Twenty-six more Canyons District athletes have been presented Academic All-State Awards this year for excelling in sports and in the classroom.

The awards are announced each sports season by the Utah High School Activities Association with this latest round going to students involved in track and field, boys soccer, baseball, softball, girls golf and boys tennis. This brings to 65 the total number of CSD honorees in 2017-2018. 

Congratulations to these sporting scholars:

5A Boys Soccer, Combined GPA, 3.999
David Brog, Brighton 
Thatcher Schwendiman, Brighton 
Jace Vance, Brighton

5A Baseball, Combined GPA 3.994
Zachary Larson, Brighton
Matthew Ebeling, Corner Canyon
Dalton Hagen, Corner Canyon

5A Softball, Combined GPA 3.991
Maguire Wright, Alta 
Erin Christensen, Brighton 

6A Girls Track and Field, Combined GPA 4.0
Madison Hooper, Hillcrest 
Madeline Martin, Hillcrest 
Jessica Ulrich, Hillcrest 

5A Girls Track and Field, Combined GPA 4.0
Claudia Caten, Brighton 
Emily Johansen, Brighton 
Olivia Liu, Brighton
Nicole Critchfield, Corner Canyon 
Makenzie Easton, Corner Canyon 
Raili Jenkins, Corner Canyon 
Hannah Sanderson, Corner Canyon 
Madison Westerlind, Corner Canyon 

5A Boys Track and Field, Combined GPA, 4.0
Aaron Jackson, Corner Canyon 
Trevor Lawson, Corner Canyon 
Michael Petty, Corner Canyon 

5A Boys Tennis, 3.997 GPA
Trek Lewis, Corner Canyon

6A Girls Golf, 3.986 Combined GPA
Jessica Ulrich, Hillcrest 

5A Girls Golf, Combined GPA 3.990
Mia Montgomery, Brighton 
Katherine Pearson, Brighton
If rebuilding a high school is a major undertaking, try tackling three at once. This summer, construction crews will begin work on rebuilds of Brighton and Hillcrest high schools along with a major renovation of Alta High.

Architectural firms, with input from students, parents, employees and community leaders, have been hard at work shaping plans for the improvement projects — the largest and most complicated of many more to be financed by the $283 million bond approved by voters in 2017. At Open Houses in the coming weeks, community members will have a chance to preview the still-developing plans (see the schedule of events below).

“This is such an exciting time for the District,” says Canyons District Board of Education President Sherril H. Taylor. “We’re not just building schools, we’re building communities. With the completion of these projects, all of our high schools will be brought up to a high quality facilities standard. The safety and technological upgrades will improve the learning environments for generations of students, including the children of those now enrolled. It’s a momentous undertaking, and one that wouldn’t be possible without our patrons.”

The high schools will be built in phases over 2-3 years so as to allow them to remain in operation during the construction. Tackling all three at once is ambitious, but in order to keep costs contained, it was imperative to get to work as quickly as possible, says CSD’s Business Administrator Leon Wilcox.

Construction costs have soared, and are expected to continue to rise in the near future, Wilcox says. “We want to lock-in costs now on the largest and most complicated bond projects.”

Each project varies according to the priorities established by the school communities. But among common focuses are school safety, sustainability, and futuristic thinking. Wilcox says, “We’re building these schools to last and to accommodate the rapidly changing technological demands and instructional practices of modern classrooms.”

Careful attention is also being paid to preserve recent investments, such as the schools’ new football stadiums. Taking cues from research on the health and learning benefits of natural light, large windows and skylights are planned for commons areas and classrooms.

Since Canyons’ inception, the District has worked to address the safety and technological deficiencies of the aging buildings it received from a previous school district while also planning for growth. The 13th and final project financed with proceeds from a bond approved by voters in 2010 — the renovation of Indian Hills Middle — will be completed in time for start of the 2018-2019 school year.

Everyone is invited to attend the community Open Houses to showcase plans for the high schools. There will be presentations by architects, and an opportunity to submit questions and comments. The dates, times and locations are as follows:

Brighton High School
Tuesday, April 17 at 6 p.m. in the Auditorium
Featuring MHTN Architects

Hillcrest High School 
Wednesday, April 18 starting at 6 p.m. in the Auditorium
Featuring FFKR Architects

Alta High School
Wednesday, April 25, 7-9 p.m. in the Auditorium
VCBO Architecture
High school graduation is a rite of passage, a time for celebrating academic achievement, and an opportunity to spotlight our exceptional students and faculty. It’s one of those can’t-miss events, so mark your calendars now!

The District’s five traditional high schools will all perform commencement rites on Tuesday, June 5.

Ceremonies for special programs and schools are held on separate dates in May and June. Following are the dates, locations and times:

  • Alta High School — June 5, 10 a.m., Huntsman Center at University of Utah
  • Brighton High School — June 5, 2 p.m., Maverik Center
  • Corner Canyon High — June 5, 2 p.m., Huntsman Center at University of Utah
  • Hillcrest High School — June 5, 10 a.m., Maverik Center
  • Jordan High School — June 5, 6 p.m., Maverik Center
  • Diamond Ridge — June 6, 7 p.m., Mt. Jordan Middle
  • South Park School — May 31, 8 a.m. at Utah State Prison 
  • Entrada — June 26, 7 p.m., Jordan High School
  • Jordan Valley School — June 1, 11 a.m., Jordan Valley School
  • Canyons Transitions Academy — June 6, noon, Professional Development Center in CSD’s East Administration Building
It was a big night for arts education. Three talented Canyons District artists walked away winners from the 2018 Sterling Scholar Awards, an academic excellence contest sponsored by the Deseret News and KSL Broadcast Group.

Brighton High’s Sofia Rahaniotis was named Utah’s Sterling Scholar in the Speech, Theatre and Arts category, Alta High’s Addie Wray won the Vocal Performance category, and Hillcrest High’s Kara Komarnitsky won in Dance. They were joined on the podium by two Hillcrest Huskies who were named runners-up in the academic-excellence program: Sterling Larson in the World Languages category and Alex Sun in Science.

Rahaniotis, Ray and Komarnitsky were among 11 CSD students to be named finalists in Utah's Sterling Scholar competition, which honors students “for the pursuit of excellence in scholarship, leadership and citizenship.”  They each received $2,500 scholarships, and runners-up received $1,000 scholarships.

A member of the Brighton’s nationally-recognized Model United Nations team, Rahaniotis was previously awarded Brigham Young University’s Model United Nations Distinguished Delegation Award and Peer Award. She has a 4.0 grade point average, ranks first in her class, and is senior class President. She has volunteered for the Road Home homeless shelter, the American Red Cross, the Tyler Robinson Foundation, and many other charities. “To learn from, teach and inspire through art for which I feel such indescribable passion is to me the pinnacle of happiness,” she says. “I’m among those who are fortunate enough to experience such unmatched artistic joy and for this, I am truly thankful.”

Komarnitsky has performed for Salt Lake’s Repertory Dance Theatre and has been the President of Hillcrest’s dance company for three years. She spent more than 50 hours with the Washington State Trails Association rebuilding a handicap access trail, she tutors students in biology and French and holds a black belt in taekwondo. “Challenge is the method to reach future growth,” she says, “and dance challenges me to grow in different ways every day.”

Alta’s Addie Wray has played the leading role in three musicals. By age 11, she had performed in two professional shows. She has donated her time to support programs for people with special needs and says, “Vocal performing is something I was born to do, that I live, love and breathe eternally.”
In this digital age of distraction and social isolation, a few dozen Brighton High artists found connection and meaning in the deep human themes depicted in the ancient wall art and petroglyphs of Nine Mile Canyon.

Their trip through the dusty wilds of southern Utah was an educational journey through time, serving as artistic inspiration for a mural they unveiled on Wednesday. For some, the hours spent surrounded by sandstone monoliths and aromatic sagebrush was a restorative break from the hectic pace of an urban high school. Others found connection in communing with voices from the past. Many remarked on how the scope, importance and lasting nature of the art project gave them a sense of purpose.

“The making of beauty, the investing of yourself into making beautiful things in your landscape knowing that they’re going to endure beyond you, knowing that they’ll be there for the next generation, for your grandchildren…is a commitment,” says Lakota/Plains Apache storyteller Dovie Thomason. “If not sacred, we’d certainly call it a top priority.”

Brighton is the fifth Canyons District high school to create a Sacred Images mural as a monument to indigenous peoples. The piece will be permanently installed at the school after the campus is rebuilt with proceeds from a general obligation bond approved by voters in Nov. 2017. The project was made possible by the Center for Documentary Expression and Art and its “Sacred Images” artist-in-residence program, which paired students with Thomason, Ute spiritual leader Larry Cesspooch and muralist Miguel Galaz — guides whose role was to empower students to express themselves.  



Before entering Nine Mile Canyon, Ute Elder and Spiritual Leader Larry Cesspooch gathered with students to bless them with an eagle’s wing. He also shared the Ute creation story and several other tales that have become part of Ute oral tradition over the centuries. 

To hear these and other familiar tales retold by Cesspooch and Thomason “gave the stories a voice that I had never heard before,” said Brighton English teacher Ron Meyer. “It was such a beautiful thing, and I think my students really appreciated that.”

Funding was provided by the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts and Parks Program. Board members and District administrators and dignitaries, including Shirlee Silversmith, Director of the Utah Division of Indian Affairs, were on hand for the unveiling to celebrate the achievement. 

But the mural was wholly conceived and created by students. “I’d like to take credit, but seriously these students, they did it,” said commercial and AP art teacher Derek Chandler. “We got hands-on and spray-painted, we masked, and we did different art forms that we hadn’t done before.”

The mural, with its bright orange and blue hues, has a characteristically Bengal flair. But beneath the neon paint is a layer of sepia-toned historical photographs depicting people and places who been unifying forces in the students’ world. “When we created the background, we tried to focus on things that brought us together as a community and as a nation,” said student artist Jessica Brunt. “I’m really grateful to have been a part of this project. It was something I’ll never forget and that has helped make me a better person.”

Video courtesy of the Center for Documentary Expression and the Arts.

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