Canyons District is bracing for the possible emotional impacts of the second season of the teen drama “13 Reasons Why.”
The first season of “13 Reasons Why,” released last spring, caused some concern among CSD educators and teachers, who were caught by surprise at the uptick in students asking for counseling help after the teens binge-watched the Netflix series that traded heavily in such mature themes as sexual assault, drug use, and suicide.
To the end of being prepared for the show’s launch date, school counselors and school psychologists in Canyons District have been sent guidance from the National Association for School Psychologists. Tips for parents and students also are included in the information from the national organization.
While the producers of the popular show have been tight-lipped about the show's release date, the District is striving “to get out in front of it rather than two weeks late,” said Tori Gillett, Canyons’ School Counseling Program Specialist.
“We definitely want to encourage parents to be aware of the show and its mature themes,” Gillett said, adding that the inaugural season of the show, which is produced by pop star Selena Gomez and based on a young-adult novel of the same name, “evoked a lot of emotions, especially in the students who are most vulnerable.”
To be sure, parents can decide what’s best for their own families, but mental-health professionals, including those in CSD’s student-support programs, caution against binge-watching, especially if the students are watching the show alone.
The District wants students to know there are many caring adults in their lives who want to help. “We should have open dialogues,” Gillett said. “We want students to know there are people out there who care about them and are willing to listen.”
Where can students or parents go if they need extra supports? School counseling centers can help both students and parents who are looking for information about this or any other issue that is prompting challenging emotions. Of course, if a student needs help immediately, they can turn to the SafeUT mobile app for all-day and all-night access to licensed clinicians from the University of Utah.
Guide for Families
Ask your child if they have heard or seen the series “13 Reasons Why." While we don’t recommend that students be encouraged to view the series, do tell them you want to watch it, with them or to catch up, and discuss their thoughts.
Raising the issue of suicide does not increase the risk or plant the idea. On the contrary, it creates the opportunity to offer help.
Ask your child if they think any of their friends or classmates exhibit warning signs. Talk with them about how to seek help for their friend or classmate. Guide them on how to respond when they see or hear any of the warning signs.
Listen to your children’s comments without judgment. Doing so requires that you fully concentrate, understand, respond, and then remember what is being said. Put your own agenda aside.
Get help from a school-employed or community-based mental health professional if you are concerned for your child’s safety or the safety of one of their peers.
Source: National Association for School Psychologists
The tug and pull of life’s major turning points — such as retiring from a long, productive career — can feel a bit like a mental time machine. At one moment, we find ourselves filled with nostalgia. In the next, we’re plotting vacations, pondering new hobbies, and planning long stretches of unstructured time.
“Today is history,” as the saying goes, “and tomorrow’s a mystery,” which is why Canyons District sets aside an evening each year to bid a fond a farewell to retiring colleagues. More than 70 employees are departing Canyons this year, and we’re breaking out the “photographs and still frames” to reflect upon and celebrate their immeasurable contributions. Some have devoted 40 years or more to Utah’s public school system, and many have worked for Canyons since the District’s inception in 2009. All of them have contributed to our success.
This year’s Retirement Banquet will be held on Tuesday, May 29 at The Gathering Place at Gardner Village. There will be a reception at 6 p.m. followed by dinner and a program at 6:30 p.m.
An Open House for Purchasing Administrative Assistant Susan L. Taylor will be on Friday, May 4, 2-4:30 p.m. in the Superintendent’s Conference Room at CAB-East, 9361 S. 300 East in Sandy.
An Open House for departing Jordan High teachers Bonnie Berrett, Rachel Hardy, Todd Landeen will be on Wednesday, May 16, 2:30-3:30 p.m. in Jordan High’s Media Center.
An Open House for Allyson Hanks will be on Wednesday, May 16, from 2:30-4:00 p.m. at Corner Canyon High School in the Media Center.
An Open House for Ellen Stone and Paul Burns-McEvoy will be on Friday, May 18 from 2:30-3:30 p.m. at Crescent Elementary.
In a few weeks, students throughout Utah will begin taking SAGE tests, those end-of-year exams that show how much students have learned over the course of the year. Why do schools test? What do the results mean, and why should students and parents care?
Answers to these questions and more can be found on a new Canyons District resources page. Anyone curious about the how’s and why’s of testing is encouraged to browse the site, which contains teacher testimonials, infographics, and step-by-step instructions for obtaining and interpreting your child’s test results.
“Testing has always been integral to education. Assessments inform instruction by helping teachers know if educational goals are being met,” explains CSD Research and Assessment Director Hal Sanderson. “They’re an indicator of what’s working in the classroom and what can be done differently. Testing also gives parents a measure of their child’s learning, which along with grades and other measures helps answer the question: Is my child on target and doing well compared to his or her peers?”
But did you also know that a student’s performance on SAGE in middle school can predict how well he or she will do on the ACT college entrance exam in high school? SAGE, in other words, gives middle schoolers a glimpse at how they’ll do on a high-stakes test in a low-stakes environment when they still have time to go back and re-learn foundational concepts.
Another surprising fact: Very little of the school year is devoted to test-taking. A recent internal audit revealed that Canyons District students spend just 1.2 percent to 2.7 percent of instruction time taking state and district assessments. By comparison, at one sampled Canyons District elementary school, recess accounted for 4.5 percent of the year, 12 percent was devoted to lunch and math instruction occupied 27.3 percent of the year.
This year, the District has made adjustments to further reduce the testing burden on students. The writing exam will take half as long, which along with other changes, should enable us to complete the testing much more quickly, Sanderson says.
The computer adaptive assessments of today have, however, evolved beyond the “bubble” exams of your childhood. One helpful test-taking tip for parents to keep in mind is to remind children that if the test questions seem hard, that means they’re doing well. Just like the ACT college entrance exam, the SAGE test is computer adaptive, which means it adapts to the examinee’s abilities by proposing harder questions when a student gets something correct, and easier questions when the student gives a wrong answer.
As Mount Jordan Middle teacher Kory Crockett explains: “We all know that tests can be stressful. Tests can be hard. But it’s really these hard things in life that help us grow the most. And especially with these end-of-the year tests, they don’t just tell us how much we’ve grown, they tell us how much we’ve grown as a school.”
As a precautionary measure, Canyons District is pulling all lettuce from meals served in school cafeterias until American health officials declare that an E.coli scare is over.
The outbreak, which has sickened dozens of people in up to 11 states so far, began in mid-March and may have been caused by bagged and pre-chopped lettuce grown in the Yuma, Ariz., region and distributed to retailers across the country.
While no Utahn is one of the 35 cases, Canyons District is erring on the side of caution. For the health and safety of students and employees, the lettuce that had been purchased for regularly schedule meals will be discarded.
CSD’s Nutrition Services Department had ordered 32 cases of chopped lettuce and 22 cases of head lettuce for upcoming menus, said CSD Nutrition Services Director Sebasthian Varas.
Menus containing lettuce will either be modified or lettuce will be omitted from the food item, Varas said. Students were informed today that salads will not be served.
The majority of those who have fallen ill reported eating romaine lettuce within a week of feeling such E.coli-related sickness symptoms as abdominal cramping, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and fevers.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control is urging all U.S. consumers who have store-bought chopped romaine lettuce at home to throw it away, even if it has been partially eaten and no one became ill. The CDC also says that consumers, before purchasing lettuce at a grocery store or eating it at a restaurant, should confirm it is not chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma region.
Last summer, Calena Slesser's sister was struck and nearly killed by a car while crossing the street. As her parents shifted their focus to hospital visits, medical consultations and rehabilitative care, Calena fell into the role of caregiver to her younger siblings.
It was a lot to shoulder for any high school senior, much less for someone who was putting in extra hours to get back on track academically. But no matter what personal and family hardships Calena has faced, she’s done so with grace and strength, never losing sight of her goal of graduating in the hopes of pursuing a college degree.
“She has fire in her belly and she has hope,” says Canyons School District’s Student Advocacy and Access Director Karen Sterling. “My hope for her would be that she continues on this high of realizing she can do hard things, and that she can make a future for herself and find within herself the strength to rise above any challenge.”
For her persistence in the face of adversity, Calena was chosen to receive the Canyons Education Foundation's premier $2,500 Rising Star Scholarship at the Foundation's seventh annual Spring Gala on Thursday, April 19. This year, the Foundation awarded a record $11,000 in college scholarships to nine deserving students.
At the event, which was held to generate funding for future scholarships, the Foundation also launched a new campaign to raise money to subsidize the cost of tuition for Canyons District teachers who are furthering their own education by enrolling in master’s and doctoral degree programs. “The Foundation works with community leaders and businesses to secure resources to fuel innovation in the classroom and help students realize their dreams. An important piece of the equation is supporting teachers in their efforts to grow professionally and improve their teaching practice,” says Foundation Officer Laura Barlow. “Many factors contribute to student success, but nothing matters more than having a passionate and highly-skilled teacher in the classroom.”
Not too long ago, Calena — whose family had been uprooted by financial and housing insecurities — was struggling to wake at 5 a.m. to catch a bus every day to school. Today, the 18-year-old plans to enroll at Salt Lake Community College, boasts a 4.0 grade point average for the term, and is working with her peers to start a student council at Diamond Ridge, Canyons District’s alternative high school.
Thankful for the close mentoring she received at Diamond Ridge, she says she wanted to give something back: “Everyone there is super supportive. They all want you to graduate and to succeed.”
Smart and tenacious, she’s “very generous with her time and talents and helps other students who are struggling,” says her math and financial literacy teacher Wendy Quigley. “She is one of those kids who could go really, really far given the opportunity.”
Congratulations to Calena and the following Bright Star Scholarship winners: