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Sandy Journal

Celebrate good times, come on! Altara kids dance to 1980’s tune that hit the charts same year school opened

Aug 03, 2022 09:00PM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

There's a party goin' on right here (at Altara Elementary)
A celebration to last throughout the years (42 to be exact)
So bring your good times and your laughter too (the whole community)
We gonna celebrate your party with you!

And celebrate, they did. Especially since the school’s 40th birthday party was put on hold for two years, thanks to Covid restrictions.  

“We had a big celebration planned in 2020 and everyone was getting involved, then the pandemic hit, so we’ve just put our plans on hold for two years,” Principal Nicole Svee Magann said. “We still wanted to do a big birthday celebration, but now it’s also, a welcome back. It’s our first big event to welcome back our community.”

Amongst the celebration was a deejay playing 1980s music — including the 1980’s hit “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang, for families to dance to and several people wearing “big hair” to fashion of the day, right down to the leg warmers.

PTA President Mindi Nielsen and others wore MTV T-shirts and were selling vintage Altara T-shirts.

“It’s a fun way to bring back memories and help fundraise for PTA activities,” she said.

The T-shirt sales will help fund events such as Reflections, Red and White Ribbon weeks and other activities.

The community also could purchase auctioned items and students’ artwork to help fund the PTA events.

Patty Mead came to see the school for the first time with her second-grade granddaughter, Anya.

“I moved here a couple years ago and COVID hit, so I never got to come into her school until tonight,” Mead said. “It’s wonderful and this is so much fun. I’ve bid on a couple gorgeous carved cutting boards and am watching so I don’t get outbid. They’ll make beautiful gifts, and I can support the school.”

Also helping at the birthday bash were seven members of Kohl’s department store staff, who cleaned tables and gave directions.

“We love giving back to our community,” said Lisa Staley, who grew up in the Sandy area, and was with Abby Kynaston helping with students’ artwork.

Second-grade teacher Heather Sullivan has taught at Altara for the past 25 years.

Before she joined the faculty, Altara was surrounded by fields, where horses grazed. Since then, homes have been built and surround the school, which was on a year-round schedule and had open classrooms until 1990s, right before Sullivan started.

Since the late 1990s, she has seen trees planted, new playground equipment, introduction of accommodated preschool, brain boosters’ classes and the dual immersion Spanish program, updates in curriculum and testing, a new parking lot, a secure entrance, skylights, new carpet, and other remodels—yet the orange cabinetry of the 1980s still remains.

“We haven’t had a lot of turnover of teachers and staff,” Sullivan said. “People love it here and don’t want to leave.”

Principal Svee Magann also has found a home at Altara since 2013.

“We have an amazing turnout and it’s so great to have the support of our community,” she said. “This is the community I love and the ’80s were my years in middle and high school, so this is my music, my hairstyle. It has been a lot of fun reliving that time.”