Two Canyons District schools are among eight in Utah selected by China's Education Ministry and the Confucius Institute at the University of Utah to house “Confucius Classrooms.”
 
Principals at Draper and Lone Peak elementary schools, which are the locations of two of Canyons’ Mandarin Chinese-English dual-language immersion programs, recently received word that their schools had received the prestigious designations.
 
As such, both schools will receive $10,000 grants to support Chinese dual-language immersion teachers, students, and programs. The grants also promote the learning of Chinese language and cultural understanding.
 
Additionally, the schools will receive textbook money to support the Mandarin Chinese-English language program; an interactive cultural display; and funding for language teachers to attend language-based professional-development conferences.  
 
The grant is renewed annually. Draper Principal Piper Riddle, whose school cheered the designation during a colorful assembly on Friday, April 3, 2105, said the grant money “helps us get closer to our goal of a SMART Board in every classroom.” Lone Peak Principal McKay Robinson expressed appreciation for the designation and the grant funds, and said the school will plan a celebration when school starts next fall.
 
“The entire school benefits from cultural programs like this — we all get to develop a better understanding of the world and of different cultures,” said Riddle.  “In addition, when our school receives grants like this, it creates opportunities to free up school funds for the benefit of our students and our instructional programs.”
 
Draper students cheered news of the grant during their Friday assembly. Eric Chipman, Associate Director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Utah, told students during the assembly that earning the designation is “really cool.”
 
“You guys became a Confucius Classroom because you are an awesome school,” he said to applause.

Several dignitaries attended Friday’s event at the school. In addition to Confucius Institute leaders Fusheng Wu and Yangmin Xiao, the school welcomed Utah Speaker Greg Hughes; Utah Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper; Draper Mayor Troy Walker; Draper City Council members Bill Rappleye and Marsha Vawdry; and Salt Lake Mayor representative Lori Bays. Chinese acrobats also performed for the students, teachers, and the visiting officials .

“We are proud of the high-quality language immersion program that we have developed at Draper Elementary, and we are grateful for the honor of becoming a Confucius Classroom,” Riddle said.  “We appreciate the many business and university partnerships we participate in that benefit our students and support our school wide goal of excellence in all we do.”
Students at Jordan Valley School are raising their voices — and their swords — in a musical production of "Mulan," the tale of a young girl who disguises herself to fight in a battle and becomes a heroine in the process.

Teachers and students at Jordan Valley, Canyons District’s school for students with severe disabilities, are performing their annual spring musical at 10:30 a.m. April 1-3.  The parts are adapted to the abilities of the students, and students perform with the help of many aides and teachers. 

The Wednesday, April 1 performance is for staff and students. The Thursday, April 2 and Friday, April 3 shows are for the public.  Please arrive early to get a seat.  If tradition holds, all seats will be taken for every performance.

The show will be staged in the auditorium of the school, 7501 S. 1000 East.

In previous years, Jordan Valley students have shined in such productions as "Peter Pan," "Beauty and the Beast," "The Little Mermaid," and "High School Musical."
For just the second time, Canyons District is holding commencement exercises for five traditional high schools.

The Class of 2015 will be Corner Canyon High's second graduating class. Clad in gowns and mortarboards, the Charger graduates will join the senior classes of the Alta Hawks, Brighton Bengals, Jordan Beetdiggers and Hillcrest Huskies in receiving their diplomas on Thursday. 

Here are the times and locations: 
  • AltaThursday, June 4, 10 a.m., Huntsman Center at the University of Utah
  • Brighton —  Thursday, June 4, 1 p.m., Maverik Center
  • Hillcrest — Thursday,June 4, 6 p.m., Maverik Center
  • Corner Canyon — Thursday, June 4, 2 p.m., Huntsman Center at the University of Utah
  • Jordan — Thursday, June 4, 7 p.m. on the Jordan Football Field

Entrada, CSD's adult high school, will hold its graduate rites at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 23 at Jordan High, 95 E. Beetdigger Blvd.  South Park Academy, Canyons' school at the Utah State Prison, will hold a graduate ceremony at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, June 10.  

Show some deserving and low-income high school students some love — with scholarship money. The Canyons Education Foundation, which successfully generates and allocates resources to help Canyons District teachers and students, has launched a new campaign to raise money for student scholarships. 
 
As part of that campaign, today, Thursday, March 26 the Canyons Education Foundation is joining the "Love Utah Give Utah" campaign — 24 hours of unprecedented giving. Any money that comes to the Foundation during “Love Utah, Give Utah” will go toward student scholarships. 

This year, Canyons District counselors, parents and teachers endeavored to help some 83 percent of high school seniors submit a viable college application. Now, the Foundation is asking for assistance from the community to remove the financial barriers that prohibit some students from even attempting to go to college. The need is evident: Thirty percent of Canyons students quality under the poverty index for free or reduced-price lunches.

Still, more and more Canyons students are working hard to become academically ready for college. An estimated 71 percent of graduating seniors last year earned a unique-to-Canyons District Advanced or Honors diploma, which means they went above and beyond the state graduation requirements. 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.
 
Click here to join the love — and help send a kid to college.

Hillcrest High filmmaking phenom David Skorut envisions a golden future on the silver screen. Armed with ideas, enthusiasm and a camera, Skorut, who has already garnered acclaim for his cinematic skills, is unabashed about his goals to become the next Steven Spielberg, James Cameron or Michael Moore.

Asked what kind of films he wants to wants to make, Skorut, who is hard at work on his entry for the 2015 Canyons District Film Festival, pauses a moment, then says, “I really enjoy narrative filmmaking, so that may be something I would like to do,” he says. But don’t count on him being tied to major studio, special-effect-laden, shoot-‘em-up films with contrived plotlines and unrealistic lines of script.

Speaking in showbiz terms that belie his age, Skorut says he’s intent on maintaining “creative control” so it’s likely documentaries or independent films will indeed be his directorial niche. “I hear they aren’t super-nice in Hollywood,” he says with a laugh.

Skorut, a Sterling Scholar finalist in the Skilled and Technical Sciences Education category, is a perennial winner at the CSD Film Festival, held each spring to cast a spotlight on the movie-making skills of CSD students and teachers.

In 2012, he and four friends won the Secondary Feature Film category with "The Crime."  In 2013, he won with a public service announcement about the dangers of driving and texting, and the Secondary Feature Film with a short film called "FWD: Forward." 

One of his favorites, though, is the documentary "The Burrito Project: SLC," which captured the 2014 award for Best Secondary Documentary. The film, which was done by Skorut and friend Nicholas Cockrell focuses on an initiative to feed the homeless in Salt Lake. 

Skorut hopes his name will again be called during the ceremony to announce this year’s winners. The 6th annual Canyons District Film Festival will be at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 16 at Eastmont Middle, 10100 S. 1300 East. Categories include advertising, feature film, documentary, animation, public-service announcement, newscast and teacher film. The winning films will be available for viewing on the website after the ceremony. 

The deadline for entries for this year’s festival is 5 p.m. Thursday, March 19. 

Skorut is not worried about finishing his still-untitled film by the submission deadline. He’s completed about six hours of filming and plans to spend several more hours in post-production. He also encourages students who have never entered to simply pick up a camera, capture some images and sound, and tinker with commonly used editing programs to cobble together an entry.

“You can make one in a few hours,” he says. “The whole experience is about how to get better. Of course, there’s a competitive part to it, as well, but even if you’re pulling together something last minute, you still have a chance.”

See the CSD Film Festival website to watch the previous years’ winners.

Can’t come to the festival? Follow the action on Twitter @CSDFilmFestival.
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