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The City Journals

Changes await Granite Park students, including a new principal

Jul 27, 2020 01:15PM ● By Bill Hardesty

New GPJHS principal, Chris Griffiths, stands outside one of the few doors not under construction. (Bill Hardesty/City Journals)

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

When students return to school later this month, they will see changes at Granite Park Junior High School. Sixth graders now join the ranks, a major renovation changed the interior and exterior and a new principal has taken the reins.

New principal

Chris Griffiths was appointed principal before the soft school closure in March. He is coming from Cyprus High School after five years as a vice principal. He also was the interim principal at Matheson Junior High. While at Cyprus, he helped integrate ninth- graders into a high school setting, which sets him well for integrating sixth-graders into a junior high setting.

Griffiths taught social studies at Olympus Junior High School for 11 years before going into administration.

Griffiths’ teaching philosophy is student centered.

“I really have the philosophy that in education today, we teach the student. We don’t just teach content,” Griffiths said.

He praised the tradition at GPJHS of individualizing education for each student. He mentioned how students have many needs.

“We need to ensure that we provide for those needs. Whether it is developing academic skills or ensuring their social emotional needs are met. And sometimes it comes down to us providing kids with the basic things they need in term of food and other needs,” Griffiths said.

One of Griffiths’ major concerns is how to help students prepare for in-school learning later this month. He mentioned there are a lot of changes that will need to be taught and reinforced the first couple of days.

Griffiths is not only focusing on students, but also wants the teachers to be successful.

“Our No. 1 resource we have here at Granite Park is amazing teachers who care about the kids. Without that, Granite Park will not be successful. You couldn’t ask for anything better as a principal,” he said.   

He continued, “I want my teachers to grow and develop their capacity. Have them become leaders because if we have great teachers, we will have more successful kids.”

When asked what kind of legacy he wants to leave years from now, Griffiths said, “The footprint I want to leave is to build the capacity of everyone I interact with, and I also want people to talk about Granite Park in a way that they say it is a community school, they really care about their kids and they work hard to meet the needs of their kids no matter what it is.”

Sixth-graders join school

Integrating sixth-graders into a junior high environment has its challenges. 

“Having two thirds of your students new to the building is a concern. We need to train that many kids about the Granite Park way,” Griffiths said.

Griffith feels confident with the change because, “We have hired a lot of great teachers to work with our sixth graders. We also continue to develop our PLC’s (Professional Learning Communities) system and philosophy here.” 

PLCs are where teachers work together to ensure the content is standard basis as well as developing interventions and strategies that help kids who are not where they need to be in terms of academic success.

Renovation

Over the summer, GPJHS has undergone major renovation starting with a new front main entrance including a ramp.

The main office is still undergoing changes to make it more welcoming and efficient.

The room known as the Little Theater or the choral room is no longer. The room sloped down like a movie theater with theater seating. The room was leveled and changed into offices, discussion rooms and a teachers’ lounge.

The old Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ seminary building is now dedicated to the AVID program and is called the AVID Hub.

Finally, portable classrooms are in the back to accommodate the increased number of students.