The goal is in sight! The last day of school for the 2017-2018 academic year is rapidly approaching — and Real Salt Lake is helping Canyons kick off the summer break.
To celebrate the end of school, as well as the heights of success achieved by the Canyons community over the past nine months, Real Salt Lake is hosting Canyons District Night at Rio Tinto Stadium. The Saturday, June 2 event, featuring a game against Seattle Sounders FC, will be a celebration of students, educators, parents, volunteers and community partners.
Halftime will be dedicated to honoring the excellence and commitment of the 46 top teachers from all CSD elementary, middle and high schools in Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Midvale, Sandy and the town of Alta. Right after the 35th minute of the game, the teachers will be escorted to the middle of the field at Rio Tinto to be applauded by thousands.
Special recognition will be given to Corner Canyon High’s Amber Rogers, who was announced last month as the District’s 2018 Teacher of the Year. Rogers, who is the department head of Corner Canyon High’s social studies department, is Canyons’ official nominee in the Utah Teacher of the Year competition. CSD’s top middle school teacher is Midvale Middle’s Lena Wood and the top elementary teacher is Alta View’s Jamie Richardson.
Each of CSD’s Teachers of the Year were given complimentary tickets for themselves and a guest, courtesy of Real Salt Lake, in appreciation of their service to students and the larger community.
Three Canyons students who are preparing to walk across the graduation stage on June 5 have finished their high school years on an impressive academic milestone: They have been named 2018 National Merit Scholars.
Hillcrest High’s Kara Komarnitsky and Madeline Martin are joined by Corner Canyon High’s August Burton on the list of the $2,500 scholarship winners from Utah. They are among the 2,500 students who rose to the top of the field of 15,000 semifinalists to earn the honor. This year, 14 students from all five of Canyons District’s traditional high schools earned semifinalist status.
National Merit Scholars are selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors. Applicants are judged on their academic records, including the rigor of the classes taken during their high school years; scores from standardized tests; contributions and leadership at their schools; and involvement in the community. Finalists also penned essays.
The number of winners named in each state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the nation’s graduating high school seniors
The awards mark the end of an arduous application process. Students vying for National Merit Scholarships start the journey in October 2016. That’s when more than 1.65 million juniors in some 22,000 schools took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. This served as an initial screen of the entrants.
Last fall, the highest-scoring participants in each state, representing less than one percent of the nation’s high school seniors, were named semifinalists on a state-representational basis. Of the 16,000 semifinalists, some 15,000 students met the academic standards and other requirements to earn finalist status in the scholarship contest.
They go out of their way to make students feel special. They give of their free time to support teachers. They find resources for schools, forge creative paths around big problems and have worked shoulder-to-shoulder to build Canyons into a world-class district.
For their contributions, hard work and dedication to advancing the mission and vision of Canyons District, the Board of Education and Administration seek to recognize them.
Canyons District is now taking nominations for the 2018 Apex Awards, the annual honors given by CSD leaders to teachers, administrators, district office personnel, volunteers and community partners. The Apex Awards, started in 2010, are the highest honors given by Canyons District to the people who help make CSD the place to be.
Award categories are:
Teacher of the Year
School Administrator of the Year
District Administrator of the Year
Business Partner of the Year
Volunteer of the Year
Elected Official of the Year
Student Support Services Professional of the Year
Education Support Professional of the Year
Use this easy-to-use online tool to read more about the categories and to submit nominations. Nominations can be submitted until Aug. 3, 2018.
Nominations for Apex Awards can be submitted for all categories except Teacher of the Year. The Canyons District’s Teacher of the Year is selected in the spring and is CSD’s nominee in the state Teacher of the Year competition. This year's winner is Amber Rogers, a social studies educator at Corner Canyon High. She was selected from a field of 47 teachers from every CSD school in the District.
The winners of the 2018 Apex Awards are celebrated at a by-invitation-only banquet and awards ceremony. This year’s event will be Sept. 11, 2018 at The Gathering Place at Gardner Village, 1100 W. 7800 South.
Five Eastmont Middle students received a surprise message this week from Albus Dumbledore requesting “the pleasure” of their company in the library after school.
Their mission, according to the headmaster, was to solve 40 puzzles to unlock hidden Horcruxes and Hallows and defeat “He Who Shall Not Be Named.” The fivesome donned wizard robes and sequestered themselves in an elaborately-designed broom closet where, by working together and drawing upon the knowledge of concepts they’ve learned throughout the school year, they followed a trail of clues to save Hogwarts — no spells or charms necessary.
Eastmont Middle’s Harry Potter-themed escape room, which debuted this week to an enthusiastic group of Potter fans, is the brainchild of English teacher Anna Alger and history teacher Richard Mellor. It took Mellor more than 300 weekend and holiday hours to design all the mind-bending puzzles and retrofit one of the school’s empty supply closets with flickering candles, wood flooring, hand-sculpted “rock” walls made of foam insulation, and clever artifacts. It was a labor of love undertaken with the singular goal of bringing a little wonder and magic back to learning. “We just wanted a fun, interactive experience where students could apply what they’ve learned in a different way,” Mellor says.
Game-based learning, or the “gamification” of education, is taking hold in classrooms across the country. Typically, the strategy involves deploying computerized tools or education-related videogames as a means to capture students’ interest. Nearly one-third of high school students play three or more hours of videogames a day, so why not leverage gaming principles for teaching and learning?
Whether gamification works to sustain student engagement is a matter of some debate. But Mellor’s motivation was more practical than theoretical. He was looking for a fun way to keep kids challenged, and in so doing, discovered that games don’t have to be high-tech to spark the imagination.
“The escape room is decidedly low-tech,” he says. “The students have to work by candlelight (battery operated), and there are no calculators to assist them in solving long-division problems. They have to use feather quills instead of pens to work through problems on paper.”
Mellor and Alger financed the project with a Donors Choose grant through the Chevron Fuel Your School program. “I’ve written many grants for books or STEM supplies, but Fuel Your School is the one grant where you can ask for funding for weird thing like wizard wands, potion bottes, and replica quidditch sets,” Mellor says.
He’s an unabashed Potter fan, but the escape room is rooted in the curriculum, not fantasy. The first group of students to enter took nearly two hours to complete all the tasks before enjoying a celebratory treat of “butterbeers,” or cream soda floats.
Mellor has since paired back the puzzles, but says, “it was fun to watch their excitement, and to see them work as teams” to solve anagrams and riddles, and to mix bubbling potions and translate hieroglyphic messages.
One of the biggest benefits of game-based learning, he says, is that it frees students to take charge of their learning and teaches them to push past failure as part of the process. “It’s truly independent learning,” Mellor says. “So much of what we do in class is guided learning. But with games, students have to figure it out themselves and rely on each other.”
Soon, Mellor may undertake a second CSI escape room where students are tasked with solving crimes.
The Alta Hawks charged into baseball season this year with a new leader who is a familiar face on the field.
Daron Connelly, who had overseen Corner Canyon High baseball since the school’s opening in 2013, has taken his formidable talents and experience to the Chargers’ fierce intra-district opponents. Coach Connelly assumed the head coach duties at the outset of the season.
For his part, Connelly shrugs off questions about his allegiances in the thriving rivalry between Alta and Corner Canyon. While he dons black and silver jerseys these days, Connelly speaks highly of the boys of summer in blue and silver.
While the games are fiercely contested, there’s a kinship among the players on both sides, he said. Players at both schools began their baseball careers on the same Little League diamonds, he says. They often hang out on weekend, Snap each other on social media — and sometimes square off at the plate.
Good-natured and competitive rivalries, he says, serve to make both teams better.
Connelly, who has earned a Masters of Business Administration and a Master’s of Arts in Teaching and Learning, brings a wealth of experience to the Alta ball club.
The former player in the San Francisco Giants organization also has been a coach at high schools, junior highs and special schools in Arizona. His teams embrace a work-hard, play-hard, no-nonsense, grind-it-out, get-after-it style of play. He builds players from the inside out.
“We will work together as a team,” the coach says. “If we do things right, the positive results will come,”
At CCHS, the school’s inaugural team, with 26 freshmen or sophomores, finished 5-20. By the third year, the team advanced to the state playoffs and fought to the third-place spot at the state tournament. Last year, the Chargers landed in fifth-place in the Utah High School Activities Association’s tourney.
Connelly has his sights set on replicating that level of success at Alta.
He also expects his cast of Hawks to excel academically, and he emphasizes good citizenship in the hallways, too.
“The baseball field is an extension of the classroom,” he says. “If the (players) are going to be high-profile (as student athletes), then we have to do it right.”
“We will talk about the process. We’ll do everything with our heads held high,” Connelly said. “I want us to be talked about as the team that will require you to bring your A-game; the team to beat.”