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A national search by the Canyons Board of Education has yielded three top-tier finalists who are vying to become the District’s next Superintendent.

Following a thorough review of candidate credentials and an initial round of interviews with select applicants by the seven-member Board of Education, the following veteran educators and administrators, listed in alphabetical order, advance to the final round of consideration: 

  • Dr. Robert M. Dowdle, Assistant Superintendent, Canyons School District, in Sandy, Utah.
  • Dr. Daniel R. Linford, Director of High Schools, Davis School District, in Farmington, Utah.
  • Dr. Rick L. Robins, Superintendent, Juab School District, in Nephi, Utah.
The announcement of Dowdle, Linford, and Robins as finalists brings the search to replace the retiring Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe one step closer to its culmination. Candidates from across the country submitted resumes during the Feb. 10-March 13 application window.  

The Board of Education will now conduct additional interviews before making a selection.

Briscoe, who on Jan. 14 announced his retirement, has led the 34,000-student school district since 2014, when he was appointed the chief executive of Canyons, now in its 11th academic year. He will retire June 30 after a notable 38-year career as an educator in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Utah. 

Amid the upheaval in the school year as a result of the required temporary dismissal of Utah schools to slow the spread of COVID-19, CSD’s Board pressed forward with its timeline to find the best-possible candidate, said Board President Nancy Tingey. “The Board of Education considers it vitally important to find and appoint a new superintendent who will move forward the vision and mission of CSD and serve the students and families of the Canyons community,” Tingey said.

“The Board of Education was impressed with the quality of the applicants, and it was no easy task to identify the finalists. We are committed to finding the experienced candidate who has the necessary skills and talents to lead CSD now and into an even more successful future,” she said.

The Board aims to appoint Briscoe’s successor before his last day to ensure a seamless transition.

At the outset of this year’s search for a new superintendent, the Board of Education solicited input on the desired characteristics of a new superintendent via surveys and Town Hall meetings. Board members are using the feedback from patrons and employees to inform their deliberations in the search process.

The Board’s appointee will join Briscoe, Dr. Ginger Rhode and Dr. David Doty in the history books as the top leaders of Canyons District.
At a time when so much hangs on the promise of science, these Hillcrest High students give us cause for hope.

Five Hillcrest students claimed podium finishes in the 2020 University of Utah Science and Engineering Fair, an event that was scaled back to include only the Senior Division due to mounting concerns over the COVID-19 outbreak. Faced with a directive to avoid mass gatherings and practice social distancing, event organizers postponed the Elementary and Junior divisions until May 18-20. SmallZhange

But that didn’t diminish the excitement for the Huskies who, in the head-to-head regional competition with their high school-aged peers, won several top prizes and sponsored awards. Additionally, Wentao Zhang qualified to be an Observer for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for his project, “Building Air Quality Predictions With Machine Learning Techniques.”

Students from seven school districts and schools under the umbrella of the Salt Lake Catholic Diocese competed at the event.  

Let’s hear it for these future inventors, seekers of cures, and fighters of disease.

2020 Regional Science and Engineering Fair Winners
Warren Ellsworth, Hillcrest High, First Place, Civil & Environmental Engineering
Diana Alzen, Hillcrest High, Second Place, Chemistry
Wentao Zhang, Hillcrest High, Second Place, Earth & Environmental Science
Wensen Zhang, Hillcrest High, Fourth Place, Electrical & Computer Science Engineering
Matthew Simmons, Hillcrest High, Fourth Place, Materials & Biomedical Engineering
Jacob Simmons is charting a bright future through an exploration of the past. Since middle school, the Brighton High senior has been bringing pivotal moments in history to life through movie making, producing documentaries that have earned him national prizes and praise.

A repeat winner of state History Day contests, Simmons has, more than once, represented Utah at National State History Day competitions. In 2018, the Cottonwood Heights resident was among 15 American students chosen to participate in the prestigious Normandy Institute, a year-long course of study that pairs budding historians with college professors. Now, the 18-year-old can claim “Coca-Cola Scholar” among his accolades.

Simmons joins 150 high school seniors nationally to be named to the 32nd class of Coca-Cola Scholars, one of the country’s most prestigious academic awards. Fewer than 1/6th of 1 percent of all applicants are picked for the honor, which comes with a $20,000 college scholarship. The winners are chosen for their scholarly achievements and “leading positive change in their communities and around the world.” jacob headshot small
Simmons says he is humbled to be recognized alongside a group of people with such diverse accomplishments. To borrow a Coke tagline, his curiosity, or intellectual thirst, "knows no season." Indeed, by offering a fresh take on the classics, it could be said, he is making history. 

Simmons’ documentaries seek to illuminate the present through the lens of the past, often focusing on historical moments and figures that connect with his own heritage. One of his films explores the Jewish community of St. Eustatius, an important trading port during the American Revolution. Another journeys to the postwar Middle East and Israel’s polarizing leader Yitzhak Rabin.

Simmons’ profile of Justice Louis D. Brandeis garnered the attention of the Brandeis School of Law in Kentucky. Most recently, he surveyed the promise and perils of science through the life of Fritz Haber, the Nobel Prize-winning, German chemist who developed chemical fertilizers that helped feed the world while also pioneering wartime weapons, such as poison gas.

With at least two scholarship offers on the table, Simmons hasn't decided where he'll be enrolling in college. While history was "a passion proeject" to help him exercise his curiosity, he'll most likely major in politics and engineering with an emphasis on energy and Middle Eastern affairs. He would also like to continue playing competitive tennis. 

As a documentarian, he is “keeping it real,” and we’re thinking “life tastes [pretty] good” for him about now.
Three Canyons students — two from Hillcrest and one from Jordan high schools — captured first-place category honors in the 2020 Sterling Scholars competition.  

The CSD winners are: 
  • Rishab Balakrishnan, Hillcrest, in the Business and Marketing category
  • Sanjana Kargi, Hillcrest, in the Computer Technology category
  • Nathan Holley, Jordan, in the Speech/Theater Arts/Forensics category
Ten other Canyons students earned finalist status in the 49th annual competition, sponsored by the Deseret News and KSL-TV. 

The students are judged in 14 categories. The topics include business and marketing; computer technology; dance; English; family and consumer sciences; instrumental music; mathematics; science; skilled and technical sciences education; social science; speech/theater arts/forensics; visual arts; vocal performance and world languages.

Typically, the winners are announced during a ceremony in the Conference Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, this year’s ceremony was cancelled because of the restrictions placed on mass gatherings as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Instead, all the winners and runners-up were announced in the Deseret News.

The Sterling Scholar program celebrates the academic and artistic achievements of students in Utah schools. Every school is invited to nominate one student in each category. Candidates are judged by panels, and the top-scoring students advance through the judging process. 

Top winners and runners-up were selected after final interviews on Feb. 28. 

Category winners earn $2,500 scholarships. Runners-up, including Hillcrest’s Horace Gao, in Instrumental Music, receive $1,000 scholarships. Winning students also are eligible for scholarships and tuition waivers at several Utah colleges and universities. 
To guarantee the safety of employees and members of the public following this morning’s 5.7 magnitude earthquake, Canyons District Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe has declared all District facilities and school buildings closed until further notice. Public business will not be conducted in our buildings today, Wednesday, March 18.  

Canyons District custodians and Facilities Management workers will conduct examinations of our facilities to determine whether schools and other CSD buildings sustained damages from the earthquake or aftershocks.

As a reminder, Canyons District has temporarily suspended the grab-and-go lunch-service program. We will communicate more information about the meal service for tomorrow when it becomes available. Remember, aftershocks are possible. For safety, drop, cover and hold.

If you have questions, please see Canyons District social media pages for the most recent information. You also can send an email message to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and a representative will be ready to help you. Thank you and please stay safe.
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