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 student-athletes from all five of Canyons’ comprehensive traditional high schools are acing serves and exams, scoring points both on the playing field and in the classroom, and persevering through tough quizzes and race courses.  

Twenty-four students who are vying for athletic victories in volleyball, football, cross country, girls tennis, girls soccer, and boys golf also have won honors for excelling in academics. The following have been named as Academic All-State Award recipients in fall sports sanctioned by the Utah High School Activities Association.

  • Cole Hagen, Corner Canyon 
  • Connor Lewis, Corner Canyon
  • Dallan Nelson, Corner Canyon
  • Randen Grimshaw, Corner Canyon
  • Steve Street, Corner Canyon
  • Jordan Falls, Alta
  • Ty Didericksen, Alta 
  • Blake Yates, Brighton
  • Douglas Smith II, Hillcrest
  • Emma White, Corner Canyon
  • Lauryn Nichols, Corner Canyon
  • Jessica Pike, Jordan 
  • Elle Wilson, Brighton
  • Quentin Cook, Brighton
  • Annika Manwaring, Corner Canyon 
  • Kenli Coon, Corner Canyon 
  • Caroline Murri, Alta 
  • Catherine Schumann, Alta 
  • Courtney Ebeling, Brighton 
  • Dylan Zito, Brighton 
  • Sarah Miller, Hillcrest 
  • Sydney Hurst, Hillcrest 
  • Camryn Young, Corner Canyon
  • Kate Marler, Brighton
  • Alexandra Paradis, Hillcrest
  • Cooper Gardiner, Corner Canyon 
  • Mark Boyle, Corner Canyon 
  • Caylor Willis,Hillcrest 
  • Dallin Moon, Hillcrest
  • Daniel Call, Hillcrest 
  • Nathan Diggins, Hillcrest 
  • Zakia Kirby, Hillcrest
  • Grace Poulson, Corner Canyon
  • Mia Affleck, Alta 
  • Laura Lundahl, Brighton
  • Kaitlyn Sterner, Jordan
  • Megan Fernandez,  Jordan 
  • Emily Rimmasch,  Hillcrest 
  • Emily Zhang, Hillcrest
Chemistry is a challenging discipline. There are up to 118 elements to commit to memory and a language to learn for expressing chemical equations, not to mention the math involved.

But Gretchen Carr believes the reason most students find it difficult is they’ve been told it’s difficult. “Chemistry is notoriously hard. But so are a lot of things,” the Jordan High Chemistry teacher says. Trouble is, while some students shrink from challenges and seem devastated by small setbacks, others persevere and view setbacks as part of the learning process, exhibiting what’s become known in education circles as a “growth mindset.” It’s a term coined years ago to describe how some people perceive learning and intelligence as acquirable through hard work, instead of believing we’re born with fixed talents and abilities. It’s also something Carr is striving this year to teach her students along with the Periodic Table and acid-base reactions.

“I find a lot of kids are afraid of failure and they don’t want to go through the learning process of trying it and revising their work, and trying it again and revising it again,” Carr says. “So, I’ve made it a goal to make all students feel more welcome and free to make mistakes without people, including their classmates, coming down on them.”

Teachers have long understood that there’s more to school than reading, writing and arithmetic. So much of what students glean from their time in the classroom, the lunchroom, or interacting with peers has to do with developing the life skills and character traits they’ll need as adults. Increasingly, however, schools are becoming more sophisticated in how they approach these life lessons.  flop2

As students bustle into Carr’s classroom, they’re greeted by a sign that states, “Chemistry is hard. You can do hard things.” It’s Carr’s go-to statement with the going gets tough. Only this year, to help set the tone, she also shared with students a TED talk by Carol Dweck about the power of the word “yet” to reframe feelings of inadequacy.

“Instead of saying, ‘I’m just not good at math or chemistry or sports,’ you say, ‘I’m just not good at chemistry, math or sports…yet,’” Carr explains. It’s a word that can trigger confidence and renewed enthusiasm for learning, and build character-traits, such as the resilience to persist through failure, Dweck and her colleagues have found. The growth mindset, in other words, is teachable, and science is a surprisingly natural starting place.

Iteration is integral to the scientific process, which is an important lesson for students to learn in preparation for college and the knowledge-based careers of the future, believes Carr who has come up with some creative ways for students to comfortably practice observing, experimenting, revising and trying again.

On the second day of school, she tasked teams of students to build Go Karts from a handful of straws, Life Saver candies and some paper and tape. “It was an engineering exercise, and most of the students would call the first running of the Go Karts their great first flop,” she says.

But that’s the point. Initially, students assumed they were racing. But when they learned they would get a chance to improve upon their designs, and were told it was a success if their second design went further than the first — even if by a few inches — that’s when they got excited, Carr says. “Now, when I talk in class and mention the growth mindset, maybe they’ll recognize it’s time to take courage, experiment and not give up.”

Discussing the growth mindset in class is something that happens to be outside Carr’s comfort zone. “I’m no expert in this,” she says. “A psychology or English class seems like more of a forum for teaching this kind of thing.” But she’s feeling pretty positive about the experience and believes it’s making a difference for some students.

It takes some forethought and planning, but doesn’t take anything away from her daily instruction, Carr says. Like any good scientist, she’ll continue observing how different strategies work and make adjustments as needed. “We’ll see how it plays out throughout the year,” Carr says. “I’m sure there are ways I can build on it.”

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.”

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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