PCHS puts construction to rest with the snip of a ribbon
January 10, 2009
"Focus on the journey, not the destination." These words of wisdom from author Greg Anderson are among the many displayed throughout Park City High School (PCHS) stenciled on walls, etched into glass partitions and eternalized in metal panels. Two years ago, the student council selected quotes they felt would provide inspiration to future students, and now that the remodel of the building is finally complete, the quotes have found their way into the framework.
The finalization of the renovation of PCHS is a destination in itself. For the students, faculty and administrative personnel who endured three years of construction, the clearing of the dust is the brilliant light at the end of a long tunnel. "It’s miraculous," says Principal Hilary Hayes.
The original building at 1750 Kearns Boulevard was erected in 1977 for a whopping 167 students. Three decades later, the building and student body have grown substantially. Approximately 1,040 students are enrolled in grades 10 through 12. The building has undergone several renovations; the most recent upgrade entailed leveling and rebuilding 286,000 square feet of the existing building and adding on another 6,000.
From state-of-the-art academic resources to cutting-edge technology, the remodel is geared for both form and function. The aerobics area above the main gym includes treadmills, stairclimbers, elliptical trainers and recumbent bikes. On the other side, the once shabby weight room has been completely refurbished and stocked with top-of-the-line fitness equipment funded by PCHS football parents.
The new black box theatre boasts elevated catwalks that enable the stage crew to easily manipulate sound and lighting.
Downstairs, the crew of the "Miner Morning Show" and members of media production classes revel in the innovative film studio, featuring a green room, audio/sound terminal and editing suites.
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The new additions have also generated several new classes, including child development (featuring interaction with children in the daycare program), sports sewing (specializing in outdoor and athletic clothing) and a commercial arts course that utilizes the digital imaging lab. "The new building helps students expand their horizons," says senior Tracy Lewis. Computer labs throughout the building provide easy access to the Internet as well as to peer tutors, who stay after school to help anyone who drops in.
Another advantage of the overhaul is the incorporation of green building techniques and eco-friendly decor. From the solar panels on the roof to the recyclable furnishings, sustainability is a No. 1 priority at the high school. Twenty percent of the building products were derived from recycled materials, and some, such as the structural steel beams, are recycled relics from the original building. To save power, the computers in the building shut off after a certain period of idling, and the lights regulate themselves based on the amount of sunlight streaming in. The students are also encouraged to recycle with bins placed throughout the classrooms, hallways and common areas.
According to VCBO Architects, the firm that oversaw the remodel, 75 percent of power in the building is "green." In addition, water use in the building will be reduced by 30 percent each year. The building performs 20 percent above industry standards, whereas the old building wasn’t even up to code in terms of energy usage.
Students and faculty seem to have a tough time pinpointing their favorite aspects of the new building. "I just love how much our school offers us," says Bridget Chapman, a junior.
Students Tracy Lewis and Sarah Brothers agree that the best feature is the amount of natural lighting (thanks to strategically-placed windows) and the openness of the design. Others commented that the improvements to athletic programs and extracurriculars, such as the turf on the sports field and the professional dance studio, top their list.
From a parent’s point of view, "The resources here are outstanding," says Deborah Smith, who moved to Park City in August from Southern California. "They’re better than anything I’ve ever seen."
Psychology teacher Jennifer King marvels at the technology at her fingertips in the classroom. Using a control panel mounted on the wall, King can transmit images from a projector, TV, her personal computer or students’ laptops onto a screen. "There’s lots of different uses, which is great," she says. King also notes that there is room in the hallways and common areas for class activities or group collaboration. "There’s space to do some of the things that were wishful thinking before the construction," she says. The new facility "allows for top-level learning in any content area."
Principal Hays can barely contain her excitement over the renovations. "My favorite part is that everybody has something that’s new." She says that on the rare occasion she finds herself alone in the building, "It’s like there’s a heartbeat you can feel the presence of the kids, even when they’re not here." She also likes that the whole building is being used and that "shiny and new" hasn’t translated to "don’t touch." "We’ve got it we use it," she says.
On Jan. 7, PCHS officially closed the chapter on its $29 million renovation, sealing the deal with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and dedication of the building. Notably, VCBO Architects partner Steve Crane announced that PCHS has received a rebuilding award from Learning by Design and will be featured in an upcoming publication. Crane also mentioned that a silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for the building is pending. He thanked the students and faculty for the sacrifices they made during the project as well as the Board of Education for its vision.
Superintendent Ray Timothy praised the community for its commitment to and support of the project. "This is an example of a community that has stepped forward and paid the price to provide quality education to its children," he said.