EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

West Lake Jr. High rebuilds after 2020 earthquake

Apr 19, 2024, 1:43 PM | Updated: Apr 23, 2024, 11:41 am

Students participate in the groundbreaking ceremony for the new West Lake Jr. High building in 2022...

Students turn over soil during the groundbreaking for West Lake STEM Junior High in West Valley City on Friday, March 18, 2022. (Mengshin Lin, Deseret News)

(Mengshin Lin, Deseret News)

WEST VALLEY, Utah – After being severely damaged in 2020, West Lake Jr. High is being rebuilt with earthquake safety in mind.

Following this year’s Great Utah Shakeout, in which more than 900,000 people participated, KSL’s Dave & Dujanovic spoke with Ben Horsley from Granite School District about earthquake safety in schools.

Related: Great Utah Shakeout: How to make your home earthquake-safe

West Lake Jr. High, which suffered extensive damage in the 2020 Magna earthquake, had to be completely rebuilt in order to meet modern seismic codes.

Horsley shared that many schools in the state are in need of better protection from tremors. He cited one major concern being the widespread use of masonry in school buildings.

The new junior high will implement steel reinforcement to protect itself during earthquakes.

“That’s the advantage that West Lake will have with this new build is that steel structure to withstand that type of event,” Horsley said.

Related: Higher-magnitude earthquake is coming to Utah, warns expert

Horsley also discussed the importance of personal readiness during emergencies. Practice and drills, although students often treat them lightly, could save their lives.

“I think it’s just putting that mental reminder,” Horsley said, “It’s like building muscle memory when you’re an athlete.”

Communication also plays an important role during emergencies, and Horsley shared how Granite School District is preparing in that regard.

“We’ve really tried to take that off our school’s responsibility,” Horsley said, “and as a district work on the notification piece and get that out.”

Granite School District has an emergency page that can quickly alert each of its schools during emergencies. That system also allows the district to notify families of students sooner than ever before.

The new West Lake Jr. High will open later this summer.

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West Lake Jr. High rebuilds after 2020 earthquake