Major changes coming to Salt Lake City’s West High School

SALT LAKE CITY – Change is coming to Utah’s oldest public high school.

Feasibility studies for West High School have been ongoing for months, and the Salt Lake City School District has narrowed them down to four options for the school’s future.

Carlton Christensen graduated from West High School in 1984, one of his two children also attended West High, and he served on the Salt Lake City Council when the school was originally in his parish. Christensen says while many things have changed since he walked the halls, the spirit of the school has remained the same.

“The camaraderie of how the students interact with each other is a really familiar place,” he said. “They look a lot younger than they did when I was there, but watching them is one of the fun things about driving down 300 West – you can see the students interacting with each other.”

West High is Utah’s oldest public high school and one of the most diverse schools in the state. Christensen says diversity was just one of the things he and his seven older siblings thought made school great.

“One of the things we really appreciate about West is that everyone has been accepted regardless of their socioeconomic status,” he said. “There were a lot of genuine friendships — how they saw you as a friend versus where you might be on the economic spectrum.”

After a century, West High is likely to be rebuilt or renovated as part of four options presented during the West High Feasibility Meeting on January 18th.

The suggested options are:

  1. preservation of the main building
  2. Only the facade of the main building has been preserved
  3. A new school in the south with only the main entrance remaining
  4. A new school in the east demolishing existing buildings

“It’s obviously a weave of the historical development of the west side of Salt Lake, and there aren’t many historical structures left that tell the story of this area,” Carlton said.

Christensen is one of many worried about the community losing another chunk of its urban fabric, but he recognizes how these renovations could benefit students.

“One of the benefits that could come is a more secure structure, seismic needs to say the least, but certainly additional teaching opportunities and resources there. If you look at the new high schools across the state, they’re pretty massive,” Christensen said.

He hopes policymakers will also consider that urban high schools have different needs than their suburban counterparts.

“There’s a longer cost to how families are accessing the resources there, how they’re attending after-school events… To move far from an urban model of that, I think, would be a real setback from what we as a community expect for that, a.” city ​​high school,” Christensen said.

No matter what’s next for West High, Christensen hopes the same school spirit he felt in 1984 lingers.

“I think it’s a valuable campus that I don’t want to lose in the heart of the West Side community just to build a new building,” Christensen said.

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