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Brighton students cheer at the groundbreaking of new school

Aug 17, 2018 01:17PM ● Published by Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | julie@mycityjournals.com

With the band playing the fight song, the cheerleaders waving their pompoms and the football team leading students and the community in applause, the groundbreaking for Brighton High School could have been mistaken for a pep rally — with the exception of Bengal hard hats, shovels and a backhoe sitting near the torn-up parking lot in front of the school. 

Even Canyons School District Superintendent Jim Briscoe played along with the festive mood: “Any Bengals here tonight? Any excited about next Friday’s football game?” 

However, Aug. 9 was a celebration for the building of a new Brighton High School, one that will be done in phases over three years. 

The project starts this fall with construction of a new performing arts auditorium, arts, career and technical education program spaces and a field house to the west and east of the existing building. The Bengals baseball and softball fields will be reworked to provide a new point of entry at the south end of the property. 

For the first 16 months of construction no classrooms will be impacted; the gymnasiums, the existing auditorium, media center, main office and academic wings will remain untouched. 

The second phase will include focusing on classrooms, cafeteria and commons and a new Bengal plaza as well as some demolition of the existing building. Once a three-story wing of classrooms is completed — connecting the performing arts area with the athletics facilities — the final phase of school grounds and better-flowing parking lots will begin. 

While building a high school usually takes more than one year to design before starting to build on a vacant 50 or 60 acres, District Business Administrator Leon Wilcox complimented MHTN Architects and Hogan Construction for being able to do it on the 36-acre campus while school is in session. 

Briscoe thanked the voters’ support of last fall’s $283 million tax-neutral bond earmarked to modernize and upgrade Canyons School District schools, and Canyons Board of Education first vice president Nancy Tingey acknowledged the disruption. 

“We know that it’s not easy to live near, or in the case of students and employees spend your day in, a major construction site, but we trust you’ll feel that the result is well worth the trouble,” she said. 

Involving students, parents, teachers and the community, Tingey said their impact was critical to the design of the new Brighton High. 

“Canyons takes pride in building schools that reflect the communities they serve and that serve those communities well with safe, high-quality learning environments that inspire students to set and achieve challenging goals,” she said. 

The new design will provide administrators and teachers clear sight down hallways, rather than the circular pattern Brighton now encompasses.

The current circular halls are mentioned in the school’s traditional hymn: “Within these circled halls, there dwells the soul of Brighton High.” This means the lyrics may need to be revised after the rebuild, Tingey said. 

In addition to improved vision inside the school, there will be a security vestibule for visitors to pass through the office before proceeding inside, and lock-down buttons that can close classroom areas in an emergency. 

Improved wiring for technology will be a vast improvement, Principal Tom Sherwood said. 

“When this school was built, the state-of-the-art technology was a black-and-white TV,” he said about the 49-year-old school. 

The redesign will include classrooms that can open into common areas to allow for small group and collaborative learning. Classroom wings will be named after different features in Utah, such as mountain peaks, lakes and natural landmarks. 

There also will be improved vision looking outside of the school as large windows and skylights will bring natural light into the classrooms and common areas.

“When they built Brighton, it was on one of the prettiest vistas in the Salt Lake Valley and they built it without windows. Once the new building is done, we’ll have an amazing view of the valley and of the Wasatch Mountains,” Sherwood said.

Brighton already is known for having one of the most scenic football stadiums in the state, Tingey said, receiving cheers from the football players. 

Sophomore Colton Beames, who plays football, basketball and baseball for the Bengals, is excited for the field house. 

“It will be great with turf, hanging batting cages, new basketball courts, a track above,” he said, adding that his favorite sport depends on whatever season it is. 

Both Tingey and board second vice president Amber Schill, who are helping to provide input to the design and building of Brighton, have had children attend the school. 

“Over the past half century, alumni of Brighton have gone on to be accomplished scholars, athletes, government and industry leaders, artists and contributors to their communities,” Tingy said. “What I like about Brighton, is there is something for everyone. Whether your children are involved in arts or sports, whether they have an affinity or math or passion for science, they will find in this school a welcoming place to thrive.” 

And those opportunities will be found in the new school, Sherwood said. 

“Any decisions we have made about the design of this new school have been with the students in mind. The physical, emotional and educational welfare of students will always be at the forefront of our decision making,” he said.  

Keeping that school spirit alive, Brighton is establishing a legacy committee and alumni association and requests former students to be involved by sending an email to BrightonLegacy@gmail.com. 

Construction updates, including those already underway at nearby Hillcrest and Alta high schools, can be found at bond.canyonsdistrict.org.

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