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Canyons District is doing its part to curb its water usage, thanks to forward thinking, a team of high school students, and a grant from the Central Utah Water Conservancy District.

As a limited resource, like electricity and natural gas, it’s always important to save water, says Canyons’ Energy Specialist Christopher Eppler. But Utah’s recent dry winter has amplified the need to apply water conservation techniques across the state, as evidenced by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert’s recent executive order that requires state agencies to institute water conservation practices.

Under Eppler’s direction, Canyons has already been working to make each school more energy efficient. The District’s electricity and gas bills are the same as they were six years ago, for example, despite increasing prices in the industry. Now, Eppler is looking to bring the same savings and conservation efforts to Canyons’ water usage with a team of students trained in irrigation techniques from California Polytechnic State University, San Louis Obispo.

“It’s not as difficult as it may seem to conserve,” Eppler says. “Most of the time, it’s not uncommon to take an elementary school and cut the water in half for what they need to water the turf.”

In order to initiate Canyons’ water conservation program, Eppler needed eyes on the ground to monitor each school, go through each irrigation system, examine each sprinkler head, implement proper watering cycles and ensure that the systems continue to function optimally. He received a $15,000 grant from the CUWCD to hire seven Canyons students to do just that.

The students, which include three recent graduates from Jordan and Alta High schools, participated in an eight-week after-school specialized training program to learn information from Cal Poly's Irrigation Training and Research Center to prepare for their work with Eppler this summer. They work four days a week, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., making their way through the District one sprinkler head at a time.

“Our goal is to get one school done completely, get it under control, then move to another,” Eppler said.  In just one recent work week, the team addressed the needs at five schools. In each case, the team is making sure the sprinklers are functioning correctly, taking note of the correct nozzles and heads to have in supply for custodians, and ordering replacements for broken parts.

They also determine watering schedules based on the root zone, type of grass, shade, soil type, and evaporation rate. By calculating how much water is evaporating from the soil and programming the system to water only that amount, the District can keep the grass green and healthy and save millions of gallons of water.

“We’re watering it properly, not overwatering,” Eppler said. “That is the goal. The goal is never to make it look brown, the goal is to make sure it looks the same and in good health and strong so when the kids are playing soccer it weathers well.”

DID YOU KNOW? 
  • Canyons School District has approximately 370 acres of turf to maintain.
  • One inch of water on 370 acres requires 10,046,980 gallons per day.
  • An evaporation rate of .58 inches of water per day means Canyons could be irrigating 5,827,238 gallons each night in the hottest part of the summer.
  • Canyons water usage is going down. In July 2014, the District used 16.5 million gallons less than in July 2012 and 9.5 million gallons less than in July 2013. 
The third annual Spring Gala of the Canyons Education Foundation at the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium was a “Jaws”-sized success.

The Foundation raised some $52,000 for college scholarships, teacher-innovation grants, student-health initiatives, and the CSD Foundation endowment.

In addition, the Foundation’s first-ever scholarships for soon-to-be-graduates of CSD schools were announced at the Thursday, April 30 gala, which featured an inspiring keynote from New England Patriot and Super Bowl Champ Sealver Siliga. ABC4 anchor and reporter Emily Clark also served as the emcee for the evening. 

In all, the Foundation awarded $8,500 to seven students who have faced unique challenges in their drive to complete their high school educations and pursue a college degree. 

The recipient of the inaugural Canyons Education Foundation $2,500 “Rising Star” college scholarship is Carlos Rivas, a senior at Jordan High. Rivas, who is a member of Jordan’s Latinos in Action, accepted the big check and a gift bag at the gala. Rivas came to the United States from his native El Salvador just four years ago and yet is on track to graduate in a few weeks. 

Students from Alta, Brighton, Corner Canyon, Hillcrest, Jordan and Entrada were chosen to receive $1,000 “Bright Star” scholarship awards.  They are: 
  • Alta — Heather Asay
  • Brighton — Laura Thackeray
  • Corner Canyon — McKenzie Curtis
  • Hillcrest — Alex Marin
  • Jordan — Erica Keddington
  • Entrada — Taylor Simpson
“We wanted to help students who have overcome challenges and obstacles to earn their high school diplomas,” said Brad Snow, President of the Board of the Canyons Education Foundation. “We wanted to help the students who had to learn a new language at the same time they learned their multiplication tables. We wanted to help the students who are the first in their families to graduate from high school.  In short, we wanted to help those who needed help the very most.”

The Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization made up of volunteer business and community leaders that complements and supports Canyons District’s mission of making sure every student graduates college- and career-ready.

See the District's Facebook page for a photo album of the night's festivities.
Connie Crosby spends her days making sure that children who live in local homeless shelters are provided a pathway to a better life. From before sunrise to well past sunset, Crosby, who is affectionately known as “St. Connie” throughout Canyons District, works tirelessly to secure basic health, nutrition and educational needs for families who just need a little boost to break free of the cycle of poverty.

Not only does Crosby ensure that homeless students have backpacks, books, pencils, and clean clothes as they head to school, she’s relentless in arranging immunizations, doctor visits, vision testing — even the delivery of juice for diabetic students.

For these reasons, Crosby was honored on Monday, May 11, 2015 with the third-annual Canyons District Above and Beyond Award, which is presented yearly by the CSD school nurses to one person who has consistently gone the extra mile to help the nurses promote student health and safety.

“Many times it’s difficult to narrow down to just one person because so many people in our district go out of their way to help students and families,” said Martee Hawkins, the team lead for CSD school nurses. “But we didn’t have a hard time this year. It was a unanimous decision … (Crosby) is a true advocate for our students and an asset to Canyons School District.”

Crosby accepted the award at a ceremony in the Wasatch Room of the Canyons Administration Building. District administrators, including Superintendent Jim Briscoe and Assistant Superintendents Drs. Kathryn McCarrie and Bob Dowdle, as well as several principals who regularly work with Crosby, attended the award ceremony.

Crosby thanked the nurses for the honor and expressed appreciation for the District’s ongoing support in providing assistance to students who qualify for services under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act

The girls hoops team at Hillcrest High has a new leader who can’t contain her enthusiasm about the talent and verve she sees in the school’s returning players.

Not five hours had passed since Shannon Hurst accepted the offer to be the Lady Huskies’ head basketball coach on Friday, May 1, 2015 and she was already hard at work thinking about camps, conditioning, and camaraderie. 

“I am so excited. I know the talent we have,” said Hurst, a former Snow College player and standout at Granite High “We have a young team, so I’m excited to have them for a few more years.”

Hurst, who plans to soon have a meeting with parents and players, has been Hillcrest’s junior varsity coach for the past four seasons. Her time as the head of the JV squad has provided a good look at the athleticism of the players and the solid relationships that exist on the team.

“These girls are pretty tight-knit. They are good off the court so I am excited to see how it will work on the court,” said Hurst, who also is looking for strong assistant coaches. “I think that I’d like this team to be known for its intensity. Anytime anyone is on the floor, I’d like to see intensity. They should be giving 100 percent.”

Fundraising and summer camps are part of her plans. It’s never too early to start thinking about the challenges that will come in the fall, she said. 

She hopes her players will shoot hoops as much as possible in the summer months — and even scrimmage against the boys in their neighborhoods.  “Any time you can play, even with your guy friends,” she says, “you will get a lot better.”

Hurst is a 2011 graduate of Utah State University. She teaches physical education and health at Hillcrest.

Matt Leininger’s energetic approach to teaching physics shows his students exactly how much they matter. His apparent dedication and care for students are just a few of the reasons that the Alta High educator, who is affectionately called “Mr. L” by casts of Hawks, has been selected as the 2015 Canyons District Teacher of the Year.

Leininger, who also coaches robotics, swimming and tennis, was lauded during a Tuesday, April 28, 2015 ceremony hosted by the Canyons Board of Education.  He was selected from a field of 46 Teachers of the Year who had been nominated from every Canyons District school, including the academy at the Utah State Prison. 

“He is just that type of teacher, that no matter the student that is in class, no matter their background, their demographic, he connects with all of his kids,” said Alta Principal Brian McGill. “He is what I would call an exemplary teacher in Canyons District and Alta High School.” 

Watch a video tribute to Leininger that was shown at Tuesday's ceremony to announce CSD's Teacher of the Year.

Leininger said his interest in teaching was piqued when he volunteered to mentor a Chinese student during his time at Brigham Young University. “My mom was a teacher so I thought, ‘Hey, I am going to look into teaching,’” he said.  “They had me work for a semester with a little boy who only spoke Chinese … and I was able to teach him English, how to answer the phone, just basic things like that. That’s when I knew (teaching was) what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.” 

Alta students say he makes them smile and laugh and is constantly moving around his classroom and engaging with students. He also goes the extra mile to build bridges of understanding to difficult concepts.  “I kind of struggle in his class,” said student Haris Sabic.  “I am not, like, the best, but he is always there to help me.”

To Mr. L, however, it’s all about showing students genuine concern for their progress. “If you care about them, then they are interested in what you have to tell them,” he said.  “Kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  

At the event on Tuesday, which was attended by hundreds of friends, family and colleagues of the school-based Teachers of the Year, Leininger received a $1,000 cash award from the Canyons Education Foundation and a prize package full of items from generous local merchants. 

The Board of Education also recognized two Teacher of the Year finalists — Bethany Smith, a teacher at Sandy Elementary, and Kattie Dewald, who teaches at Midvale Middle — at the special reception and recognitions event held in the Professional Development Center of the Canyons Support Services Center. Smith and Dewald received gifts and a $500 check from the Canyons Education Foundation. 

As Canyons’ top teacher, Leininger will represent the District at the Utah Teacher of the Year contest, and compete for cash, prizes and national recognition.

“I am living the dream,” Leininger said.  “And I really feel that way. I love this school. My kids are going here, my own personal children … I feel very blessed to be a part of this District. Specifically, to be in this classroom, at this school, at this time in my life.”

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