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The 2013-2014 school year in Canyons School District has been one for the books. From the record-breaking $24.6 million in offered scholarships and 71 percent of seniors earning a CSD college- and career-ready diploma to the four 5A state championships earned by high school athletes, Canyons students and employees have achieved heightened levels of excellence.

Here is a list of some of the year's accomplishments. Stay tuned for a separate update specific to Canyons' academic achievement.

Student Achievement
- Record-breaking estimated 71 percent of the Class of 2014 earn a CSD college- and career-ready diploma, up from 60 percent of the Class of 2011, the first to be awarded the differentiated diplomas
- 4, 5A State Championships: Mathematics (HHS), Girls Soccer (BHS); Boys Swim (BHS); Baseball (JHS)
- 2 Coca-Cola Scholars
- 3 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair qualifiers
- 5 perfect ACT scorers
- 2 Science Fair Grand Champions, ISEF qualifiers
- 2 Sterling Scholars
- 1 EF Global Student Leader
- 1 5A Girls Soccer MVP
- 1 All-Tribune Football MVP
- 1 Deseret News Mr. Baseball
- 1 Deseret News Ms. Soccer
- 1 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Youth Leadership Award winner

Employee Achievement
- Utah Assistant Principal of the Year
- Utah Technology Council Educator of the Year
- Hope Street Group National Teacher Fellow
- Utah Association of Career and Technical Educatoin Administrator of the Year
- Utah Teachers or Coaches of the Year in the following disciplines: Marketing; Family and Consumer Sciences; Theater; Science; Arts Education; Wrestling
- Human Rights Award winner
- 2 Utah PTA Golden Apple winners
- $20,000 classroom technology award in Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest

Leadership
- Interim Superintendent Dr. Ginger Rhode leads district through grade reconfiguration, districtwide boundary changes to better prepare students for college and careers prior to June 30, 2014 retirement
- Dr. Jim Briscoe of DeKalb, Ill., hired to become new Canyons Superintendent effective July 1, 2014, following extensive community input and a national search for candidates
- AAA Bond Ratings from Moody's and Fitch
- Meritorius Budget Award, Association of School Business Officials International
- Utah's first sixth-grade STEAM curriculum (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) premieres
- I-CANyons standards-based report card implemented in all elementary schools
- Student Advisory Council to the Board of Education debuts
- $86,000 in innovation grants awarded to 14 teachers
- AVID college-readiness initiative implemented schoolwide at Mount Jordan Middle
- Middle School Debate League launched
- Host of Utah's first TEDx event for teachers

Facilities
- Opened bond-funded Bengal Building, new wing of Hillcrest High, and three new or rebuilt schools: Draper Park and Butler middle schools and Corner Canyon High School, all of which earned Utah Excellence in Masonry Awards
- Began construction on the new Mount Jordan Middle School
- AEDs (Automatic External Defibrillators) installed in all schools
- Carbon monoxide detectors installed in all schools
A spirit of excitement and jubilation filled the air at the Utah State Prison Wednesday, June 11, 2014 as the male and female students of Canyon School District’s South Park Academy clapped and cheered through their graduation ceremonies. The 273 inmates donned yellow and blue caps and gowns to celebrate their accomplishment and acknowledge that, no matter their past, it’s the future that really matters.

“Success and happiness can happen anywhere,” student speaker Trista Chandara told her fellow graduates. “Life will always be full of challenges. It’s best to accept this and be happy anyway. Something we have all learned is that time waits for no one.”

Chandara, who scored a 28 on her ACT, received a $1,000 academic scholarship to attend the University of Utah after she is released. Her success and words of encouragement inspired her fellow students and University of Utah Athletic Director Chris Hill, who offered her two season tickets to the U.’s basketball and football games when she arrives.

Hill emphasized the importance of having an education as he spoke to the inmates during the ceremony. His top two criteria for hiring new employees are whether they work hard and have an education.

“You checked that off today,” Hill told the audience.

South Park Academy's program helps give inmates the tools they need to go forward and find success after they leave prison, but it also gives each inmate hope and self-confidence, Principal Lory Curtis said. The recidivism rate for participants of the program is less than 27 percent.

Canyons Board of Education member Nancy Tingey highlighted the theme of hope in her words to the audience as she encouraged them to find a way to use their education to help others. For many of the graduates, earning a high school diploma is a dream come true — and it’s just the beginning, she said.

“ ‘Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream, which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone,’ “ Tingey said as she quoted John F. Kennedy. “Ask yourself — what is my private hope and dream? I suspect, for many of you, before today, one of your dreams was to earn a high school diploma."

See a Facebook album of the graduation ceremonies.


In her final meeting as Canyons District’s Interim Superintendent — and the last public meeting of her stellar 35-year career — Dr. Ginger Rhode gave a “huge thanks” to students, teachers, staff, parents, and volunteers for their hard work in launching the first new school district to be created in Utah in nearly a century.

"What a true privilege it's been to work with all of you," Dr. Rhode told members of the Board of Education and the staff in the final minutes of the Tuesday, June 10, 2014 board meeting.  "It's been wonderful to work with all of you ... you’re the most wonderful people that I could ever hope to meet."

Dr. Rhode, who was one of the first employees hired by the District, served as the Deputy Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer from 2008 to 2013. Her final year in public education — she plans to retire June 30, 2014 — has been spent as the top leader of the 34,000-student District.

Canyons teachers and staff, Dr. Rhode said, "have exceeded expectations by such a long shot. I am so proud of what they have accomplished.” In the past year, CSD implemented districtwide grade reconfiguration and boundary changes in addition to opening three new schools and starting such initiatives as the new Elementary Report Card and middle school schedule. Under Dr. Rhode’s guidance, CSD also has put into place the state’s first-ever college- and career-ready high school diplomas.

Dr. Rhode also thanked the members of the Board of Education for putting their trust in her to oversee the District throughout the year.  “Thank you all for everything that you’ve done,” she said.  “I really appreciate it.”

To mark her last meeting, the Board of Education entered a statement of appreciation into the official record and presented her with a bouquet of flowers.  Earlier this month the Board hosted a retirement Open House for Dr. Rhode.  At the event, they presented her with a crystal award for her dedicated service.    

"Dr. Rhode, thank you for bringing your wealth of experience, your depth of knowledge, and your expansive compassion to a community that desired more from its public school system,” said Board President Sherril Taylor.  “The practices that have been implemented under your leadership are poised to bring even more increases in student achievement.

"Your dedication to Canyons District was even more evident when without hesitation you accepted the responsibility of serving as the Interim Superintendent. Your work in this capacity has been exemplary. While you will be missed, your presence will be with us as the people and programs you have influenced carry forward the mission of Canyons District."

Wednesday, 28 May 2014 00:00

International Science Fair Honors

Two Hillcrest High students known locally for their scientific prowess made waves across the globe at the recent International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles. Brandon Cui and Bovey Rao, both juniors at Hillcrest, received high honors and special awards for their projects at the ISEF, the world’s largest international pre-college science competition.

Cui won third place in the category of engineering with his project, “Demonstration and Characterization of Split Ring Resonators as Terahertz Waveguides.” He also received a full scholarship to ASU and a $2,500 research grant for his efforts.

Rao won special recognition at the fair as a chosen recipient of a full scholarship to attend Drexel University after he graduates. Drexel is recognized for its focus on experiential learning, its commitment to cutting-edge academic technology and its “growing enterprise of use-inspired research,” according to a school statement on the ISEF web page.

 Rao and Cui faced competition from more than 1,700 high school students from over 70 countries, regions and territories from around the world at the fair.

 Cui’s accomplishment comes on the heels of winning an $80,000 scholarship and the Grand Prize at the Salt Lake Valley Science and Engineering Fair with his terahertz project. His project also received special recognition from the U.S. Metric Association. Previous to his work on this project, as a student at Midvale Middle School, Cui won recognition from The International Sustainable World Energy Engineering Environment Project Olympiad (I-SWEEEP) for a separate piece of research that used a banana peel as a possible biosorbent for sequestering heavy metals from wastewater. Cui also achieved a perfect score on the SAT math subject test, and he is part of the Hillcrest Math Team, which won the 5A State Championship at the Utah State Mathematics Contest.

  Rao also won an $80,000 scholarship and Grand Prize at the Salt Lake Valley Science and Engineering Fair for his project, “Investigation of Different Degradation Treatments on Pesticide Contaminated Water.” His project netted the Utah Stockholm Water Prize from the Water Environment Association of Utah. The Association will be sponsoring Rao at a national competition in Virginia in June. Rao also achieved a perfect score on the SAT math test and is part of Hillcrest’s state championship-winning Math Team.

  The  ISEF is administered by the Society for Science and the Public, a nonprofit membership organization “dedicated to public engagement in scientific research and education,” according to the society’s web site. The society has owned and facilitated the competition since its beginning in 1950 as the National Science Fair.
Congratulations, Class of 2014! An estimated 71 percent of graduating seniors have earned an Advanced or Honors diploma. That’s an increase of 4 percentage points from the number of college- and career-ready diplomas earned by the Class of 2013, and 11 percentage points more than the number earned by the Class of 2011. 
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