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Murray Journal

Cottonwood High Receives Needed Facelift

Oct 04, 2016 02:45PM ● By Julie Slama

The front foyer of Cottonwood High School, with new lighting and furniture, makes it more inviting and functional. (Julie Slama/My City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

This fall, when students entered Cottonwood High School, they arrived to see a new look and some new technology.

“Much of the renovations were done to improve our aging building, to update technology and to accommodate ninth-grade students,” said assistant principal Michael Miller.

 The remodeling, largely centered around upgrading technology, improving 14 classrooms and four offices and other areas, cost about $3.5 million and had been in the plans before former principal Alan Parrish left his office in November 2015.  

Much of the construction work was completed this summer, but a few finishing touches are expected to be done by winter, Miller said.

“Construction began the day after school got out and several times in the summer, walking down the 600 (art) wing, you could look up and see blue sky as they tore out the leaking roof and replaced the ceiling,” he said.  

Principal Terry Roylance said that they updated the fire sprinklers to code as they replaced asbestos in the ceilings and put in new ceiling tiles.

Several art and math classrooms were remodeled with new ceiling tile and lighting as well as update technology and new cabinets and carpets.

“This room was horrible last year,” teacher Karen Nieto said. “It was originally two rooms they had created into one with three poles of electrical units hanging down in the room.  There wasn’t any storage and now, it’s just amazing.”

Nieto said the room has tables and chairs with wheels so she can reconfigure the classroom to work in small groups or independently.

Another new classroom was created from several storage rooms, Roylance said.  An old computer lab was renovated for ninth-grade English and there now is a dedicated room for students learning Chinese.

“I’ve meet every Friday from the time I was hired until now with an architect, contractors and Granite School District people and we knew there was space in the building and knew we’d have to reconfigure and update some classrooms,” she said.  Students and teachers could contribute ideas to the plans to areas being updated.

One of the biggest changes Roylance said was to remodel the “enormous” drafting room, that was going unused since drafting programs are now computerized.  That space was reconfigured into four special education classrooms.  

Miller, who said the drafting program now is housed at Granite Technical Institute, said the new classrooms are now clustered together so teachers can help one another if needed.

The rooms have new electrical systems, lights, carpets, paint, smart boards, internet, and moveable furniture.  A conference room for meetings and a speech central pathologist is housed in the cluster area.

“These are much improved over our old classrooms scattered throughout the school because we can share strategies and collaborate easier and if there are behavioral issues, there’s another adult close by who can help,” said Jen Buskus, head of special education department.

Miller said that other student gathering areas — the front foyer and commons — have been updated with new furniture.  In the foyer, there are couches and updated lighting and ceiling tiles.  Outside the auditorium, booths and high stool chairs, with Wi-Fi hot spots, outline the commons area.

“They’re always being used and it’s unusual to see such areas in high schools for students,” Roylance said.

New lockers were put in in the shop areas as well as in the band room for instruments and the library entrance was renovated.  Some bathrooms were updated to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements and the little theatre was still in progress of being renovated with new technology and seating in September.

Several offices were remodeled including the attendance office; counseling office with two new conference rooms with state-of-the-art technology; the main office with a new assistant principal office and new entry desks and a supply room; and the registrar office separated and expanded, Miller said.

Also the faculty room was renovated to make it more teacher friendly, Miller said, as well as have access to the “A La Carte Café,” which students also will have a separate access to for purchasing food items.

“It was created with federal money funding through food services and it provides students with another option of food, many which will be healthy choices such as salads, stir fry or cold-cut sandwiches,” Roylance said.

About 1,200 students and families were able to see the new look at both the ninth- and 10th-grade orientation on Aug. 15 as well as additional families on Sept. 13 when the Granite School District held a town hall event at the school.     λ