Looking to capture the spirit of season? Drop by one of Canyons District’s schools, which are busy collecting food, clothing and monetary donations to bring a little holiday cheer to those in need.

All told, 30 schools have organized charitable campaigns, leveraging the generosity of families in the four cities and three townships within Canyons’ boundaries. Tons of food items have been boxed and shipped to area non-profits. Clothing and gifts have been purchased and wrapped for Sub-for-Santa programs. Thousands of dollars have been raised to support cancer patients, anti-poverty programs, and groups like the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Schools are so often the recipient of volunteerism and philanthropy, and it’s important for children to feel empowered to give back, says Lisa Repp, the head secretary at Silver Mesa, which collected more than 3,000 food items for the Utah Food Bank. “This is really a great effort by our community and the kids love to see the bins fill up.”

Not to be outdone, CSD’s Title I schools, which serve a disproportionate share of low-income students, have banded together to set up a Community Candles of Light free shopping experience for student families in need of holiday gift assistance. Organizers hope to support more than 500 students from 250 families from the Midvale Elementary, Midvale Middle, Copperview Elementary, Sandy Elementary, East Midvale Elementary, Hillcrest High, and Diamond Ridge High communities.

The shopping experience will take place on Saturday, Dec. 14. For anyone interested in supporting the cause, there are three ways to give:

School Holiday Fundraisers

Alta View: fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation
Altara: canned food drive
Bell View: coat drive and clothing and toy exchange
Bella Vista: food and coat drive
Brookwood: raising money to fund vaccinations through the Ouelessebougou Alliance
Copperview: canned food drive in the spring
Crescent: canned food drive benefitting the Utah Food Bank
East Sandy: food drive benefitting the Utah Food Bank
Edgemont: food drive benefitting the Utah Food Bank
Granite: food drive benefitting Utah Food Bank
Lone Peak: collecting pennies for leukemia and lymphoma patients
Midvale: “Community Candles of Light” campaign to combine monetary and in-kind donations benefiting families in the following schools: Midvale Elementary, Midvale Middle, Copperview Elementary, Sandy Elementary, East Midvale Elementary, Hillcrest High, and Diamond Ridge High.
Oak Hollow: book drive
Oakdale: food drive
Park Lane: collecting plush animals with Bank of American Fork for children in crisis
Ridgecrest: winter clothing drive benefitting The Road Home shelter
Silver Mesa: food drive benefitting the Utah Food Bank
Sprucewood: food drive benefitting the Utah Food Bank
Sunrise: food drive benefitting the Utah Food Bank
Willow Canyon: food drive benefitting the Utah Food Bank
Willow Springs: stuff-the-stocking drive benefitting residents of The Road Home shelter
Albion Middle: cereal drive for neighboring elementary school
Draper Park Middle: October sock drive benefitting neighboring elementary schools
Indian Hills Middle: contributing to the Make-A-Wish program
Mount Jordan Middle: canned food drive
Union Middle: Sub-for-Santa drive
Alta: food drive benefitting the Utah Food Bank and collecting donations for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Haw stash (food and clothing pantry)
Brighton: donation drive for Make-A-Wish Foundation
Corner Canyon High: contributing to the Make-A-Wish program
Jordan: donation drive for Boys and Girls Club of Sandy
Life’s a sport. Drink it up.

Cole Hagen is doing just that as he caps his prep career on the gridiron. The quarterback who led the Corner Canyon High to the 6A state trophy has been named the 2019-2020 Gatorade Utah Football Player of the Year, the first Charger to ever win the 35th annual coveted honor.

The award distinguishes the senior as one of Utah’s best high school football players and qualifies him for consideration for national Player of the Year designation.  The national honor will be announced later this month.

Gatorade reserves the award for players who demonstrate outstanding athletic excellence, high standards of academic achievement, and exemplary character on and off the field.

“The Gatorade Player of the Year award doesn’t happen unless I am surrounded by great coaches and teammates,” Hagen told the Salt Lake Tribune.  “Our team as a whole made it possible for me to win this award.”

With the win, Cole Hagen also carries on a family tradition. His father, Sean, won the award for the 1992-1993 football season.  He also continues a proud Canyons tradition. Since the District’s founding in 2009, the award has been given to a CSD student athlete five times. Jordan High’s Austin Kafentzis won the award in 2012-2013 and 2014-2015, Brighton’s Simi Fehoko was the winner in 2015-2016, and Alta High’s Josh Davis was recognized in 2016-2017. 

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound senior quarterback passed for 3,655 yards and 43 touchdowns this past season, leading the Chargers, with a 14-0 record, to the Utah High School Activities Association championship. Hagen completed 213 of 358 passes, and rushed for 1,069 yards and 11 touchdowns on 137 carries.

A two-time First Team All-State honoree, Hagen has been invited to play in the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl. An Eagle Scout with the Boy Scouts of America, Hagen is also president of his church’s youth group and has volunteered locally on behalf of a homeless shelter as well as the Draper Rehabilitation and Care Center.

“Cole Hagen is a tremendous quarterback,” said Aaron Behm, head coach at American Fork High School, which finished No. 2 to the Chargers this year.  “He’s a good passer who is very good with his feet and very, very smart.”

Hagen has maintained a 4.0 grade-point average in the classroom. He remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.

The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track and field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport.

From the 12 national winners, one male and one female athlete are each named Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year. In all, 607 athletes are honored each year.
Canyons District’s aggressive school improvement schedule continues with four schools slated for construction.

Rebuilds of Peruvian Park Elementary, Union Middle and a school in the White City area will start in 2021, under a plan recently 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. The plan, which entails consolidating White City’s Bell View and Edgemont communities to be housed in a new school on the Edgemont campus, also calls for the construction of a new school in west Draper starting in 2023.

To facilitate the projects, the Board approved the issuance of up to $35 million in lease-revenue bonds, the use of money from the sale of property, and expenditure of approximately $5 million from the General Fund. The action was necessitated by rising labor and materials costs propelled, in part, by Utah’s tight labor market and tariffs on steel, lumber, aluminum, and other products.

The expected completion date of the new Peruvian Park and White City school is 2022. The new Union Middle is scheduled to be done in 2023, and the grand opening of the west Draper school is slated for the fall of 2024.

These projects were prioritized following assessments of enrollment trends and the cost of completing needed repairs and safety upgrades to existing buildings, which determined incremental fixes would be more expensive than replacing the buildings.

They are among dozens of improvement projects authorized as part of the 2017 bond, including rebuilds underway now of Brighton and Hillcrest high schools and a renovation of Alta High; a rebuild of Midvalley Elementary; classrooms to replace portables at Corner Canyon High; six elementary office upgrades; and upgrades to infuse 18 elementary schools with natural light.
The week before Thanksgiving, Ofelia Wade received with characteristic humility a special token of gratitude and appreciation from the Spanish government that was 10 years in the making.

Wade, who serves as the Dual Language Immersion Spanish Coordinator for Canyons and the state of Utah, was invited by Spanish Ambassador Santiago Cabanas to attend a ceremony at the Spanish Embassy in Washington D.C. to receive the prestigious Orden Civil de Alfonso X el Sabio award for her work promoting Spanish dual-language immersion in Utah.

OrdenThe award is often bestowed by the King of Spain in his home country, but alternate arrangements were made in this case to accommodate Wade’s location in the United States. The Civil Order of Alfonxo X the Wise award is a rare honor reserved for those who have made exceptional achievements in education, science, culture, teaching or research. For Wade, it's validation of Canyons’ important work to build a strong relationship between Canyons’ Dual Language Immersion Program and the Spanish Embassy.

“We have worked very hard to create a welcoming and facilitative environment for our international teachers to come and bring their very best in terms of language and culture for our students,” Wade says. “(This award) is a reflection of the collaborative work we do here to benefit our students and facilitate a wonderful, professional growing experience for our international teachers.” OfeliaWade

Wade was only one of two people in the United States this year to receive the Orden Civil de Alfonso X el Sabio cross.

A model of bilingual instruction dating back to the 1960s, immersion programs are surfacing in classrooms around the globe as an efficient path to proficiency in a world language. Children in dual language immersion programs spend half the day learning core subjects in English and the other half learning in a target language. 

CSD’s first immersion classes opened in 2009, the same year that the District was founded. The District is now home to 19 elementary and secondary school immersion programs in Spanish, French and Mandarin Chinese. More than 10 percent of CSD’s 34,000 students are now learning a world language through the program, which extends through high school where, if they pass an Advanced Placement exam, students can start taking college-level courses for early college credit.
With violins, tinkling bells and the holiday sound of brass instruments, the Canyons Youth Symphony is ushering in the winter season with two performances this week.

On Dec. 2, the audition-only group of musicians from across Canyons joined the Jordan Youth Symphony to perform an evening holiday concert at Butler Middle at 7 p.m. The performance is free, and featured pieces fit for the season.

“It’s a great opportunity to be able to pull together kids from all across the District, from different playing levels, and be able to put them together and make a great product where they’re able to showcase the benefits of the arts,” said Canyons Youth Symphony Director Jenni Perkins, who teaches orchestra at Albion middle. “Even though we live in the same District, we have very diverse communities we are from.”

Youth SymphonyThe Canyons Youth Symphony draws students from 13 schools across Canyons District in fourth through ninth grades. They practice once a week at Albion Middle throughout the year as they prepare for their performances, including a winter concert combined with the Jordan Youth Symphony, an independent performance at the Festival of Trees and participation in the Utah Symphony Youth Orchestra Festival in the spring.

Perkins said a highlight of the year for her 70 symphony students is performing on their own at the Festival of Trees fundraising event for Primary Children’s Hospital, where the Canyons Youth Symphony has played every year for the last eight years. The Canyons Youth Symphony will perform a 30-minute set at the Festival on Dec. 4 from 2:10-2:40 p.m. as people walk through the Mountain America Expo Center and look at the decorated trees that have been donated to benefit children in need of medical treatment.

“To be able to go and perform at that venue for what they are doing, for their fundraising, it feels really nice to give back to the community,” Perkins said. “It’s a good way to teach the kids about the importance of being kind and thinking of others and the purpose of the holiday season.”
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