The new middle school in Grand County will be named the Margaret L. Hopkin Middle School in honor of the teacher and administrator, who retired from the district in 2012. [Archive photo]

On Jan. 20, the Grand County Board of Education voted unanimously to name the new middle school building the Margaret L. Hopkin Middle School, honoring the beloved local educator and community member who died on Dec. 20, 2020.

The Grand County Commission unanimously approved a letter in support of the idea and many community members contacted the Board of Education urging them to honor Hopkin, who served the Grand County School District for 33 years, first as a teacher and then as principal of Grand County Middle School. She ended her career as superintendent of the Grand County School District.

Grand County Commission Chair Mary McGann and Commissioner Trish Hedin have both worked with Hopkin as teachers in the Grand County School District, and spoke warmly of her talent and character at a Jan. 19 commission meeting.

“I would say she was the best principal I ever worked under,” said McGann. “No one compared to her ability to bring everybody up, to give them the tools to be the best they could.”

McGann noted that Hopkin “navigated the district through very, very rough waters” during her tenure. Hopkin headed the school district as Moab was going through the economic bust of the 1980s.

“She was an amazing woman,” said McGann, with a tremor in her voice. “I’m getting emotional so I’m going to stop there.”

Hedin also praised Hopkin.

“I cannot convey to you the impact and the love that she has had in the community and that the community has for her,” she told the commission, describing Hopkin in the words of a friend as “a woman that exuded the utmost humility.”

“The outreach that the community has provided wanting to name the middle school after her is tremendous,” said Hedin. “It comes from every single corner of this community, which says a lot.”

Moab resident Sara Melnicoff called in to the meeting to also offer her support of naming the school after Hopkin.

“Her gentle and powerful energy feels like it’s still in the community,” said Melnicoff. The Grand County Commission voted unanimously to approve a letter of support for naming the new school after Hopkin.

At the Jan. 20 Grand County Board of Education meeting, former teacher Kathyryn Jackson spoke during the public comments section in favor of naming the new school building after Hopkin.

“This would be a small token of our appreciation, since she took the opportunity to devote her career and most of her life to education in Grand County in a most dynamic way,” Jackson said.

Jackson went on to describe Hopkin with these words: “Friend, mentor, teacher, problem-solver, promotor of good things and good will…Champion for children and programs that would help them.”

School district officials are projecting a mid-year move to the new building, hoping to bring students and classes to the new facility in the third trimester of this school year.

“No one compared to her ability to bring everybody up, to give them the tools to be the best they could.”

– Mary McGann