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The City Journals

Sixth-grader informs peers about school construction of new addition

Feb 10, 2020 03:03PM ● By Julie Slama

Monte Vista students Maddie Howell and Addison Roundy received a personal tour of the addition underway at the school from Lane Henderson, superintendent for general contractor Entelen Design-Build. (Baylee Lansford/Monte Vista Elementary)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Sixth grader Maddie Howell was one of Monte Vista’s student council members who recently toured the addition underway at her grade school.

Monte Vista Elementary, which was built in the 1970s, is bursting at the seams. There are 900 students in classrooms in the school building as well as in 11 portables. 

So as crews are working on an addition – one that will bring six classrooms, collaborative space, teacher work room and restrooms. Lane Henderson, superintendent for general contractor Entelen Design-Build, took the time to answer Maddie’s questions from who designed it, GSBS Architects. Henderson said the cost is an estimated $1 million and will be completed in July 2020 so students can be in the addition next school year.

It also would allow six portables to be moved to another location, Assistant Principal Baylee Lansford said.

For Maddie, it was more than seeing her school expand by 10,000 square feet. She was learning firsthand about construction, from the need to compact the soil to the structure, including connecting the roof lines to prevent leaks and make sure students wouldn’t “be swimming inside,” as Henderson said.

That’s because Maddie was including that research in her first article for the newly created school newspaper that was being written by the 25 student council members — and she wanted to get the facts right.

“I thought the construction story sounded interesting and wanted to interview people on projects that I didn’t know about,” she said. “I learned all about what is going on in the construction’s portable office. I’ve been through houses as they were being constructed, but this addition was harder for me to imagine before I walked through it.”

Another question Maddie asked was about the sloping property and how they will ensure the school’s addition will not be at an angle. 

She learned from Henderson that after the soil was sent to the lab, analyzed, calculated and compacted to the maximum density, the foundation was built up to four feet so it would not be “similar to the Leaning Tower of Pisa,” he said.

Maddie knew that was critical.

“I know when we play kickball on the field, the ball will go down the hill and I wanted to make sure that wasn’t happening to our school,” she said. “I’m impressed. I didn’t know they compacted dirt, and it was interesting to learn about it. There’s a lot more math used in these jobs than I had thought and a lot of collaboration between all the architects, electricians, engineers, roofers and construction crews to build this addition.”

Henderson said more than 200 people were involved in the addition, not including school and Jordan School District officials. 

That also meant a lot of coordination between when supplies arrived to the school site when school wasn’t in session, work that could be constructed while students are in school and construction that is being done during the breaks and once school is out for the year, he said. 

This winter, crews are expected to work in the interior of the building with masonry and sheet-rocking, Henderson said. 

Throughout the year, Lansford said the priority has been the safety of the students and to continue providing a non-disruptive learning environment.

Portables were moved to the north side of the building before construction began to reduce noise and interruptions. Even so, some students could feel the compactor early in the process, Henderson said.

“There were one or two days when classrooms felt a few shakes, but it didn’t impact the students’ learning,” Lansford said.

Maddie said that her fourth grade brother looked out the window to see if South Jordan experienced an earthquake. However, her kindergarten brother is always looking as he is “just fascinated at all the big trucks.”

She said students are curious about what is going on, so she hopes her school newspaper article will answer some of the questions.

“I was a little nervous at first, wondering about asking the questions to learn about it, but I was able to talk easily (to Henderson),” Maddie said. “I won’t be here next year, but my brothers will. I’ve learned how awesome it is that everyone is working together to make this happen for us.”