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The third annual Spring Gala of the Canyons Education Foundation at the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium was a “Jaws”-sized success.

The Foundation raised some $52,000 for college scholarships, teacher-innovation grants, student-health initiatives, and the CSD Foundation endowment.

In addition, the Foundation’s first-ever scholarships for soon-to-be-graduates of CSD schools were announced at the Thursday, April 30 gala, which featured an inspiring keynote from New England Patriot and Super Bowl Champ Sealver Siliga. ABC4 anchor and reporter Emily Clark also served as the emcee for the evening. 

In all, the Foundation awarded $8,500 to seven students who have faced unique challenges in their drive to complete their high school educations and pursue a college degree. 

The recipient of the inaugural Canyons Education Foundation $2,500 “Rising Star” college scholarship is Carlos Rivas, a senior at Jordan High. Rivas, who is a member of Jordan’s Latinos in Action, accepted the big check and a gift bag at the gala. Rivas came to the United States from his native El Salvador just four years ago and yet is on track to graduate in a few weeks. 

Students from Alta, Brighton, Corner Canyon, Hillcrest, Jordan and Entrada were chosen to receive $1,000 “Bright Star” scholarship awards.  They are: 
  • Alta — Heather Asay
  • Brighton — Laura Thackeray
  • Corner Canyon — McKenzie Curtis
  • Hillcrest — Alex Marin
  • Jordan — Erica Keddington
  • Entrada — Taylor Simpson
“We wanted to help students who have overcome challenges and obstacles to earn their high school diplomas,” said Brad Snow, President of the Board of the Canyons Education Foundation. “We wanted to help the students who had to learn a new language at the same time they learned their multiplication tables. We wanted to help the students who are the first in their families to graduate from high school.  In short, we wanted to help those who needed help the very most.”

The Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization made up of volunteer business and community leaders that complements and supports Canyons District’s mission of making sure every student graduates college- and career-ready.

See the District's Facebook page for a photo album of the night's festivities.
Note: Mp3s and documents for agenda items can be accessed via BoardDocs and by clicking the corresponding agenda items.

Board Approves 2015-2016 Negotiated Agreements for Employees

The Board approved tentative agreements with the Canyons Education Association (CEA), the Canyons Education Support Professionals Association (CESPA), and administrators.

Under the 2015-2016 tentative agreement with the CEA, the District will fund steps and lanes; a 2.15 percent cost of living increase for certificated employees; a one-time, $1,000 bonus for teachers currently on Step 15; an increase in professional development days in September and February from half to full days; a nearly doubling of the stipend for elementary teachers participating in Building Leadership Teams; and sick days redemption of up to $500 per year. The agreement also includes creation of a task force to design a 3- to 5-year plan to improve teacher compensation, and other working environment improvements for teachers. The agreement currently is up for ratification by CEA members, CEA President-Elect Jen Jacobs said.

The 2015-2016 CESPA agreement, already ratified by CESPA members, includes a 1.5 percent cost of living increase to the salary schedule; full funding of steps for all eligible employees; and District adoption and implementation of a new Education Support Professional (ESP) salary schedule, among other benefits improvements.

On the Administrative contract, the Board funded steps for eligible employees and a 2.25 percent cost of living increase to the base of the salary schedule.
Jacobs and CESPA President Scott St. Clair thanked the negotiating teams and Board of Education for the positive outcome of negotiations, and resulting employee morale improvements.

Community Education Recommendation

Director of Student Advocacy and Access Karen Sterling recommended the Board keep Community Education in its current form for the coming school year. Sterling's team will continue to examine the possibility of forming a partnership with Salt Lake County to deliver these educational programs to the community.

Elementary Schedule Update

Dr. McCarrie updated the Board on a personnel issue faced by schools as they begin to implement the new Elementary School Schedule. One concern was the impact to the employees who are Media Assistants. Right now, each school is allocated 34 work hours for these duties, which are shared by two 17-hour employees. Next year, however, under the new schedule, this position will become a "Media Instructional Specialist," and the employee will be required to assist with instruction in addition to performing the usual tasks in the media center. Because the job will require additional duties, the Media Instructional Specialists will be paid on a higher salary lane. Due to the higher pay and budget concerns, notice was given to schools that hours would be reduced from 34 to 28 hours. Principals were given the choice of either hiring one person or splitting the duties between two 14-hour employees. Media Assistants would be given the option of reapplying for their jobs or apply for a media assistant job in a secondary school.

School Performance Directors Joanne Ackerman and Alice Peck told the Board that a solution was sought so that employees would not be negatively affected by the change. A survey of principals indicated that the schools would prefer to have more hours to give to the media aides. Ackerman and Peck said the Office of School Performance worked with Business Administrator Leon Wilcox to find money in the budget to provide elementary schools the option of having one 28-hour employee as the Media Instructional Specialist or two 17-hour Media Instructional Specialists. Ackerman expressed appreciation to the Board of approving the schedule in enough time for the administration to identify and address such scheduling and personnel issues. Board members Amber Shill and Vice President Steve Wrigley thanked the administration for finding a solution. Board President Sherril Taylor said the Board pays particular attention to issues that impact employees and their livelihoods.

High School Athletic Busing

Business Administrator Leon Wilcox presented ways for the high school fee schedule to remain at its current levels. He told the Board that the District would be able to pay to transport all high schools to UHSAA-sanctioned events. However, to make this work, the schools would need to pay for field trips and non-sanctioned activities. After one year, he said, the administration will evaluate this practice.

Property Tax Law Discussed

Mr. Wilcox reported that, while the Board has held fast to its promise not to raise taxes, residents and business owners in the district will likely see an increase on their tax notices. That's because Utah lawmakers in the 2015 session of the Utah Legislature approved SB97, which adjusts a statewide property tax to capture $75 million for public education. Statewide, it's expected that the owner of a $250,000 home will be required to pay $48 extra per year. The increase on a $1 million business is expected to be $348. Dr. Briscoe asked Mr. Wilcox to work with the Office of Communications to develop items for the website and community newsletters explaining that the increase is the result legislation and not a vote by the Board. In fact, due to its conservative fiscal policies, Canyons will not be required to hold a Truth-in-Taxation hearing for the sixth consecutive year.

Capital Update: Added Projects

Wilcox informed the Board that current capital projects are coming in under budget. For example, he said, the Brighton turf field is cost about $200,000 less than projected. That creates some flexibility for financing the transfer of auditorium seats from the soon-to-be-demolished Midvale Middle to the old Crescent View Middle and the installation of a storage shed at Butler Middle. He also said the District is moving forward with the already-planned purchase of four new buses. In addition, the District is transferring $2 million to pay debt.

Students, Teachers Recognized for STEAM Accomplishments

In a special recognitions event, the Board recognized the achievements of nearly 90 students and two teachers for their accomplishments in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) fields. The honorees are:

- Midvale Middle School's MATHCOUNTS team, top state scorers, 37th in nation
- Salt Lake Valley Science and Engineering Fair:
o Anna Tang, Midvale Middle, First Place, Microbiology
o Broadcom MASTERS qualifiers Alexander Cheng, computer science; Victor Petrov, physics and astronomy; Kenneth Nelson, computer science; Gregory Barashyan, Medicine & Health. All attend Midvale Middle.
o Nityam Rathi, Hillcrest High, whose genetics project received recognition from the U.S. Air Force and a scholarship to Westminster College.
o Merry Joseph, Hillcrest, who received University of Utah Lassonde Institute, and Westminster College scholarships, recognition from the Association for Women Geoscientists and Salt Lake Public Utilities, and the Stockholm Junior Water Prize for her water filtration project. She also was elected Secretary of the FBLA Utah Chapter.
o Intel Grand Champions Brandon Cui, Anthony Cheng, and alternate Alexander Sun, who have advanced to the Intel International Science Fair.
- Sophie Will, Corner Canyon High, elected president of the FBLA Utah chapter.
- Harry Han, Hillcrest, first place in the FBLA State competition in the Health Care Administration category and the Banking and Financial Systems team category with teammate Brandon Cui.
- Mitch McAffee, Hillcrest FBLA first place, Computer Problem Solving and Cyber Security categories
- Brittany Ward, Corner Canyon, DECA first place, Entrepreneurship
- Mattie Wilson, Corner Canyon, DECA first place, Restaurant and Food Services
- Joshua Peterson, Corner Canyon, DECA first place, Principles of Marketing
- Ellek Linton, Corner Canyon, DECA first place, International Business
- Parker Thompson and Austin Caroll, Corner Canyon, DECA first place Marketing Communications team
- Jeremy Aguilon and Frank Jin, Hillcrest, DECA Travel and Tourism team
- Jacob Farnworth, John Hanania, Brantley Topham, Jordan High, DECA first place individual awards in Student-Based Enterprise.
- Kaylene Eldredge, Alta, FCCLA first place, Live Event Planning – Occupational
- Amber Campbell, Jordan, FCCLA first place, Life Event Planning - Comprehensive
- Caitlynn Taylor, Brighton, FCCLA first place, Applied Math for Culinary Management
- Gabrielle Glenn, Brighton, FCCLA first place, Job Interview
- Brittan Neilson and Hannah Caplin, Corner Canyon, FCCLA first place, Advocacy team
- Collin Millerburg, Sherry Liao, Shirley Zhou, Jessica Ryann Gill and Frank Jin, Hillcrest, FCCLA first place, Knowledge Bowl
- Alyssa Kroll, Jordan, HOSA first place Healthy Lifestyle
- Derek Paniagua, Canyons Technical Education Center (CTEC), SkillsUSA, Information Technology Service
- Jonah Helfert, CTEC, SkillsUSA, Internetworking
- Nick Wood, CTEC, SkillsUSA, Telecommunications Cabling
- Emily Kezerian, CTEC, SkillsUSA, Job Interview
- Tyson Rogers, CTEC, SkillsUSA, Fire Fighting
- Makenzie Strottner, CTEC, SkillsUSA, Prepared Speech
- Russell Carpenter, David Chamberlain, Nicholas Cockrell, Harry Han and David Skorut, Hillcrest, TSA Digital Video Production
- Nicole Brooks, Jordan High, and Allison Drennan, Sunrise Elementary, Team Jedi, Utah FIRST LEGO League State Championship and qualification for the FIRST LEGO League World Festival and Championship in St. Louis
- Kenneth Nelson Jr., Landon Nipko and Aiden Moga, Midvale Middle, and Lauren Moga of Hillcrest, NXT Brain Factory, Robot Award in Programming, the FIRST Lego League State Championship
- Clief Castleton, teacher, Hillcrest, FIRST Robotics Volunteer of the Year
- Stephen Yu, Midvale Middle, first place, Lincoln-Douglas technique, State Middle School Debate Championship
- Sophia Paradis, Midvale Middle, first place, Lincoln-Douglas Speaker Award, State Middle School Debate Championship
- Julia Fu, Midvale Middle, first place, Policy, State Middle School Debate Championship
- Halli Thompson, Mount Jordan Middle, Harry B. Davis Spirit of Utah Debate Award, State Middle School Debate Championship
- Hillcrest High and Coaches Cheryl Sneddon and Ashley Stengell, 5A State Debate Champions
- Brighton High's Model United Nations Team, third place, National High School Model UN conference; Brock Harries, First Place Individual Award; Kristina Hanks, Third Place Individual Award
- Samantha Bemis, Hillcrest, Sterling Scholar in Speech/Theater/Forensics
- Sarah Farnsworth, Alta, Sterling Scholar in Social Science
- Anna Park, Brighton, Sterling Scholar in Visual Arts
- CTEC Cosmetology student Stephanie Jencks, Sterling Scholars Douglas F. Bates Community Service Award
- Bovey Rao, Hillcrest, Sterling Scholar in Mathematics, Coca-Cola Scholar and $20,000 scholarship, and Xerox Corporate-Sponsored National Merit Scholarship recipient.
- Daniel Fang, Hillcrest, and Sierra Rupper, Brighton, National Merit Scholars
- Calvin Yu, Hillcrest, U.S. Presidential Scholar
- Amelia Slama-Catron, Midvale Middle, President's Volunteer Service Award and the Prudential Spirit of Community Award
- Emily Shellman, Alta, Juror's Choice Award, Springville Museum of Art's All-State High School Art Show
- Ayla Olpin, Canyon View Elementary, Best of Show, Sandy City Elementary Art Show
- Pantara Coshow, Brighton, first place Draper Visual Arts Foundation Scholarship Competition
- Hannah Petersen, Hillcrest, Grand Prize Scholarship Draper Visual Arts Foundation Scholarship Competition
- Daniel Crockett, Hunter Bergman, Austin Gainor, Alta High, Outstanding Soloists, Utah State Jazz Festival
- Corner Canyon Band and Alta High Wind Ensemble, straight Superior Ratings, State Band Festival
- Hillcrest High, 5A State Theatre Championship; David Chamberlain, first place, Dramatic Monologues; Carpenter and Mikah Olsen, first place, Contemporary Scenes
- Josh Long, Hillcrest Drama teacher Beverly Taylor Sorenson Legacy Award for Excellence in Arts Education
- Corner Canyon Drama, 4A State Theater Championship
- Bryan Wei, Peruvian Park Elementary, Utah PTA Reflections Award of Merit-Literature
- JulieLynn Reardon, Silver Mesa Elementary, Utah PTA Reflections Award of Merit-Special Artist, Literature
- Zoey Slaughter, Willow Canyon Elementary, Utah PTA Reflections Award of Merit-Music
- Asia Olcott, Oak Hollow Elementary, Utah PTA Reflections Award of Merit-3D Art
- Cambria Hayes, Draper Park Middle, Utah PTA Reflections Award of Merit-3D Art
- Caitlin Shill, Brighton High, Utah PTA Reflections Award of Merit-Photography
- Mikayla Maughan, Sprucewood Elementary, Utah PTA Reflections Award of Excellence- Dance
- Aubri Altman, Brookwood Elementary, National PTA Reflections Award of Excellence-Film
- Abigail Slama-Catron, National PTA Reflections Award of Excellence-Literature

Student Advisory Committee Thanked for Service

Board President Sherril Taylor thanked the members of the Student Advisory Council for their service to the Board, and expressed a hope that the students would continue community service throughout their lives. The Board gave each member a letter and gift card to show their appreciation. Assistant Superintendent Dr. Robert Dowdle said the students are among CSD's brightest, and said he's enjoyed working with them during the school year as the Council's advisor. Board Second Vice President Nancy Tingey said she believes future generations of students will be positively affected by their pioneering service.

Skyward Notebook Report

Dr. Kathryn McCarrie, Assistant Principal of Curriculum and Instruction, reported on recent discussions regarding a potential purchase of an electronic-reporting system that would sort student-achievement data, monitor student progress, and provide meaningful information to parents. After hearing several presentations from vendors, weighing the potential cost to the District, and researching the capabilities of the District's current data-management system, a District committee studying the issue decided to cancel its solicitation for a standards-based reporting system. Instead, Dr. McCarrie reported, previously unused features of Skyward will be activated and teachers will be provided professional development to learn how to use the features.

Transportation, Named Gifts Policies Discussed

Tingey said the committee received input from district departments and the PTA leadership on how to better align policy with practice, and included that feedback in the proposed policy documents provided to the Board. She asked Board members to provide feedback prior to the committee's June meeting.

Facility Committee Update

Board Member Chad Iverson said the committee met a few weeks ago at Midvale Elementary to tour the facility and receive an update from Superintendent Dr. Briscoe on proposals for high school boundaries. He said next steps include Dr. Briscoe scheduling time to meet with communities to share ideas and receive patron feedback. The Board would discuss the feedback in the fall. Dr. Briscoe said the committee would take the lead in the endeavor. He also suggested meeting with Draper and Sandy city managers and mayors regarding the committee's work.

School Lunch Prices Stable for Kids, But Rise for Adults

School lunch prices will not increase for the 2015-2016 school year, Wilcox said. This is the sixth year that prices have not gone up for student meals. However, to comply with federal standards on reimbursable meals, adult-meal prices will increase from $3 to $3.50.

Budget Practices

Wilcox told the Board that the District is on schedule to have a proposed annual budget for public review by May 22. The budget needs to be completed and available for inspection by patrons at least 15 days before it can be adopted. The budget hearing is scheduled for June 9.

Board Action

The Board approved the Consent Agenda, with the exception of Item I, LAND Trust Plans. On that item, the Board approved LAND Trust Plans signed by Board Members, but returned those needing revisions, and asked that they be returned to the Board for approval in an upcoming meeting.

The Board approved the relocation of portables as requested by the following schools:
• Draper Elementary: three portables to accommodate enrollments. The additions would bring the total portables on campus to four. Portables would come from Midvale Middle, which is moving to the old Crescent View building during Midvale Middle's reconstruction.
• East Midvale will receive one portable to accommodate student growth.
• CTEC will receive up to seven portables to accommodate the new alternative high school on the west side of the building.
• Ridgecrest will receive one portable to accommodate additional students.
• Midvale Elementary will have up to six portables will be removed. Classroom additions are being built onto the school to accommodate enrollments.
• The portables will be moved this summer. Cost of portable relocation is about $15,000 apiece, Facilities Director Rick Conger said.

Cell Tower Agreements Discussed

SCCs at East Sandy Elementary and Crescent Elementary are recommending the Board approve cell towers on or near their campuses. At East Sandy, the tower would be placed at the edge of campus in a flagpole-type tower. At Crescent, a cell tower would be placed at the old Crescent Middle School. If approved, 32 cell towers would be located in CSD, CFO Leon Wilcox said. Wrigley noted the Board doesn't have a policy right now on cell towers. Tingey recommended that discussion be part of the Board Policy Committee's work. The Board will discuss the proposals in a future meeting.

Patron Comments

Alyssa Grow, Park Lane Elementary PTA President-elect and Eastmont parent does not want a new cell tower at the school. She said she didn't know it had been proposed or approved by the School Community Council until recently, and circulated a petition to halt its approval. She said she is concerned with cell towers on CSD schools' property, and said that while the School Community Council approves the towers, there needs to be more transparency and effort to inform the community beforehand. She asked that the Board approve no more cell towers.

Jacobs thanked the Board for the opportunity to negotiate with the District, and said the tentative agreement is undergoing the ratification process by members now.

St. Clair thanked the board for the positive negotiations, and said the negotiated agreements are raising morale among employees. He also thanked his negotiating team and CESPA Members.

Superintendent's Report

Superintendent Dr. Briscoe thanked the employees associations for their positive negotiations, and said he was pleased with the discussion about working environments and improving perceptions of each association. He also noted Dr. Hollie Pettersson's resignation, effective July 1, and said she was one of the most knowledgeable experts in professional development, instruction and curriculum, and one of the most passionate professionals he's ever met. He said she has done an amazing job, that her work helped to attract him to take a job in Canyons, and said she should be proud of the district's positive academic results. He thanked her for everything she's done.

CFO Report

Leon thanked the employee groups for the positive negotiations. He said Mount Jordan is moving to its newly rebuilt school June 8, and that Midvale Middle will then move to the old Crescent View when its construction begins. He noted the death of Hillcrest Assistant Principal Dr. Paul Kirby, and noted that the two worked together to secure the Maverik Center for the Hillcrest commencement ceremony. He said that as the community celebrates graduation, he hopes that they think of Paul and his contributions.

Board Reports

Iverson said he attended the Facilities Committee Meeting and noted the good work done there. He said it's great to get to know the people in the community from every city in the district. He thanked fellow Board Members for maintaining collegial relationships throughout difficult discussions.

Clareen Arnold enjoyed the Native American Leadership Recognitions, where hear from a young woman talk about overcoming struggles to achieve a doctorate degree, in part thanks to $400,000 in grants and scholarships. She attended the Foundation Gala and thanked the staff for all the work, and enjoyed hearing about talented retirees spotlighted at the Retirees Banquet. She said she found a free program to help schools raise achievement scores by having students run in place 12 minutes a day. She said she's going to implement this in her classroom.

Wrigley said he's enjoyed events including the Foundation Gala, Retirees Banquet. He has visited several schools, and said there are many great things happening at Indian Hills Middle School, Oakdale Elementary, and Jordan High. He read the LAND Trust fund reports, which show student growth. He said May is going to be a busy and exciting month.

Tingey said she and Shill attended an elementary Building Leadership Team, where they crated and developed the schedule they'll use in their building. She said that to see teams working together brought to mind that by working together, good things happen. She thanked Wilcox his remembrance of Dr. Kirby, and attended is service which was like a CSD reunion. She said she was reminded that CSD is a family and that the experiences we share here are unique. She said she hoped that those leaving the district understand their influence will not be forgotten and that they take with them the essence of Canyons District.

Shill said the Gala was wonderful. She thanked retirees for their service, dedication and talent. She said she also was able to attend the Utah High School Activities Association alignment and policy committee meetings. She said she enjoyed reading the LAND Trust plans and seeing what the schools are doing with PBIS.

Robert Green participated in Comcast Cares day at Copperview Elementary, and said about 500 volunteers were there, which generated money and school grounds improvements for Copperview. He thanked Comcast for the donation. He also noted that he first met Dr. Kirby as a student graduating from Brighton High, when Dr. Kirby shook his hand. He said he was a good man, educator, and administrator, and will be sorely missed.

Taylor thanked the communications team for their work in organizing the STEAM Recognitions at Board Meeting.

Closed Session

The Board met in Closed Session for the purposes of discussing collective bargaining and the character, professional competence or physical or mental health of an individual.

Connie Crosby spends her days making sure that children who live in local homeless shelters are provided a pathway to a better life. From before sunrise to well past sunset, Crosby, who is affectionately known as “St. Connie” throughout Canyons District, works tirelessly to secure basic health, nutrition and educational needs for families who just need a little boost to break free of the cycle of poverty.

Not only does Crosby ensure that homeless students have backpacks, books, pencils, and clean clothes as they head to school, she’s relentless in arranging immunizations, doctor visits, vision testing — even the delivery of juice for diabetic students.

For these reasons, Crosby was honored on Monday, May 11, 2015 with the third-annual Canyons District Above and Beyond Award, which is presented yearly by the CSD school nurses to one person who has consistently gone the extra mile to help the nurses promote student health and safety.

“Many times it’s difficult to narrow down to just one person because so many people in our district go out of their way to help students and families,” said Martee Hawkins, the team lead for CSD school nurses. “But we didn’t have a hard time this year. It was a unanimous decision … (Crosby) is a true advocate for our students and an asset to Canyons School District.”

Crosby accepted the award at a ceremony in the Wasatch Room of the Canyons Administration Building. District administrators, including Superintendent Jim Briscoe and Assistant Superintendents Drs. Kathryn McCarrie and Bob Dowdle, as well as several principals who regularly work with Crosby, attended the award ceremony.

Crosby thanked the nurses for the honor and expressed appreciation for the District’s ongoing support in providing assistance to students who qualify for services under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act

When more than 400 hundred business and marketing teachers meet this summer for a statewide conference, one of the first things they will see is Brady Hartog’s colorful handiwork.

The artwork on the cover of the conference program is a crisp and snappy design that was created by the Hillcrest High freshman, who won the chance to have his work featured. 

Teacher Ed Mondragon encouraged Hartog to enter the Utah State Office of Education-sponsored cover-design contest, which was Hartog’s first-ever entry to such a competition.

Mondragon praised his student for blending his computer-science skills with his creative side. “He’s artistic — and he does programming, too,” Mondragon said of Hartog, who also is a member of the school’s Future Business Leaders of America chapter. “He’s someone who can help our FBLA program for several years.” 

Laura DeShazo, the business and marketing specialist from the USOE, recently visited Hillcrest to announce Brady as the winner of the competition.

In addition to the publication of his work on the conference covers, Hartog also received an Adobe Creative Suite software license.

For his part, Hartog says it’s “great to get my work seen by so many people.”

What’s clear, however, is that the sky is the limit for the well-spoken ninth-grader. While he “can’t deny the possibility” of becoming a professional graphic designer, he says he also “could be an engineer. Or maybe the President of the United States.”

A former on-the-court powerhouse for the Beetdiggers is taking her talents to the home of the Hawks. Izzy Gustafson, who was a standout for Jordan High, is the new head coach of Alta’s girls basketball team. 

Gustafson, who has a bachelor’s of science in history education from Utah Valley University and is earning a master’s of education in coaching education from Ohio State University, says she is “more than giddy” to start rolling out her plans to advance the tradition of excellence that’s been established at Alta High. 

“I am very, very excited,” Gustafson said, noting her already-scheduled open gym times, parent meetings, and plans for summer camps and team-building exercises.  “We want to build on the strength and standards that are already there — and really take it to the next level.”

Gustafson said Alta’s team will be known for its confidence, dedication, teamwork, and high on- and off-the-court standards. Also, while it may be cliché, Gustafson believes that the best offense is a strong defense. “The first starter will be the best defensive player on the team,” she says. “The second starter will be the best rebounder on the team.” 

“If you can’t stop the attacking, you won’t be able to succeed,” said Gustafson, who also played guard for Northwest College of Wyoming. “Take care of your defense and the offense will come.”

Gustafson, also a former assistant girls basketball coach at Jordan High, is currently teaching in the Granite School District as a social studies teacher. She also coached the John F. Kennedy Jr. High girls hoops team.

Even though she’s still a Beetdigger “through-and-through,” she’s excited to start donning the black, silver and red colors that are proudly worn by Alta’s school community.  “I just tell them, ‘I am now just as much of a Hawk as you are.’”


The State Office of Education publicly announced for every Utah school district and school on Oct. 27, 2014. Results show Canyons District students on average outperformed their Utah peers on most of the state-mandated SAGE tests, in some areas by as many as 13 percentage points. Canyons' Draper Park Middle School and Granite Elementary School are ranked No. 1 in the state for their performance on the state-mandated SAGE tests in Language Arts and Science, resepectively. CSD schools appear 19 times in Utah's Top 25 rankings on their respective SAGE test results. Statewide, fewer than half of Utah students scored as proficient in English language arts, mathematics and science.

SAGE results will influence state school accountability reports. The State Office of Education has indicated that most Utah schools will receive D or F grades as a result of these more challenging standards. The State Board of Education will continue to discuss these estimated results with members of the Utah Legislature. School grades are expected to be released to the public in December.
The girls hoops team at Hillcrest High has a new leader who can’t contain her enthusiasm about the talent and verve she sees in the school’s returning players.

Not five hours had passed since Shannon Hurst accepted the offer to be the Lady Huskies’ head basketball coach on Friday, May 1, 2015 and she was already hard at work thinking about camps, conditioning, and camaraderie. 

“I am so excited. I know the talent we have,” said Hurst, a former Snow College player and standout at Granite High “We have a young team, so I’m excited to have them for a few more years.”

Hurst, who plans to soon have a meeting with parents and players, has been Hillcrest’s junior varsity coach for the past four seasons. Her time as the head of the JV squad has provided a good look at the athleticism of the players and the solid relationships that exist on the team.

“These girls are pretty tight-knit. They are good off the court so I am excited to see how it will work on the court,” said Hurst, who also is looking for strong assistant coaches. “I think that I’d like this team to be known for its intensity. Anytime anyone is on the floor, I’d like to see intensity. They should be giving 100 percent.”

Fundraising and summer camps are part of her plans. It’s never too early to start thinking about the challenges that will come in the fall, she said. 

She hopes her players will shoot hoops as much as possible in the summer months — and even scrimmage against the boys in their neighborhoods.  “Any time you can play, even with your guy friends,” she says, “you will get a lot better.”

Hurst is a 2011 graduate of Utah State University. She teaches physical education and health at Hillcrest.

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Hillcrest High School Theater teacher Joshua Long has received a prestigious 2015 Beverley Taylor Sorenson Legacy Award for Excellence in Arts Education, an honor comes with a $2,500 cash award for Long and another $2,500 to promote the arts at Hillcrest.

The Sorenson Legacy Awards for Excellence in Arts Education recognize distinguished public school educators who embrace the arts with excellence in their classrooms, and the positive impact their work has had on Utah schoolchildren.

Long led the Hillcrest thespians to capture the 2015 5A State Theatre Championship – and the first perfect scores ever to be earned in the competition's history. His students also have won consecutive national sweepstakes awards for their Shakespearean plays, as well as the 2012 4A State Theatre title. Long received the Utah High School Activities Association Distinguished Service Award for Theatre Teacher of the Year in 2012.

Long is among 10 Utah recipients of the 2015 Sorenson Legacy Awards. He and other honorees will be recognized Saturday, May 2, at a dinner at the University of Utah. The event is hosted by the Utah State Office of Education, with support from the Sorenson Legacy Foundation.
This is the third Sorenson award to be bestowed upon Canyons District educators. Corner Canyon High School band and orchestra teacher Randal Clark and Butler Middle School dance teacher Rebecca Crowley received the awards in 2014.