On July 11, 2005, a six-alarm fire destroyed Wasatch Junior High. More than 100 firefighters fought the fire, along with six to eight fire trucks. At 12:30 the fire alarm went off and the principal discovered that the source of the fire was an old computer server in the media center. The fire quickly spread to the attic, making what was a three-alarm fire, a six-alarm. The fire what so powerful and forceful that firefighters had to fight it from the outside, without risking their lives inside. Wasatch Principal , Doug Bingham said, "It's just a building, but a building is a place where people are invested in each other's lives, and this one is toast. After this tragic event, the Granite District has accepted 15.9 million dollar settlement to rebuild Wasatch. Its proposed time for the full reconstruction of the building is the fall of 2008.
After the 6-alarm fire, the Granite School District decided to build a new Wasatch Junior High, but in that time, Wasatch students needed to share a facility with Churchill Junior High. The faculty and staff in Wasatch Junior High had 2 months to prepare for the next school year, building their teaching materials from scratch. The staff worked hard, trying to rearrange classroom assignments, bring in new portable classrooms, change class times, and renew teachers' materials. "It was kind of like a death when you don't get a chance to grieve -- we just had to put everything aside and just get the work done," said Sam McBride, Spanish teacher. "It went amazingly smoothly. There were a lot of things that they had to give up; the rooms and accommodations, and they were very gracious in doing that," Mr. McBride said. What was a 700 student school, turned into a crowded 1,600 student school as Wasatch students moved in. The big challenge was sharing playing fields and stages for sports and performances; stages had to be scheduled in different times so both schools would have an equal amount of time practicing for certain plays. The field had to be split into 4 sections, each for either PE, or for after-lunch social time. Although Wasatch and Churchill still have a tense rival between each other, they have started to cooperate with the situation. In the fall of 2008, the new Wasatch Junior High building will be open for the school year.
Wasatch has many advanced classes; Mr. Bingham, Principal of Wasatch Jr. High School, said "Most students come because of the academics. Wasatch offers the Gifted and Talented program for Science, English, and Social Studies classes. The school is very welcoming and it just has a good feeling." In addition Drama for beginning, intermediate, and advanced classes are offered; Concert Band, Concert Orchestra and Jazz Ensemble are also offered, and have gotten superior ratings for the past 21 years at all music festivals.
Wasatch is ranked as one of the highest schools in the state in education; According to U-Pass test scores, In 2005 Wasatch tested highest in the state on the Iowa Basic Test for the 8th grade; in addition, Wasatch CRT scores are also above the state average; in 2006, 9th grade students tested 97% in language arts, 97% in geometry, and 95% in biology, while the states averages were 81% for language arts, 70% in geometry, and 66% in biology.
Wasatch has a plethora of extra-curricular activities. It has many clubs such as Academic games (which in the 2007 season has made it to the national final), Chess Club, Community of Caring, Cheerleading, Debate Club, Math Counts, Spanish Club, Student Body Officers, and more.
Year after year, Dodge's musicals turn out large crowds on three performing nights, with a cast of well over a hundred. The success of these musicals are not without sacrifice, however. Karen Dodge and her loyal stagehands, along with dozens of parent volunteers, have worked strenuous hours throughout the months of February and March in producing a show that usually costs toward $20,000. The production also demands the time and energy of the actors and Stage Crew as well, as after-school practices consistently last three hours or more.
In 2007, the Academic Games team was the champion of the Granite School District, and therefore went on to national play. In the national championship round, the team faced Hanes Middle School of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Wasatch's presentation on teen drivers broke a tie going into the fourth and final round, which resulted in a tie. The game went into overtime, where Wasatch Junior lost by 11 points. The final score was 71 to 82.
The Wasatch-Hanes game was the third year in a row a Granite District junior high school has been in the national championship, and the fifth since 2002. Eisenhower, from the Granite School District, is a two-time champion, while Brockbank won in 2006 and took second in 2003. "These kids will be the same ones who walk away with a bazillion scholarships in a few years," principal Doug Bingham said. "That's where they shine.
In 2008, Wasatch won it's second strait District Championship by defeating Eisenhower Junior High. In the National Tournament Wasatch defeated Orion Junior High in a landslide victory, but was defeated by Eisenhower in the next round.