HARRISVILLE -- Like its constellation namesake, Orion Junior High aims to be a shining star of learning and innovative teaching, says the school's proud principal.
"We've got great kids and a great staff," said Kirt Swalberg.
Built in 2003, the school has 44 teachers working with 946 students in grades seven through nine.
All of the school's endeavors are built around its motto of "Learn Today, Succeed Tomorrow," Swalberg said.
The school's core academic objectives center on mathematics and language arts. Among the school's math offerings are courses in algebra, geometry, probability and statistics.
Special emphasis is placed on teaching students how mathematics has real-world application, Swalberg said.
Orion Junior High typically finishes near the top in Weber School District core testing in science and language arts, he added.
The school's students also regularly participate in the National Academic League competition, which combines aspects of team sports with classroom skills such as problem solving and critical thinking.
In past competitions, the Orion team has reached the "elite eight" and has faced off against teams from California and Texas.
To help sharpen the minds of students, the school has also embraced cutting-edge classroom technology.
The school has four LCD projectors that allow teachers to share videos and PowerPoint presentations.
The school also uses document cameras, which have taken the place of overhead projectors. Documents can be placed under the camera and then shown on a screen via an LCD projector.
Smart boards are also being used in some cases to replace traditional blackboards, Swalberg said. The devices are like whiteboards but have computer technology that allows teachers to provide interactive lessons, he said.
When students aren't busy in the classroom, the school's library is a popular spot on campus.
"Our students are avid readers," Swalberg said.
The school also fields softball, volleyball, baseball, and boys and girls basketball and track teams.
Swalberg said he's grateful to be principal of Orion Junior High School because of its value to students and area residents.
"It's a great school in a great community. It's a great place to be."
Orion Junior High School
* LOCATION: 370 W. 2000 North, Harrisville
* COST: $12.4 million
* HISTORY: Opened in
* SIZE: 126,000 square feet
* STUDENT BODY: 946 in grades seven through nine
* STAFF: 86 teachers and support staff
* TIDBIT: Lots of windows provide spectacular views of Mount Ogden and Ben Lomond.