Fifteen-year-old survives lung surgery to compete in national bowling championship 

Emily Pelzer was just 7 years old when she first saw a school flier inviting kids to come bowling. It seemed like it could be fun, so she asked her mom if they could go.

Eight years later, the soon-to-be sophomore at Hillcrest is still bowling — but the sport has become much more than a hobby. It’s a lifeline.

It turns out Pelzer is a natural at the sport. One year after she showed up to the bowling alley for the first time, the 8-year-old won her first national title, representing Utah in the national competition. Now that she’s 15, Pelzer has earned seven national titles in all, and this weekend she is going for another.

To face 4,500 competitors in the national bowling competition is a challenge of its own. But Pelzer has an ace up her sleeve. To her, bowling isn’t just a fun way to pass the time. It’s a metaphor for life. “You can learn a lot from it,” Pelzer says after finishing a long day working at Fat Cats bowling alley.

The last time Pelzer took her title to the countrywide competition, she placed 21 out of 450 competitors — and unbeknownst to her, she was playing with a partially collapsed lung. Pelzer’s mother, Sheri Harding, found her daughter on the floor not long after that game, lethargic and blue from the lack of oxygen reaching her system.

Pelzer, they later discovered, had three dime-sized holes in her right lung, caused by a chain of events that occurred when she had an allergic reaction to something she ate in the sixth grade, which caused her to go into anaphylactic shock. To stop the shock, paramedics gave her a different medicine, which triggered a second allergic reaction. Pelzer aspirated the medicine, which burned her lungs as soon as the medicine made contact. Harding didn’t know her daughter’s lungs were damaged, but at the time, she was just focused on helping Pelzer survive.

“They didn’t really give her much hope to actually live after she had that (first anaphylactic shock),” Harding says. “She was pretty much gone, and they brought her back, and it was really scary.”

Since then, Pelzer has had extreme allergic reactions to other common ingredients, but she was unaware of the extent to which her lung had been damaged four years ago. In the last year, the teenager had reconstructive lung surgery to correct the problem. The recovery process nearly took over her life, but there was one thing that kept Pelzer going: bowling. 

“I said, ‘All right, I’m not going to give up just because my lungs are giving up on me,’” Pelzer said. “I’m not going to let that happen because I know my body is more comfortable doing this sport than any other sport.”

So, Pelzer resumed her training, working on her spares and strikes nearly every day, preparing for the national championships that take place this weekend in Ohio. Pelzer already has a full-ride scholarship to Texas A&M because of her bowling skills, but she has her eye on the top prize: a $300,000 scholarship and registration on Team USA for the next summer Olympics.

Canyons District will be cheering this Husky on, but no matter what, she is already a hero to us.

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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