A new year. A new home. A fresh look. There are a lot of changes in store for Butler Elementary.
Not only will students be attending classes in a new school building this fall, but when they enter the lobby for the first time, they’ll be greeted by a modernized version of their Bobcat logo. And if ever they need a little academic inspiration, they can pay a visit to the bronze bobcat statue perched in the main hall, which patrons commissioned from a local artist to serve as a reminder of the Butler’s 139-year history. “Our hope is that students can touch the Bobcat in passing as a reminder to work for good grades,” said Debbie Tyler, a member of the “Friends of Butler Elementary” committee that raised $9,500 to pay for the sculpture.
Students, their families and members of the community are invited to a sneak preview of the new Butler Elementary — and its new logo and statue — at a ribbon-cutting ceremony and Open House on Thursday, Aug. 18. A reception starts at 5:30 p.m., and the ceremony will begin promptly at 6 p.m.
First established in 1877, Butler Elementary has “a wonderful history and loyal following” of community members who are eager to see the inside of the new facility, which they’ve watched take shape over the past year, Tyler says. The rebuild was completed with proceeds from a $250 million bond that voters approved in June 2010.
Of the building’s features, most remarkable of all are its uninterrupted, 360-degree views of the mountain-rimmed Salt Lake Valley. West-facing classrooms look out upon the Oquirrh range, and east-facing rooms offer a close-up of the Wasatch. Look north and it’s possible to spot Mount Olympus. Gaze south and see just past the Point of the Mountain.
So it’s fitting that this latest addition to the Canyons District be themed around world-famous canyons. Each learning suite is designated by a color to correspond with renowned hikes in Utah (Buckskin Gulch), California (Kings Canyon), Hawaii (Waimea Canyon), Alaska (Keystone Canyon), Arizona (Antelope Canyon) and Texas (Palo Duro). “It helps with wayfinding. This way any child, no matter what age, can identify with the different areas of the building,” explains Alex Booth, one of the architects at VCBO.
The building, with its jutting stairwells that lead to a balcony overlooking the school’s cafeteria was designed to leave students with that top-of-the-world feeling — and artist David Jackson
hopes his statue does much the same. “I want kids to be able to walk around it and touch it so that they can relate to it and it becomes a special, cool thing at the school. It should be a way to help develop school pride; I envision kids taking pictures by it or even holding classroom discussions around it.”
Jackson has been working as a professional artist for more than 40 years. Known for his accurate depictions of wildlife and western landscapes, the Ogden native is often called upon to produce sculptures for colleges and universities. But he says the Butler project has special meaning for him. “I taught high school art for 27 years at Bonneville High in South Ogden,” he says. “And I used to do a lot of artist-in-residence work with elementary-age kids.”
Jackson’s interest in art began at a young age, and he says his parents recognized his talent and encouraged it. “That’s what good teachers do, whether they’re teaching art, English or math. They recognize kids who have a passion or a talent and look for ways to reinforce them.”
Perhaps the bobcat will inspire students to follow their passion. “I would say if something brings you joy,” says Jackson, “then pursue it, and practice, practice, practice.” DID YOU KNOW?
· Butler Elementary was first established in 1877
· With its rock base, the life-sized bronze bobcat weighs well over 500 pounds
· Since its inception in 2009, Canyons District has completed an average of two construction projects each year.