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The City Journals

Virtual ribbon-cutting opens new Midvalley Elementary, families drive by to wave to teachers

Oct 05, 2020 02:40PM ● By Julie Slama

Faculty line the campus drive and wave to students as they stand in front of the new Midvalley Elementary and welcome them to their new school. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

It was like no other ribbon-cutting.  

Sure, there were speeches and a ribbon, which was snipped to symbolize the opening of Midvalley Elementary School, but there were no crowds flocking to tour the new school building or reminisce about the former school that served students for 63 years.

Instead, school families drove past the school, shouting to teachers dotting the sidewalk, who waved signs, and through face coverings, told students how much they have missed them. As the families drove by, the office staff gave them bricks from the former school building that now is demolished.

It was a way to hold the festivities during the social distancing guidelines of COVID-19. The ribbon-cutting, which included a virtual tour of the building, was seen livestreamed and posted online so it has the potential to reach hundreds of community members. 

Second-grade teacher Lisa Kinghorn, who has taught for more than 20 years at Midvalley, was at the ribbon-cutting.

“I’m glad so many people came to be part of the parade back at school,” she said between waving to students. “I’m glad we’re able to welcome them back.”

Next to her was Katie Robertson, who has taught 18 years at the school.

“I’ve missed the kids a lot,” she said.

Teachers already had been setting up their classrooms, preparing for the start of the school year, which was postponed one week until Aug. 24.

“The school is beautiful,” Kinghorn said. “It has wide halls, big classrooms—it has pretty good everything.”

Robertson appreciates the new school as well.

“There are big windows, so we have lots of light and everybody has a good view. There are more bathrooms, a beautiful staircase and a big open foyer. The gym is awesome, the library is wonderful, there’s lots of workrooms that are great, and we have drinking fountains in classrooms. Our new staff is great and we’re looking forward to teaching the kids,” she said.

Midvalley is the first elementary school to be rebuilt from a $283-million bond approved by voters in November 2017. Around the southeast part of the Salt Lake Valley, additions and updates were added to Corner Canyon High and are in process at Alta High, and rebuilds are underway at Hillcrest and Brighton high schools.

Midvalley sits on the former school’s grassy field and will open with approximately 435 students, but with 85,000 square feet, it could house 800 students as more growth in enrollment is expected from the west side of the city. The elementary school is the first to have a counseling center in the Canyons School District, which may be beneficial as children continue to face the uncertainty of COVID-19.

“It is so valuable to have a counseling center,” Kinghorn said. “We will really benefit from this new school.”

NJRA Architects designed the building with input from teachers, students and the community and held a preliminary preview of the school. Crews with Bud Mahas Construction will complete their work of the two-story school that includes a safety vestibule entrance in addition to clear view of entrances and exits and a perimeter road to allow emergency responders access to the building. 

The former school, which housed a civil defense shelter, was torn down in June to make room for a playground and new parking lot.

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