EAGLE MOUNTAIN -- When Alpine School District Board member Paula Hill toured Lehi some time ago, she was taken out to Eagle Mountain and told that one day the area would become the largest city in Utah.
"All I saw was dust, wind and jackrabbits and thought, yeah right," Hill said. "Yet here we are today building a middle school in this great community."
District and city leaders broke ground Thursday for a new middle school just off Pony Express Parkway.
The school has yet to be named, but over the next year principal Scott Sumner will begin the process to select a name. He also will be busy hiring faculty and organizing the PTA and school community council.
Sumner spoke at the groundbreaking, promising to create a community school where parents and student's needs will be met and where the student's talents can be shared.
Voters passed a bond in November to pay for the new school at a total estimated cost of about $30 million. The school will be built to hold 1,500-1,700 students and will serve the growing Eagle Mountain area.
Not only will the school bring employment opportunities to the area, but the residents of Eagle Mountain are looking forward to finally having a middle school of their own.
"With our median age being in the teens, it is nice to finally be able to keep them within our city boundaries to attend middle school," Mayor Heather Jackson said.
When families moved to the Eagle Mountain area in the city's early years, middle school students commuted to west Lehi to attend Willowcreek Middle School.
In 2010, Vista Heights Middle School in Saratoga Springs opened and Eagle Mountain students were within that middle school's boundaries.
Vista Heights was built to accommodate 1,500 students. The opening year, the school was already nearing capacity of 1,300 students. It now has 1,530 students enrolled, not including the area's ninth-graders.
With an increasingly large number of students, the school district moved ninth-graders from Vista Heights to Westlake High School.
Until construction is complete on the Eagle Mountain middle school, ninth-graders will continue to attend Westlake, but by the 2013-2014 school year, plans are to have the freshmen move out of the high school and either back to Vista Heights or to the new middle school.
Between the Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain areas, the number of seventh- to ninth-graders is a close to even split. The new middle school will bring more balance to the area, giving room for growth in both communities.
Currently Eagle Mountain high school students attend Westlake in Saratoga Springs as well, but if growth continues a high school in Eagle Mountain could be on the table for the next bond cycle in five years.
Jackson and city officials expressed their appreciation at the groundbreaking ceremony for the good working relationship and all that Alpine School District is doing for their community.
"We're excited for this opportunity of the middle school and look forward to the day when we also have our own high school," Jackson said.