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A refreshed Indian Hills to open doors this fall

Jul 31, 2018 03:38PM ● Published by Julie Slama

Indian Hills Middle School’s kiva will have an extended stage as part of the year-long renovation project in the 38-year-old school. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | julie@mycityjournals.com 

“Nothing prepares you for this.” 

These words were spoken by Indian Hills Principal Doug Graham as he walked through Indian Hills Middle School with a hard hat as the school was nearing the end of its one-year remodel. 

Graham, who has met regularly with architects, contractors, Canyons School District officials and others, still is amazed at the transformation of the 38-year-old school.

“We can say there are a lot of improvements and natural light, but when you walk in here and see the commons and the changes in the interior classrooms, it blows you away,” he said. 

In June, construction crews were still working on the $20 million renovation, the last of 13 projects approved by a $250 million bond passed in 2010. The school remodel was being completed in waves, with some classrooms and hallways already carpeted with bright school colors in Native American geometric patterns, honoring the school’s name and Warriors mascot, while some classrooms were still being constructed. 

Indian Hills, which was extended in the rear and to the side, now is organized so core classrooms for each grade for the 1,200 students are near one another, as are the science, art, music and language classrooms. 

During construction, Graham said workers kept their humor even when everything didn’t go smoothly. One eighth-grade room in the rear of the building was fondly nicknamed the “fire hydrant room,” because 37 weeks into the project, there still were ongoing talks with Sandy City about the fire hydrant that was in the middle of the core subject classroom. 

Outside that classroom, a fire lane and retention wall were to go in place during the summer.

In each classroom and office, faculty and staff have built-in cabinets and desks, with a discussion of how to add more office file cabinets happening in June. 

“There are so many unknowns when tackling a project like this,” Canyons Facilities Director Rick Conger said. “Especially with the mechanical and electrical components. Still it’s on time and pretty much on budget.” 

Much of the renovation has gone smoothly. 

“There have been a lot of improvements, starting with our six science labs created from eight classrooms. The lab stations run alongside the walls of the class which allows more flexibility in the classrooms,” Graham said, pointing out a prototype design room and a 3D printing lab nearby. 

Those rooms, along with many other interior rooms, now have solar tubing to allow natural light to flood into the classrooms and in the new student commons. 

“I’m most excited about the incredible light in the school now. It’s not dark and dreary, but it’s giving us a fresh new start after so many years of dark colors, dark bricks and no light,” he said. 

In each core area, there are special education classrooms where teachers can easily help in co-taught classes, but also be able to pull students into small group learning strategies, Graham said. 

Elective classrooms also are grouped together by subject.

In one classroom, there will be 40 new Bernina sewing machines for 200 students and in another classroom, eight stations, one for ADA use, each with stoves, ovens and microwaves, for students enrolling in family and consumer sciences. 

“We did it right with the CTE (career and technical education) rooms. They are functionable and updated for our students,” he said. 

In the front of the western side of the school are new language rooms, with an installed dual-immersion language system. Nearby, the new music rooms, which were just being cemented, had practice rooms, a music library, instrument storage and built-in risers for the choir. 

Remaining in the same location, the kiva, with the floor extended to the first row of seats, a new light board installed and the soundboard moved, will be home to the new dance and musical theater teacher

“When we expanded to a seven-class period day, we asked students about adding electives, and musical theater and art were overwhelming responses,” he said. 

On the east, two spacious art rooms — one for two-dimensional projects and one for ceramics, which included a kiln — had natural lighting for the 24 sections of classes offered during the year. 

Indian Hills’ media center also was reimagined, with a new circulation desk and workroom, computer area in the front and seating among the stacks. The remodeled school also will feature two writing labs. 

The gym and lunchroom also have fresh new looks. The gym now features a weight room off to the side and a refurbished floor with lines painted for volleyball and basketball. The cafeteria features several food lines for students. 

New to the school is a large meeting room designed by former principal Floyd Stensrud. The room can be used for staff meetings, PTSA, professional development, School Community Council or other large group activities, Graham said. 

“He designed this meeting room, something we didn’t have before. When we needed a space before, we had to shut down the media center and use space there, and now we won’t have to,” he said. 

As of press deadline, crews were still adding a security vestibule to the front offices, which along with the counseling office, were moved to the front of the school to both welcome guests and provide a more secure entrance. Trophy cases were planned to be installed in the commons area so each grade level could showcase work as well as those reinstalled by the kiva. 

Materials that were in the process of being packed at the former Crescent View Middle School, where the Warriors had been housed the past year, needed to be moved back home. 

“Next year, some maintenance staff will use the former middle school, but the long-term use is still undecided,” Canyons Chief Financial Officer Leon Wilcox said. 

Indian Hills isn’t the only Canyons project underway this summer. Groundbreaking ceremonies for a new Hillcrest High, estimated at $98 million and to be completed by fall 2021, and $45.6 million in renovations to Alta High for a slated fall 2020 completion date, were held in early summer. The rebuilding of Brighton High, with a groundbreaking ceremony slated for Aug. 9, also is estimated at $98 million and will be completed fall 2021. 

Altara Elementary’s parking lot is being restructured this summer and new office remodels are underway at Brookwood, Park Lake and Silver Mesa elementaries with other elementary schools’ offices and projects, including Corner Canyon High’s $5 million in a classroom addition, are scheduled for the upcoming school year and summer 2019. Many of these projects, including a new Union Middle and four new elementary schools, were made possible by the $283 million bond that passed in November 2017.


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