Salt Lake City, UT, Oct 26, 2010 -- Blue Skies and excitement in the air was the setting for the recent celebration of dedicating three new classroom buildings at Soldier Hollow Charter School (SHCS), in Midway. The new buildings were designed to fit perfectly into the stunning mountain terrain overlooking Soldier Hollow Cross County Ski Trails and adjacent to the leased Olympic Timing Building which houses the original charter school. The school is recognized for its unique learning environment for K-8th grades.
In early 2007 the SHCS Board started investigating ways to expand the school, as the existing space was limited to about 150 students, and not ideally suited to different learning situations.
At the time the board was facing several challenges in expanding, and did not have a lot of great options. The school sits on State Park land and leases the Olympic Building which prohibited them from adding classrooms to the existing building, or building any permanent structures on State land. The SHCS Board came up with an idea and proposed to build three multi-use modular classroom buildings with large decks. The new buildings would give the school room to grow comfortably to about 250 students.
Chris Willis. SHCS Board President stated, “With everyone on board, the big issue was financing. Unfortunately, global economic crisis hit with full force at that time making lending options scarce. Despite the school’s strong financial history, we had been turned down by at least 20 local and national banks, credit unions, and even several lenders that specialized in charter schools.” That’s when USDA Rural Development lent a helping hand with a Community Facility Direct Loan. Without USDA, this project could not have happened as we envisioned it.” With financing obtained, the project went into construction.
“The USDA Rural Development loan was a lifesaver for our project,” said Kimberly Gilboy, SHCS Board Member, and Project Manager. “We’ve been thrilled to see federal stimulus money filtering down to our community. This project put numerous people back to work. I think there were at least 100 construction professionals who worked on various aspects of our buildings.”
The Dedication program started off with a Flag presentation from Dave Conine, State Director for USDA Rural Development in Utah. Mr. Conine presented the flag to the “Green Student Council members,” who in turn posted the colors on the new building. Then the Pledge of Allegiance was
recited by all. The second and third grade school choir sang “Hope of America,” and “I Love America.” A new catchy tune was composed and sung for the occasion by one of the Mom’s, Jeanie Logan. The “Soldier Hollow Conservation Song” reminds us how important it is to “Lend a hand” in protecting nature’s environment. The school’s theme for the year is “Conservation,” students will have many opportunities throughout the year to explore several themes of conservations with field trips, speakers, special activities and contests.
Several partners spoke during the ceremony and were given appreciation plaques for being patient and helpful every step of the way, and for many hours of hard work. Thousands of dollars and an enormous amount of time have been donated throughout the project.
Chuck Weber, School Principal gave remarks honoring students and their 18 teachers. He concluded by saying, “I am so proud to be part of this school. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t brag about you in some way. So my dedication of these buildings is to you, and to your teachers that the spirit of loving to learn will always be important in your lives. And by sharing that spirit with others, our school will always keep going, long after all of us have left Soldier Hollow.“
Mr. Conine, State Director from USDA Rural Development, congratulated all those involved that made this happen. “I can’t think of any better way to invest our tax dollars than in our Education system. You young people are the hope of our nation and education makes that happen.”
For information on programs offered by USDA Rural Development in rural Utah, call 801-524-4324. You can also stop by one of Utah’s eight state/local offices, or visit our website www.rurdev.usda.gov/ut.