What do you want to be when you grow up? A builder, a baker, or museum curator? An accountant, a barber, or brave fire fighter? How about a doctor, a researcher, or fabulous teacher?

Every year, on the Friday of the first full week of school, Canyons District celebrates Kindergarten College-Readiness Day, a time for our youngest studenkids.jpgts to share their dreams and begin to think about how they might achieve them. Each classroom finds its own way to celebrate. Some invite students to come to school dressed in the fashion of their career of choice. Others host a career-oriented show-and-tell. All students this year received blue bracelets bearing the words, "I will be college-ready. Class of 2030."

As Canyon View kindergarten teacher Carolyn Armstrong remarked to her class, "It's OK to be undecided, to want to do lots of things, or to change your mind." But even at the age 5, she says, it's important for students to begin to understand the pivotal role that education will play in getting them where they want to go.

In Armstrong's class, students' aspirations are limited only by their imaginations. There are a few fire fighters, policemen, teachers, doctors and veterinarians, a future chemist, rockstar, and robotics engineer. And there's Jonathan, who wants to be an inventor so he can invent a star grabber that grabs stars.

"We need all these jobs which is why it's so great that you all want to do different things," Armstrong said.

Students from Canyon View, East Sandy and Sunrise elementary schools celebrate Kindergarten Career and College-Readiness Day

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  • Motivated, hard-working juniors at Alta High who are eager to get a jump on college at a tier-one, PAC-12 research institution — and who are willing to sacrifice a few summers to do it — were encouraged on Friday to apply for Step2theU, a novel program that will give a select cohort of qualifying students a chance to earn early college credit at the University of Utah.

    “I can’t stress to you how unique and how rare this opportunity is,” Principal Brian McGill told an auditorium full of interested students. “There is only one other high school in Utah with a formal early-college partnership with the U.” In line with CSD’s mission to prepare all students for the rigors of college and careers, Step2theU is a unique, Canyons Board of Education-approved partnership between Alta and the U.

    Hawks seeking to become Utes through the program will submit applications in their junior years. Application forms for the inaugural cohort of an estimated 35 students can be found on Alta’s website and must be submitted to the school’s Counseling Office by February 16, 2017. Each application will be assigned a number for anonymous review by a committee comprised of representatives of Alta aIMG_2543.jpgnd the U.

    Grades, academic awards and extracurricular achievements will factor into the reviews, as will the rigor of students’ current coursework (Honors, AP and concurrent enrollment courses). The committee also will be looking for an ability to contribute to and benefit from a culturally and intellectually diverse learning community. “We want students who are ready for the challenge,” McGill said.

    Students who are accepted will start taking U. courses taught by U. faculty this summer. Then, in the summer months after high school graduation and before the start of their freshman years, the students will take enough general-education coursework to complete another semester. It’s an in-classroom commitment of three full days a week, saIMG_2562.jpgid McGill. But consider the benefits:

    But those who complete the program will graduate with 30 college credits under their belts and be on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in 2.5 years. The value in tuition of those credits exceeds $10,000, but the cost to Step2theU participants is only $150. In addition, students will have access to U. faculty and researchers, campus sporting and arts events, and peer mentors.

    And all credits are transferrable to other institutions of higher learning. “This new partnership with Alta High will allow us to put everything we know about student success into a state-of-the-art, early-college experience,” said Ann Darling, Assistant Vice President of Undergraduate Studies at the U.
    Canyons is among six school districts in Utah being recognized by the College Board for opening Advanced Placement (AP) programs to a broader pool of students while also improving pass rates. Additionally, three CSD high schools rank in Utah’s top 10 for AP participation or pass rates: Brighton, Corner Canyon and Hillcrest.

    More than 25,000 public school students in Utah took a total of 38,685 AP exams in 2016—a 6 percent bump in participation from 2015. Sixty-six percent scored high enough (earned scores of 3, 4, or 5) to earn college credit on those exams, according to a Utah State Board of Education analysis of  College Board data. That’s well above the national average pass rate of 55.9 percent.

    A growing number of economically disadvantaged students also are taking AP exams. Utah saw a 10 percent jump in test-takers who are eligible for free- or reduced-price lunch, the Utah State Board of Education reports.

    Dr. Hal Sanderson, Director of Research and Assessment attributes Canyons District’s high performance to the decision years ago to move the ninth grade into high school, which gave students a jump on a wide range of AP courses, from history to world language courses. He also credits CSD’s philosophy of open enrollment for middle school honors courses, which gives all middle-school-aged students the opportunity to be exposed at an early age to more rigorous coursework.
    More than $180 billion in college aid is available to students for the 2017-2018 academic year—and the time for applying is now.

    Starting on Oct. 1, 2016, families can go to www.fafsa.ed.gov to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Think you won’t qualify for a needs-based scholarship? Don’t let that stop you from filling out an application. A FAFSA is required for many school-based scholarships. It also can open the door to work-study jobs, low-interest loans and grants.

    “Don’t leave money on the table, and act quickly as funding is limited and awarded on a first-come, first-served basis,” says Ann-Marie Proctor, a Guidance Counselor at Jordan High. Last year, Utah students lost out on a whopping $45.5 million in free federal money because they didn’t complete a FAFSA.

    The good news is that FAFSA is now easier to fill out than ever before, because families can use their prior year’s taxes. Following is a list of documents required for FAFSA:

    • Your Social Security card or Permanent Resident Card
    • Your parents’ Social Security card(s) or Permanent Resident card(s)*
    • Most recent tax returns for you and your parent(s)
    • Most recent untaxed income records
    • Most recent W-2 forms for you and your parent(s)
    • Bank account balances for you and your parent(s)
    • Current business/investment/mortgage information (student and parents)
    • Your driver’s license
    (*note: if your parents don’t have a social security number, you can still file your FAFSA)

    To help spread the word so that all students can access this historic investment in financial aid, Canyons District’s high schools are hosting free FAFSA completion nights where counselors will guide families through the application process.  Anyone can attend these free events, and there are scholarship opportunities just for attending. Visit StepUpUtah.com/events for a statewide schedule. Following are the events to be held at Canyons District schools.

    Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016
    Brighton High, 5-8 p.m.

    Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016
    Jordan High, 6-9 p.m.

    Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016
    Alta High, 5-8 p.m.
    Hillcrest High, 5-8 p.m.
    Corner Canyon High, 6-9 p.m.

    An across-the-district effort to encourage high school seniors to submit viable college applications is paying off. This year, 91 percent of Canyons District seniors participated in Utah College Application Week, completing at least one application, a substantial increase over the 82 percent application rate of 2015.  Many students completed multiple applications. Also, for the first time, students at CSD’s new Diamond Ridge, CSD’s alternative high school, participated.

    Utah has committed to improve its college graduation rate. Currently 40.4 percent of Utahns have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, 2011 U.S. Census data show — which beats the national average. But Utah lawmakers and Gov. Gary Herbert want to boost that to 66 percent by 2020.

    Canyons’ college enrollment rate is at nearly 51 percent, says the District’s comprehensive counseling and guidance coordinator Tori Gillett, citing figures for the Class of 2015. That’s up a bit from 49.4 percent in 2014. Gillett says some of the increase is due to an effort by the Canyons Education Foundation to raise money for scholarships and to help defray the cost of college application fees for students who can’t afford them.

    Looking ahead, District staff intend to work more closely with technical schools and take a more targeted approach to applications by better matching students with schools that best fit their career goals, Gillett says. The District will also gather more data on the post-secondary planning of students and present more information about the federal Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) program.

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