Kathy Bitner is a force for good at Draper Park Middle on two fronts. As head counselor, she knows how to help students, teachers and families overcome problems and find solutions to succeed, and as a member of the community, she hears and knows what issues they are facing.

“She has the ear of the community,” Principal Mary Anderson says. She also has the trust of Draper Park’s students and finds ways to support them in finding and pursuing their purpose and passion. For these reasons and more, she represents the best of her profession and was named Utah Counselor of the Year by the Utah School Counselor Association. BitnerAward

Bitner was honored in October by her peers with a plaque at the Association’s annual statewide conference, and was later recognized by the Canyons Board of Education.

When Bitner became aware of a growing disunity in her school, she initiated “Club Thursday,” where students participate in weekly after-school projects once a week. She brings volunteers, teachers and parents together to teach students how to make stained glass, or draw cartoon characters, or complete Halloween sewing projects.

She also identified populations of students in the school who were academically at-risk, and spearheaded a strategy that's credited with helping them achieve. Her efforts have boosted Draper Park Middle, and gained the attention of her colleagues. To that end, it is no surprise Bitner was recently chosen as the 2019 Utah Counselor of the Year.
Double, double, toil and trouble, it’s Halloween in Canyons — that falling-leaves-in-rolling-fog time of year when child-sized ghosts, witches and zombies haunt the District’s hallways and classrooms.

The tradition of celebrating All Hallow’s Eve will be followed in schools, which have planned parties and parades. None are bigger in Canyons than Sandy Elementary’s annual Halloween parade down Historic Main Street in Sandy. The 9 a.m. spectacle draws hundreds of parents and neighbors, some of whom have been attending the parade for decades.

This year, the Canyons District Office, 9361 S. 300 East, will open its door to the young children of employees and patrons who are looking for a safe trick-or-treating experience.

Timed to coincide with the pending completion of the newly consolidated District Office, the 3 to 5 p.m. event is the perfect time to get a look at the new office space. While most of the new part of the building, paid for primarily with proceeds from the sale of land on 500 West, won’t be open for trick-or-treating tours, central-office employees will be in the lobby of the new wing to hand out candy. 

CSD’s nurses also will be on hand in the Superintendent’s Conference Room from 3-5 p.m. to give flu shots to anyone who hasn’t had a chance to say “boo to the flu.”

On Thursday night, while black cats are prowling and the flickering light from pumpkins is carving the shadows, costumed children will be scurrying from house to house in search of trick-or-treat candy.

Canyons annually provides tips for families who are headed out for a night of revelry.  As always, the safety experts urge parents to inspect the candy gathered by the kiddos. Toss any treats that appear to have been touched or unwrapped. 

Children should travel with parents and in packs. It maximizes the safety of the Jokers who are heading house-to-house in search of more Snickers and Skittles. 

Yes, we know your little ballerina wants to wear her slippers. But insist on sturdy footwear for Halloween, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.  The organization of physicians also says costumes should be short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flames.

According to the weather forecasters, temperatures could dip into the 20s, so revelers should put on a few more layers to enjoy the hocus pocus just a little longer — even if it covers up the costume. 

Drivers should be on high alert, as well.  Slow down, obey all traffic signs and signals.  Keep your eyes peeled for dashing young princes, especially as you’re backing up or exiting driveways or alleys. 

Parents are encouraged to check the District’s dress code policy and their child’s school on the costume rules for the school-sponsored Halloween activities and assemblies. For the most part, though, masks and weapons, either real or facsimile, are not allowed.
Bundle up! With the arrival of the season's first major snow, and more in the forecast for the Salt Lake valley, there will be days in the coming weeks when traveling to and from school is challenging for families.

Please give yourself extra time to walk and drive to school or arrive at the bus stop safely. On wet, wintry days, our schools are lenient with tardies, because we want everyone arriving to school safe, sound and ready to learn.

Keep in mind that, while some of us would prefer to be hitting the slopes or staying tucked in bed with a good book, "snow days," or school cancellations, are rare in Utah. More often, the District will choose to delay the start of school in order to provide our partner cities with more time to clear sidewalks and streets.

What factors do administrators weigh when deciding whether to delay or cancel school — and how are parents notified? Please see the following list of answers to frequently asked questions.

Bottom line: No public announcement means schools will be open and operating as usual. Unless extreme weather creates unsound traveling conditions, schools operating under the Canyons District umbrella will remain open on scheduled school days.

How we decide:  School closures are announced when authorized by the Canyons Superintendent of Schools or his designee after consulting with senior staff members and the Transportation Department, which has drivers out on inclement days as early as 4 a.m. to survey road conditions. The National Weather Service and other state, county and city agencies also may be consulted.

Closures are for one day only: All announcements are for one day only. No announcement means schools will be open and operate as usual.

Announcements: Canyons District will employ its website, the Skylert emergency-communication system, and Facebook and Twitter (@canyonsdistrict) to immediately notify parents about school delays or cancelations. Parents and employees also should tune into Wasatch Front radio and television stations for information. It’s important for families each year to log in to Skyward Family Access to update their contact information and settings. New this year: Parents can sign up to receive text messages in addition to emails and phone calls. For help updating Skyward settings, please call 801-826-5544.

What we will tell you: The District will communicate one of three messages: 1) day and date a school is closed; 2) day and date a school is starting late; or 3) day and date schools will be dismissed.

Telephones: The District Office employs Front Desk personnel to answer questions that arise during snow events who can be reached at 801-826-5000. Please be patient, as the District may experience a high volume of phone calls on these days. Parents also may call their child's school.  

Why keep schools open during snowstorms?
Our 34,000 students count on us to deliver a quality education in a safe, welcoming environment. Unscheduled school closures disrupt learning and place a burden on parents who work full time and can’t easily be home to supervise their children. Neighborhood schools also are a primary source of breakfast and lunch for many of our students. 

What if I’d prefer to keep my child home? 
While school-closure decisions will be made in the best interest of a school community, the District respects the rights of parents and guardians to decide what’s best for children in their care. 

Emergency plans: Families are encouraged to establish an emergency plan for their children in the event that schools are closed, have a delayed start or dismissed early. Parents are urged to instruct their children where to go or what to do if a parent is not at home.

Bus stops: Parents are asked to meet their children at bus stops when buses are running on delayed or emergency schedules.

Make-up days: Any determination about make-up days is made by District administrators in coordination with the Canyons District Board of Education and Utah State Board of Education.
We work hard to keep our buses on time. Under normal circumstances, students can expect the bus to arrive within one to two minutes of its scheduled time.

But with 167 daily bus routes to manage — and the inevitability of our drivers encountering inclement weather or construction-related detours and slowdowns — delays can happen. Canyons District has established communications channels to immediately notify families of bus delays. If a bus is running more than 15 minutes late, our Transportation Department will email or call parents and guardians with information about the cause of the delay and expected time of arrival.

New this year: Parents can opt to receive these and other District alerts via text message. To add text messaging to your communications settings, log in to the Skyward Family Access portal and click on the Skylert menu item (located on the lower left side of your computer screen).  Scroll down to the Text Message Numbers section to add your mobile numbers. busNotificationsEnglish

Be sure to click the Emergency and General fields in order to receive all notifications. You can choose to receive texts, emails or phone calls, or any combination of the three. Need help? Call our Help Desk at 801-826-5544.

Parents can help keep our buses on schedule by making sure their students arrive at the bus stop five minutes before their appointed pickup time. 

October is Think Safe month in Canyons District, the perfect time for parents to review family emergency plans and talk to their children about the rules of the road—or tips for staying safe while on their way to and from school each day. Here are a few helpful safety routines to always keep in mind:

  • Make sure your child knows his/her address and phone number, and how to reach you in case of an emergency.
  • Keep tabs on how your child will get to and from school, and with whom.
  • Talk to your child about stranger danger.
  • Review walking and biking routes with your child.
  • Establish a check-in time for your child to notify you when they arrive home from school.
  • Know your child’s friends and their phone numbers.
  • If you have moved, or changed your phone number or email address, please update your contact settings in Skyward, the system that families use to register their child for school in Canyons District. If you need assistance, contact our Help Desk at 801-826-5544.
Quite literally, every drive down the fairways at the recent 10th annual golf tournament of the Canyons Education Foundation was done for a great cause: supporting Canyons District’s mission of ensuring the college-readiness of every student enrolled in a Canyons school.

The some $80,000 in donations earned at the Sept. 18, 2019 fundraiser at Wasatch Mountain State Park, as well as other Foundation-sponsored events held throughout the year, are used to support the academic platform of CSD, provide scholarships help to students who have risen above adversity, and pay for innovative classroom projects spearheaded by energetic teachers. 

A major program supported by the Canyons Education Foundation is Utah College Application Week, a time set aside to encourage every high school senior to complete and submit at least one viable application for post-secondary education. Schools in Utah are holding UCAW activities throughout October. Alta High held UCAW activities last week, and this week Brighton, Hillcrest, Jordan, Corner Canyon and Diamond Ridge high schools are holding events to support students’ efforts to apply for colleges, universities or vocational-training schools.   

The Foundation’s governing board recently approved using up to $10,000 in donations to help low-income students pay applicable college-application fees during UCAW, which is held in collaboration with the Utah System of Higher Education. The CSD Foundation Board and Development Officer Denise Haycock presented the contribution — in the form of a giant check — to the Canyons Board of Education on Oct. 15, 2019.

The Canyons Education Foundation is able to support students in chasing their college dreams through the generosity of business and community partners who contribute to the education-focused nonprofit organization, said Foundation Board President-Elect Landon Bradfield.

Canyons students who don’t have the money to cover any college-application fees can ask their counselors to tap into the amount provided by the Foundation.  

“Many students could feel overwhelmed or confused when completing applications,” Bradfield said. This could be especially true, he said, for low-income students or those who are the first in their families to apply for entrance to a college or university.

“We appreciate the work of high school counselors (during UCAW),” he said, “and by covering the cost of the application fees, the Foundation is allowing any student who wants to apply for college the ability to do so.”   

Shortly after Canyons first started planning UCAW activities, “the Foundation said, ‘We can help out with that.’ It is so meaningful for students,” said Canyons Board of Education President Nancy Tingey. “We appreciate all the work the Foundation does in supporting teachers and  students and what happens in the classrooms in Canyons District.” 

UCAW is a fun week for high schools, says Hillcrest counselor Stephanie Johnston, who appeared on KUTV on Monday, Oct. 21 to talk about the post-secondary education promotional endeavor.  The schools hold assemblies, post college-related items on social media, and encourage faculty and administrators to wear T-shirts and sweatshirts from their alma maters. 

During the week, Johnston said, computer labs are staffed with counselors and teachers and others who can help answer questions about the applications. Schools also plan parent-information nights about the FAFSA, which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. 

FAFSA is the federal form that students must complete in order to make themselves eligible for federal money that can be used to pay for higher education. By filling it out, Johnston says, students can be eligible for Pell Grants, Work Study Programs, and loans subsidized by the government.

Some students find the process so intimidating, Johnston said, but sometimes all it takes is a few suggestions – and some words of encouragement – for the applications to get filled out.
Page 4 of 128