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Planning a family trip for the holidays? Hoping to squeeze in a few extra days of vacation the week before or after Winter Recess?

‘Tis the season for reconnecting with faraway friends and family, and the timing of your travel plans can influence the cost of plane tickets and hotel stays. But keep in mind the costs to your children’s education when they miss too much school.

Canyons District’s schools will be open, our teachers will be teaching, and our students will be learning right up until the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the start of the winter break on Thursday Dec. 20—and we’ll waste no time starting up again after the New Year.

“When it comes to keeping kids on track academically, every day of instruction counts,” says Canyons District Responsive Services Administrator Colleen Smith who is working with schools to spread awareness of the hazards of absenteeism. “We don’t begrudge students the learning opportunity of traveling to new places. But absences tend to soar around the holidays, and families often don’t realize how quickly they can add up.”

Missing just a few days here and there can contribute to elementary students falling behind in reading, writing and math, a growing body of research shows. For example, four out of five students who miss two days per month, or 10 percent, of kindergarten and first grade are unable to read on-level by the third grade. By the sixth-grade, excessive absenteeism is a warning sign of a student not graduating from high school.

Put simply, too many absences—even excused absences—at any age can harm a student’s chances for academic success, Smith says. This year, Canyons District is encouraging students to “Be Great, Miss Less than Eight,” and schools will be finding creative ways to encourage good attendance habits, and reward students for coming to school every day, on time and ready to learn. 

Think your child’s school has avoided the naughty list? Think again. Last year, 7,111 students districtwide—21 percent—were chronically absent, or missed at least 10 percent of the school year. Zero in on individual schools, and you’ll find instances where as many as 32 percent of the students were chronically absent, says Instructional Specialist Jonathan Stewart, noting there are hotspots of absenteeism in every corner of the District.

Hitting the 10 percent mark is easier to do than it sounds, says Stewart. “That’s the equivalent of skipping just one day every other week.”

A bout with the flu, a midday doctor’s appointment, and extended family vacation can easily put a student over the threshold for the term, Stewart says. “We have had terms (quarters or semesters) where nearly half an entire school was chronically absent.”

And while such spikes may be an anomaly, large numbers of students missing class can affect the pace of instruction for the entire classroom, Stewart says. “It can really slow things down, creating extra work for the teacher and a missed opportunity to advance for the other students.”

What can parents do? Smith says it’s important to set firm expectations early in the school year, and early in a child’s educational career, and to be consistent in enforcing them.

“Sometimes life gets in the way. There will always be unforeseen illnesses and family emergencies—even rare special occasions—that pull kids from school,” Smith says. “But children, even teenagers, take cues from their parents, and it’s important to let them know that in school, work and life, showing up is important. It really comes down to establishing a daily routine, and reinforcing for your children how much you value an education.”

Attendance Tips for Parents
  • Let your children know that you think showing up for school every day is important.
  • Take an interest in your child’s school work and be involved in school activities.
  • Post the school calendar somewhere prominently in the home.
  • Establish a routine and healthy school-night habits, such as getting to bed early and reading before bed, instead of watching TV.
  • Set the morning alarm early enough to provide students ample time to get dressed and eat breakfast.
  • Support your children in getting to school on time: Give them a ride if they’re running late or they miss the bus, or arrange to carpool with other families.
  • Try to schedule doctor and dental appointments after school.
Denmark isn’t a socialist utopia where everything is free, as Bernie Sanders is wont to describe it. Nor is it an example of the pitfalls of socialism as portrayed in a recent White House report that compared Denmark’s standard of living to that of Venezuela.

In fact, the Nordic country isn’t socialist at all, Denmark’s Ambassador to the United States Lars Gert Lose explained to a group of Brighton High students on Friday. “We are a social-democratic country.”

It’s a nuance that may be tough to describe on a bumper sticker, or in 140 characters or less, but it wasn’t lost on the Model UN and Advanced Placement students who gathered in Brighton’s auditorium to hear Lose speak. The Ambassador’s appearance was arranged by social studies teacher Jim Hodges through Brigham Young University’s Kennedy Center.  The Kennedy Center sponsors several ambassadorial visits each year, and arranges to have the dignitaries meet with as many student groups as possible. danishsmall

At Brighton, Lose spoke of life as a diplomat and of Denmark’s long and valued ties to the United States. The two countries may not agree on everything, he said, but “there’s much more that binds us together than separates us.”

Denmark’s diplomatic relationship with America dates back to 1801 due, in part, to historically large Danish migration to this country. Economically, the two countries are important to one another. “The U.S. is the third largest market for Danish companies, bigger than France or the UK,” Lose said. And the two regions share common foreign security philosophies with their investments in military defense.

Culturally and politically the two countries may sometimes seem worlds apart, but the distinctions aren’t as black-and-white as is commonly thought. Among the surprising facts that Lose shared:
  • Denmark is part of the European Union but has its own currency.
  • The country has a democratic political system and free and open-market economy, but also could be described as a welfare state due to its government-funded health care, higher education, and robust social supports.
  • The vast majority of Danes are affiliated with trade unions because the government doesn’t regulate employment standards, such as setting a minimum wage. Liberal employment regulations also make it easier to hire and fire workers who can always fall back on the country’s safety net, creating more job mobility. But unemployment is low, and currently at about 3.6 percent, and productivity high. 
  • Lose described his homeland as a “very pragmatic and compromising country” with nine political parties in Parliament that have had to learn to work together in order to get work done.
Of course, the Danes devote nearly have their wages to income tax. Social supports “come at a price,” Lose said, “but it’s true that we have a great quality of life.”

Denmark’s foreign policy priorities include the fight against terror and climate change. The country began innovating in the area of renewable energy in the 1970s in response to an oil crisis. Renewable energy sources now meet half of the country’s energy needs, Lose said.

The country also would like to see free-trade alliances and agreements preserved. There’s nothing wrong with Trump Administration’s America-first stance, Lose said. “We have a Denmark-first policy as well.” Lose also agreed that the World Trade Organization has allowed China to compete unfairly.

But Lose questioned the logic of “blowing up” fair-trade rules and structures in an effort to improve them. “That won’t play well in the long-term. Look at Utah. I think 25 percent of all jobs here are dependent on global trade,” he said. “The point is how you pursue America’s interests. Playing a zero-sum game and having to win every single time, makes it difficult to find compromise.”

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A cup of feedback, a dash of input, and a heaping slice of honesty. That’s what we’re asking for in a survey that is being sent to Canyons District parents about their experiences with their child’s school.

All nine questions on the short survey are vital ingredients in our efforts to make healthy school-to-home connections, sweeten our customer service, and improve our recipe for student success. 

A link to the online survey will be sent Saturday, Nov. 10 to parents and guardians of children in Canyons District schools. It will arrive via email to the contact information provided during the online registration process for the 2018-2019 school year. 

Parent and guardians are asked to check their email accounts for the link.

The District will take input through the online survey until Nov. 30.  Parents who did not receive an email link can call Canyons District’s Help Desk at 801-826-5544 for assistance. 

Parents will be asked to complete a survey for every school where their children are currently enrolled. Questions cover school climate, academic support of children, and whether the school communicates appropriately with the community. 

Parents also can provide comments after responding to every question. The answers are anonymous unless parents identify themselves for a follow-up by school administrators. 

By state law, Canyons District is required to survey parents as part of educators’ evaluations. District and school administrators use the data to address needs, hone processes and recognize improvements.
With nary a whiff of the white stuff in the forecast, it may seem premature to be discussing Canyons District’s snow closure guidelines. But, as the saying goes in Rocky Mountain country, a region known for extreme temperature fluctuations: “If you don’t like the weather, give it a few minutes and it will change.”

We all know that wintry weather will come our way eventually. To the end of preparing our community, here is a guide to how Canyons District will communicate information about school cancellations or delayed starts. Bottom line: No public announcement means schools will be open and operate as usual. Unless extreme weather creates unsound traveling conditions, schools operating under the Canyons District umbrella will remain open on scheduled school days.

Why keep schools open during snowstorms?
About 34,000 students count on us to deliver a quality education in a safe, welcoming environment. Unscheduled school closures disrupt learning and place a burden on parents who work full time and can’t easily be home to supervise their children. Neighborhood schools also are a primary source of breakfast and lunch for many of our students. 

What if I’d prefer to keep my child home? 
While school-closure decisions will be made in the best interest of a school community, the District respects the rights of parents and guardians to decide what’s best for children in their care. 

How will I know if school is canceled or delayed?
Canyons District has established the following communications policies in the event of a school closure:

Announcements and information: Canyons District will employ its website, the Skylert emergency-communication system, and Facebook and Twitter (@canyonsdistrict) to alert parents about school closures. Parents and employees should listen to Wasatch Front radio and television stations for school-closure information.

What we will tell you: The District will communicate one of three messages: 1) Day and date a school is closed; 2) Day and date a school is starting late; 3) and day and date schools will be dismissed.

Telephones: Families are encouraged to call the District Office at 801-826-5000  for the latest decisions on school closures due to inclement weather. Please be patient, as the District Office may experience a high volume of phone calls on these days. Parents also may call their child's school.  

How we decide: School closures will be announced when authorized by the Canyons Superintendent of Schools or his designee after consulting with senior staff members. The National Weather Service and other state, county and city agencies also may be consulted.

Closures are for one day only: All announcements are for one day only. No announcement means schools will be open and operate as usual.

Emergency plans: Families are encouraged to establish an emergency plan for their children in the event that schools are closed, have a delayed start or dismissed early. Parents are urged to instruct their children where to go or what to do if a parent is not at home.

Bus stops: Parents are asked to meet their children at bus stops when buses are running on delayed or emergency schedules.

Make-up days: Days lost because of inclement weather are made up on Washington and Lincoln Day Recess days and/or Spring Recess.
Canyons District student-athletes are acing tests, quizzes and homework while also scoring big on the playing field.

In addition to the four state championship trophies won already this year in Utah High School Activities Association-sanctioned sports, 26 students from all five of Canyons District’s traditional, comprehensive high schools have earned Academic All-State Honors in fall sports. 

The UHSAA selects students on the basis of their athletic ability and academic proficiency.  

Boys Golf
  • Dylan Ricord — Alta High
Girls Tennis
  • Emilee Astle — Alta High
  • Elizabeth Simmons — Corner Canyon High 
  • Madison Lawlor —  Jordan
Girls Cross Country
  • Emily Liddiard — Hillcrest High
  • Ellie Anderson — Brighton High
  • Karlie Branch — Corner Canyon High
Volleyball
  • McKayla Kimball — Corner Canyon High
Girls Soccer
  • Megan Munger — Brighton High
  • Amelia Munson — Brighton High
  • Kaitlyn Conley — Brighton High
  • Megan Astle – Corner Canyon
  • Gwendelyn Christopherson — Jordan
  • Erika Oldham — Jordan
Boys Cross Country
  • Tavin Forsythe-Barker — Alta High
  • Declan Gleason — Brighton High
  • Joshua Johnson — Brighton High
  • Peter Oldham — Corner Canyon High
  • Michael McCarter — Corner Canyon High
  • Brandon Johnson — Corner Canyon
  • Jeddy Bennett — Jordan High
  • Samuel Bennett — Jordan High

Football
  • Baylor Jeppsen — Corner Canyon High  
  • Caden Johnson — Corner Canyon High
  • Austin Schaurgard — Jordan High
  • John Hillas — Brighton
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