The first-ever members to join Alta High’s marching band will be graduating this year — and they’ll be celebrating in a big way.
After four years of high-stepping, twirling and drumming, Canyons District’s only marching band will be taking their talent across the country to represent Utah in the 13th annual National Memorial Day Parade, held annually on Constitution Avenue to honor the men and women who have served valiantly in the U.S. Armed Forces. The parade starts at 2 p.m. Eastern on Monday.
This is the first time the award-winning band will perform in a different state, and they will be the only Utah marching band in the event. The parade is one of the country’s largest Memorial Day event.
“I had no idea we would be marching in this parade,” said Alta bandleader Caleb Shabestari, who led the band to 2A division state championships in 2013 and 2014. “I think it’s cool we’ve doubled the size of the band in four years and we’re taking a trip across the country. We couldn’t have done that last year.”
Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan nominated the marching band to represent Utah last March and the group has been preparing ever since. These days, the students attend practice two days a week to put the final touches on their patriotic program. The songs they will perform will highlight an immigrant’s journey to the United States.
“Just for the parade we’ve probably practiced for 40 hours straight,” Shabestari said. For those who won’t be able to see the parade in Washington, D.C. on Monday, May 29, the band will perform the same numbers at parades this summer in Sandy and Draper.
In June, the Alta High marching band will begin rehearsals for the summer band program, which includes flashy performances in Fourth of July and city celebration parades. The students range in age from seventh- to 12th grades and hail from all parts of the District.
In the fall, the group will start working on their fall competition program, which will feature a theme of air, flight and planes, with completely original music. Students from all over Canyons participate in the District band located at Alta.
“My goal at the end of five years is to have a band with over 100 people,” Shabestari said. “We are well on track to do that.”
His waterwise approach to maintaining the turf on Canyons School District fields has conserved millions of gallons of water. His push to place mechanical systems in “unoccupied mode” when school buildings are vacant, along with heating, cooling and lighting upgrades, has helped reduce the District’s carbon footprint by 45 percent—even with the addition of 1 million square feet of new construction.
For these, and other, trailblazing efforts to champion the environment, CSD Energy Specialist Chris Eppler was named an Energy Pioneer at the Governor’s 2017 Utah Energy Development Summit on May 4. Organized to brainstorm a sustainable energy future for Utah, the two-day summit drew more than 1,000 attendees.
“These are exciting times for the energy industry — times characterized by rapid changes in how we produce, deliver and use energy,” the governor said in a press statement, expressing appreciation for the movers behind innovations such as, underground geothermal laboratories, wirelessly charging electric vehicles, utility-scale compressed air storage, carbon capture and sequestration, and the production of carbon fiber from coal.
‘Healthy Schools’ Steps at Canyons
ENERGY: Since the district’s inception in 2009, we’ve reduced our carbon footprint by 39 percent — or 6,923 metric tons of CO2 — even as our facilities have grown by 1 million square feet, says Canyons’ Energy Specialist Christopher Eppler. That’s the equivalent of taking 10,311 cars off the road. This was accomplished by upgrading heating, cooling and lighting systems in older schools and by placing mechanical systems in “unoccupied” mode when buildings are vacant.
WATER: Canyons also is doing its part to curb water usage; the district has about 370 acres of turf to maintain. With a $15,000 grant from the Central Utah Water Conservancy District, Eppler hired and trained Canyons students to help survey, monitor and adjust school water schedules based on the root zone, type of grass, shade, soil type and evaporation rate. In July 2014, the district used 16.5 million gallons less than in July 2012 and 9.5 million gallons less than in July 2013.
RADON TESTING: Canyons District was recently honored by the Utah Division of Environmental Quality for its radon-testing program. CSD is the only district in Utah that regularly tests schools for radon with all buildings tested at least every two years.
CLEAN AIR: On Earth Day, Canyons became the first school district in Utah to go idle free at all of its schools. The campaign kicked off early in the morning at Ridgecrest elementary school where “no idling” signs were installed and students greeted drivers with placards, informational pamphlets and window clings to place in vehicles. Eventually, signs will be placed at all Canyons schools and “no idling” pledges will be sent home with students, encouraging parents to voluntarily pledge to “turn their key and be idle free.”
The Board of Education on Tuesday, May 16, 2017 unanimously voted to approve a negotiated agreement with the Canyons Education Association for 2017-2018 school year.
The agreement contains a small adjustment to the Conversion Placement Table approved at the April 25, 2017 meeting of the Board of Education. The new, single-lane salary schedule represents the largest pay hike in the District’s history, bumping the starting-teacher salary by more than $5,000 to $40,500, while also funding raises for mid-career and veteran educators. Every licensed employee will see no less than a 4 percent jump, significantly improving their lifetime earnings and retirement payments. It’s a big investment and tangible proof of how much the CSD community values education, says Board of Education President Sherril H. Taylor.
"We have said it before and we will say it again: Teaching is the profession that teaches all other professions," he said. "With the intention of bringing the best and brightest to Canyons District classrooms, and to give teachers a chance to earn more over the length of their careers, the Board of Education moved singularly and decisively to make an important and positive financial impact in the lives of our teachers."
CEA President Jen Buttars also said the association appreciates "the nearly $11.5 million investment in teacher salaries and believes that the Board has truly demonstrated a commitment to not only recruit, but also retain educators."
"The CEA believes that (the Board's) commitment to listening to the concerns of educators, recognizing professional judgement and attending to salary, benefit and working condition concerns, allows educators to focus on their efficacy for the benefit of all Canyons School District students," she said.
As part of the agreement, the District will cover 83.7 percent of the 11.33 percent hike in health insurance premiums that takes effect in January 2018. One Personal Leave Day will be converted back to a Sick Leave Day. Also, under a policy change, the provisional status of experienced transfer teachers may be shortened if they have:
Successfully taught for at least three consecutive years in an accredited school or district
Completed at least one year of provisional service with Canyons District
Successfully met the criteria outlined in GCOA-Evaluation of Instructional Staff (Licensed)
Been recommended by their principal/supervisor for a Provisional Status Exception
Received approval by the Director of Human Resources
Paraeducators provide behavioral supports, one-on-one tutoring, and the extra instructional time and attention that some students need to thrive. These champions of children support teachers and form a vital communication-link to parents.
Schools simply can't operate effectively without them, and to show our appreciation, Canyons District's Department of Special Education each year honors thebest in the business. Congratulations to the winners of CSD's 2017 Outstanding Paraeducator Awards:
Tessa Marrelli, CTAGary Ren, Jordan Valley Kelsey Edman, Early Childhood Carlito Lucero, Accommodated Core Classroom Lisa Hammer, Academic Behavior Support classroom Kendra Plant, Extended Core classroom Bonnie Healy, middle school resource Julie Mickelsen, elementary resource
Canyons School District is home to two 2017 National Merit Scholars.
Eric Jackson of Corner Canyon High and Brian Johnson of Jordan High, are among 2,500 high school seniors chosen nationally for the prestigious academic honor.
To be considered for a National Merit Scholarship, students had to complete a detailed application with an essay and provide information about extracurricular activities, awards and leadership positions. They were judged by a panel of college admissions officers and high school counselors who looked at students’ academic records, including grades and rigor of the courses they completed.
But first, students had to score high enough on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Of the 1.6 million American teens who took the test in their junior year, only the top 1 percent, or 16,000, made the cut. That list was then whittled further to 7,500 finalists.
Jackson and Johnson will receive $2,500 scholarships to use toward their college education.