Ogden High ready to show off renovations

Tuesday , March 18, 2014 - 5:03 PM

Rachel J. Trotter

OGDEN — The Tiger is back to his rightful place in the rotunda at Ogden High School, the hard hats are no longer taking residence in the office and the Keep Out signs are nowhere to be found.

The student body, school administrators and district officials are ready to celebrate that with the community. The school will hold an open house to showcase the newly renovated architectural showpiece that is Ogden High School on Wednesday evening.

Community members are invited to go on an unofficial tour of the renovated high school, including the auditorium that was renovated with $9 million in community-donated funds, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. A short program will begin at 6 p.m. in the auditorium, with Lt. Gov. Greg Bell among the speakers.

Ogden School Foundation Director Janis Vause said it is fitting for Bell to speak at the open house for a couple of reasons. He is an alumnus of the high school, and he helped kick off the renovation in 2008.

The high school, built in the late 1930s, was in serious need of updating, but because of its historical architectural significance, the district didn’t want to tear the school down and start over.

Taxpayers approved a general obligation bond to fund the bulk of the work and private donors and a federal bond that required matching donated money helped get the project completed in just four years. Cost for the renovation was approximately $77 million.

Bob Herman, with EDA Architects, was one of the chief architects. He is an alumni of Ogden High, so the project was close to his heart.

“The building looks as amazing as it might have when it opened over 75 years ago, but it is now a school for the 21st century,” Herman said.

When the project started, planners decided what would need to change and what would need to stay the same.

Herman said the school was in amazing shape considering its age, but was justworn out. Updating technology was a big thing, as well as seismically retrofitting the entire school.

Vause remembers looking at the base layers of the school when the seismic renovations were going on and wondering how it would come together.

“When I first walked around those micropiles, it seemed so overwhelming and so massive,” Vause said. But she is glad that the architect and contractors were able to bring the school to where it needed to be for the students and the community.

In her two years at the school, Principal Stacey Briggs has seen the students and faculty enduring much during the renovation.

“There was a lot of pounding, a lot of moving, a lot of sacrifice,” Briggs said.

Part of the excitement for her has been helping to put the school back together, seeing old pieces of artwork coming out of closets to go back on the walls, and the reappearance of other treasures that had been put away.

Until the last month, Student Body President Morgan Jones had never been at the school when it wasn’t under construction, and she and the rest of the student body are soaking it in.

She said she thinks the students have gained a deeper understanding of gratitude for what the community has done, and that they take a great deal of pride in their school.

“We go to other schools for sports and other things, and we come back home and we know we are so blessed,” Jones said. They often hear comments from students from other schools about how pretty Ogden High is and Jones said she can’t help but feel pride and the need to take care of her school.

Jones said she loves the feeling of openness in the school now that there are no closed-off portions.

“It’s so bright, and when you go in the library and look out the windows at the mountains, it is really something,” Jones said.

The windows in the library are mentioned often by those who have already toured the school.

Briggs, who is from Utah County, is impressed with the community outpouring of support for the high school in all events, so she feels it is so important to give the community a glimpse of the school now.

“There are schools out there begging for community support. We already have that here. The alumni love this school so much,” Briggs said.“Now it is time for them to come and see what they have done.”

Vause agrees.

“Sometimes we think ‘bricks and mortar’ doesn’tmatter, but it does. The magnificence of that whole auditorium and that whole school makes for pride and self-esteem.”

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