New Olympus High welcomes students back from break

Published: Monday, April 8 2013 6:30 p.m. MDT

Students and teachers settle into the new Olympus High School on Monday, April 8, 2013.

Eric Betts, Deseret News

HOLLADAY — Students at Olympus High School returned from spring break Monday to a brand new facility still showing signs of a hasty transition.

Vending machines and trophy cases stood empty along the wide, spotless hallways with high ceilings, and empty cardboard moving boxes sat in the corners of classrooms filled with a lingering new-school scent.

"People are really trying to find where everything is," said student body officer and senior Eden Neff. "I think there's a lot of confusion, but it's fun and we're all figuring it out together."

The school's first day was also marked by inclement weather that gave the building some wear and tear. A period of heavy rain that hit the Wasatch Front on Monday morning resulted in a leak somewhere in the building.

"There are a few things we're working through," Principal Mark Manning said while turning down the volume on a walkie-talkie that was abuzz with voices responding to the leak. "School, for the first day, has gone very nicely."

While students enjoyed some time off from classes last week, school staff had quickly worked to transfer computers, books, furniture and other items necessary for day-to-day operations to the new school, located a stone's throw from the original Olympus High School at 4055 S. 2300 East.

"The last nine days have been very chaotic," Manning said. "Moving from one high school building to another is very labor intensive."

The midyear transition, uncommon in education, had been precipitated by a tight construction timeline that will see demolition begin this week on the old school. The area where it stands will be converted into a parking lot, allowing for the current parking lot to make way for athletic fields, a career and technical education building, and a swimming pool.

While it made for a tight turnaround, Manning said the transition process during spring break will allow for the school's baseball and soccer fields to be completed by next spring.

"By August, we need to have that building down," he said. "If we would've waited until July, we wouldn't have met the timeline."

Besides the leak, many pieces of electronic equipment had yet to be installed Monday, and both students and teachers were finding their ways around and getting comfortable in new classrooms.

"It's been a crazy transfer to do it in the middle of the year, but it's a beautiful new building," said English teacher Marci Bishop. "We don't quite have our teacher desks yet so finding a place just sometimes is a little crazy, but the kids are so excited, and it's about the only fun way to come back from spring break."

The new school includes larger classrooms, wider hallways, a 165-student lecture hall and several computer labs. Manning said the design of the building is focused around the incorporation of technology and also provides both students and faculty with space for collaboration and group work.

"We've just modernized the school," he said. "The old school was wonderful. It was a great school, but it was just outdated."

Stephen Pinnock, an Olympus High School student body officer, said he liked how spacious the new building was, including hallways that "you could drive a car through."

"It feels like the first day of school all over again," Pinnock said. "It's just new, in general, and I think it's really cool."

Contributing: Kathryn May

E-mail: benwood@deseretnews.com

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