Help wanted.

A Canyons District program that helps adult special-education students gain the skills necessary to live independently is looking for business partners that would be willing to provide on-site job training for men and women who need just a little extra help to do big things.   

Nate Edvalson, a program administrator in Canyons’ Special Education Department, says business of all kinds and sizes can aid the efforts of the Canyons Transition Academy, which holds classes for students 18- to 22-years-old who have aged-out of the school system but still need more vocational and social-skills training. 

“I can’t say enough good things about the businesses who give our students a chance.  It’s obviously a little more work to hire a person with disabilities,” he says. “The biggest requirement, I think, is understanding and patience. Our students are eager to learn and are excited to take on all kinds of tasks.  They need explicit instruction, and it may take a few times to get it right, but in time our students turn out to be valuable employees.” 

Take, for example, the task of busing tables.  It may seem menial to some employees, he says, but Canyons Transition Academy participants approach the task with enthusiasm because they feel like someone believes in them to do a job that is vital to the restaurant, Edvalson said during a segment on ABC4's "Good Morning Utah."  Students also have been provided work opportunities in such industries as car detailing, tire removal and repair, vehicle repair and maintenance, and food preparation and service, he says.

The academy is grateful for partnerships with such organizations as O.C. Tanner, Walmart, Utah Co-Op, Draper Senior Center, and the Larry H. Miller organization. Some restaurants and public libraries have signed up to participate, and some CTA students work in custodial jobs at Canyons District schools and central offices.

Still, more community partners are needed to provide a wide array of experiences for the students.  Interested business owners can contact Edvalson via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

“Our students are reliable, excited to work, willing to learn and do any tasks.  The teachers and staff at the Canyons Transition Academy also can work with the students during class on skills the students will need to use at their jobs,” he said.  “The businesses are enriched because of the variety of working staff they will have.  Their commitment to including all parts of the community in their business will be visible to everybody in the community.”
Did you know in Canyons District, it's possible to learn two languages at the same time and to graduate from high school fluent in both?

The start of October signals the opening of the window to apply for Canyons District's Dual Language Immersion Programs for the 2020-2021 school year. From Monday, Oct. 7 to Tuesday, Nov. 26, parents and guardians can apply online to have their children learn Spanish, French or Mandarin Chinese.

In addition, parents and guardians who have questions about the programs are invited to a Parent Information Night on Wednesday, Oct. 23. The 6-8 p.m. event will be held in the Atrium at Jordan High School, 95 E. Beetdigger Blvd. (9880 S.) in Sandy.

Please note, that students with siblings currently enrolled in a Dual-Language Immersion school must still submit applications by the Nov. 26 deadline. A lottery will be held to determine entrance into the programs if the number of applicants exceeds the 56 seats available per entering class.DLIinset

On the application, parents will be asked to list their top three preferred languages and schools. Parents will be notified of their children’s acceptance into a program, or be given a choice of possible programs, on Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. All programs, except for the one at Midvale Elementary, are for students entering first grade in 2020-2021.

Midvale Elementary’s Spanish-English program operates a bit differently: It starts in kindergarten, and due to the fact that enrollment at the school is at-capacity, it’s only open to students who live inside the school’s boundaries. Spanish, however, also is offered at Alta View and Silver Mesa. French is taught at Butler Elementary and Oak Hollow. The schools offering Mandarin are Draper Elementary, Lone Peak, and Ridgecrest.

A model of bilingual instruction dating back to the 1960s, immersion programs are surfacing in classrooms around the globe as an efficient path to proficiency in a world language. Children in dual language immersion programs spend half the day learning core subjects in English and the other half learning in a target language. 

CSD’s first immersion classes opened in 2009, the same year that the District was founded. The District is now home to 19 elementary and secondary school immersion programs. More than 10 percent of CSD’s 34,000 students are now learning a world language through the program, which extends through high school where, if they pass an Advanced Placement exam, students can start taking college-level courses for early college credit.

Questions? Call the Instructional Supports Department at 801-826-5026.
Hillcrest High’s award-winning theater department already has a reputation for producing excellent shows. Add in the magic of Marvel, and the result is bound to be spectacular.

This fall, Hillcrest is one of a handful of schools chosen to pilot two new Marvel one-act plays that tackle contemporary issues from the Marvel Universe. The plays will debut Oct. 24-26.

“Normally we don’t do a show in October, but if Marvel calls you don’t say no,” director Josh Long said about the unusual timing of the production. The 34 students in the pilot plays, “Peter Parker and the Kid Who Flew” by Nanako Winkler and “Mirror of Most Value” by Masi Asare are also performing in Hillcrest’s November production of “42nd Street.” The students are rehearsing all three plays at the same time.

Long first reached out to Disney Theatrical to see if the school could participate in the pilot program three years ago. When he received the email in April that they were selected to perform two 50-minute, one-act plays with characters from the Marvel Universe, he was stunned. The plays have some logistical challenges, like making Spider-Man fly without actually using a harness and wire, but Long is up for the challenge.

“We are definitely doing more than they expected us to be doing,” Long said. “It’s really important to me because I want to create that relationship with Marvel and hopefully they will use us more.”

Long cast an acrobat to play Peter Parker and multiple people to play Spider-Man, so the character can jump from building to building, and with the use of creative lighting and a moving, custom-built skyline, appear to fly.

The action sequences in the play are secondary to the more mature themes discussed by Parker and his friends in the classroom, Long says. They discover a suicide note in a textbook, and work to discover who needs help. Hillcrest’s Hope Squad will host a discussion at the end of every performance to discuss suicide prevention.

The second play features a Marvel character called Ms. Marvel. She is a Pakistani-American who is obsessed with superheroes, until she develops superpowers of her own that don’t quite work the way she thinks they should. She trips over her superhero, super-stretchy limbs, and faces the mockery of her peers as a result. Ultimately, she learns that we are all superheroes in one way or another.

“Marvel's project is not, how do we make plays about the Marvel characters, but how do we use Marvel characters to talk about more serious things,” Long said. “Theater is just a tool to begin discussion in communities, and that is what it was invented for. It was a form of civil discussion. Marvel could have done anything, but I’m excited they wanted to do this. I’m glad they chose us to do it because that is something we believe in as well.”

One ticket covers both performances, which will take place Oct. 24-26 at 7 p.m. at the Hillcrest Auditorium. Tickets are now on sale.

All Canyons District traditional high schools are in rehearsal for their fall musical productions.  Here's a list of the shows and their scheduled runs:  
  • Jordan High: “Guys and Dolls,” Nov. 7-11
  • Alta High: “Once Upon a Mattress,” Nov. 19-25
  • Corner Canyon High: “Elf. The Musical,” Nov. 14-16 and Nov. 18
  • Brighton High: “Catch Me If You Can,” Nov. 8-Nov. 12
Note: Recordings and documents for agenda items can be accessed via BoardDocs by clicking on the corresponding agenda items.

Brighton High Marching Band
Brighton High is proposing to start a marching band to capitalize on growth in student interest in the school’s music programs. A survey of parents showed 99 percent approve of the idea, and the school’s Music Director Mikala Mortensen is committed to building the program, says Principal Tom Sherwood. Already, under Mortensen’s guidance, participation in Brighton’s Jazz Band has quadrupled and its orchestra has tripled in size. In addition, the school recently started a drum line, which has performed at graduation, the first day of school and sporting events. Mikala also collaborated with Alta High to spearhead a Canyons District mega-band, which drew students from throughout the District to participate in summer parades. A marching band would add to school spirit, enhance academics and provide students with another outlet for engaging in school, Sherwood says. Starting a band would require a seed investment of $296,000 to purchase and maintain instruments, uniforms and equipment. If approved by the Board, the marching band also would be supported by student fees. The Board will take up the matter at a future meeting.

Technology Plan
Over the past 10 years, Canyons has worked to get technology and computing devices into the hands of school staff and students. A number of schools are to the point where every student has access to a computing device, says Information Technology (IT) Director Scot McCombs. Districtwide, McCombs’ team is maintaining 50,000 computing devices, up from 10,000 in 2009. The District last year also launched a grant-funded technology check-out program to make filtered hot spots and Chromebooks available to an estimated 3,500 students who don’t have access to the Internet or computer at home. With another grant, the District purchases rights to software to help students with reading and pays for upgrades to its network infrastructure and professional development for employees. Major IT projects for the coming years include the implementation of a new Internet filter, point-of-sale devices for school lunchrooms and disaster recovery systems as well as cyber and network security upgrades.

Curriculum Approval Process
Canyons’ Instructional Supports Department Director Dr. Amber Roderick-Landward explained a proposal for standardizing and making more predictable the selection and implementation of new curricular tools and resources. The proposed 25-step process would be overseen by a committee to include teachers and administrators and begin 18 months prior to bringing final recommendations to the Board of Education for consideration. It involves a thorough review of research and best instructional practices, seeking input from national experts, schools and parents.  

Special Education Update
Inclusive schools and the availability of instructional coaches to support teachers in working with students with disabilities are among strengths identified in a routine state audit of Canyons’ special education programs. In January, 2019, four state teams reviewed hundreds of files, surveyed 23 schools, conducted 158 interviews and staged 16 focus groups with students and parents with the goal of ensuring compliance with federal standards. Among areas for improvement identified by the monitoring teams was the need to provide general education teachers with more training in special education, says Canyons’ Special Education and Related Services Director Misty Suarez.

Elementary Boundary Adjustment
Business Administrator Leon Wilcox proposed a small boundary adjustment to accommodate a new subdivision and 120-unit apartment complex being built at the corner of Highland Drive and Traverse Ridge Drive in Draper. The boundary line that currently defines areas served by Draper Elementary and Oak Hollow Elementary currently cuts through the center of the new apartment complex and subdivision. Wilcox proposed extending Draper Elementary’s boundary to include those new residences. The Board will take up the matter at a future meeting.
Pledge of Allegiance, Inspirational Thought
Altara Elementary students led the Pledge of Allegiance and Principal Nicole Svee-Magann provided the inspirational thought. Propelled by a belief that every student is important and part of the community, Altara’s staff and faculty have worked hard to boost student achievement. Buoyed by the gains in test scores for low-income students and English language learners, Altara now ranks among the top 10 percent of elementary schools in Utah.  
Consent Agenda
The Board of Education approved the Consent Agenda, including the approval of the minutes of the Sept. 3, 2019 meeting of the Canyons Board of Education; hire and termination reports; purchasing bids; student overnight travel requests; August financial reports, a plan to move two portable classrooms from Corner Canyon to Alta High during Alta’s renovation, and the hire of an Administrator of Technology Support.

The following students and employees were recognized by the Board of Education for their achievements: 
  • Noah Ripplinger, Butler Middle student, Best In Show and first-place prizes for artwork at Utah State Fair
  • Luke Ripplinger, Ridgecrest Elementary student, first place for artwork at Utah State Fair
  • Brent Markus, Canyons Custodial Specialist, Utah School Employees Association’s ESP of the Year
  • Charlotte Graham, Administrative Assistant at East Midvale Elementary, Utah School Employees Association ESP of the Year
Volunteer Report
Last year, more than 13,000 patrons and parents devoted more than 180,000 hours to volunteering in Canyons District schools. That’s the equivalent of $4.6 million in labor, as measured by national estimates for the hourly value of volunteer time, says Canyons Public Engagement Coordinator Susan Edwards. The PTA alone contributed about 57,000 of those hours, and presented the Board with a ceremonial check to represent their involvement in Canyons’ schools. Region 17 PTA president Tonya Rhodes thanked the Board and administration for their leadership and support.

Policy Updates
The Board considered changes to policies governing fiscal accountability, the acceptable use of school technology and the solicitation of schools by vendors.

Superintendent, Business Administrator Reports

Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe complimented the Board for their rigor in their review of policies and budgetary matters, and said he looks forward to participating in the 2019 Canyons Education Foundation Golf Tournament.

Business Administrator Leon Wilcox introduced a new administrator in the IT Department. Ryan Neff will be replacing Dean Glanville who left for a job opportunity in the private sector. Wilcox also commented on the high morale at CSD schools, which, he says, is owing to the investments the Board has made to upgrade schools and increase salaries.

Board of Education Reports

Mr. Mont Millerberg remarked on what a good time he had catching up with old friends at the 2019 Apex Awards. He thanked Midvale Mayor Robert Hale for attending the Board meeting and for the spirit of collaboration Canyons enjoys with the city. He applauded Canyons Education Foundation Officer Denise Haycock for her work in planning the upcoming golf tournament fundraiser, and remarked on value of this year’s Utah School Boards Association (USBA) Leadership Academy.

Mrs. Amanda Oaks also attended the Apex Awards, and says she was inspired by the stories of the awardees. She also attended an Alta High School Community Council (SCC) meeting and remarked on the importance of providing SCC’s with training to understand the rules governing the use of TSSA funds.

Mrs. Amber Shill thanked the External Relations staff for the work that went into planning and staging the 2019 Apex Awards. She said she attended Brighton High’s first SCC meeting and was recently given a signed cardboard lunch tray by Butler Elementary students as a token of their appreciation for the Board’s willingness to replace the school’s Styrofoam trays with a biodegradable alternative.

Mr. Steve Wrigley thanked the External Relations Department for staging the 2019 Apex Awards, which he says was the best one yet, and remarked on how much he enjoyed the USBA’s Leadership Academy.

Mrs. Clareen Arnold said it is a privilege and honor to learn from and work with members of the Board, CSD administrators and teachers who all bring unique expertise and talents to the table.

Mr. Chad Iverson said he attended several school events, including a cross-country meet and Friday, Sept. 13 Corner Canyon and Alta High football game.

President Tingey echoed Board member comments about the well-organized USBA Leadership Academy and hard work that goes into the Apex Awards. She remarked on progress being made with the Brighton High rebuild and thanked members of the Board for their time and attention to detail in updating the District’s Policy Manual.
Parents of middle and high school students enrolled in Canyons District's Dual Language Immersion (DLI) Programs have been invited to a meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 18 to learn about DLI instruction at the secondary-school level.

The 6 p.m. event will be in the Media Center at the Crescent View Building, 11150 S. Green Ridge Dr. in Sandy. The building is best accessed from 11400 S. and 300 East.

Canyons curriculum specialists will be on hand to discuss program basics, such as, course pathways and the required forms that families need to complete and sign. They’ll also be sharing data from last year’s Advanced Placement exams and reporting on a review now underway of the District’s dual-language programs.

Following the opening presentation, language specific breakouts will be held in separate rooms where DLI teachers will share and explain curriculum and resources, as well as answer any curriculum-related questions. A representative of the Mandarin Matrix Chinese curriculum will join the Chinese breakout to explain the in-classroom and at-home resources available through this tool.

More information about Canyons’ DLI program can be found online. Questions? Please call the CSD Instructional Supports Department at 801 826 5045.
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