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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Brighton students, elected officials cut ribbon to open new school

Aug 25, 2021 11:29AM ● By Julie Slama

Canyons Board of Education member Amber Shill and Board president Nancy Tingey cut the official ribbon to open the new $117-million Brighton High School. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Thirty years ago this fall, Quinn Falk was entering his senior year at Brighton High. His older brother, Daniel, graduated from the school in 1990 and had excelled in the autobody program. Quinn was in the aeronautics club and had spent his free time building and launching rockets, some which landed on the school’s circular rooftop.

Their parents, Mike and Kris, had supported their sons in many school activities, even enjoying the “great hamburgers,” Mike said, while watching the football games in the stadium; since then, they’ve watched the Bengals play from their home on 2500 East, which sits just above the field.

The last three years, as the school was torn down and rebuilt on the same campus, Mike said, “We’ve put up with the dust and noise from the big trucks rumbling by and it took away part of our view.”

“We’ll just have to go down there (to the stadium) to watch,” Kris said, adding that, “Brighton was good for both of our kids.”

The two were amongst several neighbors, community members and students and faculty who Brighton Principal Tom Sherwood, Canyons Board of Education President Nancy Tingey and others thanked for their patience and support the past few years.

“I want to thank you for what you’ve endured,” Tingey told the crowd of about 100 who gathered Aug. 11 at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, outside of the arts and technology center. Many in the crowd were eager to tour the $117-million comprehensive high school, which was made possible with the $283-million bond that was approved by voters in 2017. 

Tingey, and Canyons Board member Amber Shill represent the Brighton area, and both began their involvement in schools by volunteering in the classrooms, on the PTA and with the school community councils.

“It gave me a bird’s eye view of the comings and goings of the school,” Tingey said, adding that the building isn’t just a structure. “The legacy of Brighton is told through its students and the circles are a reminder of that legacy—giving the students of today and tomorrow a sense of pride and a sense of place and arching toward a purposeful future.”

Shill also made reference to the former building’s circular floor pattern: “Tonight is a special occasion for me. If you’re familiar with the old Brighton High, you might say it feels like we’ve come full circle.” 

In the new design, homage was paid to that tradition with lighting and carpeting having circular patterns, but not in the hallways themselves since “they had a downside; they blocked natural light from the classrooms and failed to capitalize on the stunning views we have,” she said.

The new Brighton houses a 1,100-seat auditorium with modern lighting and sound system; a field house that allows more flexibility for physical education and sports team practices; expanded trades classrooms and shops with state-of-the-art technology; an expansive culinary and careers and technical education suite to give students more opportunities; and more. There also are spaces for small group projects and teacher collaboration.

The former school design also was a safety concern and was in need of an upgrade, said Canyons Chief Financial Officer and Business Administrator Leon Wilcox. 

“In rebuilding Brighton, our focus was on safety and sustainability. This is a beautiful campus, but the steel structure is also seismically safe, wired for today’s teaching technologies and built to last,” he said.

Wilcox said that the building, which was designed to be energy efficient, was completed in phases to allow students to continue studying at their campus. He hopes it will be fully completed by December with the paving of a new parking lot; the media center and commons are expected to be completed by the end of September.

“I’d like to acknowledge the residents who live near this school and have had to put up with the noise and clutter associated with a major construction project like this,” Wilcox said. “Brighton’s students, teachers and staff also deserve a big thanks for their patience. They did a great job of making the best of a difficult time with good cheer and an eye toward the future. I think you’ll agree the end result was well worth the trouble and wait.”

Sherwood, who apologized to the senior classes which did not get the “front row parking spots” these past few years, told the audience, “When the project started, I was not sure what it would look like or what each day would bring,” but if they looked past “the boxes that still need to be unpacked” they could see the “tremendous building with a great amount of potential” for the students.

Former Cottonwood Heights Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore, Jr., who lobbied for and voted in support of creating Canyons School District more than 10 years ago, sat in the front row of the ceremony, witnessing everything from the marching band and drumline’s performance and the cheerleaders waving pom poms to the speeches and the cutting of the ribbon signifying the official opening of the new Brighton High School.

“This is why we created a new district—to improve our educational buildings for the kids,” Cullimore said before he took a tour of the new school. “It’s always been about the kids.”

Canyons District Superintendent Rick Robins, who often walked the neighborhood as a kid with his cousins who lived there, said he felt the warmth of the community, welcoming him as part of the “Bengal family.” 

“What an amazing year it’s going to be for the Brighton faculty, staff and students,” he said. “What a great time to be a Bengal!”