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Sandy Journal

Alta High turns 40, celebrates with renovation

Jul 25, 2018 01:41PM ● By Julie Slama

Alta High Principal Brian McGill digs the first shovelful of dirt for the renovation of his alma mater. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected] 

There wasn’t a happy birthday song or a cake, but supporters wore the traditional black to the 40th celebration of Alta High. 

The black was coupled with the other school color, red, as Hawks turned out to support the groundbreaking ceremony of the renovation project, which will include a 1,400-seat performing arts center on the northwest corner of the campus and a field house north of the football stadium. 

Amongst the cheers of “We are Alta” and displays of spirit by the cheerleaders, flag squad and drum line, a ceremonial turn of the shovels full of dirt. This followed Principal Brian McGill backhoeing dirt in an area where crews already had torn up a parking lot for the $45.6-million project. Funding came from the $283-million bond approved in November. 

The 1978 blockbuster “Grease;” Andy Gibb, who held the No. 1 pop chart hit with “Shadow Dancing;” Garfield in the newspapers and Reese’s Pieces on the candy shelves, all debuted the same year Alta High opened its doors as a modern-day, two-level brick building on 27 acres. 

“In a sense, this is our birthday celebration,” said McGill, a 1991 Alta graduate. “It’s sad as the school changes, but it will really be dynamic changes that will modernize the environment for learning.”

Before the June 7 groundbreaking ceremony, crews began on the performing arts center. McGill presented Canyons Board of Education President Sherrill Taylor the first lifetime pass during the ceremony. 

“Some of the finest students in the whole state are right here at Alta High School,” Taylor said. “This school will be like a brand-new high school with all the built-in traditions of a 40-year high school.” 

The new red, gray and glass facade on the front of the performing arts center will mirror the front of the current building, and a new marquee and electronic sign will be placed at the corner of 11000 South and 1000 East to inform the community about events and student accomplishments. The performance center is scheduled for completion in January 2020. 

The current auditorium will be remodeled into a black box theater. In addition, several offices will be relocated, the ceiling in the commons area will be raised 35 feet, a green room will be added for video broadcast, and windows will be added for more natural light. A security entrance will guide visitors to the main office before they can gain access to the hallways. 

Another renovation the former Alta tennis star and running back is excited about is the field house. The new facility, which will be used for physical education classes, marching band as well as several sports, will feature a second-level gallery with windows facing the football field so patrons can support the Hawks in the warmth as well as have restrooms closer to the stadium and an indoor concession stand. The field house will be completed next summer. 

“This is an incredibly exciting time,” McGill said. “Once a Hawk, always a Hawk. If they would let me, I’d suit up and play ball in the fall.” 

Board member Chad Iverson, who has one child enrolled at Alta and another will this fall, said he remembers being nervous as he was on a bus getting ready to play Alta. 

“The Alta Hawks are always a strong team and have a great winning tradition here,” he said. 

Superintendent Jim Briscoe said he appreciates the dedication to schools in the community. 

“This is the second bond the community has passed since Canyons School District began nine years ago,” he said. “It shows our community is committed to education.” 

Even with the commitment, Taylor recognized the patience of neighbors. 

“We know you live near this construction site and it will be filled with disruptions and dust for the next couple years. We promise we will keep it to a minimum,” he said. 

Once completed, not only will the neighborhood streets return to normal, but traffic flow within Alta High campus will be improved.

“I am a proud graduate of Alta High, and I live in this community. We will still hold strong to a lot of the same school traditions,” said McGill, who has met with architects, contractors and Canyons School District personnel for two hours weekly in preparation for the renovation. “This will be our 40th year legacy.”