Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

August 20, 2019
Back to School

114-year-old Vernon Elementary greets students for the last time 

Monday morning marked the end of summer vacation for over 16,000 students in the Tooele County School District.

In Vernon, 21 first- through sixth-grade students showed up for the first day of school. A class of six kindergarten students, all boys, will join them next Monday.

This should be the last first day of school for the Vernon Elementary school building, according to Steve West, the school district’s director of operations.

The school district will soon release a request for bids to build a new Vernon Elementary just 20 feet north of the current building, he said.

If all goes according to plans, when next year’s students return for their first day of school, they will be greeted by a new school building.

Students at Vernon Elementary started showing up as early as 7:30 a.m. Monday. They hung their backpacks on hooks in the hallway. Some students ate lunch in the school’s multipurpose room.

When it was time for school to start, the students helped ring the bell by pulling the bell cord in the school’s entryway. 

The students then filed outside, formed an orderly line and respectfully watched as a student raised the U.S. flag on the school’s flagpole.

After the flag was flying, the students recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

The students then spelled out the school’s mascot, an eagle, using their arms and bodies. When finished, they used the letters of “Eagles” to recite the school motto: Ever accountable, generous, loyal, energetic scholars.

Lead teacher Jalynn Livingston — the kindergarten-second-grade teacher — and fourth- through sixth-grade teacher Matthew Milam, walked the students around to the playground at the south end of the building and reviewed the playground rules.

“Play fair and share equipment and space,” Livingston said. “And if you bring equipment out, then you are responsible to bring it back in.”

The students then went inside to the multipurpose room and reviewed other school rules and procedures for lunch, emergency procedures, and walking safely to and from school.

Livingston also talked about bullying.

After the review of school rules and procedures, the students headed for their classrooms to get their school day underway.

Jeff Wyatt, Vernon Elementary principal, was on hand for the first day of school. Vernon Elementary shares Wyatt with Dugway School.

Vernon Elementary has three classrooms, a multipurpose room, restrooms, and a teacher work area. A portable behind the building is used as a library. The manually stoked, coal-fired furnace that heats the building during winter, sits in the basement.

The Tooele County School District was organized in 1915, according to “History of Tooele County Volume II.” Part of Vernon Elementary predates the school district by 10 years.

About one-fourth of the current building, including the bell tower, dates back to 1905. The remainder of the school was added when the building was remodeled in 1929. That was the same year the school district lifted its ban hiring married women as teachers.

The new Vernon Elementary will be 8,300 square-feet — about 30% larger than the current building, not including the portable.

Aside from parts of the building being 114 years old, Vernon Elementary needs a seismic upgrade including reinforcing the bell tower, restrooms and playground equipment need to be brought up to American with Disability Act requirements, the school’sxlighting needs to be upgraded, the coal furnace needs to be replaced, exterior masonry needs repair, the attic needs insulation, and the irrigation system needs to be upgraded, according to the school district’s facilities report.

When completed, the new Vernon Elementary will have state-of-the-art security features and all of the latest instructional technology, giving teachers and students in Vernon the same resources as are available in other elementary schools in the school district.

Plans for the new building will preserve some history, according to West. 

The bell from the top of the current Vernon Elementary will be saved and placed on top of the sign for the new school. The new school has been designed with a non-functional bell tower like structure, giving the building a similar historic country schoolhouse silhouette as the current building.


Tim Gillie

Editor at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Tim has been writing for the Transcript Bulletin since October 2017. In February 2019 he was named as editor. In addition to being editor, Tim continues to write about Tooele County government, education, business, real estate, housing, politics and the state Legislature.A native of Washington state and a graduate of Central Washington University, Tim became a journalist after a 20 year career with the Boy Scouts of America.

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