If the trophy cases at Brighton High could talk, they would have a lot to say about the courage, commitment and collegiality it takes to win championships. “Stand Together” is the Bengal motto, and together the students at Brighton have achieved a feat unmatched by any other high school in Utah: 120 team state championship titles.

It’s an impressive number, especially considering that the school has only been around for 50 years. Only one other high school in Utah has come close enough to breach the 100 mark.

“One-hundred-twenty championships in 50 years is unparalleled. There are schools just in this area that have been around for twice as long and they don’t have half that many championships,” says Principal Tom Sherwood. “The fact that Brighton has been perennially competitive in many sports speaks to the level of expectations in the community…and an overall focus on achievement.” 

What does it take to be the first to 120? Bragging rights for reaching that milestone belong to the boys soccer team, which clinched the 2019 5A championship with a crowd-pleasing play in overtime. But the path was paved over many years by many athletes in many sports.

Brighton established itself in the ‘70s as a powerhouse in wrestling. The campus first opened in 1969, and years of mentoring and team-building by coaches Don Neff and Dave Chavis paid off in 1974 with the first of what would become 13 first-place finishes over 14 years. In fact, six of Brighton’s first 10 championships were in wrestling.

Most of the rest of those early trophies went to the boys and girls tennis programs, which have continued a tradition of excellence under Coach Natalie Meyer, who played for Brighton as a student. All told, Brighton’s tennis teams have earned 29 titles, including the school’s first trophy in girls sports in 1976. Due, in part, to the fact that Brighton came of age in the era of Title IX and the push for equality in education, 51 of Brighton’s 120 titles have been won by women’s teams.  

But the undisputed leader is the Bengals swim program. Together, the girls and boys swim teams have collected 47 state crowns—the most recent having been earned in 2019 by the boys. Building on the foundation laid by Russ Lauber in the ‘80s, Coach Todd Etherington, who swam for Brighton as a student, has cemented the Bengal dynasty.

Overall, 14 different Bengal programs have tasted championship glory in baseball, girls and boys basketball, drill, football, boys golf, boys and girls soccer, boys and girls swimming, boys and girls tennis, volleyball and wrestling. Starting in 1980, there were nine straight years where Brighton won at least three championships.

Who is next? Well, that’s anyone’s guess. But, as the coaches will tell you, high school sports are about so much more than winning championships.

“The biggest thing we talk about, which is, ‘Come in and do the best you can and when you’ve found that best, find a way to make it better,’ has nothing to do with swimming, and it has everything to do with swimming,” says swim coach Todd Etherington. “The pride that you have in your athletics makes your academics that much stronger, because the kids have something to believe in beyond themselves.”

Brighton High Team State Championships

Baseball: 1991
Boys Basketball: 1984, 1986, 1996
Girls Basketball: 2003, 2004, 2015
Drill Team: 1993, 2000
Football: 1982
Boys Golf: 1975, 1980, 1987, 2012
Boys Soccer: 1989, 1993, 1999, 2000, 2008, 2009, 2019
Girls Soccer: 1989, 1990, 1997, 2005, 2010, 2013
Boys Swimming: 1981, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1999, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2018, 2019
Girls Swimming: 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
Boys Tennis: 1980, 1981, 1983, 1988, 1989, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2018
Girls Tennis: 1976, 1977, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1995, 1996, 1991, 2001, 2002
Volleyball: 2006
Wrestling: 1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 2001
At first glance, the students in Jonathan Hale’s class at Sprucewood Elementary look like they are engaged in their art lessons just like any other fourth-or fifth-graders. They are gathered around their projects, weaving fabric on a loom, painting creations they’ve made and working with different materials — but the true masterpiece they are building isn’t made out of acrylic and cotton. Their true achievement is working with each other. 

Hale’s students are participating in a “peer partner” research program that pairs students from a general-education class at Sprucewood Elementary with special-education students from Jordan Valley, Canyons’ school for students with severe disabilities. The disabilities include communication impairments, cerebral palsy and traumatic brain injuries.

Together, the students participate in the same art projects, each learning important lessons and growing in ways that are achievable only by peer interaction, Hale says. He presented his findings last summer at the 2018 Kennedy Center VSA Intersections: Arts and Special Education Conference and has since seen even more growth in his students.

“It is really cool to see how they find ways to help each other and that they are OK if their job is being a peer partner, and they are OK with adapting (the project) and turning it into something else that works for everyone,” Hale says. “It's true collaboration. If you go into another art room, the focus might be different. I like that community feel, when kids are thinking about people other than themselves, so it’s more about a process and the learning that occurs than a final product, per se.”

Hale, who is a Beverly Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program visual arts specialist at both Sprucewood and Jordan Valley, joined with a research team from the University of Utah to study how the students learn differently from each other, versus learning only from adults.

Their research focuses on how peer partnerships can be used to help students succeed. An art setting provides more latitude and flexibility for accommodating a variety of cognitive levels, but after seeing the monumental growth in students while learning art techniques in a peer setting, Hale says peer partners could be beneficial in other class settings, as well. Since presenting their findings at the Kennedy Center conference, Hale says his team’s peer partnering model has been adapted in Art Access programs in Washington, D.C. and California.

“There is a connection between the students that is almost magical,” Sprucewood Elementary Principal Lori Reynolds said after observing Hale’s class. “It is an absolute joy to see how the arts can bring our students closer together, and is a perfect way to bridge the divide and benefit both groups.”

Hale and his research team, which includes Kelby McIntyre Martinez, Assistant Dean of the College of Fine Arts at the University of Utah, and professors Kristen Paul and John McDonnell, started the program at Sprucewood in 2016 with only three classes. This year, the students from Jordan Valley came to Sprucewood 12 times to work with their peers. Over the course of the year Sprucewood students opened their circles of acceptance and assumed leadership roles they might not have normally experienced.

The Jordan Valley students also progressed. Students who had difficulty sitting for more than a few minutes during adult instruction could sit independently with a peer partner for 45 minutes and engage in periodic self-initiated interactions, such as raising their hands and participating vocally even if they were non-verbal. That is a huge accomplishment, Hale says. 

As Hale’s team continues to research students’ interactions, they have plans to expand the peer partner program to include dance and music this coming school year, to see how kids benefit.

“Some people might say students with severe disabilities don’t fit in a program like ours," Hale said. "I like to acknowledge growth in lots of different ways. I truly believe this is a way of accessing different abilities, and a way to provide social opportunities for students and let them rise to the occasion.”
Canyons District’s sporting students are logging big wins academically and athletically.

In a year during which students have, thus far, claimed 12 state team and individual championship titles in Utah High School Activities Association-sanctioned activities, 80 students representing all five of CSD’s comprehensive high schools have also earned Academic All-State Honors.

This includes the most recently-announced awardees in spring sports, a whopping 33 of them (listed below). The All-State Award is granted to student athletes, artists and scholars who are the best in their respective activities and committed to high academic achievement.
Boys Tennis
Carter Davis, Alta
Mark Godfrey, Alta
Bryan Guo, Hillcrest
Eric Yu, Hillcrest
Alan Zhao, Hillcrest
Boys Track and Field 
Tavin Forsythe-Barker, Alta
James Fetzer, Brighton
John Hillas, Brighton
Adam Kimball, Brighton
Stephen Glod, Corner Canyon
Brandon Johnson, Corner Canyon
Peter Oldham, Corner Canyon
Girls Track and Field
Rebecca Urban, Brighton
Elizabeth Walker, Brighton
Abigail Bankhead, Corner Canyon
Karli Branch, Corner Canyon
Vilhelmina Done, Corner Canyon
Mikayla Kimball, Corner Canyon
Emily Liddiard, Hillcrest
Erika Oldham, Jordan
Boys Soccer
Alex Christiansen, Alta
Adam Ranck, Brighton
Alex Fankhauser, Brighton
Ethan Ellsworth, Hillcrest
Boys Tennis
Parker Watts, Brighton
Isaac Williams, Brighton
Graden Jackson, Corner Canyon
Girls Golf
Emma Summerhays, Brighton
Anica Coesens, Corner Canyon
Boys Baseball
Alexander Hansen, Brighton
Girls Softball
Josee Haycock, Corner Canyon
Kate Aragundi, Hillcrest
Stephanie Aragundi, Hillcrest

Altara Elementary's beloved Kittyhawk has a new set of wings. She's still the same high-flying feline we've come to love, albeit with some aviation upgrades to keep her airborne for years to come.

As part of Canyons District's continued effort to upgrade and modernize the branding for its 50 schools and special programs, graphic designer Jeff Olson unveiled a new logo suite for Altara at a May 21 art fair, which doubled as a fundraiser benefitting one of the school's students. The event kicked off with a street parade led by the Sandy Police Officers, Alta High cheerleaders and Kit, the new Kittyhawk mascot who arrived in a convertible speedster.

The big reveal of the new school marks, featuring a kitten modeled after the famed pilot Amelia Earhart drew nearly 700 cheering students and family members. Also present for the unveiling was Zanette Nordhoff, the artist behind Altara's original logo.

"It is not an easy job to change an iconic mascot like our Altara Kittyhawk. Everyone has an opinion and everyone has ownership," says Principal Nicole Svee-Magann. "Jeff very patiently worked with me, three PTA presidents, and other stakeholders to create a beautifully developed, modern version, of our beloved feline. I could not be more pleased with 'Kit' and the fleet of artwork that accompanies her."

Over the past three years, nearly 20 school logos have received makeovers under an initiative by the Office of Public Communications to professionalize school marks and ensure they're based on original artwork. 

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  • Note: Recordings and documents for agenda items can be accessed via BoardDocs by clicking on the corresponding agenda items.

    Employment Contract with CAESP

    The Board of Education has reached an negotiated-contract agreement with the Canyons Association of Education Support Professionals. The compensation package represents a 5.73 percent increase in compensation for ESP in Canyons schools and central offices. In addition to funding increments steps, the District will provide a 3 percent cost-of-living increase to the base of the ESP salary schedule. The District also will pay for a $400 one-time stipend for 294 contract ESP on Step No. 9 during the 2018-2019 school year. This stipend will be paid on the Nov. 15, 2019 payroll date. Employees must be employed as of Oct. 31 to be eligible, and the stipend will be allocated according to the employee’s FTE status. Hourly employees on the top step during the 2018-2019 school year will receive a $100 one-time stipend on their Nov. 15, 2019 paycheck. Some 108 hourly FTEs will qualify. For health insurance, both parties also agree to the recommendations of the Insurance Committee. An extensive study of the ESP salary schedule and job descriptions will be done before the start of negotiations for the 2020-2021 school year. 

    CSD's Teacher Evaluation System

    The Board of Education received an update on the Canyons Teacher Effectiveness Support System (CTESS), the teacher-evaluation system required by 2012’s SB64. By law, Canyons is required to have an evaluation tool that documents student-learning growth, evidence of instructional quality, and response to stakeholder input. Since the operational field test in 2014-2015, Canyons has taken feedback from various groups, including the Board of Education, to improve the tool. Human Resources Administrator Sandra Dahl-Houlihan said an April 26, 2019 visit by the Utah State Board of Education to review CTESS yielded suggestions, such as an additional classroom observation and simplified Educator Portfolio requirements, that could be used to streamline the process. Houlihan reported that USBE feedback included positive notes about Canyon’s online evaluation system and the Data Dashboard, which she demonstrated. Each Board member also provided feedback and input.

    Midvale Elementary Progress Update

    The student-achievement trajectory of Midvale Elementary students is on the upswing on nearly every measure. The trend of growth has continued throughout the year, says Principal Chip Watts. At every grade, on DIBELS assessments, students have doubled if not tripled the benchmark scores in core subjects. In addition, the preliminary RISE assessment results, such as double-digit percentage increases of third- and fourth-grade students testing at proficient levels in mathematics, are particularly impressive. But more evaluation about the achievement levels of students will come when the Utah State Board of Education certifies the year-end tests results.  The school culture also has changed, said Watts, leading 89.5 percent of teachers to agree to return to the school for the 2019-2020 school year. The average retention rate at Midvale Elementary for the past three years has been 55 percent, he said. The school’s results on the year-end tests, as well as its adherence to a restructure and improvement plan, are vital. In February, the Utah State Board of Education voted to give the school two years to exit “turnaround” status, a designation given to the schools that had scored in the lowest 3 percent on statewide end-of-year exams, or face sanctions. 

    Proposed Budget

    Major construction projects at Alta, Brighton, and Hillcrest high schools and Midvalley Elementary, as well as remodeling and daylighting projects at 11 elementary schools, are included in the District’s proposed $292 million budget for Fiscal Year 2020. The funds to complete those construction projects come from bond issuances approved by voters in November 2017. Included in the General Fund of the proposed budget for the coming year is $13.6 million for the salary increase for teachers in Canyons District, per the approved contract with the Canyons Education Association. A tax increase of $140 on an average-priced home in the 34,000-student Canyons District will be required to generate these funds. As a result, a Truth-in-Taxation hearing will be held in August. In all, according to Business Administrator Leon Wilcox, 89 percent of the FY20 budget’s General Fund will be dedicated to paying salaries and benefits. In the budget presentation, Wilcox also noted that school lunch prices are proposed to remain the same for the 10th consecutive year. He also said that taxable assessed valuation increased from $21.8 billion in tax year 2017 to $24 billion in tax year 2018. Budget challenges include possible enrollment fluctuations, the cost of the recruitment and retainment of teachers and support staff, reductions of funding from the federal government, the inflation of construction costs, healthcare increases, and the unforeseen costs of following the new school fee laws and policies. The Board is scheduled to vote on the proposed budget and a revised FY19 budget on June 18, after the District receives the certified tax rate based on the assessed valuation of properties. 

    TSSA Framework

    The Board of Education voted to approved the framework for Canyon schools to use funds allocated through the Teacher Students and Success Act. Twenty-five percent of the District’s total allocation is being used for employee compensation. The remaining 75 percent will be distributed to schools based on average daily membership of the school.  Schools can use the funds to improve student performance. The Board also approved a policy requiring a yearly update of the Canyons framework. 

    Fee Schedules

    The Board of Education approved a fee schedule for 2019-2020 school year.  The Board also heard a report from Accounting Director Gary Warwood on the parent feedback given to schools on the proposed fee schedule. The Board of Education also approved a revised policy governing school fees. 

    Secondary School Schedule Policy

    The Board of Education approved an update to the policy governing secondary school schedules. The new language would require a three-year waiting period before a school community can seek another schedule change after going through the review process. However, new language also grants the Superintendent the discretion to appeal to the Board for an exception to the waiting period if there is demand in the community.

    Dual Language Immersion Committee

    The results of a review of the strength and sustainability of Canyons’ dual-language immersion programs is expected to be completed and given to the Board of Education this fall.  The report also will include recommendations for long-term improvement, according to Dr. Amber Roderick-Landward, Director of Canyons District’s Instructional Supports Department.  The committee — made up of parents, teachers, principals, Board members, District administrators, and four DLI specialists — reviewed enrollment, achievement and application trends; the USBE perception of CSD programs; costs of the CSD dual-language programs; and results of surveys of parents, teachers, current DLI families, and administrators.  Interest in DLI and world languages also was measured through a survey. 

    Sex Education Instruction Resources

    A committee made up of parents, teachers, administrators, members of the Board of Education, and health professionals recommended the adoption of instructional resources for human development and health education courses. The committee recommends the Board approve resources and speakers from South Valley Services and Prevent Child Abuse Utah.  They also recommend a maturation resource called “Healthy Bodies” for special education students.

    School Counseling Report

    Since the start of the school year, more Canyons students have sought help from a school counselor for social-emotional issues than those who needed help arranging class schedules. Some 20.6 percent of the 25,426 visits to a school counselor in the 2018-2019 school year were classified as “personal-social,” according to figures presented to the Board of Education. Counselors working with students on schedules accounted for 18.1 percent of all visits, and 25.2 percent of the counselor-student visits were classified as “academic.” Seven percent of visits with counselors included parents. The figures were obtained via a districtwide procedure for counseling centers to gather baseline data on the number and reasons for visits. Mental wellness and suicide prevention continues to be a focus of Canyons counselors, said School Counseling Program Specialist Tori Gillett.  Counselors also are paying close attention to cultural proficiency and closing the achievement gap, she said.

    Board Roundtable

    Board President Nancy Tingey solicited topics from Board members for an upcoming Roundtable discussion. 

    Patron Comment

    Albion Middle teacher Mary Simao invited the Board to participate in the “Girls on the Run” 5K. 

    Pledge of Allegiance, Inspirational Thought

    Cub Scouts who attend Canyon View Elementary led the Pledge of Allegiance.  Principal Kierstin Draper provided the inspirational thought.  445 students. Choir, orchestra, chess, Friday Games and hand-bell choir. 


    The following students, teachers, and staff were recognized for their achievements:

    • Ten students who applied for my529 tax-reduced college-savings accounts through the Foundation.
    • Sunrise Principal Margaret Swanicke and Draper Elementary Principal Christy Waddell, Utah PTA Outstanding Administrator Award.
    • Terri Mitchell, CSD Early Childhood Administrator, Recipient, Steven J. Kukic Special Education Administrator of the Year from Utah Council of Exceptional Children.
    • Hillcrest High seniors Alexander Cheng, Emily Langie and Bryan Guo, National Merit Scholars. Alex also is the General Scholar in the Sterling Scholar Awards, and a U.S. Presidential Scholar.
    • Academic All-State recipients for spring sports.  The students, and their schools, are:


    Alta — Carter Davis

    Alta — Mark Godfrey

    Brighton — Parker Watts

    Brighton — Isaac Williams

    Corner Canyon — Graden Jackson

    Hillcrest — Bryan Guo

    Hillcrest — Eric Yu

    Hillcrest — Alan Zhao


    Brighton — Emma Summerhays

    Corner Canyon — Anica Coesens

    Boys Soccer

    Alta — Alex Christiansen

    Brighton — Adam Ranck

    Brighton — Alex Fankhauser

    Hillcrest — Ethan Ellsworth


    Brighton — Alexander Hansen


    Corner Canyon — Josee Haycock

    Hillcrest — Kate Aragundi

    Hillcrest — Stephanie Aragundi


    Alta — Tavin Forsythe-Barker

    Brighton — James Fetzer

    Brighton — John Hillas

    Brighton — Adam Kimball

    Corner Canyon — Stephen Glod

    Corner Canyon — Brandon Johnson

    Corner Canyon — Peter Oldham


    Brighton — Rebecca Urban

    Brighton — Elizabeth Walker

    Corner Canyon — Abigail Bankhead

    Corner Canyon — Karli Branch

    Corner Canyon — Vilhelmina Done

    Corner Canyon — Mikayla Kimball

    Hillcrest — Emily Liddiard

    Jordan — Erika Oldham

    Consent Agenda

    The Board of Education approved the Consent Agenda, including the minutes of the May 7, 2019 meeting of the Canyons Board of Education; hire and termination reports; purchasing bids; student overnight travel requests; April financial reports; sale of CTEC home at 8731 Monroe Street; interlocal agreement with Draper City for parking lot and road near Draper Elementary. 

    Superintendent, Business Administrator Reports

    Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe commented on the Retirees Banquet and wished the retirees much happiness and success in the next stages of their lives.

    Business Administrator Leon Wilcox  reported on recent meetings with police officials and School Resource Officers from Sandy, Draper, Cottonwood Heights and Unified Police. He also commented on attending the Retirees Banquet, and thanked retiring Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kathryn McCarrie for her years of service. 

    Board Member Reports

    Mr. Chad Iverson attended the Region 7 track meet and a music festival at Northridge High where CSD students performed. He also held a Town Hall meeting with Board member Amanda Oaks. 

    Ms. Clareen Arnold reported on attending the Retirees Banquet and noted the loss of experience and skill with each retiree. She attended a meeting at Diamond Ridge High to discuss the future of the school. She also attended the 10-year anniversary festival held at Jordan High.  She also thanked the staff and Board for the study-session discussion on CTESS.

    Mr. Steve Wrigley also commented on attending the Retirees Banquet and mentioned he delivered a crystal award to a retiree who could not attend the event. He said the year has been productive and the Board and Administration have accomplished many goals. He also suggested the Board create a way to honor students who overcome challenges to graduate high school. 

    Mrs. Amber Shill reported on attending soccer, tennis and lacrosse games and congratulated Brighton lacrosse and tennis teams second-place finishes at state competitions. She thanked Board members for their work and accomplishments throughout the school year.

    Mrs. Amanda Oaks mentioned her work on the DLI committee and mentioned an Alta High banquet at which resilient students were honored. She thanked counselors for working so hard to make sure students are on track to graduate and are provided emotional supports.

    Mr. Mont MIllerberg mentioned the Canyons Education Foundation’s efforts to provide my529 scholarships to 10 seventh-grade students. He also said he supports the social-emotional learning after seeing how the program works.  He also attended several events, including the principals’ year-end luncheon.

    President Nancy Tingey attended the state PTA convention. She also thanked the retirees for their dedication and service. She also commented on Brighton choir’s recent performance of the Brighton High hymn, which had not been performed in several years.  She thanked employees, students and parents for their work in finishing the year successfully.
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