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The City Journals

Welby Elementary welcomes students to school in new Wildcat Den

Oct 04, 2021 03:35PM ● By Julie Slama

Welby Principal Aaron Ichimura welcomes students on the first day of the school in the school’s new Wildcat Den. (Ana Cerezo-Berbel/Welby Elementary)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

For a couple days this past summer, Jordan School District maintenance painter Carlos DeSiqueira first outlined, then painted Welby Elementary’s mascot and “Home of the Wildcats” on a classroom wall.

“I updated the old logo, making the Wildcat a little better in the face with his eyes and making his ears more pointed,” he said.

DeSiqueira, who had a career as a political cartoonist in Brazil before moving to Utah, also has painted the lion at West Jordan Middle School, a raptor at Rose Creek Elementary and the airplane in the gym at South Valley. He also is known for painting the west mural on the outside of South Towne Mall.

“Welby’s was a little more complicated than some of the others,” he said. “I had to get it to be the right size, and I was working off a little piece of paper about five inches. I think it turned out well, and it’s something I enjoy doing; I hope the kids like their mascot on the wall.”

That classroom then was transformed into the new Wildcat Den which can be used for grade-level performances, visiting field trips, vision screening, picture day, student testing, teacher professional development, faculty meetings or other collaborations, said Principal Aaron Ichimura.

“We can actually thank COVID for this,” he said. “Before the pandemic hit, we had ordered Chromebook mobile labs for all classrooms. With the need to have them during the pandemic and continuing now, we fast-forwarded to being 1:1 on devices. The result is that we didn’t need our computer room, which as a lab, is bigger than a typical classroom. Our desktops were at the end of their lifecycle, so we decided to transform our lab into our Wildcat Den.”

It even has a sign by the doorway that says, “Welcome to the Den,” added by school custodian Emily Christensen.

“It’s a room where we can instill school pride in our students, parents and community,” Ichimura said.

He has worked at some other schools where they have had a room for small group presentations or to hold grade-level activities so he thought it would be beneficial at Welby. 

“It will be nice to have grade-level activities in a dedicated room, so we don’t have to use the gym,” Ichimura said. “And in the case of this pandemic, we haven’t had the ability to use it because of needing to spread out students for the cafeteria.” 

Former Assistant Principal Allyson Stovall then suggested calling it the Wildcat Den and included the mural in the classroom.

Ichimura said that during the summer not only did they have time for DeSiqueira to paint, but they also replaced the carpet, which was cut to computer desks, which were replaced by folding tables and chairs. 

“We’re trying to make the room versatile so it can be used for several different purposes,” Ichimura said. 

The first use of the Wildcat Den came when the principal welcomed students by grade level on the first day of school to introduce them to the room and to go over school rules and expectations.

“Everyone loved the mural; he is a talented painter,” Ichimura said. “He did it all by hand, and the kids just loved it.”