Five of CSD’s talented high school instrumentalists have been selected to perform with the Utah Symphony at an All-Star Evening Concert on Tuesday, May 23.

The rare honor is granted to 57 students statewide. At the 7 p.m. event at Abravanel Hall, students will perform Dvorak’s Violin Concerto side-by-side with their professional counterparts. The performance will last two hours and admission starts at $12.

The following students were chosen based on their performance at the Utah Symphony Youth Orchestra Festival on March 13, 2017:

Sean Dulger, Horn, Corner Canyon
Laura Lee, Violin, Corner Canyon
Micah Clawson, Violin, Hillcrest
Dallin Davis, Cello, Hillcrest
Parker Kreiger, Clarinet, Hillcrest

Do the winter blues have you down? Would you rather disappear into Victorian England, consider the value of individuality, laugh about society’s pitfalls, pretend you are at the Globe Theatre or spy on the Salem witch trials from the comfort of a high school auditorium? Never fear, Canyons’ students are hard at work on this year’s lineup of Winter-Spring plays — and they’re ready to transport you to your destination of choice.

From “Hamlet” to “Urinetown,” each of Canyons’ high schools — and several middle schools — will be presenting a variety of musicals and plays beginning later this month.

“Our goal is to create a unique version of the world’s most famous play that will cause audiences to realize they can understand Shakespeare,” says the award-winning Hillcrest d16425746_3878946570826_6174560334808074503_n.jpgrama teacher Josh Long. Hillcrest’s production will feature three different versions of Shakespeare’s original script for a streamlined performance, transported into a modern setting, with digital screens surrounding the audience.

Long chose to present “Hamlet” as an additional challenge to his students, who are already four-time Shakespeare Competition champions and four-time State Champions.

Here is a rundown of CSD's theatrical productions:
  • Alta: The Crucible, 7 p.m. Feb. 22-25 @ Alta auditorium
  • Jordan High: Jane Austen’s “Emma,” 7 p.m. March 2-4, 6 @ Jordan auditorium
  • Hillcrest: Hamlet, 7 p.m., March 17-18, 20 @ Hillcrest auditorium
  • Corner Canyon: Urinetown, 7 p.m. May 17-20 @ Corner Canyon auditorium
Middle school performances: 
  • Draper Park Middle: The Lion King Jr. 7:30 p.m. March 7-11
  • Mt. Jordan Middle: Fame! Jr. 7 p.m. May 12, 16-18
For those who doubt regular exercise keeps the brain sharp, consider Exhibit A: CSD’s Academic All-State honorees.

The Utah High School Activities Association’s Academic All-State Award is given to students who excel in the classroom as well as on the court, or in the pool. Four CSD winter athletes were recognized for the 2016-2017 school year:

4A Boys Basketball, GPA 4.0
Ammon Savage, Corner Canyon

5A Girls Swimming, 3.999 GPA
Haley Wiese, Jordan

5A Boys Swimming, 3.999 GPA
Todd Oldham, Jordan

4A Boys Swimming, GPA 4.0
Alvin Tsang, Hillcrest

These athletes boast a combined average GPA of 3.999, and they bring to 23 the total number of CSD’s All-State honorees in 2016.    
At a special ceremony to recognize Hillcrest High’s 2016 IB graduates, retiring coordinator Dr. Brian Bentley described students who completed the notoriously challenging college-prep program this way: “They saw an opportunity to make more out of their educational experience and they took it, even though it meant making sacrifices.”

Ninety-four students received recognition for their efforts; 38 IB diploma recipients, one career program recipient and 55 certificate recipients. These students graduated last spring from Hillcrest, one of a dozen schools in Utah approved to teach International Baccalaureate classes. The ceremony is held retroactively due to a lag time in the national reporting of IB exam results, and it’s scheduled each year in early January to capitalize on the holidays when many of the student honorees are home from college. bentley.jpg

This year’s event featured remarks by IB graduate Anthony Cheng, and National Merit Scholar and Presidential Scholar, and Dr. Bentley who stressed that the IB Programme is “designed to be a means, not an end” to students’ education. Success in life, he said, has little to do with intelligence and is more dependent on hard work, and a person’s willingness to remain teachable and to use their acquired knowledge to serve others.  

IB diplomas certainly can open doors. Many colleges now include a special “IB diploma” field on their applications, and members of Hillcrest’s Class of 2016 have matriculated at institutions such as, MIT, the University of Pittsburgh, UC Irvine, University of North Carolina, University of Utah and Brigham Young University. As a group, they were offered $2.8 million in scholarship awards.  

International Baccalaureate, overseen by a nonprofit agency in Switzerland, is offered in 143 different countries worldwide and is designed for students who seek a curriculum that emphasizes critical and creative-thinking skills. To earn an IB diploma, students must take six IB courses in at least five different subject areas. They must pass some tough exams, write a comprehensive essay and complete service in schools and communities. 

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Megan Okumura had never competed in a pageant before.

So, before she headed to Idaho in June to compete in the Miss Teen of Utah 2016 pageant, she had some homework to do. She fired up her DVD player and took some notes from Sandra Bullock in “Miss Congeniality” to prepare, and that was that.

When she completed the three-day contest and received the crown, her parents were so shocked they didn’t even have their camera ready to capture the big moment on film. Okumura didn’t mind — she was surprised too.

“When I won the crown, it was one of the most shocking things ever,” the Hillcrest junior said of her achievement. “I was so overjoyed, it was amazing.”Unknown-1.jpeg

Okumura went on to represent Utah in the Miss Teen of America competition where she was fourth runner-up. With her state crown she received a $1,000 cash scholarship and funding for Hillcrest to participate in a Special Olympics inclusion event. But Okumura, who also won the talent portion of the competition, says she won much more than money.

“When I won the crown, it was a big self-esteem booster for me because I was struggling with my self-esteem before that,” Okumura says. “I thought, maybe if I go to this pageant it will help boost my self-esteem, and it did just that. That was the biggest thing I got out of winning — just that self-esteem and confidence.”

Okumura’s parents watched their daughter head toward the Miss Teen of Utah competition with awe. They knew that their daughter — president of the American Sign Language club at Hillcrest, member of the Sandy Youth City Council, hard worker, and dreamer of someday being a special education teacher — was special.

“We knew she had accomplishments, her teachers knew she was doing great things, but she didn’t believe it,” says her mother Sharon Okumura, a now-retired career educator and former principal of CSD’s Canyon View Elementary.

This pageant isn’t Okumura’s first accomplishment. In 8th grade, she served as a student body officer for her school, in 6th grade she won an award for Women in Engineering at the regional science fair (her submission for a public safety announcement against domestic violence was recently chosen by Sandy City), and somewhere in there she wrote a children’s book.

Okumura, author and illustrator, named the book “The Bare Beauty.” It tells the story of a tree that was mocked for not having enough leaves. Sharon Okumura says the story mirrored her daughter’s thoughts and feelings as she came to realize that she had her own talents and gifts that made her beautiful.

“That’s what I see her learning from all of this,” she said. “She doesn’t have to compare herself to everybody else.

As Okumura prepared to head to the national competition in Minnesota in November, she didn’t need to watch any more movies to get ready. She was ready to win, or lose — either way she knows she’s already a champion. And if she ever forgets, her crown is there to remind her.

“I just keep it in my room,” Okumura said of her tiara. “It’s a trophy to me. It makes me really proud of my hard work.”
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