School, which recently was completed.
“It’s been a long time coming and we’re very grateful to the voters who were here to see the beginning of the 13th project of the $250 million bond they approved,” Taylor said at the April 13 ceremony.
Other projects include a new Corner Canyon High, Midvale Elementary, Draper Park Middle School, Butler Middle School, Butler Elementary and Mount Jordan Middle; renovated Albion Middle; additions to Brighton and Hillcrest high schools; seismic improvements to Sandy Elementary; and currently finishing construction at a new Alta View Elementary and at a new Midvale Middle School.