'Designed with the learner in mind': Farmington High School to open in August

Thursday , July 12, 2018 - 3:03 PM

FARMINGTON — After about three years in the making, Farmington High School is ready to welcome students this fall.

The school, which sits on almost 46 acres, uses learning suites, instead of traditional classrooms, and open areas for students to collaborate. Each learning suite has rooms of different sizes depending on each class’ needs.

Richard Swanson, the school principal, said Thursday morning in an press tour that the learning suites will allow students to work at their own pace. It will also allow teachers to to collaborate with one another.

“This will be the first fully comprehensive school in the state of Utah, that we are aware of, that is moving in this pace and this way,” Swanson said. “Part of the reason we are able to do that is because of this amazing building, and the way its been set and the way it’s been done.”

Swanson said the school has an optional senior class where students from Viewmont and Davis High School can choose to graduate from Farmington High School. He said about 200 students have already signed up to be part of this year’s senior class.

The cost of the construction of the project is $75,755,071.

Security is also an integral part of the new school. Two-hundred security cameras are installed in the building and, because of the design, each learning suite can be locked down and evacuated without students using the main hallway.

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“Before students come into the building, some of these great measures that have taken place through our architects, through outside firms that they brought in, through the cooperation of the police department, all of that will come together,” Swanson said.

Students and staff will be required to wear their school identifications at all times as part of the school safety plan. Staff and faculty will also have safety training before the students show up Aug. 22 for the first day of school.

Jeanne Jackson, VCBO Architecture principal, told the Standard-Examiner the school was designed to model a college environment.

“This school is totally different — it’s designed with the learner in mind,” Jackson said. “It’s designed to accommodate the new ideas in learning, including collaboration. It’s meant to engage young people.”

RELATED: Standard Deviations: Mayor should keep his office out of Farmington Phoenix mascot decision

Food will be served in each floor and there is a significant number of electrical plugs across the open spaces and classrooms. The school Wi-Fi, which will be across the whole building, is able to sustain up to five devices per person, Jackson said.

Teachers will not have an assigned classroom. Instead, each one of the 70 teachers employed in the school will have his or her own office where students can meet with them during or after school.

The school also has roof overhangs to shade windows against solar heat while providing outdoor learning spaces. The campus will also have bus canopies to protect buses and use photovoltaic panels to power most of the building.

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Farmington High School is part of a $298 million bond approved by voters in 2015.

Christopher Williams, Davis School District spokesman, said the construction was possible thanks to Davis County residents.

“When we went out for a bond in Nombember 2015, we let them know that the county is growing and it wasn’t hard to see homes popping all over the place,” Williams said. “Davis High School is the size of a junior college, Viewmont was overcrowded. We needed somewhere to put the students and the residents say, ‘Yeah, we agree,’ and that’s why it’s here.”

HOME OF THE PHOENIX

Earlier this year, the City of Farmington and Davis School Board had some discussions about the mascot chosen to represent the school, as Mayor Jim Talbot and some community members were concerned the word phoenix in plural — Phoenixes — could sound like “penises.”

The Standard-Examiner reported in January that Farmington Mayor Jim Talbot called the issue “embarrassing” and asked the Davis School Board to go with another mascot, asking them to ignore the vote of students at Viewmont and Davis High Schools who chose the phoenix as the new school’s mascot.

Swanson, the school’s principal, said the mythology says there is only one phoenix at a time and that “there is no such thing as a phoenixes.”

“We are bringing together different communities, we are coming together as one,” Swanson said. “We will go with the mythology that exists and we will rise together as the one community, the one school, the one phoenix. That’s what we intend to do with the student body.”

Contact education reporter Sergio Martínez-Beltrán at smartinezbeltran@standard.net or 801-625-4274. Follow him on Twitter @SergioMarBel and like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/STANDARDEXSergio.

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