The 2019 Apex Awards, the highest awards given by the Canyons Board of Education and Administration, were presented to 17 educators, administrators, community supporters, leaders, and public education advocates on Tuesday, Sept, 10, 2019.  

The honorees, accompanied by friends and family, as well as District officials, mayors, state legislators, and other dignitaries, were feted an a by-invitation-only banquet and ceremony at Corner Canyon High, one of the first new-building projects undertaken by Canyons after the public approved a $250 million tax-rate-neutral bond in 2010 to address building needs.   

The four winners of the 2019 Legacy Award, which is CSD’s equivalent of a lifetime achievement award, were not only instrumental in the development of the District’s ambitious construction schedule, including the construction of CCHS, but also the establishment of CSD’s current vision, mission and academic and financial plans and frameworks. 

As they were announced as the Legacy Award winners, the nearly 400 attendees of the ceremony gave a standing ovation to Tracy Scott Cowdell, Sherril H. Taylor, Kim Murphy Horiuchi and Ellen Wallace.

The four were serving as members of the then-Jordan School District's Board of Education when the people in Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Midvale, Sandy and the town of Alta voted to create the first new school district to be created in Utah in nearly a century. 

As a result, Cowdell, Taylor, Horiuchi and Wallace served in their duly elected posts on the Jordan Board of Education while also laying the groundwork for the operations and mission of the school district that would eventually come to be known as Canyons, which has quickly become one of the largest and most innovative school districts in Utah.

Faced with a looming July 1, 2009 launch date, the group did double-duty and worked tirelessly, both individually and in concert with municipal leaders and community partners, to build up Canyons from an simple idea to full realization. With professionalism, courage and smarts, and against political challenges, they set the course and established a vision for CSD. Simply put, they made history. Canyons would not exist — or at the least be so successful in so many ways — if it weren’t for their commitment to building a rock-strong foundation for the District.

Cowdell and Taylor also served as the Board’s first-ever Board of Education President and Vice President. Taylor also served as CSD’s second Board President. While Cowdell and Taylor led the Board, CSD rebuilt or started construction or renovation work on 16 schools.

At the 10th annual event, which also served as the District’s Decade of Distinction Gala, Canyons Board of Education President Nancy Tingey congratulated the all the winners for their contributions to Canyons, both while in its infancy and today.  The 2019 Teacher of the Year from all CSD schools also were recognized for their contributions to the success of CSD. 

“Eleven years ago, we started this historic journey of working together to build a world-class school district for our community,”  Tingey said. “This year’s winners of the Apex Awards certainly have helped Canyons District on our journey, and we are grateful they are part of the Canyons District family. Their commitment to the success of our schools, whether from the very beginning of Canyons District or in recent years, is very much appreciated and has made a difference.” 

She also recognized those who attended the events held in 2009 to celebrate the start of Canyons District, including banquets, sign-changing parties and bus parades.  

“Many of you here tonight were instrumental in the creation of Canyons District, and celebrated with us at our Kick Off Banquet the night before we officially became the 41st school district in Utah on July 1, 2009," she said. “This celebration tonight, a decade later, is a continuation of the traditions of community engagement that were established at the founding of the District and is our way of extending our heartfelt appreciation for that tireless dedication.”

Other 2019 Apex Award winners include: 

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  • When it comes to academic contests, there are few as rigorous or prestigious as the National Merit Scholarship Program. Of the more than 1.5 million high school students who entered the competition this year, only 7,600 will prevail to win an estimated $31 million in scholarships—and among those in the running are 15 Canyons District students.

    Students from Brighton, Corner Canyon, Jordan and Hillcrest high schools today were announced as semifinalists for 2020 National Merit Scholarship Awards. They are among 16,000 top scholars nationally and 155 in Utah to advance this far in the competition.  

    The nationwide pool of semifinalists represents fewer than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors. The number of Utah semifinalists is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors. Semifinalists must have an outstanding academic record and show participation in school and community activities as well as leadership qualities.

    The finalists and winners of the 2020 scholarships will be announced in the spring. The students and their schools are:

    Brighton High
    Grace A. Sheffield
    Jacob Simmons

    Corner Canyon High
    John Bodell
    Cooper C. Gardiner
    Camryn J. Young

    Jordan High
    Richard J. Barnes
    Isaac Christiansen

    Hillcrest High
    Horace Gao
    Luke Kim
    Advait Mahajan
    Victor A. Petrov
    Sraavya Pinjala
    Marcus J. Turnbull
    Laura H. Wan
    Emily Zhang
    Does your child thrive on complexity, master concepts with ease and show strong feelings and opinions — or even tend to be self-critical? It can be difficult to know if your child is a high achiever or exhibiting signs of being a gifted learner. Every child is unique and no two gifted children are alike.

    But there are tests to assist parents in determining whether their children would benefit from placement in an educational setting, such as, Canyons School District’s SALTA magnet program for advanced learners—and now is the time to sign up for testing.

    Students in kindergarten through the seventh grade can apply online to test into the SALTA program starting Monday, Sept. 9 through midnight on Thursday, Oct. 3. Unfortunately, we are not able to accept late applications. slide 1

    Due to the time-intensive and rigorous nature of the process for determining a student’s fit for the program, parents are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the testing requirements and characteristics of advanced learners (see below) before completing an application. 
    Testing is a two-day commitment, and results will be distributed in late December.

    Elementary-age applicants may choose between one of two possible dates per testing block and the following testing locations. More details as to the time and location of the testing will be made available through the application process.

    Elementary Testing Block A: October 25 and 26
    Sunrise
    Sandy
    Midvale Elementary
    Canyon View Elementary

    Elementary Testing Block B: November 8 and 9
    Peruvian Park 
    East Midvale
    Copperview
    Willow Springs

    All middle school students are tested at Mt. Jordan Middle, with exception to Midvale Middle students who are tested at their school.

    Middle School Testing Block: November 5 and 6
    Midvale Middle
    Mount Jordan Middle


    Questions? More information, can be found at isd.canyonsdistrict.org, or by calling the Instructional Supports Department at 801-826-5044.
    Josephine Garrett knows what it’s like to meet a hero in real life.

    Last year, as a student at Draper Park Middle, she decided to enter the National PTA Reflections program to tell her story. The program encourages students from all grades and abilities to explore the arts and express themselves through a variety of mediums, from literature to music composition. With the 2019 theme of “Heroes Around Me,” Josephine, known to her friends as Josie, knew just what to do.

    She looked to her neighbor, who had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer, for inspiration. Her neighbor, although sick, had decided that she would perform acts of service for her last 12 months of life, and as Josie watched those acts unfold, she was moved. “She was amazing,” Josie said later. “She was a real hero.” JosephineGarrett

    First, Josie, who is now a student at Corner Canyon, submitted her entry on the school level. She won there, so she moved on to the next level, competing against several other schools. From there she progressed to the District level, then region level, and finally, she made it to the state level of the Utah PTA, where her essay, titled “Day By Day,” was selected to move forward to the national level of the competition.

    “Hero-like characteristics are in everyone. We just have to find them,” Josie wrote in her essay. When asked how she defines a hero, the subject of Josie’s piece, Annette Ferran said, “Someone that inspires someone to be better and give hope.” Josie agrees and wrote about how Ferran “inspires everyone to be a hero by doing service. … Tomorrow gets better all of the time living by Annette’s example—day by day.”

    Josie found out that she was selected as a Merit Award winner just a few days after her neighbor passed away. Her entry was selected from submissions from some 5,000 local PTAs from throughout the country. For her award, Josie received a bronze medal, a Certificate of Merit, and an invitation to attend a celebratory banquet at the National PTA Convention in Ohio. Her work will also be featured with other winning entries from the National PTA Reflections Program in a traveling exhibit, beginning on January 13, 2020 at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington D.C. and ending in June 2020 in Louisville, KY. The Reflections Program was started in 1969, and is offered free of charge to participating students.

    “We are so proud of Josie and her accomplishment,” said Tonya Rhodes, Utah PTA Region 17 Director. “We appreciate her message that a hero is someone who looks beyond themselves, who lifts those around them. We are so happy her entry was selected to win an Award of Merit on the national level during the 50th anniversary celebration of the Reflections Program through PTA.”
    David Morrill was well on his way to becoming a physicist and working for the government, right up until his senior year of college, when he was asked to step in and teach a freshman physics lab and found his true calling: teaching.

    Now, after teaching at Jordan High for 30 years, Morrill has been named of one of five Utah finalists to receive a 2019 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. The Award is the highest honor bestowed by the United States government to science and math teachers in grades K-12. Up to 108 of the awards are bestowed every year as a way to recognize teachers who develop and implement exemplary programs that enhance student learning, according to the Utah State Board of Education, which announced the finalists on Tuesday, Aug. 27. 

    “It’s a great honor to be considered for this, and I think it shows we have great teachers,” Morrill said. “I feel a little inadequate because I believe there are a lot of teachers at Jordan who are so good at what they do and I just am really impressed with the quality of teachers I get to interact with.”download

    Morrill says he has always been fascinated with the laws of physics. Every day, he demonstrates principles of physics in action, and discusses with his students how their predictions of what may occur are often misguided. The concepts of projectile motion, inertia and mass often surprise his students, he says. But he loves nothing more than to discuss mathematical relationships, circumference, diameter and Pi with his class.

    “I have found I really, really enjoy teaching,” Morrill says. “I know that every day there is somebody’s life that I do touch and change, and 99 times out of 100 I never know who that is because they don’t come and tell me. But I do know it’s going on, and I have found that is the reason I really enjoy teaching, because I do have an effect on student’s lives every single day.”

    A national selection committee is set to review the finalists for the Presidential Award, and it is expected the winners will be announced in the summer or fall of 2020. Of the five finalists representing Utah, two will be chosen for the award and receive a certificate signed by the President of the United States, a paid trip to Washington D.C. to attend recognition events and professional development opportunities, and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.

    This isn't the first recognition that Morrill has received for his extraordinary teaching abilities. Below is a video spotlighting his receipt of a Huntsman Award for Excellence in Education.

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