Construction Moves Ahead at Helper Middle School

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Carbon School District Press Release

While school continues to move toward the end of another year, construction on the new addition to Helper Middle School has ramped up over the last month, and the foundation for part of the building is already shaping up.

“We have moved along,” said Helper Middle School Principal Robert Bradley. “The old industrial arts building has come down and now the entire back parking lot is gone and construction is moving ahead. There just wasn’t room to stage any kind of construction without it being removed.”

Consequently, the art classes were moved from that building into the main building, with plenty of shuffling around.

“We moved the faculty room to an old storage area, the library down to the where the faculty room had been and then we moved the art students and supplies into where the library had been,” he explained. “Of course, we couldn’t fit the library collection into the smaller space, so part of that has been moved off site to a place where we can get to it if we need it.”

The overall construction plan calls for a new wing to be built behind the existing part of the structure that was erected during the 1930s. When that is done, the existing structure will be torn down to create parking and drop off areas for the students. The part of the building that was built in 1954, which consists of the gym, the band room and some other parts of the facility, will be renovated as part of the project.

The original plan called for the entire building’s structural integrity and mechanical systems to be renovated while classes were on going in the facility. Because of the vast work that would have had to have been done, there would not have been one room untouched. But, then the idea was presented to do a new addition instead, literally at the same cost that the original concept required.

However, the new endeavor created a different situation where large amounts of dirt and rock needed to be moved and rock crushed to create fill.

“The level in back of the existing building has been reduced for the footprint of the new addition,” said Bradley. “They had to dig out some of the hill to build a new retaining wall above the houses on Garden Avenue and a lot of dirt had to be moved to the top of Bryner Street temporarily for storage.”

A large rock crusher has been working at the north end of the school where the art building was to create the fill that will be needed behind the retaining wall, which will then be compacted when it is put in.

“The lot size has grown a little bit because of the road that needs to be built behind the building for service and fire access,” he said. “The crushing gives the material a decent compatible mix.”

While the dirt work is progressing, nothing else is standing still. The foundation for part of the building know as Area A has already been poured and there is activity there as crews continue further construction. The concrete floor for that section of the building will be done soon and the masonry for the walls will be going up.

“When the retaining wall is done and the fill compacted and put in, then they will start on Area B,” stated Bradley. “Right now, it is just a lot of dirt work and from the street you can’t really see a lot going on, but it is.“

The timeline for completion is that students and staff will move into the new part of the building in January of 2022 and then the old building will come down.

“A mid-year move; classes, lockers, the whole thing,” he said with emphasis. “It will be an interesting time. Schools generally don’t change and move at mid-year, so it will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But, this is way better than what we anticipated would have happened under the original renovation plan. The remodeling would have taken place while we were in the building. While there is a lot of noise and dust outside right now, it is so much better than having had that noise and dust in the hallways while classes were in session.”

There are things that will be saved from the old building, however. Bradley said that the plaques on the walls for the old building and the anticipation of possibly finding a time capsule in the labeled cornerstone of the present building is exciting. There is also a stained glass window in the building that will be preserved and used somewhere in the new facility.

School activities and operations continue on, however, and the school has been preparing for the track season. Students have been practicing a lot and have been doing some of that at Carbon High so they can get some experience with those surfaces and facilities. Some of that is being done jointly with Mont Harmon Middle School. Through the first part of May, there will be meets connected with the Castle Valley Athletic Association.

“We are also looking toward our end-of-year send off, which last year was a drive through event,” said Bradley. “This year, we are planning an event that will be in person. So, on May 26, we will be sending off our eighth graders to Carbon High.”

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