America’s liberties, as delineated in the country’s major founding document, are being celebrated today, Monday, Sept. 17, 2018 for U.S. Constitution Day. 

While the truths in the constitution are held to be self-evident, students across the District are learning first-hand through lessons, games, and even a personal visit to an oath-of-citizenship ceremony in Salt Lake City what it means to take upon the mantle of being an American citizen.

At Midvale Middle, students compared the words of the original constitution to one that was ratified later. Sandy Elementary Sharks talked about the reason for the day on their student-produced morning news show.  Constitution-related trivia also was played at the outset of every period today at Eastmont Middle, and if any Patriot can recite the Preamble to any administrator by Thursday, they can be rewarded with the opportunity to obtain items from the school store.     

But perhaps the most touching event was witnessed by Alta High social-studies and music students.

Alta High students were invited to participate in Monday’s naturalization ceremony at the U.S. District Court. The Salt Lake event is held annually to mark the Sept. 18, 1787 signing of the U.S. Constitution, and is an observance that began in 1940 as "I Am an American Day.”

At the touching ceremony, the Hawks’ Madrigals performed patriotic songs, and two seniors, Ricky Wooden and Shannon van Uitert, were chosen to read personal essays about the constitution.

"Mainly," Wooden said of the U.S. Constitution, "it's the one thing that binds us all together." Religion doesn't do that, sports don't do that — "but the constitution does," he said.    

Wooden said it took him about an hour to collect his thoughts and write the essay, which focused on how the document was drafted and how ultimately “it wants us to express our voices.”

The constitution, he said, “certainly gives us responsibilities …So we can protect it, and it can protect us.”   

van Uitert says she hopes the new citizens took her words to heart: "I hope it means as much to them as it means to me." She and her peers, as well as others in the audience, heard touching American-dream stories from new U.S. citizens hailing from Iraq, Mexico, Samoa, Tonga, Brazil, Australia, Africa, Dominican Republic, India, Burma, Ecuador, and Bolivia. 

van Uitert said she wanted to speak directly to the new citizens about how the “rights and privileges” given in the constitution aid citizens in their pursuits of happiness. 

The service in Salt Lake City is one of more than 260 naturalization ceremonies scheduled to be held this week in the United States. This year, America will welcome approximately 45,000 new citizens at the ceremonies.
The economy is on the rebound, jobs are plentiful and wages are up. So, how can young people just entering the workforce take advantage of the boom?

Some of the leading sectors of the economy right now are in engineering, computer science and health care. There’s also huge demand for skilled professionals in the trades. A 2017 study out of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce found that between 1991 and 2015, good jobs in non-manufacturing trade industries, such as construction and transportation, increased in 38 states with Utah, South Dakota and North Dakota experiencing the most pronounced growth.

And while a college degree may be the ticket to advancing in these fields, what many parents of teens don’t realize is that there are programs in high school that can give students a jump on their training.

Virtually all Utah high schools offer career and technical education courses aligned to the state’s workforce needs—and to showcase them, Canyons District is joining other school districts in sponsoring the annual Pathways to Professions expo (see details below).

The Oct.16-17 expo is free and a great way for high school-aged students to explore their academic options.


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Canyons School District students continue to outperform their Utah peers on most of the SAGE tests, in some areas by as many as 12 percentage points.

“The data reflect the quality of our teachers and the hard work of our students, as well as the District’s investment in research-based instructional practices,” said CSD’s Research and Assessment Director Dr. Hal Sanderson.

State SAGE results for the 2017-2018 school year are available for all school districts on the Utah State Board of Education website. 

Elementary Schools (grades 3-5) 
In elementary schools, Canyons is well above the state average in all subject areas and grades. The District made gains in 4 of 8 elementary tests. The following shows the percentage of elementary students who tested proficient in 2017-2018:

English: CSD (58 percent), state (46 percent)
Math: CSD (62 percent), state (51 percent)
Science: CSD (59 percent), state (50 percent)

Middle Schools (grades 6-8)
In middle schools, Canyons is well above the state average in 5 of 6 tested areas.   Middle school science results will not be released until November 2018.  New middle school science content standards require new proficiency cut-scores to be developed by Utah educators.  The following shows the percentage of middle school students who tested proficient in 2017-2018:

English: CSD (55 percent), state (46 percent) 
Math: CSD (50 percent), state (43 percent)
Science: To be released in November

High Schools
In 2018 SAGE was administered for the last time. Canyons District's high school scores for the 2017-2018 school year can’t reliably be compared to the state average, because for the first time, CSD’s 11th graders were not required to take the test. They took the ACT college entrance exam, instead.

This is the last year for SAGE tests as the state transitions to a new testing vendor. Utah will debut RISE tests for students in grades 3-8 while students in grades 9 and 10 will take the Utah Aspire Plus exam in the 2018-19 school year. High school juniors will continue to take the ACT exam.
Eighteen Canyons District students have advanced in a rigorous race to claim one of the country’s most prestigious scholarships for high school seniors. 

Students from Alta, Brighton, Corner Canyon and Hillcrest high schools today were announced as semifinalists in the 2019 National Merit Scholar competition.  

The high-achieving CSD students join about 16,000 other top scholars who remain eligible to vie for 7,500 scholarships worth $31 million.

The roster of semifinalists was chosen from a field of 1.6 million students at more than 22,000 high schools. The nationwide pool of semifinalists represents fewer than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors. The number is proportional to the state's percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.

Candidates for National Merit Scholar awards must write an essay and take a prequalifying test, as well as submit SAT scores. Also required is a detailed scholarship application in which the students must provide academic-record and community-involvement information. The students must note their leadership experiences, voluntarism, employment and any other honors received, too.

The finalists and winners of 2019 scholarships will be announced in the spring

The students and their schools are: 

Alta High
  • Abigail Hardy 
  • Joshua Mickelson 
  • Joshua Pomeroy
Brighton High
  • Alex Fankhauser 
  • Sofia Maw 
  • Jenna Rupper
Corner Canyon
  • Sebastian Lee 
  • Peter Oldham
Hillcrest High
  • Alex Chang 
  • Anthony Grimshaw 
  • Bryan Guo 
  • Saey Kamtekar 
  • Emily Langie 
  • Hongying Liu 
  • Warren McCarthy 
  • Landon Nipko 
  • Eric Yu 
  • Alan Zhao
Jordan High opened its doors to patrons near and far on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018 as parents, students, children, and friends gathered to watch a screening of an anxiety-themed documentary called “Angst: Raising Awareness Around Anxiety,”  

Visitors travelled from as far as Provo and Bountiful to watch the film and listen to a panel of experts discuss the prevalence of anxiety among youth and teens today. In partnership with the Deseret News, Canyons District hosted the event as a kick-off to Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, which takes place in September. 

Some 400 people attended the screening and posed questions to a panel of experts, including Tori Gillett, Canyons’ school counseling program specialist; Lizbeth Velazquez, a Canyons social worker at Jordan High and Mount Jordan Middle; Karin Gornick, the film’s producer; and Jenny Howe, a therapist featured in the film. Canyons’ Director of Responsive Services BJ Weller introduced Deseret News opinion editor Boyd Matheson, who moderated a panel discussion that centered around what causes anxiety, whether parents are responsible for causing it, and what students can do to cope.

“We need to talk about how to tackle the problem of suicide,” Matheson said. “As much as this is about preventing a tragic end, it’s also about taking advantage of all of our resources to help our youth and teens.”

Canyons District provides help to students in crisis through the Department of Responsive Services. The department offers crisis support, counseling services and at-risk prevention, among other services. The District is taking a “blended approach” to making sure students have access to mental health professionals while at school. 

This year, 10 extra student support specialists have been hired, and every CSD schools has been assigned a school psychologist and a counselor and/or social worker. This ensures that schools have the advantage of using the varied skills that school psychologists, counselors and social workers all bring to the table.

The problem of anxiety is one that troubles both parents and youth throughout the country, but it is important to confront the issue, rather than run away from it, experts from the panel said. The first step to accepting anxiety is to share it with others. 

“Start talking about it with someone you trust,” Velazquez said.

Parents can help their students by acknowledging their students’ struggle, but not necessarily taking away the thing that is making them uncomfortable, such as, picking them up from school if the student calls and asks to come home because of anxiety, Howe said. 

“As parents, we want to fix, and we want to shelter, and that’s OK to some extent, but we’re not allowing our kids the opportunity to not be OK,” Howe said.

The documentary screening was the fourth showing of the movie at an event hosted by the Deseret News. The newspaper s hosting eight events throughout the state to raise the conversation about anxiety and share information on how to respond. More information from the Deseret News is available on the newspaper's website.

“I hope as you walk out of here tonight you will know you are not alone,” Matheson told the audience Thursday. “You are one of us. And we need to keep this conversation going.”
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