Asked to reflect on the whirlwind of events in recent years — the pomp of graduation from a top-tier university; scrappy early days as an entrepreneur; and launch of a billion-dollars-a-day-in-transactions trading firm — Christina Qi pauses and exhales before showing a rare moment of incredulity. 

“I still can’t believe it,” says Qi, a Hillcrest High graduate who is a rising star in the fast-changing, tech-heavy, algorithm-reliant world of high-frequency trading. “It’s all kind of surreal.” 

Qi, who left the Midvale-area school to pursue a degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has spent her life wisely since arriving in New England. After earning a degree at MIT in 2013, she and two friends hit the pavement, looking for forward-thinking investors who believed in their plan to revolutionize how trading firms do business.  

Contrary to business-world tradition, Qi’s company, named Domeyard, embraces a relatively flat organizational structure. While there are employees who serve in roles traditionally reserved for a Chief Executive Officer or Chief Technology Officer, everyone in the firm has the title “partner” she said.  Also, the company develops its own technologies, is selective about clients, and builds trading strategies that blend the best thinking of new and established firms, she said.

Not only has Domeyard gained a prominent foothold in a notoriously difficult field, Qi and her two partners, Luca Lin and Jonathan Wang, have received accolades for their wise-beyond-their-years instincts and commitment to hard work. Most notable: Earlier this year, the trio was named to Forbes’ prestigious “30 under 30” list of movers and shakers in the world of finance.   

The magazine says the 2017 list is an “encyclopedia of creative disruption” in 20 different industries. The hot, up-and-coming talent in such fields as art and style, Hollywood and entertainment, media, energy, sports and science are nominated, vetted and selected by the publication’s “ace reporters and a panel of A-list judges.”

Qi admits to being a little star-struck at a Forbes-list summit in October. “I was like, ‘I can’t believe I am here with Joe Jonas,’” she said about the 30-under-30 honoree meet-up, which draws current and former list-makers. This year’s list includes Jonas, actress Zoe Kravitz, DJ-producer Marshmello, Tony winner Ben Platt, and Facebook Operations Vice President Jay Hammonds. 

“That was definitely really cool.  It was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, you’re really real,’” she said about hob-nobbing with Hollywood hoi polloi. And it also marked quite a journey from the hallways at Hillcrest, Midvale Middle and Peruvian Park Elementary schools. 

With a bit of a shy chuckle, Qi, 26, who interned at Goldman Sachs, confesses to being more than a little skeptical when a Forbes reporter first contacted the company about being featured in the publication. The former student in Hillcrest’s vaunted International Baccalaureate program also reeled from the attention when the profile on Domeyard was featured on Forbes’ homepage. “My phone just started blowing up,” she says.

The magazine tells the story of Domeyard’s early days as a dorm-room enterprise, Qi’s role as the partner responsible for raising investment funds, and the late nights spent babysitting the algorithms that Qi, Lin and Wang were using to make trades in the European market.  Forbes also reveals that the name Domeyard comes from landmarks at MIT and Harvard. 

“It took nearly three years for Domeyard to get up and running,” states the Forbes story.  “Qi was effective at raising money, but the young traders needed to build up the technology and infrastructure required for data-driven trading—securing servers in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s data center, writing a few million lines of code, and setting up the capability to support several petabytes of data.” 

But Forbes also notes Domeyard’s “brash and optimistic” nimble nature, based on youth, small size and drive for innovation.

“The Domeyard crew is operating in a field dominated by big firms with years of operating history that have spent fortunes on infrastructure and armies of mathematicians and engineers. In addition, this low-volatility stock market era has cut deeply into some of the richest strategies of high frequency traders, causing a wave of consolidation in the industry,” the story reads. “But Domeyard’s young founders think that there are some advantages to being the new kids on the high-frequency block. The firm is working to unlock profitable trading strategies by using sequential machine learning and making large scale computations of statistics.”

Qi says many of the lessons learned at Hillcrest High stay with her today.  She also fondly recalls the teachers who inspired her, programs that gave her a solid academic foundation, and the spirit of the students who were proud to be Huskies.

In particular, she praises now-retired biology teacher Phil Talbot. In fact, in 2010, Qi successfully nominated Talbot for a prestigious MIT Alumni Association Inspirational Teacher Award. He was one of 37 teachers nationwide to be presented with the honor from the institution. “The way he connected with students … there were students in our class who became doctors because of the way he taught his class, she said.  “Once, when I was home, I ran into him (at a local restaurant), and I just broke down.  It was so good to see him before he retired.”

“Overall, I loved the spirit of Hillcrest. It was better than anything I have ever experienced, even at MIT,” she says, noting that Hillcrest High, not known for having a student body with excess personal funds, is generous to those in the community with even less. “A lot of the students don’t come from wealthy backgrounds, but they still give back … It’s a lesson for all of us.”
When recipients of Canyons District’s official holiday card open their envelopes this season, they might see a whimsical watercolor painting of two friendly snowmen. Or they might see a painting of twinkling lights. Or they might see a winter wonderland with horses pushing against a northern wind. 

All three of the works of art, done by Alta High students Georgia Ray, Lindsay Brown and Lydia Stueber, were selected as the card’s featured artwork because they capture the heart-warming essence of the season. They were chosen from a field of submissions by students in art classes taught by Katie Campbell. 

Initially, the District was going to select just one piece of artwork for the District’s official holiday card.  But the three selections forwarded by Campbell to the District Office for consideration were so good that all were chosen.  An equal number of cards for each selection was printed, signed and mailed right after Thanksgiving. This is the fifth year CSD has featured student artwork on the official holiday card.   

Artwork done by students at Jordan Valley, Corner Canyon, and Brighton High has previously graced the cover of the card.  This year, the Hawks were asked to lend their talents to CSD’s yuletide greetings. 

Stueber, 16, did her watercolor as part of an assignment for an Advanced Placement 2-D Design art class.  “I always love the look of holidays lights, and I just thought it would be interesting to use watercolor for the lights and get the different shadows and dimensions,” said Stueber, a junior, who also competes on the school swim team, serves as the Art Club Vice President, and plays the flute in Alta’s wind symphony. 

Ray, 16, the daughter of Steve and Jodi Ray, says she drew inspiration from her family’s steeds.  “I have grown up with horses my entire life,” says Ray, who competes as an equestrian hunter jumper. She also completed the acrylic painting as part of an art class at the school, where she’s also a member of the Drama Club.

Brown, 16, who is a member of the Drama Club and Concert Choir, said she “wanted to paint something that would make everyone think of the holiday season,” she says, “and building snowmen is a fun thing you do in the wintertime with your family and friends.”
Note: Recordings and documents for agenda items can be accessed via BoardDocs by clicking on the corresponding agenda items.

Bond Project Discussion


The Administration discussed a possible construction timeline for the projects to be funded by the $283 million tax-rate-neutral bond voters approved on Nov. 7. Proposed is a two-phase construction schedule. Phase No. 1 would start in summer 2018 with the significant remodel of Alta High and rebuilds of Brighton and Hillcrest high schools. The Alta High project is projected to take two years; both Brighton and Hillcrest would be three-year projects. The three projects are the largest projects on the list. Starting this summer would allow the District to capitalize on lower construction costs and interest rates. According to the proposal, Phase No. 2 would start in summer 2019 with the start of a rebuild at an elementary school. Each summer after that, and until 2022, the District would start one of the promised elementary schools, which would all take roughly 15 months to build. In addition, the rebuild of Union Middle would start in summer 2021 and be complete in time for the 2023-2024 school year. The elementary schools to be rebuilt under the plan include Midvalley, Peruvian Park, and a school in the White City area. A new school also has been promised for west Draper. The Administration is proposing to this summer rebuild front offices at Brookwood, Park Lane and Silver Mesa elementary schools, and natural lighting projects at Brookwood, Canyon View, Crescent, East Midvale, East Sandy, Park Lane, Quail Hollow, Ridgecrest, and Silver Mesa. In the summer of 2019, projects include the new front offices at Granite, Oakdale, and Sunrise and the elementary interior lighting upgrades at Altara, Bell View, Granite, Lone Peak, Oak Hollow, Oakdale, Sunrise, Sprucewood, and Willow Springs. The Board of Education also discussed when crews could be hired to build classrooms to replace portables at Corner Canyon High. The portables at Corner Canyon may be needed at Brighton and Hillcrest while those two schools are being rebuilt onsite. Business Administrator Leon Wilcox also presented information about the small-capital facility projects expected to be started in summers 2018, 2019 and 2020. 

Policy Update

The Board heard updates on policies governing Secondary School Changes and the Student Dress Code. These are just two of the policies being examined by the Policy Committee, which is made up of Board members and CSD administrators. The group, led by Assistant Legal Counsel Jeff Christensen, has met two times per month throughout the 2014-2017 school years. In 2017, 144 polices were studied, discussed and referred to the Board to make sure the policy matches practice. 

Dual Language Immersion Program

Instructional Supports Director Dr. Amber Roderick-Landward updated the Board of Education on the expected high school implementation of Dual Language Immersion Programs. Dr. Roderick-Landward told the Board that planning for DLI in the high schools is challenging. CSD’s plan hinges upon several variables, including student enrollment, state support for the college-bridge programs, and the ability to retain qualified teachers, Dr. Roderick said. If swings in the variables are such that it would not be possible to sustain a quality program, the District may need to readdress the plan at a later date. A list of current and projected sites for DLI in high schools, as well as the year of implementation, can be found on BoardDocs. Based on surveys and intent-to-continue forms from current students in lower grades, interest in secondary Mandarin Chinese, French and Spanish programs is solid. However, additional discussions about the DLI high school offerings will likely need to happen when the official enrollment figures are tallied after registration.

Assessment Audit

Canyons District students spend between 1.7 percent to 2.7 percent of the school year taking tests, according to an internal audit of state- and district-required assessments performed at the request of the Canyons Education Association. By comparison, 27 percent of instruction time is spent learning math, 12 percent is devoted to school lunch, and 4.5 percent is reserved for recess. The results run counter to commonly held concerns about over-testing in schools. The average number of minutes spent by students in testing has increased since 2014. However, this trend will reverse in 2018-2019 as changes in SAGE writing and district language arts exams contribute to a decrease in testing time.

Pledge of Allegiance and Reverence

Midvalley Elementary student Joseph Mesa led the Board in a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and Principal Tamra Baker delivered the reverence. She expressed appreciation to the CSD Board, parents and taxpayers for their support of the $283 million bond that will be used to repair and upgrade 27 schools, including Midvalley Elementary, which was first built in 1957. The school is among those slated for a complete rebuild. Baker also expressed gratitude for her PTA, the support of community groups, including the Eagle Scouts, and a grant that will be used to purchased musical instruments. She explained a program geared toward improving student engagement and reducing tardies and absences, and invited the Board to visit the school to see it in action. 

Patron Comment

In regards to the bond projects, Patron Steve Van Maren urged the Board to consider starting the Union Middle rebuild before the Alta High renovation. He also urged the Board to start the elementary school projects in the spring instead of summer months. He also encouraged the Board to continue planning for the future in the southern part of the district, especially with the relocation of the Utah State Prison in Draper.

CEA President Erika Bradshaw thanked Dr. Hal Sanderson, Director of Research and Assessment, for his audit of assessments proctored in CSD classrooms. She also thanked the Instructional Supports Department for responding to the requests of the CEA to re-evaluate how much time is spent on assessments.

Consent Agenda

The Board approved items on the consent agenda, including the minutes from the Nov. 14, 2017 meeting of the Canyons Board of Education; the hiring and termination reports; purchasing bids; student overnight travel requests; and a LAND Trust amendment for Midvalley Elementary. They also approved an amendment for the Brighton High LAND Trust plan. 

Policy Updates

Assistant Legal Counsel Jeff Christensen updated the Board of Education on policies governing the Calendar Committee guidelines; student search and seizure; student attendance; and student records, privacy rights and release of information. The Board voted to accept the updates. 

Academic Calendars

The Board of Education approved the calendar for the 2018-2019 school year. The Board also tentatively approved the alternative calendars for the 2019-2020 school-year calendar, which includes an earlier start date in August and an earlier end date, during the week of Memorial Day Recess.

Reviews and Audits  

The Board of Education voted to accept the 2016-2017 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and accompanying audits, which were conducted by Squire and Company. The public can access the reports on BoardDocs

Superintendent, Business Administrator Reports

Superintendent Briscoe thanked Business Administrator Leon Wilcox for the work done on this year’s CAFR and other accompanying audits. He mentioned that the District’s fiscal health led to the AAA bond rating, which will save taxpayers millions. He thanked the School Resource Officers for helping keep campuses safe. Dr. Briscoe also thanked the outgoing mayors of three CSD-area municipalities — Cottonwood Heights Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore, Midvale Mayor JoAnn Seghini, and Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan — for their roles in starting and strengthening Canyons District. He bid all Canyons employees and patrons a happy and safe holiday season.

Mr. Leon Wilcox thanked Board members for reviewing the financial reports and participating in design meetings for the buildings that will be constructed with proceeds from the public-approved bond.  He wished everyone a happy holidays.

Board Member Reports

Mr. Mont Millerberg remarked on the innovations of the teachers who received grants from the Canyons Education Foundation. He also thanked the patrons who served on the Friends of the Canyons District Bond advocacy group.  He also thanked his fellow Board members for the civil discourse that surrounded the bond-project discussion.  Mr. Millerberg also reported on his attendance at the audit committee.

Mr. Steve Wrigley reported on attending the high school musicals at Brighton, Alta, Jordan, Hillcrest, Corner Canyon and Brighton high schools.  He also said he attended meetings regarding the future of the land on which the Utah State Prison now stands. He wished everyone a happy holiday season. 

Mrs. Amber Shill reported on attending Hillcrest High’s recent production of “Les Miserables.” Mrs. Shill commended the cast and faculty advisers on the high quality of the production. She also attended the Butler Middle SCC and a UHSAA meeting. Mrs. Shill thanked Dr. Stensrud and the Calendar Committee on creating the calendars for the coming school years.

Mrs. Nancy Tingey thanked the Calendar Committee for their hard work and responsiveness to feedback. She also thanked the business departments of CSD for their work on the financial and accompanying audits. She reported on attending the Common Good Awards. She also reiterated her commitment to encouraging high-quality instruction in classrooms. She wished everyone a happy holidays. 

Mrs. Clareen Arnold bid patrons a happy holiday season.

Mr. Chad Iverson attended performing-arts concerts at Indian Hills Middle. He wished Canyons patrons a happy holidays.

President Taylor thanked the members of the Canyons District family for all they do for students.  He acknowledged the hard work that goes into creating a leading District.  He wished every a happy and safe holiday season.
Alta High School last week welcomed talkative visitors for the 30th annual Black and Silver Debate Tournament. 

Eighty schools from 14 states were represented at the Tournament of Champions-qualifying event, with 500 students who came from as far away as Florida to compete.  

From Thursday to Saturday, some 200 adult chaperones and judges accompanied the students, who debated various topics in public forum, policy debate, and Lincoln-Douglas debate. “It’s very busy, logistically speaking,” said Alta debate coach Tanya Roundy. “It really pulls us together as a team, because they spend a lot of time working to get things to come together and managing the tournament together.”

Alta history teacher Rique Ochoa first established the debate tournament 30 years ago to provide his students an opportunity to compete at a high-level tournament without having to travel. Debaters who make it to the finals at the Black and Silver tourney qualify to go on to compete in the national Tournament of Champions.

In later years, host schools were no longer allowed to compete in their own tournaments, to avoid the appearance of bias. However, the Black and Silver competition is still a great opportunity for Alta’s debate students to use their skills, Roundy says.

“They use a lot of their speech skills, meeting new people, talking about these topics, hearing perspectives and arguments from all over the United States,” Roundy said. “They also get the benefit of learning how to manage time and organize and event plan.”

This year, Alta’s debate team had a bumper crop of 30 novice members and six varsity members. The team has students on the wrestling team, swim team, basketball players, actors, and all academic levels, Roundy says. She attributes the growing interest in Alta’s debate team as a carryover from the debate programs initiated in the District’s middle and elementary schools.

“It can really bring a lot of students with different interests together,” Roundy said. “Debate allows them to explore whatever their strengths are and build on those.”
Note: Recordings and documents for agenda items can be accessed via BoardDocs by clicking on the corresponding agenda items.

The Canyons Board of Education, acting as the Board of Canvassers, voted unanimously to accept the result of the Nov. 7 bond election. According to figures provided by the Salt Lake County Clerk’s Office, 57.8 percent of the 51,429 residents who cast ballots voted in favor of the District’s $283 million bond proposal. Some 42.2 percent voted against the tax-rate-neutral measure. Voter turnout was 48.2 percent. Proceeds from the issuances will be used on 11 major construction and renovation projects, including rebuilds of Brighton and Hillcrest high schools, a significant renovation of Alta High, a rebuild of Union Middle, rebuilds of Peruvian Park and Midvalley elementary schools, a new school in the White City area, and a new school in the west Draper section of the District. Offices at six elementary schools will be remodeled, classrooms will replace the portables at Corner Canyon High, and 18 other elementary schools also will get windows and skylights to bring in natural light to classrooms and hallways. Board 1st Vice President Nancy Tingey noted the successful bond vote came nearly 10 years to the day that residents in Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Midvale, Sandy and the town of Alta voted to create a new school district, which eventually became Canyons. Board President Sherril Taylor reminded the Board members and the administration that the state of the facilities on the east side of the old Jordan District was a major reason why residents voted to create CSD. At the outset of Canyons, an architectural review of the buildings showed $650 million in needed repairs. Since 2010, when CSD patrons approved a $250 million bond to start addressing the facility needs, CSD has completed 12 of 13 promised school-improvement projects. The 13th project, a renovation of Indian Hills Middle, is expected to be complete in time for the start of school in fall 2018. The Board also adopted a resolution authorizing the issuance of up to $49 million in general-obligation bonds and for refunding certain obligations of the District for a cost savings.  This can be done after the required 30-day contest period of the bond election.
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