Getting Involved





Getting Involved

CSD’S Annual Book Blitz Contest Draws 400 Student Contestants

Connect Canyons
Connect Canyons
CSD’S Annual Book Blitz Contest Draws 400 Student Contestants

Reading is the most important academic skill a student can acquire. If students can read, they can learn anything. 

But just like anything else, if you want to be good at reading, you have to spend time doing it — and how better to practice and test your reading skills than with your friends?

Canyons District’s annual Book Blitz competition was created not only to build motivated readers, but to build a community of readers. Reading generally may bee a solitary activity. But Book Blitz, a Jeopardy-style contest where students must answer questions about the characters, settings, and plots of 12 books they’ve been challenged to read, is a community affair.

And here’s what’s super cool about it, says CSD library specialist Gretchen Zaitzeff: “This is a community that anyone can join. You don’t have to be tall. You don’t have to be super fast.”

You just have to be willing to crack open a book and see where it takes you.

More than 400 students this year were willing to take that leap and participate in CSD’s Book Blitz Jr. and Book Blitz contests. Organized by librarians and PTA volunteers, and made possible through donations from groups like the Sandy Rotary, the contest starts in November when students receive the competition book lists. Schools hold school-level competitions, and the winners of those advance to the District-level finals, which were held April 11-12, 2023.

Fourth and fifth grade students were challenged to read 12 books, and middle school students were given 20 titles. A surprising number of students choose to read every single book, some of them several times over.

In the middle school division, students who read all 20 books are invited to compete for the individual championship title. Mary Grant from Indian Hills Middle won this year’s contest, a repeat of last year’s win. She read all 20 books at least three times.

The middle-school team trophy went to Draper Park Middle’s “Reading by Dusk” team, who narrowly missed the trophy last year, according to their librarian Kylie Arbon who says all the credit goes to her students: Anna Stephens, Alina Vannlord, Yulia Brattos, and Maya Halvorsen.

While students are mentored and given strategies for committing small plot and character details to memory, “the students have to take all the initiative,” which promotes independence, Arbon said.

The competition also promotes teamwork and variety in reading. “They read books they don’t  normally reach for,” Arbon said. “There are some they learn to love that they would have never picked up.”

Parents are appreciative of the opportunity for students to find new activities in which to excel.  “At our school, there are kids who love reading. That’s what they do. They don’t compete in sports. And they were just so excited to have an opportunity to be able to compete in something they love to do,” said Katie Rowley, a parent volunteer from Alta View Elementary.

The contestants agree. Asked what they liked most about the competition, and most said it was the reading part.

“Reading is definitely as addicting as any TV show or anything,” said Thomas McCoy, a member of the winning elementary-division team, Sunrise Elementary’s “Word Ninjas.”

“That’s true,” agreed his teammate Rossteen Esfavjani. “If you read a book, it will take your Moms to say ‘breakfast, breakfast’ like ‘breakfast’ one million times before you come down.”

Building on the obvious enthusiasm from this year, Zaitzeff and her librarians are planning for next year’s Book Blitz. Students have already been asking about which books will be on the competition list, she says, so the District is making extra copies of the titles available through the Salt Lake County Library system this summer, including e-book and audio-book versions.

All those dreaming of winning next year’s competition can get a head start on bringing that dream to fruition.

After all, victory for the Word Ninjas — Liam Sharkey, Thomas McCoy, Rossteen Esfavjani, Marcus Liu, and Van Hewitt — was but a dream, until it was close at hand. Minutes before learning they had made it to the final round, Hewitt confided while gesturing to one of his teammates: “This man had a dream that we made it to the finals and won, so I’m going to hope that’s dejavu.”

So, keep dreaming, all you book readers! And reading, lots and lots and lots of books.

Share This Post

Board Meeting Schedule

PUBLIC NOTICE is hereby given that the Board of Education for Canyons School District will hold a regular study session and public business meeting at the Canyons District Office building, 9361 S. 300 E., Sandy, UT each month unless otherwise posted. The Board may determine to conduct some business during a study session. All business meetings will begin at 7:00 p.m. unless changed by the Board and appropriately posted for the public.

Please note that ALL DATES, TIMES and LOCATIONS listed on this scheduled are TENTATIVE and are subject to change at any time.  Please check this schedule often to be informed of any changes.

Unless otherwise specified, all meetings in the schedule below will take place as the Canyons District Office located at 9361 S. 300 E. in Sandy, Utah.

District Leaders

Dr. Rick Robins


Dr. Rick L. Robins is the superintendent of Canyons School District. Dr. Robins, who was selected by the Canyons Board of Education after a national search, brings 24 years of experience as an educator to his role as the chief executive officer of Utah’s fifth-largest school district. Prior to joining Canyons, Dr. Robins, who earned an Ed.D. from the University of Las Vegas, for six years was Superintendent of the Juab School District, based in Nephi, Utah. While there, Dr. Robins, who also was the Juab High School Principal from 2009-2013, helped oversee efforts to improve the district’s graduation rate to 97 percent, a double-digit increase over a 10-year period. Other innovations he led in Juab included a partnership with Arizona State University for blended-learning opportunities; the launch of a districtwide competency-based personalized learning model driven by a 1:1 technology initiative and standards-based reporting system; and the construction of the STEM-focused West Campus Innovations Center, funded largely through private and corporate sponsorships. Dr. Robins began his career as a history teacher at Copper Hills High in the Jordan School District and has worked as an assistant principal and principal in the Alpine, Nebo and Juab school districts. He was the 2012 Utah High School Principal of the Year for the Utah Association of Secondary School Principals, and in 2014 earned the Lexington Institute Superintendent Fellowship Award presented to innovative superintendents across the country. Dr. Robins was starting quarterback for the football team at Southern Utah University Thunderbirds from 1991-1995, and in 2013 was inducted into SUU’s Athletic Hall of Fame. He has four children and one grandchild.

Leon Wilcox

Business Administrator and CFO

Leon Wilcox is a seasoned professional with 20 years of governmental accounting experience, with an emphasis on financial reporting, budgeting, and auditing. As Canyons District’ Director of Accounting from 2009-2013, Wilcox was intricately involved with the 2009 division of $1.5 billion in assets of the former Jordan School District, and was responsible for establishing Canyons’ original and subsequent budgets. Wilcox, a certified public accountant who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting from Utah State University, also has worked nine years in the Granite School District and six years in the State Auditor’s Office.

Supervises:  Accounting and Budget Services, Facilities and Maintenance, Insurance, New Construction Budget, Nutrition Services, Purchasing, Payroll

Dr. Robert M. Dowdle

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and School Performance

Robert Dowdle has a Doctor of Education degree with an emphasis in Educational Leadership and Policy from the University of Utah, and more than 31 years of experience as a teacher and educational leader. He began his career at Mount Jordan Middle School, where he taught Earth Science, English and Social Studies. He later taught Advanced Placement Economics, U.S. History and World History at Bingham High School, and served as Principal of Jordan High School and Assistant Principal for Alta High School and Brighton High School. Dowdle has served in the District office for 11 years as Assistant Superintendent. This role has included various leadership responsibilities, including Chief of Staff and Chief Operating Officer. Dr. Dowdle currently serves as the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and School Performance.

Lucie Chamberlain

Alta View Elementary

If a movie about super teachers were ever made, Lucie Chamberlain would be a prime candidate for a leading role. Fortunately for her kindergarten students at Alta View Elementary, she already thrives in a supporting role for them. Parents thank her for being a “super teacher.” She is also described as an “amazing colleague.” Whether students need help in the classroom or from home while sick, Lucie goes above and beyond to help them learn, overcome fears, and feel important and cared for. Lucie is the reason a number of kids went from hating school to loving it, according to parents. The way she exudes patience, sweetness, positive energy, and love for her students with special needs melts is appreciated and admired. One parent noted: “Both my kids wish she could be their teacher forever.” Another added:  “She treats every student like their learning and their feelings are her priority.” Super teacher, indeed!

Specialty Schools

High Schools

Elementary Schools

Middle Schools

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Statement

Canyons School District is committed to making this website compliant with the ADA. At this time, we recognize that not all areas of this website may be ADA compliant. We are currently in the process of redesigning and creating new website content to be compliant with the W3C Level Two guidelines. If you are experiencing issues with this website, please contact us here

1 2 3 16