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When recipients of Canyons District’s official holiday card open their envelopes this season, they might see a whimsical watercolor painting of two friendly snowmen. Or they might see a painting of twinkling lights. Or they might see a winter wonderland with horses pushing against a northern wind. 

All three of the works of art, done by Alta High students Georgia Ray, Lindsay Brown and Lydia Stueber, were selected as the card’s featured artwork because they capture the heart-warming essence of the season. They were chosen from a field of submissions by students in art classes taught by Katie Campbell. 

Initially, the District was going to select just one piece of artwork for the District’s official holiday card.  But the three selections forwarded by Campbell to the District Office for consideration were so good that all were chosen.  An equal number of cards for each selection was printed, signed and mailed right after Thanksgiving. This is the fifth year CSD has featured student artwork on the official holiday card.   

Artwork done by students at Jordan Valley, Corner Canyon, and Brighton High has previously graced the cover of the card.  This year, the Hawks were asked to lend their talents to CSD’s yuletide greetings. 

Stueber, 16, did her watercolor as part of an assignment for an Advanced Placement 2-D Design art class.  “I always love the look of holidays lights, and I just thought it would be interesting to use watercolor for the lights and get the different shadows and dimensions,” said Stueber, a junior, who also competes on the school swim team, serves as the Art Club Vice President, and plays the flute in Alta’s wind symphony. 

Ray, 16, the daughter of Steve and Jodi Ray, says she drew inspiration from her family’s steeds.  “I have grown up with horses my entire life,” says Ray, who competes as an equestrian hunter jumper. She also completed the acrylic painting as part of an art class at the school, where she’s also a member of the Drama Club.

Brown, 16, who is a member of the Drama Club and Concert Choir, said she “wanted to paint something that would make everyone think of the holiday season,” she says, “and building snowmen is a fun thing you do in the wintertime with your family and friends.”
For Draper Elementary teacher Yinyao You, the only way to express his feelings about receiving an award that’s so prestigious only a handful of people in the world have ever received it, is with an exclamation point.

You was selected to receive the Individual Performance Excellence Award from the Confucius Institute at the University of Utah, a recognition given to only 30 individuals worldwide, including university presidents and educational leaders. He is one of five individuals from the United States to receive the award this year, and the only guest teacher in the U.S. to be recognized, according to the Confucius Institute.

“ItIMG_0156.jpg is my great honor to get this award!” You said in an email sent from China to his colleagues, friends and administrators in Canyons District after he received the award from Madam Liu Yandong, Vice Premier of the People’s Republic of China. “I know I can’t thank all of you enough!”

You received the award on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, in Xi’An, China, as part of the 12th annual Confucius Institute Conference. He will remain out of the country until school resumes in January. The other four recipients of the award from the U.S. include two directors of the Confucius Institute, the president of Alabama A&M University and the president of Miami Dade College in Florida. Remarking on You’s contributions to the state's immersion program, Utah Chinese Dual Language Immersion Director Stacy Lyon said the award is “well-deserved.”
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Earlier this year, You was named the International Teacher of the Year by the Utah Foreign Association. As an involved educator who teaches 2nd grade Chinese immersion students by day and kung fu and tai chi after school, You has also been recognized as an Outstanding Educator by the Utah PTA and Star Teacher by the College Board.

He was chosen for his most recent award out of a pool of some 525 Confucius Institutes scattered through 146 countries in the world. The non-profit institution was established to promote Chinese language and culture in foreign countries, according to the Confucius Institute Headquarters website, English.hanban.org. The Individual Performance Excellence Award is one of the highest honors offered by the Institute.

“It’s a really big deal for the CI headquarters, and it’s a positive affirmation of what Yinyao has contributed to Draper elementary,” Shin Chi Fame Kao, Outreach Coordinator at the Confucius Institute at the University of Utah, said in an email informing Canyons of You’s award. “We are very proud of having him in our team and wish that he will continue to work for Utah in the future.”
Because we all breathe the same air, and share in the responsibility to safeguard it from the harmful pollutants emitted by our homes, businesses and vehicles, Canyons District has declared all of its school campuses idle-free zones.

With inversion season upon us, we're re-issuing our Clean Air Challenge and inviting families to join us in combining car trips to conserve gas, walking and biking to school instead of driving, and reducing schoolyard idling during morning drop-offs and afternoon pickups.

On Earth Day, 2016, Canyons became the first school district in Utah to go idle free at all of its schools. The campaign kicked off early in the morning at Ridgecrest elementary school where students greeted drivers with placards, informational pamphlets and window clings to place in vehicles. Signs were placed at all of Canyons’ schools and “no idling” pledges were sent home with students, encouraging parents to voluntarily pledge to turn their key and be idle free.

The idea originated with a parent who dropped by Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe’s office just over a month ago to share her frustration at seeing exhaust billowing into the air at her child’s school’s parking lot. Briscoe took her concerns to the Board of Education, and within a matter of weeks, the district’s “no idling” campaign was born. 

“Besides educating students, I feel we have some responsibility for their health, and their future health,” says Briscoe, noting that projections show school enrollment doubling over the next 30 years.

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Parents spoke, and we listened. Starting with the 2019-2020 school year, Canyons District’s schools will let out for the summer in May, instead of the first week of June.

“Teachers and parents have expressed concern about our schools letting out later than those in neighboring districts,” says Planning and Enrollment Director Dr. Floyd Stensrud. “The later end-date makes it difficult for families to coordinate summer vacations and for high school students to compete for summer jobs.”

The changes will take effect with the start of the 2019-2020 school year, and were approved by the Board of Education based on recommendations by the District’s Calendar Committee, which is made up of employees, and parents. Teachers also provided input via two extensive surveys.

Under the new calendars, there also will be fewer Fridays when school is not in session, alleviating the need for working parents to secure child care. There will be no change in the number of instructional days or holidays, and Brighton High will remain on a trimester schedule.

To aid families in their planning, the new, tentatively-approved calendars for 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 can be found on the District’s website.
Alta High School last week welcomed talkative visitors for the 30th annual Black and Silver Debate Tournament. 

Eighty schools from 14 states were represented at the Tournament of Champions-qualifying event, with 500 students who came from as far away as Florida to compete.  

From Thursday to Saturday, some 200 adult chaperones and judges accompanied the students, who debated various topics in public forum, policy debate, and Lincoln-Douglas debate. “It’s very busy, logistically speaking,” said Alta debate coach Tanya Roundy. “It really pulls us together as a team, because they spend a lot of time working to get things to come together and managing the tournament together.”

Alta history teacher Rique Ochoa first established the debate tournament 30 years ago to provide his students an opportunity to compete at a high-level tournament without having to travel. Debaters who make it to the finals at the Black and Silver tourney qualify to go on to compete in the national Tournament of Champions.

In later years, host schools were no longer allowed to compete in their own tournaments, to avoid the appearance of bias. However, the Black and Silver competition is still a great opportunity for Alta’s debate students to use their skills, Roundy says.

“They use a lot of their speech skills, meeting new people, talking about these topics, hearing perspectives and arguments from all over the United States,” Roundy said. “They also get the benefit of learning how to manage time and organize and event plan.”

This year, Alta’s debate team had a bumper crop of 30 novice members and six varsity members. The team has students on the wrestling team, swim team, basketball players, actors, and all academic levels, Roundy says. She attributes the growing interest in Alta’s debate team as a carryover from the debate programs initiated in the District’s middle and elementary schools.

“It can really bring a lot of students with different interests together,” Roundy said. “Debate allows them to explore whatever their strengths are and build on those.”
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