Middle-schoolers like to argue, or at least that’s how it seems as their brains develop and they’re motivated to put newly acquired critical-thinking skills to the test. Suddenly, the word “why” becomes commonplace, and the conversation at dinner feels like a scene from Perry Mason.

But that’s what makes school debate so much fun, and a valuable instructional tool. Classroom debates — and more formalized speech and debate competitions — teach students to conduct reseadebatechamps.jpgrch, organize their thoughts, collaborate and brainstorm ideas, and speak with authority, says CSD Instructional Specialist Leslie Robinett. What better way to harness students’ newfound passion for the well-articulated point?

Each year, Canyons District invites middle school and elementary-age students (in the fourth and fifth grades) to ply their rhetorical skills at a districtwide debate tournament. This year’s tourney drew more than 230 contestants and was held at Mount Jordan Middle, which walked away with most of the awards, including the title, District Team Champions.

Students were eligible to win individual events and special awards, including MVP. In all, 61 qualified to advance to the state tournament, which will be held at Alta High, April 20-21.

Here’s the full list of awardees by division and category:

2017 CSD Middle School Debate Champions

1st        Parker McKay, Mount Jordan
2nd       Raunya Barakat, Albion
3rd        Hayden Sullivant, Mount Jordan
4th        Chaitrali Samant, Albion
5th        Isabel Phillips, Albion
6th        Lilly Reidy, Eastmont
7th        Baylee Johnson, Draper Park
8th        Emma Winegar, Butler
9th        Zoey Slaughter, Eastmont
10th      Areesha Nazir, Indian Hills

Juseong Kang, Albion
Mollie Scott, Mount Jordan
Zoe Quirones, Mount Jordan
Alex Hill, Eastmont
Anna Chubak, Indian Hills
Josh Huff, Butler
Luc Doucette, Albion

1st  Angelica Hsueh, Draper Park
2nd Matthew Bronson, Indian Hills
3rd Elias Stennet, Mount Jordan
4th Andrew Davidson, Indian Hills
5th Jordan Ogg, Indian Hills
6th Chase Elggren, Albion
7th Logan Rose, Mount Jordan

1st Hayden Sullivant, Mount Jordan
2nd Parker McKay, Mount Jordan
3rd Elias Stennet, Mount Jordan
4th Raunya Barakat, Albion
5th Fatima Zaidi, Albion
*not a state event

Lincoln-Douglas Debate Speakers*
1st Ethan Updike, Mount Jordan
2nd Ashton Pelley, Mount Jordan
3rd Cameron Johns, Albion
4th P.J. Pearmain, Eastmont
5th Zoe Liu, Midvale
*not a state qualifier

Lincoln-Douglas Debate
1st        Abbey Simmons, Mount Jordan
2nd       Porter Eldredge, Albion
3rd        AJ Rowland, Mount Jordan
4th        Fatima Zaidi, Albion
5th        Alex Morzelewski, Eastmont
6th        Ethan Updike, Mount Jordan
7th        Ashton Pelley, Mount Jordan
8th        Cameron Johns, Albion
9th        Zoe Liu, Midvale
10th      John Askew, Draper Park
11th      Emily Erickson, Indian Hills
12th      Merrin Maughan, Eastmont
State qualifier  Gabriel Min, Butler

Policy Debate Speaker Awards*
1st        Katelyn Johnson, Midvale
2nd       April Dong, Midvale
3rd        Saisha Vankayalapati, Midvale
4th        Rian Liew, Midvale
5th        Caizden Agnew, Indian Hills
6th        Xinying Bi, Midvale
7th        Marianne Liu, Midvale
8th        Madelyn Azares, Albion
9th        Erin Zhang, Midvale
10th      Michael Chan, Midvale
*Not state qualifiers

Policy Debate
1st        Michael Koyle and Alan Aguilar, Mount Jordan
2nd       Anders Sandberg and Landon Brough, Draper Park
3rd        Isaac Middlemas and Coleman Rhode, Union
4th        Leith Sherman and Joe O’Neal, Draper Park
5th        Ryan Hueniuk and Britton Bettinson, Eastmont
6th        April Dong and Erin Zhang, Midvale
7th        Brian Y and Rian Liew, Midvale
8th        Paris Snider and Madely Azares, Albion
9th        Katelynn Johnson and Anna Hsu, Midvale
10th      Isabella Nibley and Anna Pager, Draper Park
State Qualifiers: 
McKayla Mower and Caizden Agnew, Indian Hills
Will Mercurio and Beau Starbuck, Butler

Coaches’ Award
Logan Rolfson, Albion                        
Will Mercuri, Butler               
Anna Page, Draper Park         
Alex Morzelewski, Eastmont (District Award Winner)
Andrew Davidson and Ryan Pomeroy, Indian Hills   
Katelynn Johnson, Midvale    
Abigail Simmons, Mount Jordan       
Isaac Middlemas, Union                    

Most Valuable Participant
Madelyn Azares, Albion                     
Beau Starbuck, Butler            
Isabella Nibley, Draper Park  
Hailey Hendrickson, Eastmont           
Emily Erickson, Indian Hills    
Zoe Liu, Midvale        
Ashton Pelley, Mount Jordan (District Award Winner)
Coleman Rhode, Union                      

Canyons School District Team Champions
1st                   Mount Jordan
2nd                   Albion
3rd                    Eastmont

2017 CSD Elementary District Debate Champions

Elementary I Pro
1st Drew Morgan and Quin Briggs, Brookwood
2nd Jeremy Baker and Miles Morgan, Brookwood
3rd Cheyenne Frank and Wyatt Horning, Ridgecrest
4th Isa McMaster and Ava Karimi, Ridgecrest
Andrew Murphy and Ethan Vidal, Draper
Nate Riedel and Tate Hales, Brookwood

Elementary I Con
1st Lauren Gray and Bria Johnson, Brookwood
2nd Vance Longhurst and Austin Longhurst, Ridgecrest
3rd Randee Tormondsen and Reese Jones, Draper
4th Lance Gray and Ryles Rackley, Brookwood
Hannah Fellows and Gabby McCall, Ridgecrest
Isabelle Chambers and Grace Vidal, Draper

Elementary II Pro
1st  Edward Loh and Tina Zhou, Peruvian Park
2nd Fiona Zara and Kaliana Suhuka, Peruvian Park
3rd Ivan Chen and Deeraj Vislawath, Peruvian Park
4th Anna Oldham and Michael O’Neal, Sunrise
5th Mitch Phippen and Ben Martin, Draper
Teagan Kay and Gracie Johnson, Sunrise
Rachel Scott and Kassandra Holt, Sunrise

Elementary II Con
1st Rachel Scott and Kassandra Holt, Peruvian Park
2ndAvery Parry and Sara Moienvaziri, Peruvian Park
3rd  Tyler Olsen and Josh Martin, Peruvian Park
4th Jaclyn Wei and Mila Malyuchik, Peruvian Park
5th Austin Taylor and Jacob An, Peruvian Park
Hannah Larsen and Peyton Denkers, Peruvian Park
Jordan Pomeroy and Jeremy Christensen, Sunrise

Speaker Awards*
1st Ben Martin, Draper
2nd Hannah Larsen, Peruvian Park
3rd Elijah Keister, Sunrise
4th Callie Shroeder, Peruvian Park
5th Randee Tormondsen, Draper
6th Gabriel Williams, Peruvian Park
7th Gracie Johnson, Sunrise
8th Lauren Gray, Brookwood
9th Caelan Stocker, Peruvian Park
10th Amelia Jennings, Sunrise
*not a state qualification

1st Denali Workman, Oakdale
2nd Helen Frazier, Oakdale
3rd Angelina Hickcox, Oakdale
4th Jaydan Hurtado, Oakdale
Luke Christensen, Oakdale

1st Mason Lohrke, Oakdale
2nd Cache Despain, Oakdale
3rd Nathan Cater, Oakdale
Alternate:  Lilly Hutchings

When Mount Jordan middle was demolished in 2013, then-principal Dr. Molly Hart saved a stack of bricks in her office to pay homage to the 59-year-old school. After the school was rebuilt in 2015 she discovered it had an even greater treasure with a history as old as the original building: a Steinway and Sons 1954 Model B classic grand piano.

The piano was cracked, out of tune and badly in need of extensive repairs. After years of being exposed to the open air and shared community and school use, the Steinway looked as bad as it sounded and seemed as though the cost to fix the instrument would be significantly more than it was worth. All of the hammers needed to be replaced, as well as the dampers and strings, and the soundboard needed to be fixed. There was a fleeting suggestion that perhaps the piano should just be sold to save the cost of restoring it to its former glory — but Hart had different ideas.
She took a look around the school’s newly completed, million-dollar auditorium built in partnership for the community with Sandy city, and she knew she couldn’t let it go. “I could just imagine performances taking place in that gorgeous auditorium,” Hart says. “That would be a really memorable experience and a life-changing experience for a middle school student to have a memory of playing a 1954 vintage Steinway B. You don’t have to be a piano player to know that.”

Hart worked with Canyons’ Arts Consortium Chair Sharee Jorgensen and the District's Purchasing Department to orchestrate the repair with an expert who restores pianos across the state. To pay for the project, Dr. Hart courted donations, used money from her furniture budget and received funds from Jorgensen's budget. The project cost a little more than $20,000, but the investment increased the value of the piano substantially.

“He (the restoration expert) took the piano, and between him and the person who refinished the outside, they turned it into a brand-new looking, beautiful piano that we could have never replaced for the money we spent on the restoration,” Jorgensen said.

Canyons District owns seven Steinway and Sons grand pianos, one Steinway and Sons upright piano, and 31 grand pianos by othcarryingpiano.jpger makers. The piano at Mount Jordan is the first to be completely restored, increasing its value substantially, Jorgensen says. A new Steinway and Sons Model B piano, which the company refers to as “the perfect piano” on its website, costs about $100,000. As the instruments age, their value typically increases.

“If you take care of it, it’s like an old violin,” Jorgensen says. “If you take care of it, it will eventually become priceless and last you a long time.”

To that end, the school purchased a special cover and locking case for the piano. It is used for special performances by students and members of the community, as Hart, who is now principal at Albion Middle School, had hoped.

“Mount Jordan serves a population of students that may or may not have an opportunity to play on a Steinway,” Hart said. “For the students that perform, that could be something that a pianist would have a memory of forever. I wanted kids to have that opportunity — and I wanted Canyons to have that opportunity.”

Wide hallways, lockers that won’t open, multiple class periods and heavier homework loads—starting middle school for the first time can be a little daunting.

But it doesn’t have to be. For eights years, Canyons District’s middle schools have opened their doors to incoming sixth-graders a day early to allow them to orient themselves and ease into their new surroundings before the official start of school. “It’s a great tradition. We’ve found that it really cuts down on the nerves and the tears and helps students get acclimated,” Mount Jordan’s new principal Cindy Hansen told a KTVX reporter who profiled the event.

With elementary school, and all of its colorful comforts a distant memory, it’s important to give first-timers a primer on things, such as, opening stubborn lockers and using their school planners.

At Albion Middle’s half-day orientation, students were greeted by trumpets as they walked a red carpet and received high-five’s from their teachers. At Union Middle, math teacher Stephanie Knighton reminded her class, “You know there’s no recess? There are four minutes between classes — we’ve been giving you five today.”

Students arrived in time to hear the morning bell ring. They sat through shortened versions of all their classes, giving them a chance to walk the hallways and see how much time it takes to get from one class period to the next — or to find the cafeteria, restrooms and gym. Some schools heldintroductory assemblies and handed out snacks to tide over grumbly bellies until lunch. Students met their teachers and made new friends. “They’re just in awe of the newness of it all,” Midvale Middle assistant principal Kerry Schroeppel said as his students filed into the cafeteria to have an Otter pop and learn the rules of the cafeteria. “There’s no reason to be scared, and that’s what we try to instill in them with our enthusiasm. We are excited for this new year and we are excited for them to feel that.”

As Mount Jordan students filed out to catch their busses, an announcement rang out, “Thanks for being with us today. We look forward to seeing you tomorrow.”

Canyons District is home to the first middle schools ever to receive STEM designations — a reflection of their strong focus in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Nineteen schools in Utah received the designation — and Draper Park, Mount Jordan and Union were the only middle schools. Sponsored by the Utah State Office of Education and the STEM Action Center, the designation program was created by the Utah Legislature to define the ingredients for the quality of STEM instruction needed to prepare students for college and 21st Century careers. “The designation serves as an indicator for members of the public who are looking for STEM school experiences in Utah K-12 education,” says the STEM Action Center’s website.

School leaders and curriculum specialists were thrilled to receive the designations. “This is a great honor for Union Middle School," Union Vice Principal Doug Hallenbeck said,"particularly for our science department, which has worked cohesively to attain this prestigious level of recognition. It is well deserved for the tremendous amount of work they do for the students of Union.”

In other STEM news, 23 of CSD’s middle school students received scholarships to attend science- and technology-oriented summer camps. The scholarships were sponsored by RizePoint, a software company that recently re-located to the Canyons District community. The winners were honored at a reception at the company’s headquarters, 2890 Big Cottonwood Canyon Road, on Wednesday, May 18.

Parents of fifth-graders enrolled in Canyons District's Dual-Language Immersion Programs have been invited to a meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 20 to learn about the transition from elementary school to middle school.

At the 6 p.m. event at Mount Jordan Middle, 9351 S. Mountaineer Lane (300 East), the Canyons curriculum team that oversees the dual-language immersion programs also will share information about DLI instruction in secondary schools.

In addition, information will be presented about the online intent-to-continue process parents will be asked to complete in order for their children to continue in the programs. 

At the middle school level, Spanish programs are being provided at Mount Jordan, Union and Midvale; French classes are being taught at Draper Park and Butler; and Mandarin Chinese is being offered at Draper Park, Butler and Indian Hills.

Students who seek to participate in a dual-language immersion program at a school other than the one assigned to them by geographic boundaries should submit an open-enrollment application to the school they wish to attend as soon as possible. Per state law, the Standard Open Enrollment Application forms will be accepted by Canyons schools until Feb. 19. Filling out the permit request does not guarantee placement in the DLI program at that school.  

Questions?  Please call the CSD Instructional Supports Department at 801 826 5045
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