If Donald L. Miller can bring history to life on the big screen, surely he can do the same for a group of high school students.

The endowed professor is the best-selling author of nine books, one of the most respected authorities on World War II, and a consultant for many film and TV productions—including two HBO series produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg—and he’s coming to speak at Alta High this month as part of the school’s ninth annual Social Studies Colloquium.

Established in 2011 by Alta history teacher Rique Ochoa, the colloquium provides Canyons students with the rare opportunity to meet and learn from some of the nation’s top scholars. Over the years, various preeminent educators, including four Pulitzer Prize winners, have visited the home of the Hawks, making multiple presentations about their books and sitting down with a small group of students from Ochoa's class. Each time, students from other high schools throughout the District are also invited to participate. img013

Miller will be presenting on three subjects Saturday, March 16, beginning at 8:30 a.m. with a talk about the War in the Pacific, the focus of the first HBO series he worked on with Hanks and Spielberg. He will then discuss the War in Europe, and the Air War in Europe, which was the basis of his bestselling book, “Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany,” and the next HBO series. Finally, after a round-table discussion with students, he will sign each of their books.

The annual event is designed to awaken within students a passion for social studies by exposing them to leading thinkers in the field, though it’s also a big draw for local history teachers, says Ochoa.

Miller is the John Henry MacCracken Professor of History at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of St. Vincent College and the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force. He is the cofounder of the Presidential Counselors, an advisory board to the CEO of the National World War II Museum, and a Fellow and Seminar Leader of the prestigious Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

A resident scholar and guest lecturer for various universities, Miller travels the world on paid-speaking gigs. His participation in Alta High’s colloquium is being partially funded by the Canyons Education Foundation, a non-profit that raises money for teacher grants and to provide students with scholarships and academic opportunities.
Educators today are preoccupied with how to keep pace with their tech-savvy students, a generation of digital natives who were born into an era of instant connectivity and raised with technology-centered learning styles and expectations.

But there still exist a good number of students whose only exposure to technology is at school, which presents a different challenge.

“In the rush to making sure our schools are equipped for the high-tech demands of a 21st Century education, we need to be careful about leaving some students behind,” says Canyons District’s Information Technology Director Scot McCombs. “We need to also be working to bridge the digital divide.”

Earlier this month, the Canyons Board of Education approved a plan proposed by McCombs to aid those students for whom the divide is the greatest—the 3,500, or 10 percent, who have no access to computing devices or the Internet at home. Through a T-Mobile Empower 2.0 grant, the District intends to make computing devices available to these students, starting with 430 high school students, in much the same way that libraries check-out books, except for a more extended period of time. The grant also will cover half the cost of making hotspots available to the students so that they have Internet access at home. The remainder of the costs may also be partially covered through Utah’s Digital Teaching and Learning Grant.chromebook

“Technology is ubiquitous. It’s how we access knowledge, connect with one another, and make daily decisions, from crunching spreadsheets at work to finding a doctor or ordering pizza for delivery,” says McCombs. “I take for granted that I can access the Library of Congress on my phone, but some of our students don’t have the means. Without Internet access, how can we begin to address other technological inequities?”

Indeed, the digital divide means things for different students. Some are savvy users of social media, video games, and apps, but struggle to discern trustworthy from untrustworthy sources of information on the Internet. Some may be comfortable using software commonly encountered in the workplace, such as spreadsheets and word-processing programs, while others are coding and writing sophisticated software programs as teenagers.

But a survey of Canyons District families conducted by McCombs revealed that, for a surprising number of students—10 percent—the divide is even greater than that, largely due to the unaffordability of devices and wifi. “First thing’s first,” he says, “if students don’t have access to a computer or the Internet from home, it’s harder for them to complete assignments and keep up with homework, much less learn to be good digital citizens.”

Devices will be made available based on financial need and checked out to students who meet poverty guidelines. There will be safeguards. Students will be asked to sign an agreement that outlines the appropriate use of the device, and the hotspots will be filtered using the same technology used to limit Internet browsing on the District’s school campuses.

But an experimental check-out program at Crescent Elementary showed students are generally careful with their devices and respectful of the appropriate-use guidelines. What’s more, having the devices at home helped boost their performance at school. 

“Providing students with access to technology has been a game-changer for some of our students who have faced the biggest obstacles to success,” says Crescent Principal Camie Montague.

This past November, Crescent checked out devices to 15 special education students and English language learners who had no Internet access at home. The expectation was that they would all spend 80 minutes a week completing their homework in core subjects. 

At the time, none of these students are were on track to meet grade-level standards of learning by June. Now, 14 are on track to meet or exceed the standards.

“We talk about how the printing press changed history and democratized how people access knowledge. Today, the Internet is how we access information, and to deny some students that access is just wrong,” McCombs says. “For me, this project is truly a labor of love. I view this as one of the most important things I’ll do here during my tenure at Canyons.”

McCombs hopes to have the computing devices and hotspots shipped to high schools and ready for check-out in time for the next trimester. 
Yes, the calendar may tell us that it’s snow-filled January — but it’s not too early to start thinking about where to send your 4-year-old child to preschool when the leaves of the trees start to turn golden in autumn. 

The application window for spots in Canyons District’s tuition-based preschools in the 2019-2020 school year is now open. Parents can click here to apply for high-quality preschool programs at Altara, Bella Vista, Butler, Edgemont, Jordan Valley, Oakdale, Quail Hollow, and Willow Springs elementary schools.

For the Canyons preschools, which follow an evidence-based curriculum the lines up with the core standards of learning at the kindergarten, the cost is $100 per month for students attending two days per week and $200 a month for students attending four days.  There’s also a one-time $20 registration fee.  Availability in the program for the coming academic year is based on a first-come, first-served, space-available basis. 

Morning sessions are from 8:20-10:50 a.m. Afternoon sessions are 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.  

Terri Mitchell, the programs administrator for CSD’s Early Childhood Department, gives this advice to parents who are looking for a preschool for their kiddo:  Pay particular attention to the safety, security, cleanliness and organization of the staff and the school. 

The children should be guided in play, she said, and their social development should be supported.  The staff ratio is important, too. No less than one adult for 10 children. In Canyons’ preschools, we have a higher adult-to-child ratio, she said. 

Parents also should spend some time preparing children for their first time in a classroom. 

“If parents talk to their children about how fun it will be for them to go to school, then the children will be more likely to be excited to go to school,” said Mitchell, who shared more tips during an appearance on ABC4. 

Mitchell tells parents to read books with their children and seek out story times at local libraries.  She also urges parents to show their children photographs of their first day at school and share experiences of what it was like to go to school for the first time. 

“Preschool can be an important part of early childhood development,” she said.  “The time spent at preschool may be the first time that a child is away from her or his mom and dad or grandparents, or without their siblings, for an extended period of time.  The kiddos learn a little bit of independence. They also learn their colors and their ABCs and 1-2-3s, which can help them as they start their kindergarten and first-grade years.”

In Canyons, free school programs also are provided at Title I schools. Students who turn 4 years old before Sept. 1, 2019 and live within the boundaries of Midvale, Copperview, Sandy and East Midvale elementary schools can apply to participate. CSD will being taking applications for spots in those preschools on March 1.
With a sharp chirp of a whistle, the best student runners from all eight of Canyons District middle schools took off running with their eyes on the rolling grassy route in front of them — and their hearts set on being the first to cross the finish line.

Under sunny skies, two boy and girl runners from every grade at every CSD middle school competed on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018 at the 10th annual CSD Intramurals Cross Country Championship Meet. They all ran roughly 2 miles around Union Middle School’s campus.

Hundreds of friends and family lined the route to cheer the students as they jostled for position and pushed themselves to high speeds.

At the end of the race, Draper Park Middle captured the first-place trophies for both the girls and boys teams.

In the girls' race, Eastmont finished at No. 2 and Union captured third place.

For the boys, Mount Jordan raced to the second-place spot and Midvale Middle snagged third place.

The overall top boy runners were Mount Jordan’s Diego Lopez, Draper Park’s Grayson Milne and Mount Jordan’s Levi Wilcoxon.   The overall top girl runners were Eastmont’s Sarah Seamons, Draper Park’s Avery Garcia and Draper Park’s Bre Kennard. 

The race is the school year’s first contest for the middle-school intramural athletics program, which was developed to promote healthy lifestyles and gauge interest for future competitive sports programs. Individual winners will be awarded medals and the fastest teams will receive trophies to be displayed at their respective schools.

See Canyons District's Facebook page for a photo gallery of the race.
Note: Recordings and documents for agenda items can be accessed via BoardDocs by clicking on the corresponding agenda items.
 
Construction of Brighton High

Business Administrator Leon Wilcox presented information about the budget and timeline of Brighton High’s rebuild. While preliminary design work started in September 2017, the work on the project accelerated after the public in November 2017 approved a $283 million bond proposal that would provide the funds for the construction. As work has progressed, Wilcox said, it’s proven challenging to build such a large building — 387,000-square-feet — on the campus’ 36 acres, especially as students continue to attend classes there. Also, construction and labor costs have gone up significantly since the bond election, he said. The cost of materials to complete such a project, including fuel, are sharply on the rise, he said. Board member Nancy Tingey, who has been involved in discussions surrounding the design of the building, said that cuts have been made already, and the investment in the school will affect generations of students. The Board awarded a $103.1 million contract to Hogan Construction for the project. Construction is expected to be done by fall 2021.

Lacrosse Participation

The Board of Education gave an OK to schools in Canyons District who want to field lacrosse teams in the 2019-2020 school year. That is when the Utah High School Activities Association will start to sanction the sport for boys and girls. The vote serves as notice to UHSAA that the District plans to participate and allows schools to begin the process of hiring coaches and reviewing equipment needs. The participation fee is expected to be $70 per player. The budget for 2019-2020 will include the startup and ongoing costs associated with offering the sport to students. 

Calendar Update

Under an already tentatively approved calendar for the 2019-2020 school year, Canyons District’s schools would let out for the summer in May, instead of the first week of June. The Board re-considered the calendar for final approval along with similarly organized calendars for the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 years, and for Brighton High, which is under a trimester schedule. An earlier end date would make it easier for high school students to compete for summer jobs, explained Planning and Enrollment Director Dr. Floyd Stensrud. The proposed calendars also would eliminate most of the Professional Development days traditionally scheduled on Fridays, thereby alleviating the need for working parents to secure child care. There would be no change in the number of holidays or instructional days. The Board will take up the matter again at an upcoming Board meeting. 

Early Literacy Program

The Board of Education considered a series of literacy goals proposed by the Administration in alignment with new legislation and Utah State Board of Education rules. The intent of the legislation was for 90 percent of all Utah third graders to achieve proficiency in reading by 2020. School Districts are being asked to set incremental milestones toward achieving that goal. State rules also stipulate that the number of students making typical or better progress must increase from 48 to 60 percent. There are consequences for not meeting growth goals, and remediation plans to support Districts that fall short. The Board will take up the matter again at an upcoming meeting. 

Vision and Mission Update 

Research and Assessment Director Dr. Hal Sanderson presented student achievement data to the Board of Education. ACT scores from last year show CSD high school students outpacing their Utah peers in English, math, reading and science—in some areas by as much as 10 percentage points. Additionally, students showed improvement in math, reading and science. Dr. Sanderson also presented data to show progress toward the District’s customer service, community engagement, innovation, and financial accountability goals. Surveys show the vast majority of parents are satisfied with the education and emotional supports provided their students. Volunteer rates are up, as is traffic to the District’s website, demonstrating healthy community engagement. A growing share of teachers are taking advantage of District-sponsored professional development opportunities and technology-in-education certifications. The District has an eight-year track record of 100 percent compliance on annual financial audits and has maintained an Aaa bond rating since 2012.

Utah College Application Week

The Canyons Education Foundation pledged up to $10,000 to help cover the costs of college-application fees for low-income students who participate in the Nov. 6-10 Utah College Application Week. Development Officer Denise Haycock and members of the Foundation Board presented a ceremonial check to the Board of Education for the amount.

Online Mathematics Textbook Proposal

The Board reviewed an online mathematics textbook proposal, including the public input solicited with an online tool. The Board asked the Administration to solicit additional teacher feedback and provide it to the Board at a future meeting. Proposed is Illustrative Mathematics, for seventh- and eighth-grade students, and Mathematics Vision Project, for ninth- through 12th-grade students. The cost to implement both programs is less than if the district opted to maintain the traditional hard-bound mathematics textbooks, and the texts are closely aligned to Utah’s Core State Standards. If the proposal is approved, Canyons would implement the online textbooks in a layered, grade-by-grade rollout, starting with seventh- and eighth-graders in 2019 and advancing to higher grades until fall 2021.

Consent Agenda

The Board of Education approved the consent agenda, including minutes from Oct. 2, 2018 meeting of the Board; hire and termination reports; an amended version of student overnight travel requests; September financial reports; Utah

grants administration for federal and state programs, at-risk student definition and early literacy goals program goals; updates to Board’s mission and vision 2020 goals; a Memo of Understanding with Alpine District for the transportation of students who live in the Suncrest development. 

Patron Comments

Corner Canyon High teacher Royce Shelley expressed concern about the proposed online mathematics textbook.

Draper Park Middle teacher Amy Valdez spoke to the Board in support of the six-period schedule at the school, saying she thinks it best for student learning. 

Teacher Krista Pippin spoke about the proposal to change schedules at Draper Park Middle. She said the information stating the pros and cons of the sixth-period schedule and the eight-period A/B block doesn’t equally represent both schedules.  She also asked for student-achievement for the schools that have changed schedules.

Hillcrest Parent Jody Koch asked the Board to either provide a practice pool close to the school or provide transportation to swim practice for the members of the swim team. The team practices at the Gene Fullmer Pool at 8015 S. 2200 West.  She cited recent fatal accidents involving Hillcrest students as the main reason for providing the transportation.

Draper Park Middle student Aleigh Stilson spoke to the Board about the District’s dress code, saying it is out of date and sexist. 

Utah State Board of Education member Kathleen Riebe stated her appreciation for the collaborative work that’s being done by the Canyons Board of Education and Administration.

PTA Region 17’s Terri Francis introduced two Girl Scouts who had questions about the Board’s role in local government. 

Policy Update

Assistant Legal Counsel Jeff Christensen presented proposed updates to the policy manual. In the Business Meeting, the Board approved a revision to a policy to align with Utah Code for college- and career-readiness plans and outlines a schedule for minimum individual and group conferences for seventh- through 12th-grade students. In study session, the Board heard policy proposal updates that, if approved, would govern a student’s career/transition to work; eye protection at schools; and tax-increment financing project agreements. 

Pledge of Allegiance

Midvale Stake’s Cub Scout Bear Den posted the colors and led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance. Copper View Elementary Principal Christine Webb delivered the reverence.

Recognitions

The following were recognized by the Board of Education for their achievements:
  • Leslie Jewkes, Principal, Peruvian Park Elementary, for the school’s recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School
  • Stephanie Johnston, Hillcrest counselor, Rookie Counselor of the Year, Utah School Counselor Association
  • Emilee Astle, Alta High, 5A state champion in first-singles girls tennis
  • Lizzie Simmons and Emma Heiden, Corner Canyon High, 5A state champions, first-doubles girls tennis
Superintendent and Business Administrator Reports

Superintendent Briscoe congratulated Corner Canyon High’s girls soccer team for winning the semifinal game in the 5A tournament. He wished them luck on Friday at Rio Tinto Stadium. He wished the community a nice Fall Recess. 

Wilcox said Canyons’ enrollment figures have gone up 227 students over last year’s figures. According to the reports, Alta High is now the biggest high school in Canyons District with 2,309 students. He also reviewed enrollment trends.  He also reported the Utah State Auditor’s Office will be reviewing CSD’s budget and practices to try to determine the actual costs of educating a child. He also reported on the construction fence that’s been erected for the scheduled expansion of CAB-East.

Board of Education Member Reports  

Mr. Mont MIllerberg reported on attending Peruvian Park’s announcement as a National Blue Ribbon School Award. He also said the SCC training was interesting and entertaining. He commented on the neighborhood meeting for the Midvalley Elementary rebuild, and the grant requests that were made by teachers for Canyons Education Foundation Innovation Grants. He also attended the SCC meeting at Midvale Elementary. 

Mr. Steve Wrigley attended the CTE Career Expo and toured Silver Mesa to see the facility improvements. He also reported on the good feedback about the District he’s receiving as he visits neighborhoods in his area. He requested the Board begin addressing a policy governing use of cell phones in schools. 

Mrs. Amber Shill said she is excited for lacrosse to start in Canyons high schools.   

Mrs. Nancy Tingey mentioned the SCC training and the website that’s available as a resource for SCC members. She thanked the Administration for the work on remodels and rebuilds, especially with the tight budgets given the increasing construction costs. 

Mrs. Clareen Arnold is thankful for the robust discussions at the Board meeting about important issues. 

Mr. Chad Iverson asked the Administration to work on a policy regarding students traveling to practice for activities and athletics.  He also has attended Alta’s marching band competitions, the Region 7 cross country meet, and plans to attend the state cross country meet on Wednesday, Oct. 17. 

President Taylor thanked staff members for presenting information in the study session, and expressed appreciation for Wilcox’s work on the budgets to build the new schools. 
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