Getting Involved





Getting Involved

Utah Chess Champion Plots His Next Move

With the rise of online gaming, chess is experiencing something of a renaissance — and at the top of his game in this newly competitive arena is Alta High senior Aurelius Mlynar. 

What started as a fun pastime about 10 years ago has become a source of pride for Mlynar who at the age of 17 is ranked among the top 15 players in Utah. He won first place at the 2023 Utah high school chess championships and took 2nd out of 817 players at a recent national esports tournament.  

“In the 11 years that I’ve been teaching, there hasn’t been a student or teacher I haven’t been able to beat. Aurelius is the first,” said Alta High’s Chess Club adviser Matthew Stanford. “I’ve faced people who have been evenly-matched, but not someone I just couldn’t beat.”

Stanford said Mlynar, in order to challenge himself, has started playing blindfolded at Alta Chess Club meetings, which means he has to call out his moves and recall from memory the entire board as the game unfolds. Online chess, available through Alta’s growing esports program, also has helped expose him to a larger talent pool.

“I was walking through Alta’s commons, and they have these big boards for announcements where there was something posted about the esports team and chess. I was like, ‘Hey, I can do that,’” Mlynar said. “So, I talked to Mr. [Aaron] Edwards and he said, ‘Sure, let’s do it!’”

Online chess, and apps like, which experienced meteoric growth in users during the pandemic, are credited with adding to the game’s renewed popularity.

Mlynar likes the competition, though he also enjoys the experience of sitting across from an opponent. “In person is good, because it’s a different experience. You get to see your opponent and there are more mind games,” he said. He has been working with a chess aficionado from another school to set up more high school chess tournaments.

It was his Mom who convinced him to give a summer chess camp a try, and while he enjoys the game and has excelled, he insists he’s no prodigy. Like anything else, getting good at chess takes hours of play and practice. Famous chess moves like the Queen’s Gambit or English Opening will only take you so far in this ultimate game of strategy. 

“As far as getting better, it’s really about repetition for me. I’ve been playing as many tournaments as I can,” Mlynar said. “Of course, there are methods like memorizing all the openings. But for me, what gets me better is just kind of opening up my mind and getting the experience.”

Mlynar, who also plays golf, downplays his prowess even though his chess rating is at 1,954, putting him within reach of “expert” or “candidate-master” territory. 

Medals and trophies are nice, he says, but chess has given him much more, including tolerance for stress and a patient mind. “You learn a lot of patience,” he said. “It’s like, ‘Hey, I messed up, but I can still play this out and maybe come back from this,’ you know?”

Plotting his next moves: Mlynar is enrolling at the University of Utah where he hopes to continue to play chess, maybe get involved in esports, and explore earning a degree in engineering.

He’ll take with him a winning strategy he learned in high school where there’s something for everyone, from sports and arts programs to clubs and service activities. 

“Ever since I can remember, I’ve kind of always not wanted to shut any doors. I wanted to keep as many options open as possible,” he said. “But you can’t do everything, so I’ve come up with the philosophy of, ‘If you can’t do everything, do something you can’t regret.’”

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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!

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