Canyons students will have a rare opportunity to learn from a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian this Thursday, Jan. 11, at Alta High as part of the school's eighth annual history colloquium.

Alan Taylor is known for his expertise in American history, as the Thomas Jefferson Chair in American History at the University of Virginia and a former Harmsworth Professor at the University of Oxford. He has received several prestigious awards, including the Pulitzer Prize and the Bancroft Prize, as well as being a finalist for the National Book Award and George Washington Prize. The famed author and educator has been a keynote speaker at several national conventions, but this week, he'll be spending a day in Canyons at the request of Alta history teacher Rique Ochoa.

"This is designed specifically for the kids," Ochoa said. "Teachers attend and get a lot out of it, but the reality is, I designed this specifically for our students. It's like, 'If you can't get Mohammed to the mountain, bring the mountain to Mohammed.'"
alan_taylor_inline.jpg Ochoa established the colloquium at Alta in 2011 as a way to expose Canyons students to distinguished history experts from across the country. Over the years, various preeminent educators, including three Pulitzer Prize winners, have visited the home of the Hawks, making multiple presentations about their books and sitting down with a small group of students from Ochoa's class. Each time, other schools are invited to participate and learn from experts who teach at the country's top universities. Some 250 students and teachers from Jordan high and Brighton will attend the symposium, and 15 of Ochoa's honors students will have a sit-down lunch with the professor, with a unique question and answer opportunity.

"It really is a unique experience to be able to meet these people," Ochoa said. "Speakers really are intrigued by the fact that this is designed for high school kids. If it was for college, they wouldn't be as nearly as receptive to doing it. They think this is just over the top to do this for a high school."

Ochoa asked Taylor to come last year, but the author was unable, as he was working as a visiting professor at Oxford at the time. Taylor's books cover slavery, the American Revolution, colonial Virginia, American colonies, native Americans and the early settlement of the country. Of all of the speakers who have come to Alta to speak as part of the colloquium, Ochoa says Alta students are especially lucky to hear from Taylor.

"I get excited about everybody," Ochoa says, "but this one is truly a prize catch."

What: Alan Taylor will discuss two separate books about colonial American history.
When: Thursday, Jan. 11 at 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Where: Alta High School, 11055 S. 1000 East in Sandy
Rique Ochoa’s approach to teaching is simple: stick with what you love.

As an Alta High history teacher, Ochoa loves to tell stories. He loves to make history relatable to his students, and he loves to expose them to the experts in his field. That’s what has motivated him to teach for nearly 40 years, coach the debate team and establish a one-of-a-kind colloquium at Alta. It’s also the reason Ochoa has been selected as the Utah History Teacher of the Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

“School has got to be fun,” Ochoa says. “I think one of the greatest mistakes history teachers make is they forget why they liked history in the first place.”

Ochoa likes to teach his students about World War II by sharing photos of family relatives who served in the war. He shares stories about the Great Depression by describing what his father experienced during that time. When he teaches his students the story of Paul Revere, he tells them about William Dawes and Samuel Prescott, two other riders who went farther than Revere but received none of the acclaim. Ochoa knows his students love details. They love to be able to relate to history. 

To that end, Ochoa established a Social Studies Colloquium at Alta eight years ago so he could give his students opportunities to learn from other experts on history, from prestigious professors to Pulitzer Prize winners. Next year, Ellen Taylor, who won the Pulitzer Prize twice for history, is on the list of speakers who will come to the school.

“It’s just incredible,” Ochoa says. “It’s a very unique program and our kids just really get to participate and learn an awful lot more than they would any place else.”

Ochoa has followed other creative ways to expose his students to experiences they would not otherwise have. When he encountered difficulties getting his students to travel to various debate tournaments that required overnight stay, Ochoa established Canyons District as the host of one of the few available Tournament of Champions qualifying debate locations in the West.

Ochoa was selected as the Utah History Teacher of the Year by a committee of history educators, education professionals, and former winners of the Gilder Lehrman History Teacher of the Year award. The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is a non-profit organization dedicated to history education through high school. As the Utah History Teacher of the Year, Ochoa is now eligible to be considered as the National History Teacher of the Year in the fall.

“Mr. Ochoa has been and continues to be a strong pillar of support for not only our Social Studies Department, but across the spectrum of our school,” Alta Principal Brian McGill said. “Since the inception of Alta High School, Mr. Ochoa has brought … a zest and passion for serving students inside and outside the classroom, serving in such programs as Debate and Academic Decathlon. He is an integral part of Alta High School, and we are fortunate to have him as a part of our faculty. He is most deserving of this high regard and honor."
Middle-schoolers like to argue, or at least that’s how it seems as their brains develop and they’re motivated to put newly acquired critical-thinking skills to the test. Suddenly, the word “why” becomes commonplace, and the conversation at dinner feels like a scene from Perry Mason.

But that’s what makes school debate so much fun, and a valuable instructional tool. Classroom debates — and more formalized speech and debate competitions — teach students to conduct reseadebatechamps.jpgrch, organize their thoughts, collaborate and brainstorm ideas, and speak with authority, says CSD Instructional Specialist Leslie Robinett. What better way to harness students’ newfound passion for the well-articulated point?

Each year, Canyons District invites middle school and elementary-age students (in the fourth and fifth grades) to ply their rhetorical skills at a districtwide debate tournament. This year’s tourney drew more than 230 contestants and was held at Mount Jordan Middle, which walked away with most of the awards, including the title, District Team Champions.

Students were eligible to win individual events and special awards, including MVP. In all, 61 qualified to advance to the state tournament, which will be held at Alta High, April 20-21.

Here’s the full list of awardees by division and category:

2017 CSD Middle School Debate Champions

1st        Parker McKay, Mount Jordan
2nd       Raunya Barakat, Albion
3rd        Hayden Sullivant, Mount Jordan
4th        Chaitrali Samant, Albion
5th        Isabel Phillips, Albion
6th        Lilly Reidy, Eastmont
7th        Baylee Johnson, Draper Park
8th        Emma Winegar, Butler
9th        Zoey Slaughter, Eastmont
10th      Areesha Nazir, Indian Hills

Juseong Kang, Albion
Mollie Scott, Mount Jordan
Zoe Quirones, Mount Jordan
Alex Hill, Eastmont
Anna Chubak, Indian Hills
Josh Huff, Butler
Luc Doucette, Albion

1st  Angelica Hsueh, Draper Park
2nd Matthew Bronson, Indian Hills
3rd Elias Stennet, Mount Jordan
4th Andrew Davidson, Indian Hills
5th Jordan Ogg, Indian Hills
6th Chase Elggren, Albion
7th Logan Rose, Mount Jordan

1st Hayden Sullivant, Mount Jordan
2nd Parker McKay, Mount Jordan
3rd Elias Stennet, Mount Jordan
4th Raunya Barakat, Albion
5th Fatima Zaidi, Albion
*not a state event

Lincoln-Douglas Debate Speakers*
1st Ethan Updike, Mount Jordan
2nd Ashton Pelley, Mount Jordan
3rd Cameron Johns, Albion
4th P.J. Pearmain, Eastmont
5th Zoe Liu, Midvale
*not a state qualifier

Lincoln-Douglas Debate
1st        Abbey Simmons, Mount Jordan
2nd       Porter Eldredge, Albion
3rd        AJ Rowland, Mount Jordan
4th        Fatima Zaidi, Albion
5th        Alex Morzelewski, Eastmont
6th        Ethan Updike, Mount Jordan
7th        Ashton Pelley, Mount Jordan
8th        Cameron Johns, Albion
9th        Zoe Liu, Midvale
10th      John Askew, Draper Park
11th      Emily Erickson, Indian Hills
12th      Merrin Maughan, Eastmont
State qualifier  Gabriel Min, Butler

Policy Debate Speaker Awards*
1st        Katelyn Johnson, Midvale
2nd       April Dong, Midvale
3rd        Saisha Vankayalapati, Midvale
4th        Rian Liew, Midvale
5th        Caizden Agnew, Indian Hills
6th        Xinying Bi, Midvale
7th        Marianne Liu, Midvale
8th        Madelyn Azares, Albion
9th        Erin Zhang, Midvale
10th      Michael Chan, Midvale
*Not state qualifiers

Policy Debate
1st        Michael Koyle and Alan Aguilar, Mount Jordan
2nd       Anders Sandberg and Landon Brough, Draper Park
3rd        Isaac Middlemas and Coleman Rhode, Union
4th        Leith Sherman and Joe O’Neal, Draper Park
5th        Ryan Hueniuk and Britton Bettinson, Eastmont
6th        April Dong and Erin Zhang, Midvale
7th        Brian Y and Rian Liew, Midvale
8th        Paris Snider and Madely Azares, Albion
9th        Katelynn Johnson and Anna Hsu, Midvale
10th      Isabella Nibley and Anna Pager, Draper Park
State Qualifiers: 
McKayla Mower and Caizden Agnew, Indian Hills
Will Mercurio and Beau Starbuck, Butler

Coaches’ Award
Logan Rolfson, Albion                        
Will Mercuri, Butler               
Anna Page, Draper Park         
Alex Morzelewski, Eastmont (District Award Winner)
Andrew Davidson and Ryan Pomeroy, Indian Hills   
Katelynn Johnson, Midvale    
Abigail Simmons, Mount Jordan       
Isaac Middlemas, Union                    

Most Valuable Participant
Madelyn Azares, Albion                     
Beau Starbuck, Butler            
Isabella Nibley, Draper Park  
Hailey Hendrickson, Eastmont           
Emily Erickson, Indian Hills    
Zoe Liu, Midvale        
Ashton Pelley, Mount Jordan (District Award Winner)
Coleman Rhode, Union                      

Canyons School District Team Champions
1st                   Mount Jordan
2nd                   Albion
3rd                    Eastmont

2017 CSD Elementary District Debate Champions

Elementary I Pro
1st Drew Morgan and Quin Briggs, Brookwood
2nd Jeremy Baker and Miles Morgan, Brookwood
3rd Cheyenne Frank and Wyatt Horning, Ridgecrest
4th Isa McMaster and Ava Karimi, Ridgecrest
Andrew Murphy and Ethan Vidal, Draper
Nate Riedel and Tate Hales, Brookwood

Elementary I Con
1st Lauren Gray and Bria Johnson, Brookwood
2nd Vance Longhurst and Austin Longhurst, Ridgecrest
3rd Randee Tormondsen and Reese Jones, Draper
4th Lance Gray and Ryles Rackley, Brookwood
Hannah Fellows and Gabby McCall, Ridgecrest
Isabelle Chambers and Grace Vidal, Draper

Elementary II Pro
1st  Edward Loh and Tina Zhou, Peruvian Park
2nd Fiona Zara and Kaliana Suhuka, Peruvian Park
3rd Ivan Chen and Deeraj Vislawath, Peruvian Park
4th Anna Oldham and Michael O’Neal, Sunrise
5th Mitch Phippen and Ben Martin, Draper
Teagan Kay and Gracie Johnson, Sunrise
Rachel Scott and Kassandra Holt, Sunrise

Elementary II Con
1st Rachel Scott and Kassandra Holt, Peruvian Park
2ndAvery Parry and Sara Moienvaziri, Peruvian Park
3rd  Tyler Olsen and Josh Martin, Peruvian Park
4th Jaclyn Wei and Mila Malyuchik, Peruvian Park
5th Austin Taylor and Jacob An, Peruvian Park
Hannah Larsen and Peyton Denkers, Peruvian Park
Jordan Pomeroy and Jeremy Christensen, Sunrise

Speaker Awards*
1st Ben Martin, Draper
2nd Hannah Larsen, Peruvian Park
3rd Elijah Keister, Sunrise
4th Callie Shroeder, Peruvian Park
5th Randee Tormondsen, Draper
6th Gabriel Williams, Peruvian Park
7th Gracie Johnson, Sunrise
8th Lauren Gray, Brookwood
9th Caelan Stocker, Peruvian Park
10th Amelia Jennings, Sunrise
*not a state qualification

1st Denali Workman, Oakdale
2nd Helen Frazier, Oakdale
3rd Angelina Hickcox, Oakdale
4th Jaydan Hurtado, Oakdale
Luke Christensen, Oakdale

1st Mason Lohrke, Oakdale
2nd Cache Despain, Oakdale
3rd Nathan Cater, Oakdale
Alternate:  Lilly Hutchings

Do the winter blues have you down? Would you rather disappear into Victorian England, consider the value of individuality, laugh about society’s pitfalls, pretend you are at the Globe Theatre or spy on the Salem witch trials from the comfort of a high school auditorium? Never fear, Canyons’ students are hard at work on this year’s lineup of Winter-Spring plays — and they’re ready to transport you to your destination of choice.

From “Hamlet” to “Urinetown,” each of Canyons’ high schools — and several middle schools — will be presenting a variety of musicals and plays beginning later this month.

“Our goal is to create a unique version of the world’s most famous play that will cause audiences to realize they can understand Shakespeare,” says the award-winning Hillcrest d16425746_3878946570826_6174560334808074503_n.jpgrama teacher Josh Long. Hillcrest’s production will feature three different versions of Shakespeare’s original script for a streamlined performance, transported into a modern setting, with digital screens surrounding the audience.

Long chose to present “Hamlet” as an additional challenge to his students, who are already four-time Shakespeare Competition champions and four-time State Champions.

Here is a rundown of CSD's theatrical productions:
  • Alta: The Crucible, 7 p.m. Feb. 22-25 @ Alta auditorium
  • Jordan High: Jane Austen’s “Emma,” 7 p.m. March 2-4, 6 @ Jordan auditorium
  • Hillcrest: Hamlet, 7 p.m., March 17-18, 20 @ Hillcrest auditorium
  • Corner Canyon: Urinetown, 7 p.m. May 17-20 @ Corner Canyon auditorium
Middle school performances: 
  • Draper Park Middle: The Lion King Jr. 7:30 p.m. March 7-11
  • Mt. Jordan Middle: Fame! Jr. 7 p.m. May 12, 16-18
Alta senior Josh Davis is a force to be reckoned with both on and off the football field. He’s Alta’s go-to for carrying and running the ball, he’s scored 72 touchdowns and he earned 5,290 rushing yards as a Hawk. But Davis is also a dedicated student, with a GPA of 3.86, and he spends his time volunteering in the community and helping in a retirement home.

In recognition of his accomplishments, Davis was selected as the 2016 Utah Gatorade Player of the Year. “The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character, distinguishes Davis as Utah’s best high school football player,” the Gatorade organization wrote in a news release about Davis’ recognition.

Davis is the third Gatorade Utah Football Player of the year to be chosen from Alta in 32 years, and the fourth in the Canyons District. Previous winners include Brighton’s Simi Fehoko, who won the 2015-2016 award, and Jordan’s Austin Kafentzis, who won in 2012-2013 and 2014-2015.
Screen_Shot_2016-12-29_at_8.15.57_AM.png The coveted title is one of many claimed by Davis over the years. The 6-foot, 170-pound running back is a two-time pick for KSL-TV Game Night 4A MVP and the All-Tribune team. This year, he was named to The Tribune’s All-State Team and was dubbed an MVP by the Deseret News. If that wasn’t enough, Davis was hand-picked for the USA TODAY High School Sports' 2016 American Family Insurance ALL-USA Utah Football Team.

Davis has been credited with helping to revive Alta’s storied football program, and push his team to the Class 4A semifinals this year. He scored 28 touchdowns in his senior year and finished the season with 2,645 yards, breaking the state single-season record for all-purpose yards and averaging 203.5 yards per game. Davis is so fast he even qualified for the finals of the 100-meter dash at the state track and field championships last spring.

“The kid can run inside, he can run outside, and he’s so explosive, so you can’t get a headshot,” Alta coach Alema Te’O told the Salt Lake Tribune. “Plus, he blocks well, he catches the ball out of the backfield, he’s a threat on special teams — he’s by far the best running back I’ve ever been associated with in my career at the high school level.”

Davis graduates this year, but fans may soon be able to see him take the field for one of the many colleges that have reportedly extended him offers, including, Air Force, Army, Weber State and Southern Utah.
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