LAYTON — At Shoreline Junior High’s back-to-school night Thursday, students weren’t just getting to know their new class schedules — they were exploring a brand new building that’s opening this school year.

Student body officers did the honors of cutting the ribbon at a short program before the traditional back-to-school night, where students went from class to class to meet their teachers.

Layton city officials, Davis School District administrators, school staff and district board members attended the event.

Todd Farnsworth and Taylor Snow, both entering as ninth graders at Shoreline, quickly made themselves at home in a nook with “idea boxes,” cubbies within the nook just big enough for a young teen to fit — and read a book, check their phone or study.

Both Farnsworth and Snow said they’re looking forward to starting at the new school.

“It’s exciting,” Farnsworth said. “I really like the library.”

Farnsworth said his favorite features of the library are more idea boxes and a window seat. Both Farnsworth and Snow said they thought they’d read more because of these features.

The building has other features that haven’t existed in schools until recently.

In the two-story common area, visitors can see second-floor rooms with tables that groups can use for collaboration, and the spaces look similar to rooms at recently built Farmington High School.

“The idea is really to collaborate, to get students working together on different projects and learning those essential skills,” said Shoreline Principal T.J. Barker. “When we look at 21st century skills ... you think, ‘Hey, it’s all about math, science, engineering,’ and those those skills are important. But even if you go to the STEM standards, half of those are soft skills, so it’s about teamwork. It’s about collaboration. It’s about getting along and grit.”

The classrooms are also organized around small common areas called learning suites, which also foster collaboration. Each suite has an emergency exit and can be locked down with fire doors in the event of an intruder or other emergency.

The common area near the main entrance doubles as a cafeteria and auditorium, making better use of space that often sits empty.

Even though it’s a multi-purpose space, the common area still has a full stage and curtains.

The school also has a gym larger than it might have had were it not for a partnership between Davis School District and Layton.

The partnership started about 20 years ago, said Alex Jensen, city manager for Layton.

At the time, the city was looking at building a gym for its recreation program and the school district was discussing doing some renovations and building a gym at Central Davis Junior High.

“It didn’t make any sense for the school district to build the gym with the junior high and the city to build a gym, when we could build one together share the costs, save the taxpayers a lot of money,” Jensen said.

The partnership works well because the city and the school need the gyms at different times, Jensen said. The city has access to the gyms in the early morning, the school uses it during the school day and the city uses it again in the evening — as well as throughout the summer.

The city contributed slightly less than $4 million to the construction of the gym at Shoreline, Jensen said. It’s the third school gym that the city and the district have partnered to build, after Central Davis and Legacy Junior High.

The new Shoreline building cost $39,670,000, according to a handout at the event. It sits on 22.65 acres in southwest Layton and has a student capacity of 1,400.

“Just this project took three years,” said Brian Peterson, architectural project manager with VCBO Architecture, the firm that designed the school. “As part of the design team, we poor ourselves into it ... It’s very gratifying — very gratifying — to see students finally using it ... and young people turning into really cool people because of the space that we have designed and created.”

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