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Alta High Principal Brian McGill on Saturday received an award for leading his school’s efforts to prevent suicides, reduce instances of bullying, and maintain a safe learning environment by carefully monitoring and following up on tips sent via the SafeUT mobile app.

McGill received the honor at the Utah Suicide Awareness Summit, held at Murray High School. The Champion of SafeUT Award, given by the Utah State Office of Education, was presented by Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, Utah Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley, and Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy. 

In accepting the award, McGill said that, as a principal, “there’s never a tougher week” than when a school community is mourning the suicide death of a student. He said the state-funded SafeUT mobile app, which gives students immediate, all-day-and-all-night access to school staff and counselors at the University of Utah’s Neuropsychiatric Institute, has proven effective in reaching struggling students and aiding worried parents.

“This has been a great utility for Alta High,” he said, adding that he personally spent time over Winter Recess assisting a student who used the app to ask for help getting through a bout of depression.“We have had tips come in all the time.”

McGill said Alta’s administrative and counseling teams take care to investigate all the tips sent through the app.

“As an institution of learning, there is no more important work than to help our kids meet the highest academic benchmarks. That said, the proper social emotional supports need to also be in place and working in collaboration with effective teaching in order for kids to self-actualize,” he said. “The mental health needs of our kids in school has never been more great, as outlined this morning at the summit. I will continue to keep that commitment as a high priority for our kids at Alta.”

Cox, who spoke to Saturday attendees of the summit, said “what you are doing today is a very big deal … we are here to save lives.”

The SafeUT mobile app can be downloaded for free from the App Store or Google Play.

Canyons was among the first districts in Utah to roll out access to SafeUT, which also provides an avenue for students to submit anonymous safety tips.
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.”
The first-ever members to join Alta High’s marching band will be graduating this year — and they’ll be celebrating in a big way.

After four years of high-stepping, twirling and drumming, Canyons District’s only marching band will be taking their talent across the country to represent Utah in the 13th annual National Memorial Day Parade, held annually on Constitution Avenue to honor the men and women who have served valiantly in the U.S. Armed Forces.  The parade starts at 2 p.m. Eastern on Monday. 

This is the first time the award-winning band will perform in a different state, and they will be the only Utah marching band in the event. The parade is one of the country’s largest Memorial Day event.

“I had no idea we would be marching in this parade,” said Alta bandleader Caleb Shabestari, who led the band to 2A division state championships in 2013 and 2014. “I think it’s cool we’ve doubled the size of the band in four years and we’re taking a trip across the country. We couldn’t have done that last year.”

Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan nominated the marching band to represent Utah last March and the group has been preparing ever since. These days, the students attend practice two days a week to put the final touches on their patriotic program. The songs they will perform will highlight an immigrant’s journey to the United States.

“Just for the parade we’ve probably practiced for 40 hours straight,” Shabestari said. For those who won’t be able to see the parade in Washington, D.C. on Monday, May 29, the band will perform the same numbers at parades this summer in Sandy and Draper. 

The parade also will be streamed live on military.com.  

In June, the Alta High marching band will begin rehearsals for the summer band program, which includes flashy performances in Fourth of July and city celebration parades. The students range in age from seventh- to 12th grades and hail from all parts of the District. 

In the fall, the group will start working on their fall competition program, which will feature a theme of air, flight and planes, with completely original music. Students from all over Canyons participate in the District band located at Alta.

 “My goal at the end of five years is to have a band with over 100 people,” Shabestari said. “We are well on track to do that.”
A whopping 22 stellar students from Canyons District’s five traditional comprehensive high schools find out tonight if they have been selected as 2017 Sterling Scholars in their respective categories.  Winners in the 55th annual scholarship program sponsored by the Deseret News and KSL-TV Channel 5 will be announced during a ceremony at the LDS Conference Center’s Little Theater, 60 West North Temple.  Students from Alta, Brighton, Corner Canyon, Hillcrest and Jordan high schools are in the finals in all but one of the judged categories.  Last year, Canyons students walked away with several awards.   Anthony Cheng, from Hillcrest High, was announced as the top mathematician — and the overall general scholar. Sadie Chidester and Camden Seeborg, both from Corner Canyon, won in the Skilled and Technical Sciences and World Languages categories, respectively.  Here’s a list of Canyons District’s 2017 finalists:

Business and Marketing
Elizabeth Ericksen, Corner Canyon

Computer Technology
Abigail Olsen, Hillcrest
Ryan Dalby, Brighton
Ellek Linton, Corner Canyon

Dance
Caroline Tarbet, Hillcrest
Ashley Jex, Alta
Audrey Memmott, Corner Canyon


English
Nain Christopherson, Jordan
Alexandra Carlile, Hillcrest

Family and Consumer Sciences Education
Carlee Culberson, Jordan

Mathematics
Ben Hiatt, Corner Canyon

Science
Boyd Christiansen, Jordan
Michelle White, Hillcrest

Skilled & Technical Sciences Education
Mary Evans, Hillcrest
Mykell Johnson, Alta

Social Sciences
Eliza Bennett, Jordan

Speech, Theatre Arts, Forensics
Emma Smith, Alta

Visual Arts
Dexter Holmes, Jordan
Meg Warnock, Corner Canyon

Vocal Performance
Kristen Fairbourn, Alta

World Languages
Cade Kartchner, Hillcrest
Julianne Liu, Brighton
Prepare to soar toward a brilliant future, Hawks.

The Canyons Board of Education on Tuesday, June 14, 2016 embraced a first-of-its-kind partnership with the University of Utah that will give flight to the higher-education aspirations of stellar students attending Alta High School.

A Memo of Understanding between the first new school district to be created in Utah in a century and the Utah’s flagship institution of the state System of Higher Education was approved during the Board of Education’s business meeting at the Canyons Administration Building-East, 9361 S. 300 East.

The alliance is the U.’s second academic, early-college partnership with a secondary school. However, it is the tier-one, PAC 12 research institution’s first official collaboration with a traditional, comprehensive public high school.

The Canyons program — called Step2theU — will grant a select cohort of Alta-enrolled students the opportunity to study with University of Utah professors and instructors at the U.’s Sandy Campus. Alta’s administration aims to open the first competitive application process in the coming months. Those selected would need to be prepared to start in summer 2017.

"The Canyons Board of Education is pleased to provide this innovative program to the students of Alta High,” said Board President Sherril H. Taylor. “We’re honored to forge an early-college partnership with such a prestigious university, and we’re thrilled that our students will be given a chance to get a jump-start on their pursuit of post-secondary education. It also serves as just one more reason that we will continue to focus, even with our youngest students, on the importance of being college- and career-ready.”

Hawks seeking to become Utes through the program will submit applications during the fall of their junior years. If accepted, the students will be introduced to Step2theU during a summer-block program. Coursework would begin between the students’ junior and senior years, and provide an opportunity for students to finish one semester of college. Then, in the summer months after high school graduation and before the start of their freshman years, the students would take enough general-education coursework to complete another semester.

In essence, by the time the Alta students reach their first day of school at the U., they would have two complete semesters under their belts.

“This new partnership with Alta High will allow us to put everything we know about student success into a state-of-the-art, early-college experience,” said Ann Darling, Assistant Vice President of Undergraduate Studies. “We are excited to work with the great administration and staff at Alta High and Canyons School District and to serve their terrific students in their pathway to college.”

By participating, Principal Brian McGill says, Alta students could possibly save up to $10,000 in tuition, fees and other associated college costs.

The first-ever cohort would be made up of 30-35 students. The target audience of students would include current Alta students who have solid grade-point averages, as well as involvement in Advanced Placement and concurrent enrollment classes. However, the students who submit applications will be asked to detail their engagement in school extracurriculars, demonstrate leadership and personal engagement with the community, and declare a preference in continuing their studies at the U.

In addition, McGill said, the program would be heavily marketed to first-generation, minority, and low-income students.

“Canyons District’s mission is to help foster a culture of college- and career-readiness, and this innovative partnership is a way to further fulfill our commitment to our students and the families that are able to participate in this unique academic venture,” said McGill. “We have a vision at Alta High School to be the first comprehensive high school in Utah to create a new hybrid high school framework that embodies the traditional offerings in academics, arts, athletics, and extracurricular activities, combined with a this newly established early college pathway, in partnership with the University of Utah.”
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