Orem High's $41M rebuild halfway done

2009-08-12T00:00:00Z Orem High's $41M rebuild halfway doneGenelle Pugmire - Correspondent Daily Herald
August 12, 2009 12:00 am  • 

Orem High's local rivals have one year to come up with a new heckle for the school's big games. The current mantra -- "You're still ghetto" -- will no longer fly when the rebuilt, state-of-the-art home of the Tigers debuts in August 2010.

Residents may not be able to picture what the new school will look like, as construction is only passing the half-way mark, but Joel Perkins, vice principal in charge of construction, says it is going to be a great facility.

"I know what it looks like," he said. "I wish people could just know how beautiful it's going to be. I am very, very excited about this new school."

Perkins has good reason to be excited. Some of the interior features of the school will be firsts for the Alpine School District. For instance, the new auditorium, replete with 1,000 plush, blue seats and royal-blue curtains, will have the district's only full orchestra pit.

"The auditorium is one of the gems of the new building," Perkins said. "It will be perfect."

The new media center will offer a student reading balcony lined with a bank of windows with a view of Mt. Timpanogos. Reading carrels will feature wiring for laptop computers.

"The technology aspects of the school are amazing," Perkins said. "Each class is wired for sound, audio-visual and projectors. Every room will have Promethean boards" -- a global interactive whiteboard and learning response system, often called smart boards.

Everything will incorporate the most modern designs and equipment, from the wood shop and welding rooms to the cooking and sewing classrooms. Science labs will be fully equipped with the latest technology and more space for demonstrations and experiments.

The new 223,000-square-foot school is part of Alpine District's $250 million bond that was passed by voters in 2006. The cost for Orem High's construction is estimated at $41 million. Not to worry though -- according to Perkins, many parts of the old school are already being salvaged for the new school -- from stained-glass windows to the beloved tiled "Tiger," a symbol that has become a part of the traditions at Orem High. Anything that can be used and is in good shape will be moved to new offices and classrooms.

The current school, built in 1956, will be demolished beginning in June 2010. The entire project will be completed by Nov. 1, 2010. Following the demolition, new soccer fields and a parking lot will be built. In preparation for the current construction, new tennis courts, the football field and driving range were built or upgraded last year.

"We're all real excited," said Diana Colón, counseling secretary. "There's a new excitement. ... It's just a nice feeling."

While there is a general euphoria about the new school, some of the new look has local residents just a little down. While they all accept the fact that the school is a necessity -- and for the most part, they attended the neighborhood meetings when the project was first presented -- a number of neighbors just didn't understand how big and how close to their property the new school would be.

"I've lost the sunset, I can't see it anymore," said Isaac Thomas, who lives directly across the street from the school on 300 South. He also is the father of Orem High's new student body president, Elijah Thomas. His daughter, Norma, says she's just happy they can still see Timpanogos. Others on the street also said they have lost their views of the mountains.

Paulette Tate, another resident on 300 South, said there are no street lights, construction workers sit on her lawn and parking is impossible. "I don't care if they sit on the lawn, as long as they clean up after themselves." Tate said. "When I drive down 300 South I just see a great big huge barricade."

Perkins says he hasn't heard anyone complain.

"The neighbors seem really excited. Everyone I've dealt with is very positive," he said.

For the Class of 2010, the school's reconstruction is bittersweet. While they won't get to experience the new school, they are the last class to carry on the traditions.

"Because this is the last year of the original Orem High school, we really want to get people pumped up,' said Elijah Thomas. He said the student council has plans to celebrate the old building's history and memories by inviting Orem High alumni to return this fall for Homecoming night.

"We have to make sure that the legacy that lived in Orem High for some 50-odd years carries on to the new school," he said.

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