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New special needs hubs are centers for opportunity

By Steven Powell

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, Sept. 17 2012 6:04 p.m. MDT

Hartvigsen construction on the Taylorsville High School campus.

Steven Powell

TAYLORSVILLE — After 40 years in their existing building, Hartvigsen — a Granite specialty school serving students ages 5 to 21 with moderate to severe disabling conditions — is relocating to a more central location in the District’s special needs constituency.

As the steel girders are placed and the building begins to take shape near the Taylorsville High campus, students, parents and employees of Hartvigsen have reason to be excited about their new building, full of new medical technologies and education features.

But for Granite Special Education Director Noelle Converse and several other administrators, staff members and parents, the most exciting part about the Hartvigsen rebuild is the opportunities it will afford students within their own community.

Having the school close to Taylorsville High and Plymouth Elementary means Hartvigsen students will benefit from having easier access to their general education peers.

“It opens up a whole new world of opportunities for those who never had the chance to collaborate with the general student population,” Converse said.

Collaboration and inclusion will be key focuses to allow students, both at Hartvigsen and nearby schools, to benefit from diversity with programs right next to one another. Administrators aim to help students with special needs receive vocational training by working directly with general education students in classrooms and extracurricular activities.

Through collaborated efforts, students attending these and other traditional schools also benefit from having special needs hubs within reach.

“Those students are given leadership opportunities by working alongside students with special needs,” Converse said. “All students learn from each other.”

In addition to Hartvigsen, a special needs hub equipped with the latest medical technologies and services will be built inside the new Granger High School, which is currently under construction. A similar hub was added to Whittier Elementary last year.

Both Hartvigsen School and the special needs hub at Granger High are on schedule to open for the 2013-2014 school year. Once they are completed, parents of students with special needs will be contacted about their preference as to which site would better suit their needs.

Through these centers, Granite students with disabling conditions who would otherwise be schooled at home have the chance to learn in environments that are specifically catered to their unique needs.

Steven Powell is the Publications Specialist at Granite School District. He can be reached at 801-598-9496, or by email at spowell@graniteschools.org

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