Draper Park’s “welcome to the jungle” orientation day for sixth-graders was fitting considering middle school can feel a bit wild and unpredictable.

But after a day of fun and games, a performance by reigning Battle of the Bands winners, the Jazz Khakis, high-five’s from Real Salt Lake’s Leo the Lion, and banana popsicles, Draper Park’s newcomers were all smiles and ready for the adventure ahead. 
For 10 years, Canyons District's middle schools have opened their doors a day early to give incoming 11- and 12-year-olds a chance to find their classes, meet their teachers, and attempt to open their lockers before the hectic hustle and bustle of the first day. The event eases back-to-school jitters by walking students through a day-in-the-life of middle school—and helps set the right climate for learning.

“In order for students to learn, they need to feel welcome and safe. A school’s climate is that palpable sense of safety and belonging that students feel when they walk into the building and interact with teachers and staff,” says Mike Sirois, CSD’s School Performance Director for Middle Schools. “It’s a vital ingredient when it comes to supporting students socially and academically.”  

At Draper Park, faculty greeted students in safari outfits, danced to jazz tunes in the auditorium, and played ice-breaker games like, “Save Sam,” in which students are challenged to work together to stretch a life vest (gummy life saver) over Sam (a gummy worm) using two paperclips, instead of their hands.

“The game is an object lesson in teamwork, perseverance and problem-solving,” said math teacher Cynthia Lloyd. “We want them to switch their thinking. We want them to think of math class, not as a competition, but a learning community where problems aren’t problems, they’re challenges.”

Orientation is designed to progress just like a real school day, albeit a shortened one. Students arrive with the morning bell, attend shortened classes and learn about school rules and expectations.

Of course, they’ll continue to get the star treatment on the actual first day of school when schools literally roll out the red carpet to welcome everyone back. This year, players from the Real Monarchs will join the paparazzi of parents, teachers and principals to cheer our up-and-coming college- and career-ready stars. 
When the sun rose 10 years ago on a hot August morning, change was in the air.

Bus drivers were heading out on new routes. Nutrition workers were starting from scratch as they planned students’ meals. Principals and teachers were preparing to welcome students back to school with a renewed sense of purpose and excitement.

It was the first day of school, Aug. 26, 2009, in the first school district to be created in Utah in 100 years. It was a day of excitement, electricity—and in all honesty, a little bit of anxiety. It’s a day Canyons School District will never forget. As we celebrate the start of Canyons’ 10th school year, we’re taking stock of the highlights of a decade of educational excellence where, from that first sunrise, the focus has been on student achievement, innovation, community engagement, customer service and fiscal responsibility.

“In the 10 years since Canyons School District opened its doors, a lot has happened,” said Canyons Board of Education President Sherril Taylor, who has served on the board since its creation. “From communities to curriculum—even down to the landscape—there have been many changes. We are proud of what we have accomplished, and we are proud to offer a world-class education to our students. We have come so far, and the best is yet to come for our Canyons District family.”
Canyons’ tradition of rolling out a red carpet to greet students on the first day of school began 10 years ago on the first day of school. It signified a new beginning, an emphasis on helping every student become college-and career-ready and the idea that student success is the driving motivator in all that Canyons does.

From that time, Canyons has focused energy and resources across the District to bolster students and educators in their endeavors. Key accomplishments from the last decade include:

  • From 2010-2017, Canyons built eight new schools, extensively renovated four schools, and started work on the 13th and final renovation project made possible by a $250 million bond approved by voters in 2010. Other schools received seismic and other safety upgrades, cooling systems, and other improvements. This was done without raising taxes and while maintaining the District’s AAA bond rating.
  • Since its inception, Canyons has given teachers some kind of compensation increase, a cost-of-living or step increase, or both—even during the Great Recession. In the past two years alone, teacher pay has risen by double digits, including a $5,000 bump in the starting teacher salary.
  • In 2011, Canyons introduced the state’s first differentiated, or Advanced and Honors, diplomas to signal students’ preparedness for college by requiring them to complete more rigorous coursework. In 2018, nearly 65 percent of students who graduated from traditional high school earned Honors or Advanced diplomas. 
  • In 2013, Canyons’ schools were reconfigured to move sixth-graders into middle school and ninth-graders into high school. The change created a more clearly defined four-year path to graduation in high school, and made it possible for middle schools to focus on meeting the needs of 6-8th graders during a time dramatic physical, intellectual and emotional development.
  • In 2015, Canyons created Diamond Ridge High, an alternative school for 16- to 18-year-old students who require a non-traditional setting.
  • In 2016, Hillcrest High launched a summer academy to help freshman excel in their first, make-or-break year and beyond. Students receive four hours of daily instruction in math, science, English and geography, throughout the summer, earning credits and cash incentives sponsored by the United Way of Greater Salt Lake. The nationally-recognized program is helping to bridge the achievement gap at Hillcrest, and has given rise to a similar program at Jordan High.
  • In 2016, a supplemental kindergarten instruction program was introduced to provide extra academic options to the community. With this opt-in, tuition-based program, kindergarteners receive nearly four additional hours of instruction every school day.
  • In 2017, the first cohort of students from Alta High participated in a partnership program between the University of Utah and Canyons District called Step2theU. Students began coursework during the summer of their junior year, and will have two complete semesters of college credit by the time they begin university. 
  • In 2017, voters approved a $283 million bond to rebuild six schools, including Brighton and Hillcrest high schools, build one new elementary school in west Draper, replace portables with classrooms at Corner Canyon high, remodel Alta high, and remodel offices at six elementary schools. The bond also will pay to install windows and skylights for natural lighting at 18 elementary schools.
  • Canyons District’s K-8 students continue to outperform their Utah peers on year-end SAGE tests, in some areas by as many as 13 percentage points.
  • Our high school seniors also outperform their Utah peers, with a higher percentage meeting college-readiness benchmarks on the ACT college entrance exam.
From the first day Canyons became a district on July 1, 2009, teachers, administrators, and the Canyons Board of Education have brought passion, creativity, and a mindset that anything is possible to Canyons’ communities. The last 10 years have been remarkable, but all eyes are on the future. To the passing of a decade and herald the start of another, we’ve unveiled a new District logo, and have planned some community events for later in the year.

“When I first came to Canyons District five years ago I was impressed at how much had been accomplished in a few short years,” CSD’s Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe said. “We have continued putting students first, and working with the community. I think it’s had a huge impact. If we keep working together, there’s no end to what we can do.”
Enthusiastic Indian Hills Middle students cut short their summers to take part in the grand opening of their newly remodeled campus at a ribbon-cutting ceremony held two days before the start of school.

“This newly renovated school is for our students. It’s all for the students,” Principal Doug Graham told the crowd of parents, alumni, teachers and community members who also flocked to see the school’s bright, colorful new interior. “The community was generous enough to provide the funding for this school, and in turn I challenge our students to express their appreciation by dedicating themselves to being the best they can be for every moment they are at Indian Hills Middle.”

If the Warriors, who spent the past year of construction attending classes at the temporary location of Crescent Middle, were eager to return home, the completion of Indian Hills also marks an important milestone for Canyons School District. It is the 13th and final major school improvement project financed with proceeds from a $250 million bond approved by voters in 2010.

In just eight years, the District has rebuilt Alta View and Midvale elementary schools; renovated Albion Middle; built Corner Canyon High and Draper Park Middle; rebuilt Butler and Midvale middle schools, Butler Elementary and Mount Jordan Middle; brought Sandy Elementary up to seismic code; built additions at Hillcrest and Brighton high schools; and installed air-conditioning and heating systems in all schools—all without raising taxes and while maintaining CSD’s AAA bond rating.

For Board of Education President Sherril Taylor—an inaugural member of the Board and lifelong educator who once taught science at Indian Hills—the ribbon-cutting event felt like coming full circle. “It’s an honor to proudly declare that we did everything we said we were going to do,” he said, thanking community members for their support. “When you voted for a bond in 2010, we told you we’d build or renovate 13 schools — and this is the final one. …I have to say that today’s celebration would not be possible without you.”
The renovation was extensive. Among the “as-new” upgrades are: an improved entryway with a security vestibule to enhance safety; a new commons area that is full of natural light and offers a view of the mountains; new classrooms, labs and collaboration spaces; and an expanded kitchen and cafeteria.

Joining students and families in celebrating the new school were Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe, Business Administrator Leon Wilcox, Assistant Superintendent Kathryn McCarrie, Rep. LaVar Christensen, R-Draper, representatives from Sandy City and the PTA, and Canyons Education Foundation Board members Suzanne Harrison, Brad Snow, Aaron Metcalfe, and Bill Rappleye.

“What a turnout,” remarked CSD Board member Chad Iverson, “I’ve never seen so many students so excited to get started with school.”

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  • Faculty and staff are gearing up for the 2018-2019 school year—Canyons District’s 10th—with back-to-school nights to welcome parents and ease elementary students back into the rhythms of classroom life and learning.

    School starts on Wednesday, Aug. 22 for students in the first through 12th grades. Kindergarteners start on Monday, Aug. 27.

    Keep in mind that the bell schedules, or start-and-stop times, vary for each school. A complete list of bell schedules can be found here.

    Information about bus routes, where to find the bus stop, and an interactive database to find out if your child is eligible for busing, can be found here. Check here throughout the school year for weekly school breakfast and lunch menus.

    For everything else, please visit our A-Z list of parent resources at Canyonsdistrict.org/parents.

    Following are the dates and times for schools’ back-to-school nights. Please contact your child’s school with any questions.

    Alta View: Tuesday, Aug. 28, 6-7:30 p.m.

    Altara: Tuesday, Aug. 28, 6-8 p.m.

    Bell View: Tuesday, Aug. 21, 6-7:30 p.m.

    Bella Vista: Tuesday, Aug. 21, 5:20-6:30 p.m.

    Brookwood: Tuesday, Aug. 21, 3-4 p.m.

    Butler: Tuesday, Aug. 21, 4-6 p.m.

    Canyon View: Tuesday, Aug. 21, 5-6 p.m.

    Copper View: Wednesday, Aug. 22, an open house from 9-10 a.m., and welcome video from 6-7:30 p.m.

    Crescent: Tuesday, Aug. 21, 5:30-7 p.m.

    Draper: Monday, Aug. 20, 4-6 p.m.

    East Midvale: Monday, Aug. 20, 6-7 p.m.

    East Sandy: Tuesday, Aug. 28, 6-8 p.m.

    Edgemont: Tuesday, Aug. 21, 4-6 p.m.

    Granite: Tuesday, Aug. 28, 6:30-8 p.m.

    Lone Peak: Tuesday, Aug. 28, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

    Midvale: Monday, Aug. 20, 6-8 p.m.

    Midvalley: Tuesday, Aug. 21, 3-4 p.m. (family meet-and-treat), and Thursday, Aug. 30, 7-8 p.m. (parent back-to-school night)

    Oak Hollow: Tuesday, Aug. 21, 6-7:30 p.m.

    Oakdale: Tuesday, Aug. 21, 6-7:30 p.m.

    Park Lane: Tuesday, Aug. 28, 6-7:30 p.m.

    Peruvian Park: Monday, Aug. 20, 4:30-6 p.m.

    Quail Hollow: Tuesday, Aug. 28, 6-7:30 p.m.

    Ridgecrest: Monday, Aug. 20, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

    Sandy: Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2 p.m. (meet your teacher hour), and 3 p.m. (back-to-school and Title I information). Friday, Aug. 25, 2 p.m. (kindergarten orientation and Title I information), Wednesday, Aug. 29, 7:45 a.m. (back-to-school and Title I information)

    Silver Mesa: Monday, Aug. 20, 4:30-6:30 p.m.

    Sprucewood: Tuesday, Aug. 21, 6-7 p.m.

    Sunrise: Tuesday, Aug. 28, 5:30-7 p.m.

    Willow Canyon: Wednesday, Aug. 22, two 20-minute back-to-school sessions, 8:20-8:55 a.m.

    Willow Springs: Tuesday, Aug. 21, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

    Jordan Valley: Thursday, Aug. 23, 5:30-7 p.m.
    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.
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