Hildale Phelps Elementary school started off its second day of its second school year August 17, by nearly doubling in enrollment.
The school was closed down for nearly 14 years after Warren Jeffs, the leader of the FLDS church at the time, ordered his followers to disallow their kids to attend public school. As a result, the surrounding community suffered and the school which served around 400 students closed, leaving an entire generation without a public education system.
A year and a half ago members of community, none of them active FLDS members, approached Superintendent Larry Bergeson of Water Canyon School District, with the intention of reopening the school.
After a year of hard work getting the school up to standards principal, of Hildale Phelps Elementary school Darrin Thomas said, as of the end of the first day of school, there are 293 students enrolled.
“The community has needed this for sometime and they have responded back,” Thomas said. “The way they are responding back is by sending their children to our school and that is the good thing for us to have confidence from our community.”
Thomas said there are challenges when it comes to educating kids who, for the most part, have never been to a public school. The students have regular interventions where they work on raising their grades.
“Just them being in the school building says a lot and they’re ready to move forward,” Thomas said.
The district plans on opening a new school for grades 7-12 in the coming year. Thomas said he anticipates the new high school to become registered as a 1-A school and will have a boys and girls basketball team, and a wrestling team.