KAYSVILLE — Beloved by its students, Mountain High School now has a building that matches the quality of the institution — and the way students feel about the school.
Mountain has a 96% graduation rate, according to its website — unusually high for an alternative high school. The school serves about 175 students who have been referred to the school from other high schools in Davis School District when they have fallen behind in credits.
Students have been attending classes in their new building since the beginning of the school year, but they just got to share their new space with the community at an open house Wednesday evening.
The building was funded by a bond approved by voters in 2015.
Prior to having these new facilities, the school had been composed of several portable classrooms and a central building with a library, administrative offices and large multipurpose space — which is used as gym, cafeteria and activity center.
Now, the portables are gone school now has two wings branching off the central building. The feature that first stands out is the flood of natural light in common areas and classrooms.
Each wing has two floors and hallways that are wide enough to have seating areas of comfy chairs in the center.
The new structure has classrooms, as well as several labs, including a certified nursing assistant lab, a cooking lab and a science lab.
Despite being sleek and modern — with glass walls between the classrooms and hallways — the design of the interior feels relaxed and warm.
The space allows teachers to send individual students or groups out into the hallway to work on projects while having something else going on inside the classroom.
These features are intentional — the result of conversations between the architects and the school’s students and teachers.
“The students were more about feelings,” said Scott Later, architect with MHTN architects who worked on the building, “and I think one of the results of that was probably the Zen garden ... just a contemplative space that somebody can walk outside and can say, ‘Hey, I can breathe for a minute, go back to my classes.’”
Teachers wanted more storage. Having been in portables, the also “just wanted to feel like they’re connected to their colleagues,” Later said.
That desire for connection is one of the reasons for the glass walls, Later said.
There’s no one feature that Principal Greg Wuthrich is excited about.
“I’m most excited about the facility as a whole,” said the principal. “We have updated, state-of-the-art real ... labs, whereas before, these labs were done in portables.”
“I think (the new building) helps kids want to come more and to thrive here,” said Zoe Ames, a senior at Mountain. “I feel like we feel the other high schools are superior because they’re bigger and they’re nicer and ... last year, we just had portables. ... It’s nice to feel that we’re up to that level now.”
Ames said the new building makes her feel even more proud of her school — which is saying something.
“It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, coming here,” Ames said. “I have learned so much and have been able to succeed, and I’ve met a lot of really cool people here.”
Her boyfriend, Jake Arguile, graduated from Mountain in 2019, before he could enjoy the new addition.
“I think (the school is) the only reason I graduated,” Arguile said. “I think I would have just dropped out and given up. The teachers actually care about you ... you feel a lot more valued here.”
“Every teacher knows your name,” Ames said. “The principals know your name. It’s been nice to have that.”