MIDVALE — Walking into the new Midvale Middle School, it’s hard to miss the vaulted ceilings and the walls covered with colorful geometric shapes. Above the entryway is a particularly enormous maroon geometric structure.
“We call this Big Red because we have to find each other in the building,” new Principal Mindy Robison said with a laugh. “I taught math, so the geek in me is going to come out. The way they use the geometry and the three dimensions is absolutely incredible in this building.”
As principal, Robison gets giddy when talking about the differences in natural lighting, air conditioning, classroom space, and even the smells in the new school compared with the old one.
“You can’t even compare,” she said at the school’s ribbon cutting Tuesday. “It’s an amazing building.”
For Jefte Valencia Sosa, a student body officer going into seventh grade, the library is the best part of the new school.
“I just think it’s a really awesome school, between the old and the new,” he said. “They’ve really done a great job on this.”
The rebuilt Midvale Middle School at 7852 S. Pioneer St. is opening just in time for the start of school. It’s constructed on the same spot as the old middle school, which was more than six decades old when it was demolished, said Jeff Haney, Canyons School District spokesman.
School officials held an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday evening, and the public was invited to preview the new building.
The new middle school has been under construction for the past two years, reaching a total cost of $40 million. The building covers more than 200,000 square feet, with 39 general classrooms and 50 instructional spaces.
During the construction, students attended school in Sandy at Crescent View Middle School, which was vacated when the new middle school in Draper was built, Haney said.
“(The new school) is really big. The last place we stayed at was pretty small,” said Cameron Jessop, another student body officer going into seventh grade. “The hallways are a little cooler than I thought they were going to be.”
Dozens of “hero boards” line the hallways of the school, featuring the likes of Malala Yousafzai, Walt Disney, Jesse Owens and Stephen Hawking. Each board includes a quote and short history about the famous individuals. One board features Don Lind, a NASA astronaut who attended the old Midvale Middle School.
“The entire thing in general is a lot nicer than what we had at our previous school,” said student body officer April Dong, an eighth-grader. “I think it’s going to be really cool.”
The Canyons School District has supervised construction on a number of area schools recently, including the new Altara Elementary School and the remodeled Indian Hills Middle School, both in Sandy. The construction on area schools is part of a $250 million tax-rate-neutral bond approved by voters in 2010, Haney said.
"In all, the district will have completed 13 major improvements without raising taxes — and while maintaining a AAA bond rating," he added.
The new Midvale Middle School also includes a 650-seat auditorium for theater productions and assemblies. Another student body officer, seventh-grader Debbie Mahe, said she’s most excited to take theater classes and perform in the new auditorium.
“It’s much bigger than our other one. There’s a lot more room to move around. It’s not so crowded,” she said.
Other features include an expanded cafeteria and kitchen, a full-length basketball court, dance and exercise rooms, an elevated running track, a community garden, and computer and science labs with a 3-D printer.
The building's flashy colors are deliberate, Robison said, as the three grade levels are color-coded by hallways: sixth is the orange hall, seventh is yellow, and eighth is green.
Around 900 students will attend the school when it opens for the first time Aug. 23.
“I’m just so excited to have kids in the building,” Robison said. “Ultimately, I just want the kids to realize this is for you, and we value you that much.”