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As a Staff Sargeant for the U.S. National Guard, Ryan Miller has two jobs: perform missions for his unit — sometimes for weeks at a time — and teach seventh- and eighth-grade science at Eastmont Middle School.

Thanks to the support of Stacy Kurtzhals, former principal of Eastmont, Miller’s transition between deployment and working in the classroom is as seamless as it can be. Kurtzhals makes sure Miller has the plans he needs, that his students have a substitute if necessary, and he can trust his classroom is in good hands while he is away.
kurtzhals.jpg Miller nominated Kurtzhals, who is now a Program Administrator in the Special Education Department, to receive the Patriot Award from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve program with the Department of Defense because of her assistance. “She was very aware and helpful,” Miller said, referring to recent deployments.  “She is an amazing person to work with and always helping her team to be the best.”

The ESGR Patriot Award is given in recognition to supervisors who provide support through a wide-range of measures, including flexible schedules, time off, granting leaves of absence and caring for families, according to the ESGR website, www.esgr.mil

Miller works as a dental assistant for the Utah Air National Guard. Usually, his duties include monitoring the teeth of 1,400 servicemen and women to help them receive the care they need to be able to serve where they are needed at a moment’s notice. He is deployed on international service missions where he works to build communication with various nations and help those who don’t have regular access to dentists.

Most recently, Miller spent two weeks in Morocco on an assignment that happened to fall during the school year. Kurtzhals stepped up to help Miller fulfill his responsibilities at both of his jobs.

“The support you give is essential to what our mission is,” Lt. April Paulsen told Kurtzhals during the presentation of Kurtzhals’ award. “(Ryan Miller) is not only supporting other countries, but here at the home state. He couldn’t do this without your support.”
Wednesday, 30 August 2017 14:17

Remembering Hillcrest Coach Cazzie Brown

College funds have been established benefitting children of the late Hillcrest High head football Coach Cazzie Brown.

Coach Brown passed away Sunday, Aug. 27 from complications of a viral infection. A mentor with a distinct gift for inspiring young people to achieve, whether in the classroom or the football field, “Caz” was a champion of higher education.

“We’ve had such an outpouring of support from schools and school districts throughout Utah. As students, colleagues and friends mourn, many have asked if there’s anything they can do to support his three children in their educational goals,” said Canyons District Foundation Director Laura Barlow. “So, we created Utah Educational Savings Plans in their names.”

The Foundation is accepting donations online. Checks also can be made out to the Canyons Education Foundation and earmarked for the Cazzie Brown college funds.

A native of Houston, Texas, and former football player for Idaho State University, Coach Brown came to Hillcrest in 2016 by way of Judge Memorial and Highland High where he served as defensive coordinator and defensive assistant, respectively. In a short amount of time, with his deep love for students and his motto ‘One Pack, One Goal,’ he brought new energy and positivity to Hillcrest and its football program.

Beloved by his students, he was a caring, passionate educator, a respected colleague and a dear friend. Caz will forever be remembered as the Coach who brought pride back to Husky Land, and he will be greatly missed.

On Tuesday, more than a thousand students and community members gathered on Hillcrest's football field to light lit candles at a vigil in Coach Brown's memory. This coming Friday, the Huskies go up against Highland Rams, Coach Brown’s former team. As a show of unity, the two teams plan to enter the field together, two-by-two and shoulder to shoulder. Fans are being asked to wear white. Brown’s family is holding a celebration of life on the field the following day, Saturday, Sept. 2 at 10 a.m.

Photos of the candlelight vigil are courtesy of Kristin Murphy from the Deseret News.

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  • In Canyons District, cafeteria food isn’t something that makes students wrinkle their noses in disgust — for some kids, it’s the very reason they go to school at all. It’s the key to helping them learn.

    That’s a concept that drives Sebasthian Varas, director of Canyons Nutrition Services department, to always find new ways to provide innovatisebasthian2.jpgve, healthy, delicious nutrition for Canyons’ students. Varas’ pioneering work has earned him recognition from the School Nutrition Association as the 2017 Director of the Year for the state of Utah. The national, nonprofit professional organization also gave Varas the President’s Award of Excellence in 2016 for his accomplishments.

    Since Varas became director of the Nutrition Services department, Canyons has made some major changes to its nutrition program, including switching from having fried products to having baked products, increasing its budget for fresh fruits and vegetables, adding online apps with complete nutrition and ingredient information, and implementing promotions to create a bridge from the classroom to the cafeteria as students learn about the importance of nutrition.

    "Sebasthian has done a tremendous job in overseeing the District’s lunch program,” said Canyons’ Chief Financial Officer Leon Wilcox. “Under Sebathian’s leadership, the lunch workers always provide friendly and helpful service to our students. Sebasthian has performed an excellent balancing act in that the quality of the District’s meals have improved, yet lunch prices have not increased.”

    One major change to Canyon’s meal program came after Varas studied how many students qualified for free breakfast and noticed students weren’t taking advantage of the service when it was offered in the cafeteria. Instead, Varas moved the program into the classrooms of Canyons’ Title 1 schools, where every student in every classroom receives a free breakfast.

    Teachers report that the change has had a positive impact as students are less likely to be tardy, because they don’t want to miss the meal. Students are also more ready to settle down and learn after they have a brief opportunity to socialize with their peers as they eat their whole grain muffin, string cheese, milk and fruit. At least 90 percent of the students eat the breakfast when it is provided in the classroom, Varas says.

    "If you think about it, if we are malnourished we cannot learn, and we are not going to be ready to pay attention in the classroom,” Varas said. “Ultimately, if you don’t come to school well-nourished, or you don’t have access to healthy meals, you aren’t going to succeed academically, which is the goal of the District.”
    Canyons District mourns the death of Cazzie Brown, the head football coach at Hillcrest High.  The school community and its supporters have been encouraged to wear green today in a show of solidary and support for Coach Brown’s loved ones. 

    The school issued the following message to parents and students early this morning: 

    The administration, faculty and staff of Hillcrest High want to express our appreciation for the support you have shown our school community and Coach Cazzie Brown who passed away late Sunday, Aug. 27 from complications of a viral infection. A native of Houston, Texas, and former football player for Idaho State University, Coach Brown came to Hillcrest in 2016 by way of Judge Memorial and Highland High where he served as defensive coordinator and defensive assistant, respectively. In a short amount of time, with his deep love for students and his motto ‘One Pack, One Goal,’ he brought new energy and positivity to Hillcrest and its football program. Beloved by his students, he was a caring, passionate educator, a respected colleague and a dear friend. Caz will forever be remembered as the Coach who brought pride back to Husky Land, and he will be greatly missed. Counselors will be on hand today and throughout the week to support anyone who is struggling to process difficult emotions.” 

    A candlelight vigil will be held on the football field at 9 p.m. tonight.
    Wednesday, 23 August 2017 18:32

    Students receive rousing, red carpet welcome

    Rise and shine, Canyons District!  The sun had just peaked over the Wasatch Mountains when students, teachers and parents started arriving at CSD schools for the first day of the 2017-2018 school year. 

    Ready and waiting to greet them with a rousing red carpet welcome were a full contingent of faculty, staff and volunteers, including Real Monarchs players who dropped by schools to help inspire students to reach for their dreams.

    At Midvale Middle, coaches for the professional soccer team gave the morning announcement, encouraging students to make and set goals. At Peruvian Park Elementary, forward Chandler Hoffman signed jerseys while saluting students with high-fives and fist bumps. Every CSD student today received a two-for-one voucher to the Real Monarchs playoff game Friday, Aug. 25 night at Rio Tinto Stadium.

    A proud, nine-year tradition, Red Carpet Day helps students feel welcome while underscoring the importance of school as a child’s ticket to the show of life. Celebrating CSD's college- and career-ready stars of the day is a moment relished each year by Amber Shill, second Vice President of the Canyons Board of Education. “It’s one of my favorite things to do.”

    CSD students also awoke to news on Wednesday that the Board of Education had endorsed placing a $283 million, tax-rate-neutral bond on the Nov. 7, 2017 ballot. If approved by voters, the bond would fund 11 major improvement projects in all parts of the District with an emphasis on building safe, supportive learning environments.
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