Eighteen Canyons District students have advanced in a rigorous race to claim one of the country’s most prestigious scholarships for high school seniors. 

Students from Alta, Brighton, Corner Canyon and Hillcrest high schools today were announced as semifinalists in the 2019 National Merit Scholar competition.  

The high-achieving CSD students join about 16,000 other top scholars who remain eligible to vie for 7,500 scholarships worth $31 million.

The roster of semifinalists was chosen from a field of 1.6 million students at more than 22,000 high schools. The nationwide pool of semifinalists represents fewer than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors. The number is proportional to the state's percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.

Candidates for National Merit Scholar awards must write an essay and take a prequalifying test, as well as submit SAT scores. Also required is a detailed scholarship application in which the students must provide academic-record and community-involvement information. The students must note their leadership experiences, voluntarism, employment and any other honors received, too.

The finalists and winners of 2019 scholarships will be announced in the spring

The students and their schools are: 

Alta High
  • Abigail Hardy 
  • Joshua Mickelson 
  • Joshua Pomeroy
Brighton High
  • Alex Fankhauser 
  • Sofia Maw 
  • Jenna Rupper
Corner Canyon
  • Sebastian Lee 
  • Peter Oldham
Hillcrest High
  • Alex Chang 
  • Anthony Grimshaw 
  • Bryan Guo 
  • Saey Kamtekar 
  • Emily Langie 
  • Hongying Liu 
  • Warren McCarthy 
  • Landon Nipko 
  • Eric Yu 
  • Alan Zhao
Alta High Principal Brian McGill on Saturday received an award for leading his school’s efforts to prevent suicides, reduce instances of bullying, and maintain a safe learning environment by carefully monitoring and following up on tips sent via the SafeUT mobile app.

McGill received the honor at the Utah Suicide Awareness Summit, held at Murray High School. The Champion of SafeUT Award, given by the Utah State Office of Education, was presented by Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, Utah Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley, and Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy. 

In accepting the award, McGill said that, as a principal, “there’s never a tougher week” than when a school community is mourning the suicide death of a student. He said the state-funded SafeUT mobile app, which gives students immediate, all-day-and-all-night access to school staff and counselors at the University of Utah’s Neuropsychiatric Institute, has proven effective in reaching struggling students and aiding worried parents.

“This has been a great utility for Alta High,” he said, adding that he personally spent time over Winter Recess assisting a student who used the app to ask for help getting through a bout of depression.“We have had tips come in all the time.”

McGill said Alta’s administrative and counseling teams take care to investigate all the tips sent through the app.

“As an institution of learning, there is no more important work than to help our kids meet the highest academic benchmarks. That said, the proper social emotional supports need to also be in place and working in collaboration with effective teaching in order for kids to self-actualize,” he said. “The mental health needs of our kids in school has never been more great, as outlined this morning at the summit. I will continue to keep that commitment as a high priority for our kids at Alta.”

Cox, who spoke to Saturday attendees of the summit, said “what you are doing today is a very big deal … we are here to save lives.”

The SafeUT mobile app can be downloaded for free from the App Store or Google Play.

Canyons was among the first districts in Utah to roll out access to SafeUT, which also provides an avenue for students to submit anonymous safety tips.
When recipients of Canyons District’s official holiday card open their envelopes this season, they might see a whimsical watercolor painting of two friendly snowmen. Or they might see a painting of twinkling lights. Or they might see a winter wonderland with horses pushing against a northern wind. 

All three of the works of art, done by Alta High students Georgia Ray, Lindsay Brown and Lydia Stueber, were selected as the card’s featured artwork because they capture the heart-warming essence of the season. They were chosen from a field of submissions by students in art classes taught by Katie Campbell. 

Initially, the District was going to select just one piece of artwork for the District’s official holiday card.  But the three selections forwarded by Campbell to the District Office for consideration were so good that all were chosen.  An equal number of cards for each selection was printed, signed and mailed right after Thanksgiving. This is the fifth year CSD has featured student artwork on the official holiday card.   

Artwork done by students at Jordan Valley, Corner Canyon, and Brighton High has previously graced the cover of the card.  This year, the Hawks were asked to lend their talents to CSD’s yuletide greetings. 

Stueber, 16, did her watercolor as part of an assignment for an Advanced Placement 2-D Design art class.  “I always love the look of holidays lights, and I just thought it would be interesting to use watercolor for the lights and get the different shadows and dimensions,” said Stueber, a junior, who also competes on the school swim team, serves as the Art Club Vice President, and plays the flute in Alta’s wind symphony. 

Ray, 16, the daughter of Steve and Jodi Ray, says she drew inspiration from her family’s steeds.  “I have grown up with horses my entire life,” says Ray, who competes as an equestrian hunter jumper. She also completed the acrylic painting as part of an art class at the school, where she’s also a member of the Drama Club.

Brown, 16, who is a member of the Drama Club and Concert Choir, said she “wanted to paint something that would make everyone think of the holiday season,” she says, “and building snowmen is a fun thing you do in the wintertime with your family and friends.”
The first-ever members to join Alta High’s marching band will be graduating this year — and they’ll be celebrating in a big way.

After four years of high-stepping, twirling and drumming, Canyons District’s only marching band will be taking their talent across the country to represent Utah in the 13th annual National Memorial Day Parade, held annually on Constitution Avenue to honor the men and women who have served valiantly in the U.S. Armed Forces.  The parade starts at 2 p.m. Eastern on Monday. 

This is the first time the award-winning band will perform in a different state, and they will be the only Utah marching band in the event. The parade is one of the country’s largest Memorial Day event.

“I had no idea we would be marching in this parade,” said Alta bandleader Caleb Shabestari, who led the band to 2A division state championships in 2013 and 2014. “I think it’s cool we’ve doubled the size of the band in four years and we’re taking a trip across the country. We couldn’t have done that last year.”

Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan nominated the marching band to represent Utah last March and the group has been preparing ever since. These days, the students attend practice two days a week to put the final touches on their patriotic program. The songs they will perform will highlight an immigrant’s journey to the United States.

“Just for the parade we’ve probably practiced for 40 hours straight,” Shabestari said. For those who won’t be able to see the parade in Washington, D.C. on Monday, May 29, the band will perform the same numbers at parades this summer in Sandy and Draper. 

The parade also will be streamed live on military.com.  

In June, the Alta High marching band will begin rehearsals for the summer band program, which includes flashy performances in Fourth of July and city celebration parades. The students range in age from seventh- to 12th grades and hail from all parts of the District. 

In the fall, the group will start working on their fall competition program, which will feature a theme of air, flight and planes, with completely original music. Students from all over Canyons participate in the District band located at Alta.

 “My goal at the end of five years is to have a band with over 100 people,” Shabestari said. “We are well on track to do that.”
A whopping 22 stellar students from Canyons District’s five traditional comprehensive high schools find out tonight if they have been selected as 2017 Sterling Scholars in their respective categories.  Winners in the 55th annual scholarship program sponsored by the Deseret News and KSL-TV Channel 5 will be announced during a ceremony at the LDS Conference Center’s Little Theater, 60 West North Temple.  Students from Alta, Brighton, Corner Canyon, Hillcrest and Jordan high schools are in the finals in all but one of the judged categories.  Last year, Canyons students walked away with several awards.   Anthony Cheng, from Hillcrest High, was announced as the top mathematician — and the overall general scholar. Sadie Chidester and Camden Seeborg, both from Corner Canyon, won in the Skilled and Technical Sciences and World Languages categories, respectively.  Here’s a list of Canyons District’s 2017 finalists:

Business and Marketing
Elizabeth Ericksen, Corner Canyon

Computer Technology
Abigail Olsen, Hillcrest
Ryan Dalby, Brighton
Ellek Linton, Corner Canyon

Dance
Caroline Tarbet, Hillcrest
Ashley Jex, Alta
Audrey Memmott, Corner Canyon


English
Nain Christopherson, Jordan
Alexandra Carlile, Hillcrest

Family and Consumer Sciences Education
Carlee Culberson, Jordan

Mathematics
Ben Hiatt, Corner Canyon

Science
Boyd Christiansen, Jordan
Michelle White, Hillcrest

Skilled & Technical Sciences Education
Mary Evans, Hillcrest
Mykell Johnson, Alta

Social Sciences
Eliza Bennett, Jordan

Speech, Theatre Arts, Forensics
Emma Smith, Alta

Visual Arts
Dexter Holmes, Jordan
Meg Warnock, Corner Canyon

Vocal Performance
Kristen Fairbourn, Alta

World Languages
Cade Kartchner, Hillcrest
Julianne Liu, Brighton
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