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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.
A familiar face will lead Hillcrest High into the shine of this fall’s Friday Night Lights.

Not only have Husky fans spotted him on the sidelines at Schick Stadium, students see him every day in the hallways and psychology class.

Ron Hill, the Huskies’ former offensive coordinator and a current teacher in Hillcrest’s vaunted International Baccalaureate program, this week was announced as the school’s new head football coach.

Hill, who also previously coached at Judge Memorial Catholic High School, was chosen after a national search. His appointment was announced to the faculty on Thursday, and Hill and some members of the coaching staff met with returning and prospective players on Friday afternoon.

“Our search was exhaustive. We really looked for the best-possible fit for us here at Hillcrest. We are confident that we did that,” Assistant Principal Justin Matagi said at the team meeting.  “With Coach Hill, we think we can keep up the momentum we’ve trying to build over the past couple of years.”

Hill, a University of Utah product, succeeds Cazzie Brown, who died a few weeks into last season from complications of a viral infection. The team, riding on a high from a berth in the state playoffs at the end of Brown’s first year, reeled in mourning — and never recovered.   

“We were on our way, you guys. We were making steps,” Hill acknowledged on Friday as players, many of them clad in Husky green jerseys, stood around him. “But then a very unfortunate incident came about that affected all of us.  It was something over which we had no control, there is no doubt about that.”

The new coach hailed Brown’s legacy and asked the team to rise above the challenges they faced after his untimely death.  “He left us with one final lesson — and we all have to fight through it,” he said.  “I want to move forward, and It’s time to move forward.”

 Hill also laid bare his expectations, both in the classroom and the playing field, for those donning the Hillcrest uniform. Failing grades — or failures to attend practice — will not be tolerated, he said. Dedication and commitment to learning will be hallmarks of the Husky program, Hill told the players.

“I’m an academic.  It means everything to me,” he said.  “You are going to so much farther with what you have up here (in your head) than with how well you can catch a football.”

But he also plans on being competitive. The “old school” training will be intensive and designed to build “big guys” and “monsters,” he said. Hill also asked the members of the team for some help recruiting more players. In order to be successful, he said, the team needs a deeper bench.  “Fellas,” he said, “I need numbers.” 

For Hill, who has started the Twitter account @coachhillhhh to communicate with the community, the chance the helm the Huskies’ football team is “absolutely a dream come true.”

“We are back online and we are fired up,” he said. “I can’t tell you how excited I am.”
As Canyons District teachers, parents and students start anew in the maiden days of January, these wise words of Nobel Peace Prize-winner Malala Yousafzai ring truer than ever: “One book, one pen, one child and one teacher can change the world.”

At the outset of 2018, the Board of Education and Administration invite you to resolve to express appreciation to the teachers in Canyons District who are educating the next generation of community leaders, artists, technology whizzes and entrepreneurs. You can do this by submitting a nomination for the 2018 Canyons District Teacher of the Year. 

Nominations are now being taken for this year’s Canyons District Teacher of the Year honor. Submissions will be accepted until Friday, Feb. 2.  Per tradition, Canyons District recognizes a Teacher of the Year from every Canyons school for outstanding teaching practices, professionalism, and community involvement.

From that field, one overall Teacher of the Year is selected to represent the District in the state top-teacher competition and receives the 2018 CSD Apex Award for Teacher of the Year — the highest award given to teachers by the Canyons Board of Education.

Every school-based Teacher of the Year receives gifts and prizes donated by CSD’s generous business partners.   

This year, the Board and Administration will announce one top teacher from the elementary, middle and high school levels. Those three will receive additional honors, which will be presented at an April 24 community celebration and announcement of our overall Canyons Teacher of the Year. 

To nominate your favorite teacher for the top award, fill out the following form and return it to your school.

pdfTeacher of the Year nomination form

Last year's winner of the Teacher of the Year honor was Drew Fosse, a teacher at Union Middle School.
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 Board of Education, acting as a Board of Canvassers, on Tuesdsay, Nov. 21, 2017 voted unanimously to accept the tally of the votes in the Nov. 7 bond election — the results of which will enable the District to immediately continue building up Canyons with modern, safe and welcoming schools.   

According to the Salt Lake County Clerk’s Office, 57.8 percent of the 51,429 residents who cast ballots voted in favor of the District’s $283 million bond proposal. Some 42.2 percent voted against the tax-rate-neutral measure. Voter turnout was 48.2 percent.  A canvas, or an examination, of the returns is required two weeks after an election. 

Funds garnered through a series of issuances will be used on 11 major construction and renovation projects. This includes rebuilds of Brighton and Hillcrest high schools, a significant renovation of Alta High, a rebuild of Union Middle, rebuilds of Peruvian Park and Midvalley elementary schools, a new school in the White City area, and a new school in the west Draper section of the District. Offices at six elementary schools will be remodeled, classrooms will replace the portables at Corner Canyon High, and 18 other elementary schools also will get windows and skylights to bring in natural light to classrooms and hallways.

With the vote of confidence, the District is moving quickly to realize the facility-improvement plans created at the outset of the bond proposal. On Tuesday night, the Board unanimously adopted a resolution authorizing the issuance of up to $49 million in general-obligation bonds to pay for construction and for refunding certain obligations of the District for a cost savings. The bonds can be sold after the required 30-day contest period of the bond election.

The Board already has selected the general contractors to oversee the construction of new Brighton and Hillcrest high schools and the major renovation at Alta High. An architectural firm also has been selected to design the new Union Middle. Even with the actions, the Board members have firmly emphasized that no project-priority list has been approved.  The contract approvals simply secure a price for contractor work. The Board will continue its discussions regarding project timetables at an upcoming meeting.

After the Board officially accepted the ballot count, Board 1st Vice President Nancy Tingey noted the successful bond vote came nearly 10 years to the day that residents in Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Midvale, Sandy and the town of Alta voted to create a new school district, which eventually became Canyons. “This is historic,” Tingey said. “I think it’s a major event for our District. Driving here (to the meeting) tonight, I was thinking back 10 years ago, when the District was created and what has been able to occur in the past 10 years in our community. I wanted to recognize that and celebrate that.”

The canvassed results show the majority of voters in every municipality in Canyons District voted in favor of the bond. In Cottonwood Heights and Midvale, 62.5 percent voted in favor of the measure. In Draper and Sandy, the figure reached 56.6 percent and 56 percent, respectively.

Canyons Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe congratulated the Board on the successful outcome. “It took courage to put the measure on the ballot,” he said, adding that the successful vote, and by such a significant margin, is a reflection “of how the general public feels about the direction of the District.” 

Board President Sherril Taylor said the state of the facilities on the east side of the old Jordan District was a major reason why residents voted to create CSD. An architectural review done at the District’s founding indicated that CSD buildings needed $650 million in needed repairs.  Since 2010, when patrons approved a $250 million bond to start addressing the facility needs, CSD has completed 12 of 13 promised school-improvement projects. The 13th project, a renovation of Indian Hills Middle, is expected to be complete in time for the start of school in fall 2018.

The sense of excitement is nearly palpable, says member Mont Millerberg, who served on the Board when the 2010 bond proposal was approved with 50.66 percent of the vote. The buzz at Hillcrest High’s sold-out-every-night production of “Les Miserables” was the potential of having a state-of-the-art auditorium at the newly rebuilt school, Millerberg said.

“It really does boil down to the parents and the patrons,” President Taylor said, adding that many of the bond supporters no longer have children in Canyons District schools.  “They realize that we are paying forward to the future. I am proud of my generation for doing that and voting for the bond to take care of their grandchildren and other peoples’ children.  We would not be the country we are without public education, I guarantee that.”
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