Commencement rites for Canyons District high schools and special schools have been celebrated in the past several weeks. The Canyons Board of Education and Administration, along with proud parents, friends and supporters, wish the graduates good luck and prosperity as they leave our schools to make their marks on the world. We offer to them these thoughts from Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Graduating high school can sometimes be scary — but Alta High’s seniors were encouraged at the Thursday, June 4, 2015 ceremony to face their fears in order to accomplish great things. “There will be times when you fall and stumble while you are climbing,” Canyons Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe told the graduating class of 2015 at the Jon M. Huntsman Center at the University of Utah. “It is that time when it is the most important for you to pick yourself up and keep going. You will remember these times the most.” Briscoe was joined at the event by Principal and alumnus Brian McGill, Canyons Board of Education President Sherril Taylor, Vice President Steve Wrigley and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kathryn McCarrie. Teachers, parents and grandparents also gathered at the arena to celebrate Alta’s achievements with songs from Alta’s acclaimed choir and select students. Alta has a long list of courageous accomplishments for 2015, including state championships for Alta’s band, with a drum line that remains undefeated; the boy’s soccer team, which won its sixth state championship against rival Brighton last month; and choirs, which swept a regional competition and garnered an exclusive invitation to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City. After completing a year that included fundraising the most money ever to be donated by Alta High to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the senior class has even more reasons to be proud: One-third of the class received advanced diplomas, the rigor of which is matched by less than one-fourth of students nationwide; students received some $4.2 million in scholarship offers; 94 percent of the graduating class is enrolled in a two or four-year college or university, compared to the national average of 55 percent; students took enough Advanced Placement or concurrent enrollment classes to equal $1 million in college tuition and 2,400 college credits earned. Still, the school’s graduation theme, “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear,” a quote from George Addair, kept the focus on the next step after graduation. “From here we are on to bigger and better things,” senior class president Jakob Kohler told his fellow graduates. “We can’t ever forget all the amazing things we did at Alta High School. Wherever you go in life, remember Hawks fly as one.”
See the District's Facebook page for a photo album of Alta graduates.
In waves of blue and orange, Brighton High’s class of 2015 rolled forward on Thursday, June 4, 2015 to claim their high school diplomas. The students were congratulated by Superintendent Jim Briscoe; Director of Student Advocacy and Access Karen Sterling; Board of Education members Nancy Tingey and Amber Shill; and Cottonwood Heights Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore. Principal Charisse Hilton expressed pride in her Bengals, announcing that this year’s senior class is among most accomplished in the history of Brighton High. This year, the school has an 83 percent pass rate on Advance Placement exams, 90 percent of the students plan to pursue post-secondary education, and 60 percent of the graduating class has received at least $250 in scholarship money. One student alone, she said, received $1.9 million in scholarship offers, and the total earned by the graduating class is $9.5 million. In the past three years, she said, this group of students raised more than $70,00 for charity, including $30,000 this year to benefit the anti-cancer Millie’s Princess Foundation. In addition, 80 percent of the graduating class also went above and beyond the state’s graduation requirements to earn the unique-to-CSD Honors and Advanced Diplomas, which signify the students took a more rigorous route to graduation. Among other honors, the BHS Class of 2015 also boasts two National Merit Scholars, one state Sterling Scholar winner, Model U.N. state champs, team state championship trophies in girls basketball and boys tennis, individual state honors in swimming, and track and field, and 14 student-athletes who earned Academic All-State Honors. Brighton’s athletic record this year for all sports was in the top three among Utah 5A schools. The leaders of the students congratulated the class on its collective accomplishments and asked the members to always remember the year’s theme, a quote by John D. Rockefeller: “Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” High school, said senior Julianna Woodland, is a time “when we find ourselves — but we aren’t done yet, at least I’m not.” Woodland urged her classmates to not let fear of the unknown stop them from pursuing their dreams — no matter how big they may be. Dr. Briscoe lauded the graduating class for achieving “one amazing resume,” and encouraged them to never let obstacles get in their way of reaching their personal and professional goals. Commencement was held at the Maverik Center.
See our Facebook photo album of Brighton's commencement rites.
In so many ways, the commencement ceremony for Hillcrest High on Thursday, June 4, 2015 was a celebration of beginning and endings. In her final graduation rites before her upcoming retirement, longtime Hillcrest Principal Sue Malone addressed the Class of 2015, thanking them for embracing the school’s many traditions of excellence. “I am proud and honored to serve as principal of Hillcrest High,” she said. Through tears, she lauded the class for its unity and strength during a year with many heartaches and losses. In just the past two months, the school has coped with the loss of Assistant Principal Dr. Paul Kirby, who died after suffering a stroke, and the automobile-accident deaths of two students. “Dr. Kirby had a deep love for students. He was a close and loyal friend,” said Malone, before presenting an honorary diploma in Dr. Kirby’s name to his sisters. “Hillcrest High simply will not be the same without him.” The 421 graduates also suffered the loss of a student with muscular dystrophy. Through all the trials, Malone, who also received an honorary diploma for her dedication to the school, told the family, friends and faculty who attended the rites at the Maverik Center, the senior class has stayed “Husky strong.” “It’s not what this class has accomplished,” Malone said. “It’s how they did it.” The graduating class has taken hundreds of International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement exams and, so far, has earned a total of $7.6 million in scholarship offers. The class is made up of Utah Scholars, recipients of the Utah Regent Scholarships, National Merit Scholar Finalists, Coca-Cola Scholars, and three of the 14 state winners of the Sterling Scholar competition. “There is no limit to our success. Hillcrest Huskies are proud and they never give up,” said Andrew Limb. “We have no limits. There is nothing we can’t do if we put our minds to it.” Canyons Board member Robert Green urged the graduates to be safe in their journeys, always look forward, be mindful of others, and serve the community. The greatest work that can be done, he told graduates, is to serve others “It will transform you, and it will transform those around you.” The students were congratulated by Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kathryn McCarrie, Student Advocacy and Access Director Karen Sterling, Board members Sherril Taylor and Green, and Midvale Mayor JoAnn Seghini.
See a Facebook photo album of the Huskies' graduation ceremony.
Once a ‘Digger, always a ‘Digger! The wet spring weather broke long enough for Jordan High’s Class of 2015 to receive their diplomas on the school’s football field. The Thursday, June 4 2015 ceremony was the sole CSD commencement rite to be held outdoors. Clad in grey and maroon robes, the students marched in groups of four onto the field, where they were greeted with applause and cheers from family and friends. The some 430 graduates have a lot of which to be proud. Nearly 300 graduated with given-only-in-CSD Advanced or Honors Diploma, which means they took more — and more difficult — classes than required by the state to graduate from high school. Those who received the Honors Diploma also scored high on the four sections of the ACT college entrance exam. In addition, 10 of the graduates finished with a 4.0 GPA from their freshmen, sophomore, junior and senior coursework. In the past three years, the Jordan High Beetdiggers have achieved a high level of distinction in the arts, academic and athletics. They’ve been fierce competitors in track and field events, cross-country, hockey, baseball, and football. A graduate of the Class of 1965 returned to speak to graduates, and he told them to embrace the future and immerse themselves in what the world has to offer. Students also were told to surround themselves with people who have goals and aspirations. Such attributes, they were told, are contagious.
Check out the 'Diggers' graduation ceremony, as captured in photographs.
Corner Canyon High
Corner Canyon’s Class of 2015 is ready to charge into the world after the graduation ceremony at the Jon M. Huntsman Center at the University of Utah. Students, teachers, administrators and members of the community gathered together to celebrate the culmination of years of hard work, dedication and perseverance — and share a few words of wisdom for one last time. “I encourage you to view life’s challenges as Edmund Hillary did as he scaled Mount Everest,” Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kathryn McCarrie told the audience. “Graduation is a step toward your dreams. From now on, no matter how steep the journey, your education is always with you.” McCarrie was joined by Canyons Board of Education Vice President Steve Wrigley, and Board member Chad Iverson, who represents Corner Canyon in District 7, as well as Draper Mayor Troy Walker and Principal Mary Bailey. As students and administrators spoke to the crowd, they referred to the school’s graduation theme, “Your life is yours and yours alone, rise up and live it,” which is a quote by author Terry Goodkind. Corner Canyon’s talented jazz band, concert choir and select students performed for their fellow graduates, in homage to their shared memories and experiences and in anticipation of the road ahead. In the two years since Corner Canyon was built, the Chargers have lived up to their school motto, “Semper Excelsius,” or “always higher.” The school earned state championships this year in cheer and boy’s lacrosse, with a state champion wrestler and swim team that took second place at the state competition. On top of that, students raised and donated $54,000 to charities and contributed a combined total of 17,000 community service hours. Half of the graduating class has earned scholarships, with a total of nearly $6 million offered and more than 200 seniors earned Canyons District's Advanced or Honors diplomas. Bailey pointed out that the school distributed 300 academic Honor Cords to the graduates for superior accomplishments in a variety of subjects and 86 percent of the class has plans to attend college. Bailey said she is proud of her students for working hard and cultivating an atmosphere of acceptance within the school, and for accomplishing so much in such a short amount of time.“Go make the world a better place,” she told her students, with tears in her eyes. “I believe in you. I believe in every one of you. Goodbye, my friends.”
See the District's Facebook page for a photo album of Corner Canyon's graduation ceremony.
Forty-six of the 126 Entrada High graduates and 26 GED recipients — who finish their schooling at various times of the year — participated in the pomp and circumstance of the high school graduation rites on Tuesday, June 23, 2015. Family and friends cheered for the graduates who proudly accepted their diplomas during the ceremony in the auditorium at Jordan High School. "You did it!" exclaimed Amy Boettger, principal of Entrada, CSD's adult high school. "I want all of you to know how proud we are of you. ... We all admire all that you have done in earning your high school diploma." She urged them to keep moving forward in their educational attainment. "My hope and dream for you is that you don't stop here," she said. Boettger encouraged the graduates to enroll in college, certify in a trade, and keep improving their skills in the workplace. Student speaker Rita Ruffell, a single mother, said she returned to school at Entrada so she could provide for her family. "I had to do it for my kids and me," she said after recounting her days as a high school dropout who struggled to find work because of her lack of a diploma. She dedicated her diploma to her father, who helped her pass her mathematics classes. Graduate Kassandra Martinez, the third person in her family to graduate from high school, told her fellow graduates that "hard work does pay off." With a scholarship in hand, she'll attend Salt Lake Community College classes in the fall. "Never give up," she said, "no matter what life throws at you." Board of Education member Clareen Arnold accepted the class for graduation and advised the graduates to never stop reaching for the top. Arnold acknowledged that many Entrada students had to work full-time jobs and care for their families while also completing their studies. "I know it hasn't always been easy," she said. "I applaud you."
Entrada graduates are spotlighted in a photo album on Facebook.
South Park Academy
Pomp and circumstance filled a gathering space at the Utah State Prison Wednesday, where inmates held their heads high to receive their hard-earned high school diplomas. “Today, you are a hero,” Utah Department of Corrections Executive Director Rollin Cook told the graduating men and women, who were cheered by about 100 family members attending the ceremony. “Your future is very bright.” The commencement was held for students of South Park Academy, an educational institution overseen by Canyons School District and located at the prison. The South Park Class of 2015 included 241 graduates. The event featured student speakers Clint McMurtrey, Aileen Trujillo and Nathaniel Ganier, who urged classmates to never give up. “I quit making excuses. Now, I make things happen,” Trujillo said. “I’ve been an inspiration not only to others, but to myself. Students Alicia James, McMurtrey, John Luna, Nathan Ganier and Dustin Myers were named Outstanding Students of the Year by South Park Assistant Principal Tracy Moore and Principal Todd Bird. McMurtrey, who dropped out of school at age 15, now plans to pursue a degree in social work and open a shelter for homeless youth. “Remember, within each of us lies a competent, capable, intelligent individual,” McMurtrey said. Additional speakers included Canyons Board of Education Member Robert Green and Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe. “I measure success by the obstacles you overcome, and you should be very proud today,” Dr. Briscoe said. “You just took a key to freedom” through education, “and you’re opening the door.”
Check out our Facebook page for photos of South Park's graduation rites.
Jordan Valley School
The end of each school year is traditionally marked by mortarboards, flowing robes, and speeches about never forgetting the past while pressing into the future. It’s no different for the students at Jordan Valley, Canyons District’s school for students with severe disabilities. The school’s commencement ceremony was a celebration of how far the students have progressed — and how much they have to offer the world. Clad in gold and blue robes, the 14 students who received certificates of completion from Jordan Valley on Friday, May 29, 2015 were applauded as they made their way down the aisle during a processional. The students who have completed their time at Jordan Valley were congratulated by Canyons Board of Education Vice President Steve Wrigley, Superintendent Jim Briscoe, Assistant Superintendent Kathryn McCarrie and CSD Special Education Director Robin Collett, as well as scores of friends and family.
Jordan Valley grads are the focus of a photo album on CSD's Facebook page.