Layton High students forge on despite remodeling all around them

Aug 28 2011 - 9:53am

Images

(ANTHONY SOUFFLE/Standard-Examiner) Layton High School, which was built in 1966, is in the midst of a renovation project.
(ANTHONY SOUFFLE/Standard-Examiner) A student wearing a T-shirt reading “EAT MY DUST!” walks down the hallway at Layton High School last school year. The ceiling had been removed as part of the renovation project at the school.
(NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner) Debris is piled outside at Layton High School in May during school remodeling.
(ANTHONY SOUFFLE/Standard-Examiner) Layton High School, which was built in 1966, is in the midst of a renovation project.
(ANTHONY SOUFFLE/Standard-Examiner) A student wearing a T-shirt reading “EAT MY DUST!” walks down the hallway at Layton High School last school year. The ceiling had been removed as part of the renovation project at the school.
(NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner) Debris is piled outside at Layton High School in May during school remodeling.

LAYTON -- The $23 million remodel and expansion of Layton High School in response to projected student growth over the next 30 years will add natural light and amenities.

The work, most of which is being paid from a 2009 voter-approved Davis School District $250 million bond issue, will add 20 classrooms, expand the commons area, add a new media center, remodel and expand the Little Theater and create a new, more school-centralized cafeteria, said Shauna Lund, community relations specialist for Davis School District.

In addition to the 15,000 square feet of interior space being added to the school, the two-phase project -- set for completion in July -- includes improved landscaping for the school, along with a reconfiguration of its parking lot to add 50 slots.

The work will also have added administrative offices, a counseling center, a renovated day care with room for 32 children and fire-suppression sprinklers throughout the school to bring it up to building code standards.

The upgrades are designed to extend the life of the school and are now about 65 percent completed, officials say.

"The addition is needed at Layton High to accommodate the high percentage of growth it will be experiencing the next few years," Lund has said.

Enrollment increased by about 100 students from the 2009-10 school year to the 2010-11 school year, giving the school a student population of about 1,750.

In the next several years, Layton High is projected to add 250 students to its student body, officials say.

To keep pace with growth, the renovation more than doubled the size of the school's Little Theater, taking it from a 72-seat flat-floor theater to a 150-seat step-rise theater, and expanded the media center from about 4,500 square feet to 10,000 square feet.

Library Media Teacher Fawn Morgan said the renovation added windows to let in natural light, transforming the library from what was a cavelike atmosphere to a popular place of learning.

Principal Ryck Astle said the changes eliminate the need for most of the portable classrooms and provide a more inviting environment.

The expanded commons area will also give students the space they need "to meet and mingle and to be together," he said.

"To me, it is just a lot about environment and helping kids feel this is the place to be. I'm guessing this building will be something we will be enjoying for a long time."

The hope is that the cafeteria and commons area will be completed soon, seeing as school started Monday, Astle said.

"That is one of the downers. There is just nowhere for (the students) to go (right now)," he said of the renovation work.

Theater instructor Dennis Ferrin, who has been at the school for 35 years, said the changes being made to the building give students room and the latest conveniences they may need.

At one time, district officials had discussed demolishing Layton High and building a new school, but no land was available, "so it has been a whole lot of retrofitting," Ferrin said.

Leveling the school would have also taken from the history of the building, set near Layton Commons Park and the Kenley Centennial Amphitheater, both of which the students use.

"It's got one of the most beautiful campuses in the district, but when you went inside, it was horrible," Gary Payne, administrator of facilities, management and planning for the school district, said of Layton High.

He said the school had few windows and a small cafeteria stuck in a corner where there couldn't be supervision.

"The layout of the school was problematic for administration," he said.

Bryan Turner, director of school district architectural services, said it is less expensive to invest $23 million in the 45-year-old Layton High and have it last another 30 years than to spend $70 million to build a new high school of the same size.

When he first came to Layton High, there were about 1,650 students, Ferrin said. Enrollment reached 2,300 students before Northridge High, also in Layton, opened in 1998.

When Northridge opened, enrollment at Layton High fell to about 1,600 students, Ferrin said, but for the last few years, enrollment has again been growing.

Layton High School

*  LOCATION: 440 Lancer Lane
*  COST: Price tag of current remodeling project is $23 million
*  HISTORY: Built in 1966. Additions were added in 1967 and '68, and the school is currently in the middle of a remodel and expansion due to be completed by December.
*  SIZE: 322,423 square feet with completion of current remodel project
*  STUDENT BODY: Estimated at 1,750
*  STAFF: 130
*  TIDBIT: Home to a 150-seat step-rise Little Theater

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