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Dan Peterson School gets needed facelift, honors former principal

By Genelle Pugmire - | Oct 9, 2021
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Volunteers paint mural of the Sahara Desert at Dan Peterson School. (Courtesy Candid Communications)
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Ken Garff volunteers help paint one of three murals. Shown is the lion mascot at Dan Peterson School. (Courtesy Candid Communications)
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Ken Garff employees volunteer to spruce up hallways with murals at Dan Peterson School. (Courtesy Candid Communications)
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Volunteers paint mural of the Sahara Desert at Dan Peterson School. (Courtesy Candid Communications)
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One of three walls being painted with bright murals at Dan Peterson School. (Courtesy Candid Communications)

A much-needed facelift is being brought to the Dan Peterson School this week in the form of new art murals. They are also there to honor the school’s former principal.

Dan Peterson is a unique school within the Alpine School District that services students who have disabilities and need an individualized education program, according to Principal Ryan Hemming.

Thanks to a special project from the Ken Garff Ford and Chevy dealership in American Fork, bright murals are taking the place of dark brick hallways and sprucing them up — in part as a thank you to the school’s former principal.

Lindsay Huss, a professional mural painter, was brought on board to help the Garff employees volunteering for the project. She drew the murals and the volunteers painted inside the lines.

“Lindsay Huss is so talented and has done an amazing job with the help of the Ken Garff volunteers. We are just truly grateful,” Hemming said.

For 13 years, Kim Wong served as principal at Dan Peterson. It was Wong who developed the school’s mascot, built the school up to be disability friendly and who loved the students who went to school there. Students start at age three and going up to age 22.

Wong died from the effects of COVID-19 last year and left not only the hallways dark, but plenty of students still missing her presence.

Each year, the Ken Garff group picks a project to give back to for its “We Are Here for You” program.

The company choosing Dan Peterson School has been a joyful effort according to Kate Terry, spokesperson for the Ken Garff program.

“The school was darker brick and we decided to paint murals on three of the walls,” Terry said. “One is the lion mascot, one a Sahara Desert scene with animals, and one with a lion silhouette with words selected by the students including courage, brave, pride and wise.”

The murals are in honor of Wong, Terry said. Earlier in the year, a bronze statue of the mascot was placed in front of the school also to honor Wong’s legacy.

Over a three day period, more than 60 employees from Ken Garff took shifts to paint the murals.

“Students are lighting up as they see it coming together, particularly the lion,” Terry noted. “We love giving back to the community. It’s a wonderful school.”

While the school stands apart as an education offering, it still maintains the standards of the Alpine School District. Hemming said, “We teach our students based on the general education standards and the essential elements. They also receive any other type of necessary therapies and adapted programs that they need in order to access their education.”

Hemming noted that when they were approached by Ken Garff with an opportunity to have services donated, he felt it would benefit not only the students, but also the staff.

“The students and staff alike to have some murals in the building that show our school pride and also pay tribute to what our previous principal envisioned with our new mascot, the lion,” Hemming said. “We feel that the qualities of a lion are some of the same traits that she had as well as our students.”

These murals also add light and color to the building which will help lift the spirts of the students and the staff. We are so grateful to Ken Garff and this amazing opportunity to be a part of this project, Hemming added.

“We hope that all of our students and their families can enjoy being here in the building,” Hemming said. “The murals look amazing. Lindsay Huss is so talented and has done an amazing job with the help of the Ken Garff volunteers. We are just truly grateful.”


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