Canyons School District students continue to outperform their Utah peers on most of the SAGE tests, in some areas by as many as 12 percentage points.

“The data reflect the quality of our teachers and the hard work of our students, as well as the District’s investment in research-based instructional practices,” said CSD’s Research and Assessment Director Dr. Hal Sanderson.

State SAGE results for the 2017-2018 school year are available for all school districts on the Utah State Board of Education website. 

Elementary Schools (grades 3-5) 
In elementary schools, Canyons is well above the state average in all subject areas and grades. The District made gains in 4 of 8 elementary tests. The following shows the percentage of elementary students who tested proficient in 2017-2018:

English: CSD (58 percent), state (46 percent)
Math: CSD (62 percent), state (51 percent)
Science: CSD (59 percent), state (50 percent)

Middle Schools (grades 6-8)
In middle schools, Canyons is well above the state average in 5 of 6 tested areas.   Middle school science results will not be released until November 2018.  New middle school science content standards require new proficiency cut-scores to be developed by Utah educators.  The following shows the percentage of middle school students who tested proficient in 2017-2018:

English: CSD (55 percent), state (46 percent) 
Math: CSD (50 percent), state (43 percent)
Science: To be released in November

High Schools
In 2018 SAGE was administered for the last time. Canyons District's high school scores for the 2017-2018 school year can’t reliably be compared to the state average, because for the first time, CSD’s 11th graders were not required to take the test. They took the ACT college entrance exam, instead.

This is the last year for SAGE tests as the state transitions to a new testing vendor. Utah will debut RISE tests for students in grades 3-8 while students in grades 9 and 10 will take the Utah Aspire Plus exam in the 2018-19 school year. High school juniors will continue to take the ACT exam.
Eighteen Canyons District students have advanced in a rigorous race to claim one of the country’s most prestigious scholarships for high school seniors. 

Students from Alta, Brighton, Corner Canyon and Hillcrest high schools today were announced as semifinalists in the 2019 National Merit Scholar competition.  

The high-achieving CSD students join about 16,000 other top scholars who remain eligible to vie for 7,500 scholarships worth $31 million.

The roster of semifinalists was chosen from a field of 1.6 million students at more than 22,000 high schools. The nationwide pool of semifinalists represents fewer than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors. The number is proportional to the state's percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.

Candidates for National Merit Scholar awards must write an essay and take a prequalifying test, as well as submit SAT scores. Also required is a detailed scholarship application in which the students must provide academic-record and community-involvement information. The students must note their leadership experiences, voluntarism, employment and any other honors received, too.

The finalists and winners of 2019 scholarships will be announced in the spring

The students and their schools are: 

Alta High
  • Abigail Hardy 
  • Joshua Mickelson 
  • Joshua Pomeroy
Brighton High
  • Alex Fankhauser 
  • Sofia Maw 
  • Jenna Rupper
Corner Canyon
  • Sebastian Lee 
  • Peter Oldham
Hillcrest High
  • Alex Chang 
  • Anthony Grimshaw 
  • Bryan Guo 
  • Saey Kamtekar 
  • Emily Langie 
  • Hongying Liu 
  • Warren McCarthy 
  • Landon Nipko 
  • Eric Yu 
  • Alan Zhao
Jordan High opened its doors to patrons near and far on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018 as parents, students, children, and friends gathered to watch a screening of an anxiety-themed documentary called “Angst: Raising Awareness Around Anxiety,”  

Visitors travelled from as far as Provo and Bountiful to watch the film and listen to a panel of experts discuss the prevalence of anxiety among youth and teens today. In partnership with the Deseret News, Canyons District hosted the event as a kick-off to Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, which takes place in September. 

Some 400 people attended the screening and posed questions to a panel of experts, including Tori Gillett, Canyons’ school counseling program specialist; Lizbeth Velazquez, a Canyons social worker at Jordan High and Mount Jordan Middle; Karin Gornick, the film’s producer; and Jenny Howe, a therapist featured in the film. Canyons’ Director of Responsive Services BJ Weller introduced Deseret News opinion editor Boyd Matheson, who moderated a panel discussion that centered around what causes anxiety, whether parents are responsible for causing it, and what students can do to cope.

“We need to talk about how to tackle the problem of suicide,” Matheson said. “As much as this is about preventing a tragic end, it’s also about taking advantage of all of our resources to help our youth and teens.”

Canyons District provides help to students in crisis through the Department of Responsive Services. The department offers crisis support, counseling services and at-risk prevention, among other services. The District is taking a “blended approach” to making sure students have access to mental health professionals while at school. 

This year, 10 extra student support specialists have been hired, and every CSD schools has been assigned a school psychologist and a counselor and/or social worker. This ensures that schools have the advantage of using the varied skills that school psychologists, counselors and social workers all bring to the table.

The problem of anxiety is one that troubles both parents and youth throughout the country, but it is important to confront the issue, rather than run away from it, experts from the panel said. The first step to accepting anxiety is to share it with others. 

“Start talking about it with someone you trust,” Velazquez said.

Parents can help their students by acknowledging their students’ struggle, but not necessarily taking away the thing that is making them uncomfortable, such as, picking them up from school if the student calls and asks to come home because of anxiety, Howe said. 

“As parents, we want to fix, and we want to shelter, and that’s OK to some extent, but we’re not allowing our kids the opportunity to not be OK,” Howe said.

The documentary screening was the fourth showing of the movie at an event hosted by the Deseret News. The newspaper s hosting eight events throughout the state to raise the conversation about anxiety and share information on how to respond. More information from the Deseret News is available on the newspaper's website.

“I hope as you walk out of here tonight you will know you are not alone,” Matheson told the audience Thursday. “You are one of us. And we need to keep this conversation going.”
With the hustle and bustle of school schedules, doctor appointments, and afterschool activities, eating on the run is sometimes a family’s best fallback solution for dinner. But the physical and mental benefits of families taking time to dine together each evening are clear.

Pulling off family mealtime takes some planning and budgeting, but also the right tools—which is where Canyons District's Nutrition Services Department can help. The CSD school lunch crew’s annual Pan Sale is a great place to find cool kitchen gadgets, baking supplies and commercial quality cookware at discounted prices—and this year, we’ve scheduled the event a month early on Sept. 26 and 27 from noon to 6 p.m. at CAB-West, 9150 S. 500 West.

The event is open to the public, so invite a friend or two, and come early as popular items go fast.

New commercial-quality kitchen utensils will be available at reasonable prices. Choose from more than 100 items. Up for grabs are cookie sheets, heat-resistant spatulas, french fry cutters, mixing bowls and food choppers.  

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Sandra Dahlhoulihan was in her office trying to squeeze in some paperwork before school let out for the day when she heard the fire alarm.

“Instinctively, I knew it was the real deal,” says the former Sandy Elementary principal who grabbed her walkie talkie and strode into the hallway where she immediately detected the oaky scent of smoke. The entire school, the staff and teachers, sprang into action and began quickly and calmly evacuating classrooms, sweeping the building and making sure everyone was accounted for.

“Most of the kids assumed it was another drill,” recalls Dahlhoulihan, now an administrator in Canyons District’s Human Resources Department. “It all transpired so fast. You plan for something like this, and hope it never actually happens. But because we had practiced the procedures, everyone knew exactly what to do."

Happily, school fires have become increasingly rare. Modern construction materials and fire suppression technologies have contributed to a dramatic drop in all structure fires and fire related deaths and injuries in the United States. But these trends, while comforting, shouldn’t lull schools into a false sense of security, says Canyons District Risk Manager Kevin Ray. “Until the risk is zero, schools absolutely need to practice responding to fires.”  Screen_Shot_2018-08-30_at_9.28.54_AM.png

In accordance with state law and Canyons District’s Emergency Response Plan—and in conjunction with National Preparedness Month in September—the first two months of each school year are set aside for fire drills. In the coming weeks, postcards will be mailed to all Canyons District families with an explanation of what happens during a fire drill and steps the District takes to communicate in emergencies. Canyons also has launched a new “Think Safe” webpage and instructional video with the aim of starting a community conversation about how everyone, from students and teachers to parents, can work together to keep schools welcoming, secure and prepared.

“As any educator or parent knows, children can only learn where they feel cared for and safe. Safety has always been a priority of Canyon District’s administration, and we are continually looking for ways to make our schools even safer,” says CSD’s Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe.  



All Canyons District schools practice lockdown and shelter-in-place drills throughout the year, in addition to preparing for a host of other threats, from earthquakes to hazardous materials. Secondary schools participate in these drills on a quarterly basis. Elementary schools hold drills at least once a month with fire drills being the most frequent.

An estimated 4,000 school building fires are reported each year by American fire departments, causing 75 injuries on average and $66 million in property damage. Most fires in elementary schools start in the kitchen, whereas in middle and high schools, they are predominantly human-caused and set intentionally or unintentionally by students.

Such was the case at Sandy Elementary where a student, experimenting with a lighter obtained from home, set fire to a coat that was hanging on a coat rack above a recycling bin full of paper. The student had lingered behind classmates who were exiting a computer lab and secretly set the blaze on his way out of the room. It didn’t take long for the flames to spread and trigger the school’s alarm and sprinkling system.

“Most of the damage we sustained was water damage,” Dahlhoulihan says. The District had to suspend school for a day to assess the damage and temporarily relocate two classrooms to the gymnasium. The repairs were substantial and costly, and it took about three weeks before the classrooms were ready for use.

Looking back now, Dahlhoulihan says she learned a great deal from the experience. The fire happened on a Wednesday afternoon in November, 2011. Luckily, the weather that day was unseasonably warm. Had it been chillier outside, or had the fire happened earlier in the day, it would have been more difficult to keep students comfortable and reunify them with families, Dahlhoulihan says. “We would have had to find safe spaces to keep the students warm and occupied and bring in snacks and water.”

Every crisis is unique and brings to light unforeseen snags, which is why it’s important to put response plans to the test through simulated events, or regular emergency drills, Dahlhoulihan says. “After the fire, and another incident we had that year, we developed more detailed plans for clearing and sweeping the building, assisting students with special needs, and documenting the location of our roving support staff. Safety became a priority at our school, and not just for fires, but for anything that could happen.”
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