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Evergreen and Churchill Jr. Highs get sorely needed remodels and updates

Aug 29, 2018 10:28AM ● Published by Jana Klopsch

Before the elevator, Churchill Jr. High students who used wheelchairs would need to exit the building and get up this hill, then re-enter if their classes were on different levels. (Heather Lawrence/City Journals)

By Heather Lawrence | heather.lawrence@mycityjournals.com

When students in Granite School District went back to school on Aug. 20, two Holladay schools were still working to finish summer construction projects. Churchill Jr. High needed an elevator to be brought up to code, and Evergreen Jr. High needed a complete remodel. Both schools have been in operation for over 50 years. 

Churchill Jr. High, located on a hilly lot on 3450 East Oakview Drive, is a school with three levels. “It was such a nightmare when anyone in a wheelchair or on crutches needed to get from one level to another,” said Principal’s Secretary Cris Bromley. “We had to assign another student to help the person, and the way the school is built, they would have to go outside, and push the wheelchair up Oakview Drive. Our custodians do a great job keeping the path clear, but it was ridiculous.” 

“This is something that has been bounced around for several years. It’s a matter of safety just as much as compliance,” said Office Bookkeeper Shawna Cluff, as she explained that if the school ever needs to be in lockdown, access to the elevator will be essential for certain students. 

The elevator doesn’t just bring the school into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act for the students. It’s a school where parents and grandparents are frequently coming in to volunteer, speak with staff or watch programs. There are two parking lots, one for the entrance on the main level and another to enter on the second level. When weather is snowy, there are hazards for anyone who needs to access the school. 

The elevator shaft is completed, and the mechanics are currently under construction. The elevator is located near the main entrance on the first floor, next to the principal’s office on the second floor, and outside a classroom on the third floor. 

A few blocks west, Evergreen Jr. High, which is located on 3401 South 2000 East, needed a much bigger remodel. A week before school started, the parking lot was still full of construction vehicles and the main building was closed to students. 

Students who came to register in August were directed to a temporary portable office in the east parking lot. Counselors Carma Barnhart and Ashley Hill and Secretary Janice Wirthlin were based there and had materials ready for incoming students. They kept to business as usual despite the construction dust.  “The plan is to be ready when the students start the school year,” Barnhart said. 

Inside the school, every area was completely renovated or at the very least touched up. The halls were filled with dozens of busy construction workers and cleaning crew. To facilitate the work, all the classroom doors and whiteboards were removed and temporarily stored outside.

The sights, smells and sounds of construction were everywhere. From the builders in the auditorium to the paint in the halls and the hammers echoing through classrooms, the project hummed along.   

The main entrance to the school was locked during what was called phase 1 of the remodel project. But the building itself seemed to plead for its makeover in the sign over the main entrance. “Evergreen Junior High School” it announced proudly. But an “o” from the word school was missing; the “school” was literally falling apart. This project aims to put the building on the road to repair. 

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