What would you do if you had to break up a fight between inmates?  Or if an inmate was threatening self-harm?  Or asking you to bend rules of the in exchange for a favor? These are all situations that a corrections officer could face upon arriving for the first day of work at a jail. 

Students in the criminal justice program at the Canyons Technical Education Center put their skills and knowledge to the test when they faced simulations of real-life jail incidents that were done by “actors” who were given direction on how to talk and act by local law-enforcement agencies. 

The simulations, held Oct. 10-11, 2019 at CSD’s Crescent View building, 11150 S. 300 East, were eye-opening for students who are in the class and are mulling a career in law-enforcement.

The focus of the exercise was to help the 17- and 18-year-old students see first-hand what kind of situations they would need to handle in the real world of criminal justice.

The groups of students were asked to de-escalate physical and verbal situations between inmates, handle issues that could require medical assistance, and face inmates who are expressing suicidal tendencies. 

 “We’ve never done this kind of a simulation before,” says instructor Edwin Lehauli, “but we want our students to get a pretty good look at what it is like to be a corrections officer.” 

One simulation caught Alta senior Braedyn Sendizik by surprise. He said he wasn’t quite sure how to respond to the actors playing the inmates.  “They kept trying to draw me in — and I got too drawn in instead of shutting it down” and insisting that directives be followed, he said.

“I learned from it,” he said, “and next time I will know better.”

Fellow Alta student Garrett Boland, who is eyeing a career as a lawyer, faced a simulation that required him to get inmates in their cells at the end of a day. “I learned to be aware of just about everything,” he said, noting that his instructor had tipped the class off to manipulation techniques often used by inmates so students would be prepared in the simulations.

“This definitely taught me a lot. It’s a learning experience for sure but it’s also a lot of fun,” Sendizik said. “It’s like the real world. You have be ready for everything.  You have to know what you are walking into.”

Canyons District’s alternative high school has launched its first-ever schoolwide donation drive.

Diamond Ridge High, founded in 2015, is using the online platform SuccessFund to gather the donations throughout October. By Oct. 31, the school, which has an enrollment of about 100 students and is housed at the campus of the Canyons Technical Education Center, 825 E. 9085 South, hopes to raise $2,500. 

The money will be used for bus tokens for students who need transportation assistance to and from school. Donated funds also will be used to purchase $5 gift cards to local eateries and businesses for academic and attendance incentives.

Diamond Ridge Principal Amy Boettger says meeting the fund-raising goal would be “more than enough” to get needed transportation passes in the hands of students who struggle to get to school every day because they rely on public transportation. 

Boettger said the gift-cards to nearby fast-food joints would reward positive behaviors such as improved attendance or working hard to complete missing assignments.

“To many of our students, it’s a big deal to be able to treat themselves and a friend after school,” says Boettger. While the number fluctuates each year, she says, typically about half of Diamond Ridge’s student body qualifies for free- and reduced-priced meals at school under the poverty guidelines.  

“We are not asking for a lot, but we’re certainly hoping for support from people in the community, even those who have never had a child at our school,” says Boettger. “We play an important role in Canyons District. Diamond Ridge is the school of choice for students who need a different kind of atmosphere than you would find at a traditional high school, and if we weren’t here, some of these kids might fall through the cracks. In fact, before we launched Diamond Ridge, many of these kids did fall through the cracks. Now, they have a place to go — and we believe in them.  In turn, they start to believe in themselves.”

Click here to help the Raptors roll through  its “rock’tober” fundraising window. SuccessFund, the District-approved forum for CSD schools to run nonproduct fundraisers, makes it easy for anyone to give directly with secure payment processing. Donors can use credit cards, Venmo, Apple Pay, PayPal and Google Pay.  There are no set-up fees for SuccessFund, and neither CSD nor schools are charged consulting, support or monthly subscription fees.  The platform earns its money by charging a small per-transaction fee at checkout.  

“That bus token may make all the difference to a student who is thinking about dropping out because they don’t have transportation. That gift card for increased attendance may inspire another student to keep coming to class,” Boettger said.  “Removing obstacles to attending school — and rewarding positive behaviors that otherwise may go unnoticed — will only serve to encourage students to continue working hard so they can earn that right to walk across the graduation stage.”

Help wanted.

A Canyons District program that helps adult special-education students gain the skills necessary to live independently is looking for business partners that would be willing to provide on-site job training for men and women who need just a little extra help to do big things.   

Nate Edvalson, a program administrator in Canyons’ Special Education Department, says business of all kinds and sizes can aid the efforts of the Canyons Transition Academy, which holds classes for students 18- to 22-years-old who have aged-out of the school system but still need more vocational and social-skills training. 

“I can’t say enough good things about the businesses who give our students a chance.  It’s obviously a little more work to hire a person with disabilities,” he says. “The biggest requirement, I think, is understanding and patience. Our students are eager to learn and are excited to take on all kinds of tasks.  They need explicit instruction, and it may take a few times to get it right, but in time our students turn out to be valuable employees.” 

Take, for example, the task of busing tables.  It may seem menial to some employees, he says, but Canyons Transition Academy participants approach the task with enthusiasm because they feel like someone believes in them to do a job that is vital to the restaurant, Edvalson said during a segment on ABC4's "Good Morning Utah."  Students also have been provided work opportunities in such industries as car detailing, tire removal and repair, vehicle repair and maintenance, and food preparation and service, he says.

The academy is grateful for partnerships with such organizations as O.C. Tanner, Walmart, Utah Co-Op, Draper Senior Center, and the Larry H. Miller organization. Some restaurants and public libraries have signed up to participate, and some CTA students work in custodial jobs at Canyons District schools and central offices.

Still, more community partners are needed to provide a wide array of experiences for the students.  Interested business owners can contact Edvalson via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

“Our students are reliable, excited to work, willing to learn and do any tasks.  The teachers and staff at the Canyons Transition Academy also can work with the students during class on skills the students will need to use at their jobs,” he said.  “The businesses are enriched because of the variety of working staff they will have.  Their commitment to including all parts of the community in their business will be visible to everybody in the community.”
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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  • Set — and make — goals! 

    That’s the message Real Salt Lake and Utah Royals FC players sent on Monday, Aug. 19 when they visited elementary and middle schools to welcome students back to school after a long summer break.  

    For three years, the professional soccer players who take to the pitch at Rio Tinto Stadium, located in Canyons District boundaries, have criss-crossed Canyons on the first day of school, giving high-fives and fist-bumps to students as they make their way into school for the first day of the school year. 

    The visits also served as invitations to come see the players at upcoming games. The early fall games usually draw teachers, school staff, students and parents who are both celebrating the start of the school year and stretching summer fun into fall.  And attending students can cheer for the players they met on the first day of school. 

    Thanks to the generosity of the Real Salt Lake organization, Canyons families, including employees, can attend Real Salt Lake, Utah Royals FC and Real Monarchs games at discounted prices. To take advantage of this back-to-school promotion, go to www.rsl.com/promo, enter the promo code, “CSD,” and select the game you’d like to attend.
    • Real Salt Lake — Buy one, get one free for the Wednesday, Sept. 11. game vs. the San Jose Earthquakes at 7:30 p.m. (Please note that the tickets will show up under the promo code as half-priced). 
    • Utah Royals FC — One free ticket per student, with each additional ticket costing $10 for the Friday, Sept. 6 game vs. the Portland Thorns at 7:30 p.m.
    • Real Monarchs — One free ticket, with each additional ticket costing $8 for the Friday, Aug. 30 game vs. OKC Energy at 8 p.m.
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