Source: CVDaily Feed

Between the green house and the swimming pool at Mountain Crest High School is a statue of a young mustang rearing its front legs. Below that statue a plaque reads “DEFENDING THE TRADITION.” The sign, perhaps, has become more relevant this year than any other year at the school.

When Ridgeline High School siphoned off half the student body (and a significant number of teachers, administrators and coaches) into a new school with new facilities, it left some parents, students and administrators at Mountain Crest feeling left behind. MCHS Principal Teri Cutler recognizes that those feelings may exist, but she also says the split has created new opportunities at the 34-year-old high school.

“What it has done is it has created a lot more opportunities for kids to be involved,” she explains. “I see kids on sports teams that I know have tried out in the past and have not made the cut and now they are playing, and competing and doing very well.

“I think they are enjoying school and finding their place. That’s what we want to see, to see those students have opportunities and have success and get involved.”

Cutler says the research clearly indicates that a student’s success in school correlates extremely high to a student’s involvement in school. She says that with a smaller student body it has made it easier for teachers and administrators to get to know students on a much more personal level, and that matters.

Ridgeline isn’t the only high school to get some new stuff. The Hyrum school has been undergoing some upgrades of its own, including a new security system to improve student safety with multiple cameras located outside the building, new musical instruments, new signage throughout the school, and a fresh coat of paint on the school’s main entrance. They are also working on redeveloping the commons area, turning it into a learning lounge.

“We are sending that message to the Mountain Crest kids that, you know what, we’re okay, and you do matter to us,” Cutler exclaims with a smile. “We do have some plans and we want a place for you guys where you feel a sense of pride and know that you’re valued, that we’re looking out for you.”

The school has also received a significant amount of support from community members who want to defend Mountain Crest and keep it strong.

“We’ve had a lot of great members of the community who have stepped forward and helped with projects here. I can’t say enough about them. They don’t want to be named, they want to be anonymous.

“Literally, people have stepped up to the plate and wanted to do things for Mountain Crest because they graduated from here, they have a tie to the school, they have pride in the school and really want to keep those memories and traditions alive.”

Although the school has rich traditions that have been around for decades, Cutler says the school is also seizing the opportunity to create new ones. For the first time, a student and community event took place before school got started, called the Stang Start. It was an opportunity to meet new coaches and become familiar with the school.

Cutler says student body officers for the year also established the theme for 2016-17 to reflect a new attitude: “Like Never Before”.

“The school has been around for a long time and we have our traditions, but with this new configuration we want it to be like never before.”

Cutler says it’s important to communicate that message because half of the students are new this year. Mountain Crest has welcomed over 600 new students: the students who were freshmen last year at South Cache, in addition to this year’s incoming freshman class.

“It changes the dynamics because there is a maturity level that we have to adjust to in the high school,” Cutler says about adding the freshman class back into the high school. “But I think what a great opportunity for kids. I spent 16 years at South Cache. Trying to give those freshmen opportunities when they were not housed in the high school had some challenges.”

While the school lost a significant number of students to Ridgeline, Cutler says it has been positive to see many of those students showing up to lend support to their Mountain Crest friends, and visa versa.

“But some of those kids have talked to me after, and it’s a hard thing for them competing against their friends,” she continues. “But I think time will heal and it will ease those wounds. Hopefully, what we all find collectively, is that we support each other and have friendly competition. And I’m seeing that.”

When it was announced that the split would happen, Cutler says the district and administrations from both high schools worked together to ensure that the same classes would be made available at both Ridgeline and Mountain Crest, and that the best possible teachers would be found to help the students.

“When you go through a transitional change so huge that our district has gone through, I hope our parents and students will be patient and give these new staff members a chance because I think they are going to do phenomenal, great things.”