School buildings have come a long way since the days of one-room schoolhouses.
However, the objective remains the same -- learning comes first within the walls of each of the 86 schools within the Davis School District. In fact, today's schools are built to provide a better educational environment.
In the early 1900s, Davis County began looking at a consolidated local school district. With that movement, there was also a push to convert from one-room schoolhouses to larger schools where students could be separated by grades.
Stoker Elementary, which still stands at 70 E. 200 South, Bountiful, was one of the first schools to separate students out into classrooms. Built around 1904, it now serves as an extension campus for the University of Utah.
Classrooms were heated by potbellied stoves. And in those early days of grade schools, most were two-story brick buildings with just eight classrooms in each.
When the district was formed there were also three small high schools -- located in Bountiful, Kaysville and Syracuse -- with 110 students split between them. As part of the consolidation, a central high school was established in Kaysville and offered a four-year course. Junior highs were established in the north and south ends of the county.
Today's schools are much bigger in comparison to those early years in the district. High schools today house from 1,300 to 2,000 students. Junior highs range from 600 to 1,300 students and elementary schools serve populations as small as 350 students up to nearly 1,000 students.
Bryan Turner, Davis School District director of architectural and construction services, said the national trend is to build smaller schools. However, because the district grows by nearly 900 new students a year, schools must be large, but are designed to have a smaller feel to them.
"In our elementaries, that's why we have those wings of classrooms with community space in between," Turner said. "It helps the student not feel real intimidated."
Several elementary schools have been designed around the elementary prototype adopted in 1997. Currently, a new prototype is being developed to help guide the building of elementary schools in the future.
Junior high schools have undergone a similar change in design. West Point, Legacy and the newest junior high -- Centennial -- are built from a prototype designed around academic houses. The idea, Turner said, is to make the big junior high not seem quite so big for students entering from elementary. As each junior high has been built, the design has been tweaked slightly to better serve students in the future.
"When we did the prototypes ... Superintendent Dr. W. Bryan Bowles really wanted it to be an exciting place where kids want to go to learn," Turner said. "We try to make the entry inviting, so it pulls you in."
Another common feature in newer schools is color. Gone is the thought that school classrooms must be painted with dull colors. In fact, studies show a good choice of color can stimulate learning.
Turner said the district also tries to put a window or skylight in every classroom to provide natural light, which also increases test scores.
The building itself also becomes a learning tool, with a design that includes quotations on the walls and glass.
New schools are not the only ones getting special attention. Older schools are constantly being upgraded. Lighting changes are made and wiring for technology and air conditioning is added. Additionally, some older schools have just one room for the gym/cafeteria/activity room. Many renovations include a separate cafeteria and gym.
Sometimes a school is just too old to upgrade. Wasatch Elementary is currently the oldest building in the district. It will be demolished in the fall of 2012. Construction of the new school is already underway on an adjacent piece of property.
What does the future hold? Turner said it may be bigger classrooms where teachers can design spaces for different subjects. And technology will definitely be integral in the classroom design.
The district welcomes the community to visit its newest school -- Centennial Junior High -- on Aug. 17. A ribbon cutting will take place at 5:30 p.m. followed by an open house from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Shauna Lund is the communication specialist for the Davis School District. The district was formed on July 17, 1911. For more about the Centennial Celebration, go to www.davis.k12.ut.us/dsd/centennial