But soon enough, the frost-hardened ground softened beneath the warmth of the summer sun. Construction crews made up for lost time on the Midvalley project. The clouds parted, and under clear blue skies on the afternoon of July 1, hundreds gathered at a public park to celebrate Canyons District’s 10th birthday.
The seasons come and go, and all the while, Canyons District holds fast to its mission of preparing every student for college and careers — a focus on student achievement that has paid off in higher-than-average, and steadily rising, test scores and graduation rates. The past year marked a major milestone for Canyons and a decade of firsts. Together, with the support of the communities we serve, we’ve celebrated the achievements of our students and employees and supported each other in times of loss. Whatever fresh challenges and triumphs we face in 2020, we’ll meet them together as we commit to reaching even greater heights.
“I’m always proud of Canyons District,” Canyons Board of Education President Nancy Tingey said as she reflected on the past year in her closing remarks at a recent Board meeting. “I know how much work has gone into this year. We can’t measure all of the good that is going to come from that work.”
Indeed, we can’t account for all the achievements of 2019, but here are a few noteworthy moments to reflect upon and celebrate:
• In a move to strengthen the role of teachers in Canyons and keep our students moving on a trajectory toward success, the Canyons Board of Education voted to give all CSD teachers a $7,665 salary increase, putting the starting annual teacher pay at $50,000.
• Our graduation rate in 2019 reached 90 percent, a one percent increase over the year prior and 7 percent jump in five years. All student groups are graduating in greater numbers, including those who typically face the greatest obstacles to academic success.
• Canyons’ third- through eighth-grade students this year outpaced their peers across the state on year-end assessments in math, science and English language arts. They also excelled on the ACT college entrance exam and on Advanced Placement (AP) exams. The average composite score for CSD’s Class of 2019 is 21.5, compared to the Utah score of 20.7 and national score of 20.3. The AP pass rate among CSD test-takers is 71 percent for CSD students, compared to 67 percent statewide and 58 percent nationwide.
• In October, an early-morning fire in an empty classroom at Union Middle caused the temporary displacement of students as the school underwent major repairs to fix the damage — a setback that showed the strength and grit of the school community. Employees pulled together to accommodate double daily sessions of school, and students showed resilience as they accepted the unusual schedule, alternate classrooms, and in some cases, all new classmates.
• The District maintained its AAA bond rating as work continued apace to rebuild Midvalley Elementary and Hillcrest and Brighton high schools, renovate Alta High, add classrooms to Corner Canyon High, and upgrade elementary schools with secure entryways and skylights to infuse classrooms with natural light. Rebuilds of Peruvian Park Elementary, Union Middle and a school in the White City area will start in 2021, under a plan approved by the Board of Education to ensure the timely completion of the projects promised to voters with 2017 passage of a $283 million bond.
• Several schools excelled in sports, claiming multiple state championships and first-place titles, including Brighton’s boys swim team and boys soccer team and Corner Canyon’s boys hoops, track and field team and football team. Brighton High’s Accadians Drill team also took first place in the dance category at the state championship.
• Canyons’ Dual Language Immersion/State Spanish Coordinator, Ofelia Wade, received the prestigious Orden Civil de Alfonso X el Sabio award from Spanish Ambassador Santiago Cabanas at the Spanish Embassy in Washington D.C. to for her work promoting Spanish dual-language immersion in Canyons and the state of Utah.
• Draper Park Middle School’s Kathy Bitner was named Utah Counselor of the Year.
• Canyons students received academic all-state awards from the Utah High School Activities Association; 26 students earned the award for fall sports, 33 received the award for spring sports, and for the first time, seven students received the award for theater and music.
• Cole Hagen, the quarterback who led Corner Canyon to the 6A state trophy, was named the 2019-2020 Gatorade Utah Football Player of the Year, the first Charger to ever win the 35th annual coveted honor. Additionally, the Chargers’ strong-side defensive end Van Fillinger was chosen to play in the All-American Bowl, a rare distinction reserved for the nation’s top players.
• Together, with the Canyons Education Foundation, CSD students, patrons, employees and business partners raised hundreds-of-thousands of dollars for local charities and families in need.