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What do Bell View Elementary kindergartners want to be when they grow up? College ready!

“I will be college ready!” was the resounding cheer at the Sandy school as the Class of 2028 celebrated Kindergarten College-Ready Day on Friday, Aug. 28, 2015. Now in its seventh year in Canyons School District, Kindergarten College-Ready Day gives CSD teachers and principals the opportunity to talk about college and careers with their youngest students. Some 2,500 kindergartners in 29 CSD elementary schools capped their first week of school by engaging in activities and discussions about how college can help them achieve their dreams. Each kindergartner also received a wristband imprinted with the message, "I will be college-ready ... Class of 2028."

Bell View’s morning kindergarten classes were greeted by their teachers, Colleen Eldridge and Laura Wally, who sported University of Utah and Utah State University shirts to show their college pride. The teachers talked about the symbols of their colleges, and told students that going to college helped them to achieve their dreams of becoming school teachers. The kindergartners sported vests depicting an array of careers, from an astronaut to a forest ranger, and presented their occupations to the class while they cheered, “I will be college-ready!” Students applauded Eldridge and Principal Christine Webb as they unfurled for the kindergartners their own college-ready banner. Students next week will place their painted thumbprints and signatures on the banner to display their college-ready pledge in the school’s halls.  

Canyons District is focused on ensuring all students are college- and career-ready when they graduate from high school, and recognizes the importance of expressing this goal early in a child's education. Kindergarten College-Ready Day premiered in 2009, the first academic year for Utah's first voter-created school district in a century.  The Canyons Board of Education in February 2010 approved an academic plan that introduced Utah’s first college- and career-ready diplomas.

How can parents help young children start thinking about and preparing for college? Here are a few tips:
  • When you ask your child, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” follow up with the question, “Where do you want to go to college?”
  • Visit college campuses.
  • Teach organization and good homework habits.
  • Remind kids that mistakes are a valuable part of learning.
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  • On your mark, get set, go! Canyons School District is preparing to launch its Middle School Intramurals Program, now in its seventh season. Activities planned for the 2015-2016 academic year include cross country, chess, 3-on-3 basketball, and soccer. Activities are open to all students in sixth- through eighth-grades, and culminate with districtwide tournaments.

    The 2015-2016 Middle School Intramurals districtwide tournament schedule is as follows:

    -          Cross Country: Saturday, Oct. 10, 9 a.m., Eastmont Middle

    -          Chess: Jan. 23, Mount Jordan Middle

    -          3-on-3 Basketball: March 22-24, Jordan High

    -          Soccer:  May 12 at Union Middle

    Canyons District kicked off the Middle School Intramurals Program in its inaugural academic year. The program since fall 2009 has offered students competitive athletic and academic events in which everyone is welcome to participate.  Interested students should contact their school’s front office for details.

    Canyons School District is launching a soccer league for ninth- and 10th-graders in efforts to give students more opportunities to get involved in athletics.  The league includes teams from every CSD high school – Alta, Brighton, Corner Canyon, Hillcrest and Jordan – and teams from Granite District’s Granger, Kearns and Hunter high schools.

    League play kicks off Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015 with the 2015 Girls Soccer Tournament. Games are held Wednesdays at 3:30 p.m. The tournament runs through Oct. 7. Home CSD games will be held at the fields adjacent to Butler Middle School, 7530 S. 2700 East, and at the temporary home of Midvale Middle School, 11150 S. 300 East.

    “The opportunity to kick off a new soccer league for freshman and sophomore students is exciting,” said Jordan High Assistant Principal Roberto Jimenez, who oversees the CSD league. “We think of the league as a developmental program. You don’t need to be an experienced player; you only need the desire to participate.”

    The Canyons Board of Education last year voted to provide additional competitive sports opportunities for freshmen and sophomores. Freshman volleyball was offered last year.

    The boys soccer league will begin in the spring.
    Hats off to the Class of 2015! Seventy-two percent of graduates earned one of Canyons School District's unique college-ready diplomas by challenging themselves with more rigorous coursework. The preliminary numbers represent and all-time high for Canyons District, and a continued upward trend in the number of CSD students earning Advanced and Honors Diplomas.

    Canyons is Utah's first school district to award students differentiated diplomas to indicate college- and career-readiness. The Board adopted the Advanced and Honors diplomas in 2010, and first awarded them to the Class of 2011. Since that time, the number of students earning diplomas has climbed from 60 percent of the Class of 2011 to 72 percent of the Class of 2015. Last year, 71 percent of the graduating class earned one of the college-ready diplomas.

    In addition to current graduation standards, the Advanced Diploma requires students to complete two credits of world language; credits in more rigorous laboratory sciences and college-prep English in the 12th grade; and competency in Algebra 2.

    The Honors Diploma requires students to complete Advanced Diploma requirements and earn College-Readiness Benchmark Scores on the ACT college-entrance exam. The Benchmark Scores are (on a scale of 1-36): 18 in English; 22 in Reading; 22 in Mathematics; and 23 in Science.

    The Class of 2015 includes 2,293 graduates. Of them, 40 percent earned the Advanced Diploma, compared to 36 percent of the Class of 2014. Additionally, 32 percent of the Class of 2015 earned the Honors Diploma, compared to 35 percent of the Class of 2014. A slight decline in the number of Honors Diplomas recipients was expected this year. ACT revised College Readiness Benchmark scores in 2013. This is the first CSD graduating class required to meet the new benchmark scores to receive an Honors Diploma.

    The data for the Class of 2015 are estimates, and will be solidified in the fall.
    Let the reconstruction begin. With the plunge of shovels into the ground, community leaders joined students in the ceremonial "turning of the dirt" to begin the reconstruction of Butler Elementary School. The April 22, 2015 groundbreaking celebration at the school's Cottonwood Heights campus drew a crowd of about 150 students, parents, city leaders and community members to cheer the start of a new era for the school with deep historical roots.

    "We're hosting this event for several reasons: First, to celebrate the fact that this day has finally arrived," said Board Member Amber Shill, who represents District 2, which includes the Butler Elementary community. "I have no doubt that many of you wondered if this day would actually ever be realized. But it's here, and Canyons District is proud to announce that it is holding true to its promise to build a new and improved school for the students of Butler Elementary."

    The new building's entrance will feature a school bell to pay tribute to the rich history of Butler Elementary, originally constructed as a one-room school house in the 1890s in the historic community of Butlerville. The new school also draws inspiration from the beautiful mountains just outside its doors, with exterior courtyards to be themed after local canyons. Classroom wings also will contain individual themes. The school's 27 classrooms will contain lighting controls, audio-visual equipment, and be fully wired for the high-tech demands of a 21st Century education.

    The building also will contain solar shading on all southern-facing windows, and a spacious cafeteria, kitchen and commons area in which students and community members can gather. Classrooms and hallways will feature natural light – a feature that brought cheers from students at the groundbreaking celebration.

    "From day one, the focus of the design has been about creating the best learning environment for our students, and a great work environment for our hard-working teachers," Principal Christy Waddell said. "We're proud of this new addition to the Cottonwood Heights community. ... It's exciting to think that in a little more than a year, we'll be in our new school. "

    The groundbreaking was followed by a community open house. There, members of the public could view renderings of the new school, designed by VCBO Architecture with input from students, educators and community members. They also could receive information about community access to the campus during construction.

    Construction of the new school, to be overseen by Hogan & Associates Construction, begins May 1, 2015. The school will be rebuilt on the Butler Elementary School campus, adjacent to the current building. Students will attend school in the current building during construction. The new school is scheduled to open in fall 2016.

    The Butler Elementary reconstruction is financed with proceeds from the $250 million bond that Canyons School District voters approved in 2010. It is one in a series of districtwide bond-funded projects, including the rebuilding of Butler Middle School, completed in 2013, and upgrades at Brighton High School in Cottonwood Heights.

    "Canyons District is dedicated to student achievement, innovation, customer service and community engagement. Today would not be possible without your support," Shill told attendees. "The District has been able to rebuild this school because of your vote of confidence — and especially the Butler community's tireless effort to see a new building in this neighborhood."

    The Canyons Board of Education has maintained neutral tax rates as promised to the public during the bond election, and this spring approved the issuance of the final $42 million in bonds. Canyons' AAA Bond Rating has enabled the district to secure low interest rates to save taxpayers money. In 2014, Canyons was able to refinance some of the debt issued by the former Jordan School District to save the district $4.5 million.

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