Courtney Johnson teared up the first time she heard Cedar Valley High School’s students sing the fight song.
“I’m not emotional, but the kids have been working so hard,” said Johnson, the school’s principal, said as she gripped a tissue Wednesday.
Once it opens for the first day of school Tuesday, Cedar Valley High School will become Eagle Mountain’s first district high school. The school is also the first in the state to embrace the Aviator mascot.
The theme is everything at Cedar Valley High School. The hallways are called terminals. The gymnasium is the hanger. The tile flooring is arranged to look like a runway in the hallways, and to resemble rotor blades in the main entrance. There’s even additional, donated Aviator-themed elements that will be unveiled to the public during the school’s grand opening on Saturday.
Johnson hopes the theme will inspire the students.
“They need a physical presence for what is possible, and a lot of times kids don’t know what’s possible until you expose them,” she said.
The mascot is close to her heart. There’s deep aviation ties in her family. Her husband taught her to fly, and she’s logged many miles in her father’s Cessna. Johnson has an old photo of her 86-year-old father on her desk, and said he knows about the secret elements and plans to attend the grand opening.
Johnson herself attended commercial flight school, an experience she said has helped her lead a school with a focus on the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
“It motivated me to do math, it motivated me to do science in high school,” Johnson said. “Who knows what you do now in your life in preparation for something to come in the future.”
She turned to her contacts in the aviation industry for help with the school’s grand opening. The final product — an event that will be open to the public from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the school and will include an air show, special guest aviators, a 5K race and a stunt show — became greater than what she dreamed after the school was embraced by the aviation community.
“You can only open once,” Johnson said. “I wanted our kids to have a moment that mattered, to honor them, to get them excited, to let them know that the community of Aviators are rallying behind them.”
Inside, the school includes music practice rooms that can record and play back music, nine welding stalls and a greenhouse where students will do gene splicing. Each classroom will have multiple desks with whiteboard tops.
Johnson said the school will offer many concurrent enrollment classes, along with aviation courses.
Surprises that will be unveiled Saturday include items donated by JetBlue Airways Corp. Facebook and Intermountain Healthcare have also donated to the school.
Teachers continued to unpack equipment Wednesday as work continued to prepare the school for the Saturday grand opening.
“I am not exaggerating when I say we are working around the clock,” Johnson said.
Cedar Valley High School, a part of the Alpine School District’s 2016 bond, will become the district’s 10th traditional high school.