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The City Journals

Aspen Elementary staff welcome community to see new school, enroll students

Jul 27, 2021 11:29AM ● By Julie Slama

Administrative assistant Tina Dickinson is ready to welcome students to their new school, Aspen Elementary. (Suzie Williams/Eastlake Elementary)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

A lot of doorbell cameras likely have recordings of Aspen Elementary Principal Suzie Williams and administrative assistant Tina Dickinson.

That’s because this summer, the two went house-to-house to introduce themselves on behalf of the school that is expected to open for students on Aug. 17.

“We introduced ourselves, told them we work at the school, invited them to come over and see it when we open and told them how to register if they have elementary-age children,” Williams said. “The people are so kind and gracious. It’s just a nice community and we were welcomed as neighbors here being at the school.”

School registration now is open at aspen.jordandistrict.org or after Aug. 1, in-person registration is available at the school, 11189 South Willow Walk Dr.

As of July 1, 397 students have enrolled in the school that will serve preschool through sixth grade. The design by VCBO Architecture can house 850 students. Williams said projections are for the school to open this fall with about 520 students. Most have transferred from Bastian Elementary or live in the fast-growing Daybreak community.

In early July, phone and internet service was expected to be complete, with furniture delivered in late month. The last part of the “major” construction is the multi-purpose room floor so “it won’t get damaged from all the traffic and work being done,” she said, adding that even during delays in construction and materials during COVID-19, the school has remained on schedule and on budget.

Other items already are in the Jordan School District warehouse, ready for the expected move-in.

“The Chromebooks were the first thing I ordered to make sure they’d be here,” Williams said, adding that the school will have a 1:1 student to device ratio.

Aspen Elementary is designed to meet the new look of educational learning, with two collaborative learning spaces, a holistic wellness room and an opportunity to be creative in a STEM room.

“We teach social-emotional wellness called Second Step, which the district got a grant for, but at the same time, some kids are dealing with home issues or trauma, or they’re stressed out from this past COVID year, so they need a break so they can destress, focus and recharge,” Williams said about the room in the interior of the school that will have comfortable chairs, soft music and lighting, and calming activities.

Another interior room near the media center which has a huge No. 2 pencil as its focal point, is the STEM room. Schools once had computer rooms, but Williams said that has been shifted to the classrooms; instead, this maker space will feature “partner or small group learning where they can be creative” in their learning. They also will be able to use items such as Spheros or Ozobots that are checked out from the school district, she said.

Students and families can walk through the $18.5 million school built by Hughes General Contractor at a back-to-school night on a yet-to-be announced date, soon before classes begin, Williams said.

When they wander through, they can see 33 high-tech classrooms in three brightly painted wings. Preschool through first grade, located near the security entrance and office, have a commanding view of Kennecott Copper Mine and the Oquirrh mountains from their exterior classrooms. The upper-level grades’ classrooms have a view of the Salt Lake Valley and Wasatch Mountains range.  

“We’ll decide the school colors, song and mascot with the students after school starts,” Williams said, adding that the official ribbon-cutting also will be about that time as well.

Throughout the interior classrooms and hallways light pours in from skylights; windows allow natural lighting in exterior classrooms and in the multi-purpose room that will be used as the lunchroom and has a stage for assemblies and performances.

“I love the natural lighting; it makes it so nice,” Williams said. “The view across the playground of the valley and the one to the west with the copper mine and Oquirrhs, it’s just so beautiful,” 

While most of the teachers and staff have been hired, Williams did say a few positions remain open for the school year and are posted on the school website.

“I’ve been so blessed,” she said. “We really do have good people here for our students. I’m excited to open.”