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
Note: Recordings and documents for agenda items can be accessed via BoardDocs by clicking on the corresponding agenda items.

Proposed Bond Resolution 

The Board of Education discussed the potential issuance of bonds for up to $75 million. Canyons patrons in November voted on a proposal that, in effect, gives the District approval to bond to up to $283 million for new-school construction and building renovations. A proposed bond resolution states the term of the bond payments would be 21 years at a maximum annual interest rate of 5 percent. The Board took the proposal under advisement.  The resolution is scheduled to be considered for approval on Sept. 4. 

Major Improvement Projects

Business Administrator Leon Wilcox presented information about the current and upcoming major construction and renovation projects in Canyons School District. The Board of Education has approved construction bids related to the Alta, Brighton and Hillcrest projects, which were all promised to the public at passage of the 2017 $283 million bond.  Between October and December, the Board will be asked to review bid packages for additional classrooms at Corner Canyon High; an addition to Canyons Administration Building-East; and additional work at Alta, Brighton and Hillcrest high schools. In the spring, the Board is expected to review bid packages for the rebuild at Midvalley Elementary. 

Draper CEA

The Board of Education approved a proposed interlocal tax-increment agreement between the Canyons District and the Draper City RDA for a development inside the South Mountain Community Reinvestment Project Area.

Special Education Update

Canyons District’s Special Education Director Misty Suarez updated the Board on the programs provided to students who qualify for special-education services. Suarez discussed staffing and recruiting, new initiatives, and the change in location for some intensive programs.

New Administrators

The Board of Education met this year’s new administrators. They welcomed Amy Boettger, Principal at Diamond Ridge and Entrada; Mark Mataya, Assistant Principal of Diamond Ridge and Entrada; David Briggs, Special Education Administrator; Colleen Smith, Program Manager in Responsive Services; Beverly Herrmann, Program Administrator at Student Advocacy and Access;  Transportation Director Jeremy Wardle; Sara Allen, the new Assistant Principal at Butler Middle; Ashley McKinney, Assistant Principal at Midvale Elementary;  Matt Nelson, Principal at East Midvale Elementary; Scott Jameson, Principal at Alta View Elementary; and Lori Reynolds, Principal at Sprucewood Elementary. 

Pledge, Reverence

The Pledge of Allegiance was led by School Performance Director Joanne Ackerman.  Public Engagement Coordinator Susan Edwards delivered the Reverence.

Recognitions

The following students, faculty and staff were recognized for their achievements:
  • Redd Owen, Brighton High student, 5A state champion, first-singles boys tennis
  • Brighton High Boys Tennis Team, 5A state champions
  • Mary Hardy, Lone Peak Head Secretary, Think Safe Award
Consent Agenda

The Board of Education approved the consent agenda, including the minutes from the Aug. 7, 2018 meeting of the Canyons Board of Education; hiring and termination reports, purchasing bids; student overnight travel requests; July financial reports; and a letter of support for a Midvale community pool. 

Policy Update

With an affirmative vote, the Board complied with a state law requiring updates to policies governing bullying, cyber-bullying, hazing, and retaliation to include abusive conduct.  The policy needed to be updated by Sept. 1. 

Patron Comments

Parent Julie Cluff told the Board she’s concerned about the length of time her children on the bus. She also expressed concern about the District’s special education services, including ensuring schools are appropriately placing special-education students in a “least restrictive environment,” according to federal law. 

Reports by Superintendent, Business Administrator

Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe expressed sadness at the passing of a Hillcrest student and the long-term illness of another. He also asked the communities at Alta, Brighton and Hillcrest to be patient with the available parking spaces, which have been reduced with construction on the new buildings. He attended the groundbreaking of Brighton High and the ribbon-cutting at Indian Hills Middle.  He’s excited about the first day of school, and will be traveling the District visiting students, teachers and staff. 

Business Administrator Leon Wilcox thanked the Facilities Department for working hard on the summer projects.  He also reported on the full roster of bus drivers that have been hired for the school year. Bus drivers recently were given an increase in salary in an effort to attract and retain bus drivers. 

Board of Education Reports

Mr. Mont Millerberg reported on attending the Brighton High groundbreaking and the Indian Hills Middle ribbon-cutting event. The updated schools give teachers the ability to enhance instruction and prepare students for college and careers. He said he participated in the Harvest Days Parade in a CSD bus.  He represented the District and the Canyons Education Foundation at the Cottonwood Heights golf tournament. He recognized Hillcrest Principal Greg Leavitt for personally conducting a tour of the school with alumni and discussing the plans for the future. He also mentioned the Letter of Support the Board approved for a Midvale community pool. 

Mrs. Amber Shill reported on attending Cottonwood Heights’ annual luncheon for the Teachers of the Year from city-area schools.  She noted the excitement surrounding the construction of a new Brighton. Mrs. Shill also noted that support from the community was evident at the groundbreaking event.  She is excited for the first day of school.

Mr. Chad Iverson noted the energy at the Indian Hills Middle ribbon-cutting. He attended sporting events where CSD student-athletes competed.  He wished the CSD community a safe start to school. 

Mrs. Clareen Arnold recognized the special energy surrounding the red carpet welcome events on the first day of school.  She attended the ribbon-cutting event at Indian Hills and the groundbreaking at Brighton High. 

Mrs. Nancy Tingey expressed appreciation for the traditions of holding groundbreaking and ribbon-cutting ceremonies for our projects. She also attended the Tools for Schools donation-drive that benefitted children in nine school districts.  She thanked the staff and administration for striving to be leaders in important issues. 

President Sherril Taylor spoke about the excitement surrounding the ribbon-cutting for Indian Hills Middle.  He says he judged the success of the Back-to-School Night by looking at the faces of the kids at the event. The students looked so excited. He also thanked the administration for holding professional development classes to help teachers as they prepare for the school year.  In addition, he lauded the people in the social-emotional support systems that CSD has in place to aid ailing or distressed families and students. 
Doors to the newly renovated Indian Hills Middle are opening wide to welcome back the Warriors.   

A major renovation at the school has been completed in time for school to start for the 2018-2019 school year. The entire Canyons District community is invited to a ribbon-cutting ceremony and Back-to-School Night at 6 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 20 at the school, 1180 E. Sanders Road.  

The school’s major upgrade, which required a near-total gutting of the school, is the 13th and final project promised to the public in 2010 when voters approved a $250 million tax-rate-neutral bond.  Since 2010, Canyons has used proceeds from the bond to renovate Albion Middle, and build a new Mount Jordan Middle, Midvale Elementary, Midvale Middle, Corner Canyon High, Draper Park Middle, Butler Middle, Butler Elementary, Alta View, additions to Brighton and Hillcrest high schools, and add seismic upgrades at Sandy Elementary. 

In addition, since its founding a decade ago, CSD has installed air-conditioning in every school that didn’t have it in fall 2009, added security vestibules at all elementary schools and six of eight middle schools; completed a soccer field, tennis courts and athletic fields near Brighton High; and completed internal and external upgrades at Alta High.

Work on the first three projects to be funded by the $283 million bond approved last November —±new Brighton and Hillcrest high schools and a major renovation of Alta High — have already started.  Construction at Alta is expected to take two years, Brighton and Hillcrest will undergo a three-year transformation. Several elementary schools also have new Front Offices and windows and skylights.  

Board of Education President Sherril H. Taylor and Principal Doug Graham will speak at the community event at the school. After the ribbon-cutting, refreshments will be served, and students and parents can tour the new building. To mark Back-to-School Night, teachers and staff will be on hand to greet families and answer questions. 

Thanks to the renovation, completed by crews from Hogan Construction, Indian Hills students and teachers will enjoy plenty of natural light throughout the facility, six new classrooms, collaboration spaces wired for the high-tech demands of the 21st century, an expanded kitchen and cafeteria, and spacious hallways and commons areas, among other amenities.  The school also has been built to enhance the safety and security of student and teachers.
Grace Pruden has been playing competitive soccer since she was four years old. The freshman striker for Hillcrest High says the game has shaped her as a person on and off the field.

So, when she began experiencing recurrent bouts of back pain, she heeded the warning signs, sought medical attention and took some needed breaks from training. Recently, with physical therapy, and the help of a new injury prevention programprudensmall.jpg at Hillcrest High, Pruden says she’s feeling “healthy and strong” coming into a new season this fall. “I’m leaps and bounds from where I used to be,” she says.

But for every teen athlete who takes steps to safeguard their health, there are thousands who are compelled to push their growing bodies to a breaking point, contributing to what some are calling an epidemic in youth sports injuries.

“Many of these injuries, such as concussions and ACL [anterior cruciate ligament] tears, can be life-altering,” says Robin Cecil, a doctor of physical therapy and an assistant girls soccer coach at Hillcrest. “But the good news is that these traumas, along with overuse injuries, such as muscle strains and knee and ankle sprains, are preventable.”

There are about 2 million high school-related sports injuries annually, 500,000 doctor visits, and 30,000 hospitalizations, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Overuse injuries are responsible for about half of the injuries in middle school and high school athletes, and the CDC says half of those are preventable.

There are many factors behind the trend. Youth sports, now a $15.3 billion industry that includes leagues and livestreamed games, is no longer a seasonal affair. To remain competitive in the eyes of college recruiters, kids are being encouraged to specialize in a single sport at younger ages, and they’re playing the sport year-round, which is placing too much repetitive stress on their still-developing bodies. “Kids are training like adults and their bodies aren’t ready for it,” Cecil says.

But if new technologies and advances in sports medicine have made it possible to push athletes to excel, why not use these same tools to prevent injury? Such is idea behind AthleteMonitoring.com, a computer-based athlete management system that Hillcrest’s girls soccer team is test-piloting this summer.

In competitive sports, there is a sweet spot for training. In order to optimize performance, coaches have to design programs that push athletes without putting them at risk for injury or illness, explains the Husky’s new head soccer coach Kyra Peery. “Finding and maintaining the balance between intense training and recovery and rest is an art and, increasingly, a science.”

Athlete Monitoring is used by professional, college, high school and club sports teams around the world to gather and interpret data on athletes’ fitness and wellness. Every morning, Pruden logs in to the secure system on her cell phone or a tablet and answers a series of five questions designed to gauge how well she’s sleeping, and how much fatigue, soreness and stress she’s experiencing. Then, again, after practice she completes an assessment of the training session, remarking on her enjoyment and exertion levels, along with any health problems. “It’s easy,” she says, “and only takes a few minutes.”

The data are then made available in real-time to the coaching team through easy-to-understand dashboards and built-in alerts, which flag certain athletes as being at risk for injury due to overtraining or other stressors. There’s even a “monotony index,” which, when above-normal, indicates enhanced risk for injury.

The system empowers coaches to make more calculated and precise changes to their training, and to individualize training for athletes, Peery says. “As coaches, we often forget that external stressors, such as work, friends, school, and family also factor into an athlete’s recovery and performance. This helps us put the students, and their well-being, first.”

One of the ways to reduce injuries and athlete burnout is to play more than one sport, but monitoring the workload for these athletes can pose communication and coordination challenges for coaches, says Hillcrest’s athletic director John Olsen. “The benefit of using a single data interface is that it makes it possible for everyone to be working from the same playbook, because all of us—the coaching staff, athletic trainers and the athletic director—are alerted to any health issues that athletes report.” The girls soccer team is the first to experiment with the system, but if successful, it may be put to use more widely.

Students also appreciate the open line of communication. While taking a break from the summer heat during a pre-season training session, center midfielder Kate Timmerman described the daily routine of providing feedback to the coaches as “empowering.” It doesn’t hurt having a little extra incentive to complete the drills that coaches assign on off-practice days, she says. “It keeps everyone accountable.”

Staying fit through the off-season is important as injuries tend to spike during tryouts, Cecil says. “It’s best to gradually ramp-up workloads.”

With this in mind, Peery and her husband and assistant coach Brock Peery have been hosting free summer training for their players where the girls weight-train and run drills three times per week for two hours a day.

This, coupled with the team’s student-first, injury-prevention focus, has Pruden feeling optimistic about the fall season. “The team is looking really strong,” she says, “and it’s been a relief to see the improvement with my back and my health.”

Injury Prevention Tips

All sports carry the risk of injury. Fortunately, the benefits of sports outweigh most of the risks, and many injuries are preventable—especially those due to overuse or overtraining.
  • Take a Break: It’s important to build-in rest periods between training, practice and competitions. A useful rule-of-thumb is that children under the age of 16 should not practice more hours per week at a given sport than their age in years. 
  • Self-care: It’s important for athletes to eat a healthy diet and consume enough calories. Getting enough rest and liquids are equally vital. 
  • Keep it Fun: Training should be fun and invigorating. If it feels monotonous or painful, that can be a sign that you’re pushing too hard. 
  • Play Safe: Good sportsmanship and adherence to game rules can reduce the risk for injury.
  • Manageable Workload: With training, it’s important to use proper technique and to keep weekly workload increases under 15 percent.
  • Warm-up & Cool Down: It’s important to do dynamic warm-ups before training to pre-stretch and activate muscles without overstretching them, and to do cool downs afterward.
They could have spent the summer relaxing poolside with friends, playing video games, or earning babysitting money. Instead, they chose to get a jump on high school with a deep-dive into the math and science concepts they’ll be expected to learn as entering freshmen this fall.

For four hours a day over four weeks, participants in Jordan High’s AVID summer academy immersed themselves in what it takes to be a successful Beetdigger. They attended class, conducted experiments, and completed exams while becoming familiar with the new surroundings, new teachers, and more rigorous demands of high school. For their efforts, on Friday, June 13, they were awarded cash stipends and completion certificates, and treated to a celebratory breakfast with family members. Screen_Shot_2018-07-13_at_5.20.51_PM.png

More valuable, still—they learned that they’re capable of doing hard things, and that it feels pretty good. “This summer, you’ve shown that you can do something really important,” remarked Canyons Board of Education member Steve Wrigley at the ceremony. “Believe in yourself and work hard and it will open all kinds of doors for you.”

 Made possible with an investment by the Board of Education, and modeled after a similar program at Hillcrest High, the AVID summer academy is now in its second year. Participants in last year’s academy ended their ninth-grade year with higher grade point averages than those students who were invited to the program but chose not to participate (see chart below). They reported having more confidence and also attended school more regularly.

“We didn’t have any of our participants who were falling into dangerous areas of missing a lot of school, which is something that prohibits students from being successful,” says Jordan’s Principal Wendy Dau.

How students perform in the ninth grade tends to predict how well they’ll do in high school. The idea behind the AVID program, says Dau, is to help students excel that first “sink-or-swim” year, and beyond.

Last year, the approach earned CSD the honor of being named a 2017 District of Distinction by District Administration Magazine. One of Utah’s largest newspapers called the initiative a "smart, sensible and innovative" approach “to dealing with a specific problem — one that happens to be at the heart of any education system’s principal mission — to make sure students who show up on the first day of school are still there when the bell rings on graduation day.”
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