CLEARFIELD -- The city enjoyed a dual ribbon-cutting ceremony this week with the official opening of the newly constructed building on Center Street that will house Wasatch Elementary School and United Way of Salt Lake's Davis Community Learning Center.
Before moving into the brand-new building, the learning center was in a portable in the parking lot next to the former Wasatch Elementary building for the last several years. The new building was finished just in time for the first day of school earlier this month.
Having the learning center right on site is a major help for the community and the students attending the school.
"This is the best thing to happen in Davis County in the last 100 years," said Merri Ann Perkins, the center coordinator.
Some of the services offered at the community center are mentors for students, mental health counselors, reduced-cost immunizations, free tax preparation, after-school programs and English classes.
In years past, many of the services offered by the community center competed against one another for grants, Perkins said. Now they have joined forces and are working as a team, so they are able to make use of their funds more efficiently.
Additionally, having the center on site allows teachers to get advice from the counselors at the center or consult with any of the other community service people at the center, allowing students and families to get immediate help rather than waiting for time-consuming phone calls.
"It is a better service for individuals having it right on site for this school," Perkins said, though the center's services are available for anyone in the community.
The learning center is one of 22 that have been opened by United Way of Salt Lake. Other centers are in Salt Lake City, Kearns, West Valley City and Park City.
"United Way of Salt Lake believes that to build stronger communities, we have to work together," said Deborah Bayle, president and CEO of United Way of Salt Lake. "We are so excited about our partnership in Clearfield, the new building and Community Learning Center and the new opportunities it will bring to the students, their families, and the broader community."
Community members were excited to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony and see the new facilities. Kari Ebarb, of Clearfield, has seen the impact the community learning center has had on her family, with her children attending the after-school program in recent years.
"I think the program allows the kids to expand and better themselves and take better care of their families if they don't have the resources," Ebarb said.
Wasatch Elementary Principal Janet Sumner said she has already seen a positive impact on the students with the community center. "They come into this new center and it feels like a place to learn. We are thrilled with what this new building will offer our students," she said. "I see them respecting the new building and getting excited by everything around them."
Superintendent Bryan Bowles said the new building is the first school in Utah where the majority of the lighting is LED, which will save taxpayers money over the years. During the ceremony, he also talked about how each person coming into the school and learning center will bring their own uniqueness, adding to the spirit of the building. Bowles said:
"Each one of us helps bring an individual color and personality to this school -- working together in a community to make a beautiful partnership and uniting together to make it work."