EDUCATION & SCHOOLS

Utah middle school uses 60,000-piece puzzle to help fit together

Jan 31, 2024, 7:00 PM | Updated: Feb 1, 2024, 6:13 am

RICHMOND, Cache County — One teacher’s big idea quickly became the uniting project of North Cache Middle School.

A 60,000-piece puzzle project started with science teacher Marla Trowbridge, but administrators said it brought the entire school together and now, they are enjoying the satisfaction of the month-long project. And the only way to put the massive project together was one piece at a time.

Trowbridge first shared it with fellow science teacher Jolene Drake.

“And she was like, I got something and I have this big idea,” Drake said, on the day KSL TV shot the story — and the one day Trowbridge was away from school.

“She saw it as a united kind of event to get kids excited in the middle of the winter months when there’s not very much to do,” Drake said.

The puzzle is called “What a Wonderful World” by Utah artist Eric Dowdle. It’s actually made up of 60 1,000-piece puzzles that could be divided among those at the school. It didn’t take much for everyone to get on board.

“I thought it was pretty awesome,” Vice Principal Dee Downs said. He said students and faculty worked on it here and there.

“It would be pretty awesome to go into a classroom and see all types of different kids surrounded by the puzzle and working together,” Downs said. “And before you know it, 30 days later, we have a ginormous puzzle.”

Perhaps the bigger challenge was getting the massive image on the way. School custodian Mitch Littlefield helped there, along with a local business — Innovative Home Finishes — that donated its time and materials.

“It was pretty amazing how many people came and helped,” Drake said. But it took a bit of everyone to make it happen. Dowdle told them later how each of them played a role — that every piece matters.

Utah’s North Cache Middle School worked together to put together and hang a 60,000-piece puzzled called “What a Wonderful World.” (Cache County School District)

“Doesn’t matter … background, who you are, where you’re from; They’re all united in one task,” Downs said. “It’s not complete if one little piece is gone and that’s how our school is, it’s not complete unless we have all our kids here.”

That’s the kind of lesson that can’t be measured in pieces, weight or square feet on a wall; But those 60,000 pieces weigh approximately 109 pounds. The finished puzzle is 29 feet wide and 8 feet tall. It went up over this school year’s winter break.

The kit cost approximately $750. Trowbridge brought it in on her own and said, “Let’s do this!”

“Well, it was a struggle, so to see it all done, it feels almost like a miracle,” Drake said.

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Utah middle school uses 60,000-piece puzzle to help fit together