Midvalley still looking good at 60
Jun 18, 2018 03:54PM
● By Julie Slama
Principal Tamra Baker, with Shasta by her side, has the unveiling of the new Midvalley mascot showcased at the Midvalley 60th anniversary and cultural night. (Julie Slama/City Journals)
By Julie Slama | [email protected]
If someone wants to know about Midvalley Elementary, just ask Jim Sheeley. As head custodian for the past 35 years, he knows a thing or two about operating the school.
If someone wants to know about the Midvalley’s instruction and activities through those years, talk to Joyce Bedont, a retired teacher who hasn’t left the beloved school as she has substituted, advised student council and most recently, planned the school’s anniversary celebration.
As usual, these two long-term dedicated individuals ensured Midvalley’s 60th anniversary, that was coupled with culture night, ran smoothly — right down to last-minute items of getting some zip ties to mount the newly unveiled logo banner on the school fence and retrieving an extra extension cord for the music that was played as each grade twirled and spun to a different country’s traditional dance.
Leading up to the May 30 event, which attracted neighbors as well as current and former students, teachers and principals, students in each grade learned and practiced their dance that was performed between raindrops outside on the pavement.
Aimee Fisher’s second-grade daughter, Lila, was part of a line dance to “Cotton-Eye Joe,” and her fifth-grader, Lola, performed “The Hustle” with her grade.
Although Fisher has been pleased with the school, her family was looking forward to a new school with air conditioning, more computers and additional playground equipment, which could be part of the plan as the community approved a $283 million tax-neutral bond to modernize and upgrade Canyons School District schools, including rebuilding Midvalley Elementary School.
That being the case, the celebration indirectly was, in a way, a farewell.
District officials haven’t yet determined the date to break ground for the new school, said Canyons Board of Education member Mont Millerberg, who had five of his six children attend the school and currently has a grandson, kindergartner Calvin Millerberg, attending Midvalley.
Millerberg saw Calvin take part in a traditional Mexican dance with his grade, along with his son, Cordell, who attended Midvalley in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
“The portables in the back are gone, as is the playground that was here when I was in kindergarten,” he said. “I saw Mrs. (Carrolyn) McCann’s bench (a buddy bench placed in the playground 2016 in honor of the former third-grade teacher) and said hi to my first-grade teacher Mrs. Bedont, who is a friend for life.”
Bedont, who has worked at the school under seven of the school’s 12 principals, was looking through some school memory books she retrieved from behind the school stage.
“They were dusty, even after we had gotten them out 10 years ago for our 50th,” she said, then pointed out how hairstyles and clothing changed in the books through the years. “Watch how my hair changes from strawberry blonde hair (in the 1966 yearbook) to how it looks (silvery white) today. I taught for 35 years and have loved being around children, watching them learn.”
Families took a break from looking at the yearbooks to eat birthday cake and mingle with former principals, including the most recent, Jeff Nalwalker, who now is Butler Elementary’s principal.
“It’s fun to be back,” he said. “I love these kids and all the diversity this school offers. There always was some fun in amongst the learning here.”
Some moments of fun are what former Midvalley first-grade teacher Stephanie Cobabe and her former Midvalley daughter, now recent Hillcrest High School graduate, Grace, recalled when they came to the anniversary celebration.
Grace said one of her favorite memories was making root beer in fifth grade as part of an end-of-the-year science project.
Her mother had another one.
“Grace had a broken foot, so she had a scooter to get around school, and Mr. Nalwalker took it from her and raced it down the hall,” Stephanie Cobabe laughed. “We’ve appreciated that this always has been a community school, with huge numbers of families coming to support activities.”
Current Principal Tamra Baker said this event fell in line with other large turnouts.
“We anticipate it will be the last big 0-ending birthday celebration here at this school, so we thought it would be fun to combine it with our community tradition of culture night,” Baker said. “A lot of members of our community have been excited to see former teachers and principals and we also are gearing up for the changes ahead.”
Part of the new vision for the school included the unveiling of the new logo of Shasta, Midvalley’s junior Husky, that was designed by Canyons School District graphic designer Jeff Olson.
“I gave it a more modern and realistic look and hope it will last the Junior Huskies another 60 years,” he said.
Baker, who has been meeting regularly with community members to get a vision for the new school, likens it to before 1958, when “those community members sat around a table and dreamed what this school would be like.”
Although some things have changed with time, she said. For example, in the school’s second year, Baker said according to school mimeographs, deer hides were salted and brought to Midvalley after the fall break to sell as a schoolwide fundraiser.
“I don’t see that happening anymore,” she laughed.
The school has undergone some change through the years, including constructing a third- and fourth-grade wing in the 1970s and, in the 1980s, putting in seven classrooms that now house second grade, Head Start, a computer lab, Brain Boosters room and the copy room.
“There has been a lot of change, but through it all, it has been a very child-centered school,” Baker said.
Although the infrastructure has been in place since the 1980s, other parts of the school have changed, said the head custodian, who between him, George James and Marvin Burton, have been the three who have serviced the school since it opened[JM1] .
Sheeley, who had watered the saplings in front of the school entrance with a 5-gallon bucket since there were no sprinklers, has watched them grow into mature trees — as well as acknowledged there now is a sprinkler system. He has constantly fought rusted galvanized pipes, refinished floors removing “20 years of built-up wax” until carpeting went in and nursed the “Great Dragon,” a nickname given to the school’s boiler, until it finally quit in 2015.
“We’ve had steam and water leaks, replaced tile, dealt with asbestos and even found a tin can of crackers dated back to 1965 in the bomb shelter,” he said. “I’ve been here through earthquakes, and she moans a little, but she doesn’t shake. This building is like a good ol’ friend.”
Co-worker Rick Balser said Sheeley “knows every brick in the building.”
Still, even though he can make about everything work smoothly in the building — and claims it can last another 10 years—his favorite part isn’t the school, but it is interacting with the students.
“I was recently in Head Start and was taking part in show and tell,” Sheeley said. “I showed them some tools and my keys and told them they could help take care of the school by picking up after themselves. I thought that was it; then they sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to me, and that got me. This is a great school.”