FARMINGTON — After two years, six months and over $75 million spent, Farmington High School is about ready to welcome over 1,500 students next month.
The high school was one of several projects funded by a bond approved by Davis County residents in the fall of 2015. An open house Thursday allowed taxpayers to see where some of their money had gone.
"If it wasn't for the voters, none of this exists," said Chris Williams, a spokesman for the Davis School District.
What exists today is a 405,000-square-foot high school that resides on nearly 46 acres at 548 W. Glovers Lane in Farmington. The building can hold up to 2,077 students and is expected to last the community until at least 2093.
As of Thursday, the halls are empty and quiet — with the exception of Farmington High School's marching band practicing for an upcoming parade. That will all change when 70 teachers, about 100 staff members and over 1,500 students start school on Aug. 22.
Looking less like a traditional high school and more like an IKEA on the outside, the bright blue and yellow building juts out of the residential landscape with more windows than brick.
"Part of the mindset of the look of the school was 'Farmington,'" said building architect Jeanne Jackson, a principal with VCBO Architecture. "Because Farmington Bay, the colors are from the bay itself. The vegetation is very golden."
She said the patterns on the windows, seen across the school, are also meant to evoke the ripples from Farmington Bay.
Despite controversy in the fall of 2017, the school's mascot, the Phoenix, can be seen throughout its halls.
A parent of a future Farmington student started a petition to change the mascot, chosen by students, because he felt a plural version of the word would sound like the male anatomy.
"First off, there is no such thing as a 'phoenixes,'" incoming Principal Richard Swanson said. "The mythology, in itself, is there's only one phoenix at a time. And so we are the Phoenix. We're bringing together different communities. We're coming together as one."
Farmington High School will pool students from in-district Davis High School and Viewmont High School. Voters in Utah's third-most populous county were told their communities were only going to get bigger, Williams said, and it was time to expand the school district's capacity.
"Davis High School is the size of small junior college, Viewmont was overcrowded," he said. "We needed somewhere to put the students and the residents said, 'Yeah, we agree.'"
Jackson said the high school resembles a more "collegiate" design, with different-sized classrooms and small offices in the halls for each teacher.
"It's designed with the learner in mind," she said. "It's designed to accommodate the new ideas in learning, including collaboration — teaching people how to work together. And the principal here and his staff have prepared to teach totally differently."
Each classroom is part of a "learning suite," a small lobby that includes tables and chairs.
"The idea is, you're breaking up the students into smaller groups," Jackson said. "Which helps create those relationships."
Each classroom has customizable tables that can be written on with dry erase markers and can fit into different combinations, Jackson said. The school does not resemble the uniform rows of desks and chairs of high schools in years past.
Windows across the school allow sunlight to reach nearly every corner, which Jackson said feeds into part of the design's safety consideration.
"One of the most important things in keeping our students safe is that they are part of a community," she said. "Having it very open like this creates opportunities for relationships."
In Farmington High School, learning suites can be locked "with a push of a button." And students, in an emergency situation, can exit the building directly through each of the suites rather than being forced into an open hallway.
Swanson said about 200 security cameras can be found throughout the building, and the school's entrance requires visitors, staff and students to pass a front office.
"Our No. 1 method of making sure we have a safe school, and a great school environment, is to make sure we have personal relationships with everybody," Williams said. "The principal needs to have a great relationship with the department heads, the teacher needs to have a great relationship with every kiddo in the classroom."
In the building's sweeping hallway, illuminated with sunlight and columns that can change colors, charging stations crop up at small tables.
"If you're using your phone, or your device, to learn — you're looking things up, you're Googling things — you're going to run out of juice," Jackson said. "So we have a lot of charging stations so kids don't have to be stressed about their devices running out partway through the day."
Wi-Fi across the building will be equipped to handle up to five devices per occupant, she said.
According to Jackson, the new high school boasts multiple aspects of energy efficiency.3 comments on this story
"This building is designed to be net-zero ready," she said, meaning the high school has the capability at some point to need little to no energy outside of what is received on-site.
Canopies that will cover buses on the southeast side of the building will be fitted with solar cells, photovoltaic panels.
"We think the PV (photovoltaic) will cover almost all of energy that this building uses," she said. "So it's going to cost the taxpayers very little to run this building."
The project is expected to come in under budget, Jackson said, and expects to return some of its funding to the district.