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June 2020 | Vol. 17 Iss. 06



Editor’s note: with spring sports shut which he almost chose over lacrosse. down, the City Journals decided to highlight “I feel like playing two sports makes a few seniors who played (and excelled) in you better,” Cirillo said. “You don’t burn multiple sports this year. yourself out, so you don’t enjoy it as much every year. Taking a break’s good for you.” hey have been part of two different In seventh grade, Yates played in a lateams. crosse championship game in Park City, but One went to three straight state cham- instead of sticking around for the trophy cerpionship games. The other made a sea- emony, he had to take off down the canyon son-to-season turnaround from 2-8 to 8-3. for a baseball championship game. “It got to But individually, both Matthew “MJ” be too much,” he said. Cirillo and Blake Yates will leave lasting imLacrosse was Yates preferred sport, and pressions on Bengal athletics as star lacrosse as his skill with the stick improved, he even players and key members of Brighton foot- considered dropping football at one point. ball’s turnaround. “But after experiencing (both sports in “Those two are special,” said first-year high school), football was honestly the best head football coach Justin Hemm. “Some of thing for lacrosse,” he said. “Because it almy favorites that I’ve had. I can’t say enough lowed me to learn to be physical, learn to about those two.” take a hit and to put my head down and get THE SPORTS in there.” In an era when kids tend to specialize And vice versa. Yates noted how his in one sport as they grow up, these two kept reading the field in lacrosse helped him as playing the two sports they started in early a free safety in football where you have to elementary days. Yates also skis in the win- watch the quarterback’s eyes and the wide ter and played basketball until high school. receiver’s route among other things. Cirillo also played baseball and soccer, Cirillo, who played wide receiver, also Blake Yates was an All-State midfielder a year ago, he was also an All-Region football player. (Photo courtesy Continued page 8 Blake Yates)


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How will COVID-19 impact K-12 education? By Julie Slama | j.slama@mycityjournals.com


any educators say students’ academic retention will plunge greater than that of the typical summer slide from the prolonged COVID-19-induced school closure — and preliminary research is supporting that. NWEA, a not-for-profit organization that supports students and educators worldwide with assessments and research services, studied what summer learning loss can tell educators about the potential impact of school closures has on student academic achievement. In their April 2020 findings, NWEA researchers concluded, “students will return in fall 2020 with roughly 70% of the learning

gains in reading relative to a typical school year. However, in mathematics, students are likely to show much smaller learning gains, returning with less than 50% of the learning gains and in some grades, nearly a full year behind what we would observe in normal conditions.” While many school districts plan to give assessments to students in the fall to determine the actual amount of reviewing and reteaching that may be necessary, Mathnasium of Cottonwood Heights owner Mila Gleason said the impact may be even greater with students who already are struggling. “Some of these students may not have a structure in place or a support system and are

needed to help with their family situations,” she said. “We may see an increased divide.” That may be from helping care for younger siblings to working to help sustain the family, leaving little time for homework. Students may also not have the additional income needed to attend college in the future or the ability or time to seek out counselors to help figure out college financial aid packages, researchers said. Hillcrest High Principal Greg Leavitt said it’s been a challenge. “This is something we didn’t plan for in this massive way, to have school shut down for more than a day or two,” he said. “It’s a different kind of challenge, foreign to all us, and there’s no way we can deliver the product we normally do. Our teachers are teaching 30 minutes versus 70 minutes in normal classrooms. Some students are doing well and keeping up the rigor. Others we’re trying to keep motivated and learning; it’s a different world right now.” Park Lane Elementary Principal Justin Jeffery said his staff is following up with students who haven’t checked in on a Zoom meeting or haven’t grabbed a packet, with emails, phone calls and even with a certified letter. “We all know this is not the same as instruction in our classrooms, but what our teachers don’t want are huge learning losses,” he said. “We haven’t been in this situation before, but the silver lining is that we all will be better with teaching with technology and offering blended learning. Many of us haven’t pushed to learn everything until now, when we’re forced to, and so we’re becoming much more tech-savvy. I’ve never done social media so I’m finally coming into the 21st century.” Utah’s schools may have an advantage With students no longer in classrooms, educators now question what the impact of COVID-19 online education over other states, Utah Assistant Superintenwill be in the new academic year. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

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dent of Student Learning Darin Nielsen said. “We’ve worked to provide technology to our schools throughout our state,” he said. “We’ve infused money to increase the number of devices and training in distance learning. We have a real emphasis on blending learning.” West Kearns Elementary dual immersion third-grade teacher Daisy Reyes said the soft closure caught her off guard, but her new norm is teaching online from her living room. “I’ve been continuing to read the story we were reading in class, being consistent, so students can look forward to this time every day,” she said. “It’s ideal to be there in person, but the benefit of technology is that we’re still able to make some face-to-face connections through the screen and we are all learning how to use technology more.” Indian Hills science teacher Rachel Afualo said that she had to step up her learning when it came to Canvas. “This has helped me become more open-minded to digital learning and gain more resources as a teacher,” she said. “I can create labs online and use them in the future, when a student is absent. And we can look at the way we’re teaching and discover more ways to interact with students and find more opportunities and platforms to connect with them. It’s a different territory and I’m learning to be more flexible working with it.” Granite School District Director of Technology Chris Larsen said that his school tech specialists and media center specialists have been reaching out to help teachers and parents, helping them learn digital platforms so they can connect with students. “Our teachers know how to teach, and in a matter of days, have taken their curriculum to provide it to students face to face through technology so students can continue to learn,” he said. “We are all making this the




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With students gone in the schools and studying online this spring, educators worry about retention of learning and if blended learning will become more of a norm. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

best situation for families and kids.” Larsen said that more than 20,000 Chromebooks have been checked out to Granite School District families. Murray School District’s secondary schools already are on a 1:1 device ratio, but the District also checked out Chromebooks for younger students. Canyons District also checked out

Chromebooks to families who indicated a need and worked with providers to provide free internet access as a temporary solution to the crisis. This may lead to innovation in education, something many educators applaud, like Summit Academy seventh- and eighthgrade math teacher Natalie Sluga.

“A lot of positive can come from this,” she said. “We can tap into creativity, we can use more platforms, more apps, more ways and ideas in education.” The combination of asynchronous online learning tools (such as reading material through Google Classroom) with synchronous face-to-face video instruction could turn into the new norm, educators said. Butler Elementary Principal Jeff Nalwalker said that now there is different sense of urgency in learning to teach online. “We are making sure our community understands what teachers are doing and doing admirably,” he said. “We had teachers who were timid to try new things, jumping out of their comfort zone to learn new technology. There’s no way to duplicate the experience of our professional instructors in person, but this is giving us an opportunity to look at blending learning opportunities in elementary school. We could see asynchronous delivery and then doing it together in a synchronous model that would allow more in-depth discussions and new opportunities for learning.” Nalwalker also said that he would like to look into checking out Chromebooks to students to use during their elementary years. “Students will have greater access and can empower their own learning. It can become a habit that is integrated into daily routines,” he said. Families also may play a greater part of students’ education, Altara Elementary Prin-

A Viewmont Elementary student holds a sign up during the school’s social distancing parade, letting teachers know how much they’re missed. (Photo courtesy of Viewmont Elementary)

cipal Nicole Svee Magann said. “Families have slowed down and family dinner has returned for the majority,” she said. “There’s more time they are connecting together, playing games and interacting with one another. Parents are stepping into teaching roles and are appreciating what teachers do more and are working together to ensure students are learning.” l

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Utah graduates showered with love in special Adopt a Utah Senior project By Stephanie Yrungaray | s.yrungaray@mycityjournals.com







Page 6 | June 2020

igh school seniors across the Salt Lake valley are sharing a common experience they never anticipated…graduation during a pandemic. Although every school district is handling the end of the year differently, there is no doubt that the class of 2020 is not getting the graduation they dreamed of or deserve. One Utah mom is trying to soften the blow of unmet expectations through a project called Adopt a Utah Senior and teens across the valley and state are being recognized by strangers in a very special way. Monica Kennedy from Erda, Utah saw what her senior daughter Paige was experiencing and wanted to make a difference for all high school seniors. “I was really sad for my own senior,” Kennedy said. “I reached out to family and friends for ideas to get some excitement into this season because I can’t make up for the stuff she’s missed out on.” Modeling a Facebook group after a similar one in Alaska, Kennedy started the Adopt a Utah Senior project which has paired over 2,500 seniors with “adoptive” individuals and families. Parents or legal guardians share pictures and information about their high school graduates, and angel adopters offer to recognize the senior with cards and/or gifts. Once they are paired, the adopter is encouraged to send or deliver something to the grad within two weeks. Kimmy DelAndrae posted about her daughter Haley who is graduating from Bingham High School. After reading posts from other parents she decided she wanted to adopt another senior. “I wish I could adopt every one of these kids,” DelAndrae said. “They are missing so much. I want to let them know that one, they are not alone and two, everyone is rooting for them. The whole thing just made my heart so happy.” Haley helped her mom pick out another senior and together they put together a gift basket for him. “It was a really fun experience to get one and to give one,” said Haley DelAndrae. Luke Vickery, a senior at Alta High School, was adopted by Shalysa Meier from West Valley City. Meier also adopted two other seniors. “Anytime I see a good thing it is a no-brainer to be a part of it,” Meier said. “Not only do I feel it impacted seniors on the receiving end, it brightened my spirits on my end. It gave me something to look forward to and a project I could do to spread kindness beyond my social circle.” “As seniors, it’s a bummer we don’t

Shalysa Meier gave a personalized gift basket to Alta senior Luke Vickery as part of the Adopt A Utah Senior project. (Photo courtesy of Kourtney Vickery)

get to experience the traditions that most people do,” Vickery said. “Everyone is trying to make a difference and [the Adopt a Senior Project] is a really cool way that people are doing something for our class to brighten our days. It’s really cool.” Luke’s mom Kourtney, said she can’t believe how generous people have been. “I love reading the kids’ stories and seeing the things they are involved in,” Kourtney Vickery said. “[The project] is giving people a chance to forget about what’s going on, all of the negative stuff in the world, and focus on other people. It is a bright spot I think.” Kennedy said she was overwhelmed at how quickly the Facebook group grew. Along with a team of eight other volunteers, she is spending many hours a day trying to make sure each senior is accounted for and matched to an individual or family. “There is a lot of work involved,” Kennedy said. “We watch for posts that come in, make sure they have correct information including their high school and make sure they are posted by a parent or legal guardian. We tag them so it is easier for people to find who hasn’t been adopted and answer a lot of questions.”

Kennedy said the stories and pictures that come from the adoptions have been heartwarming. “I love it when they find a common interest,” Kennedy said. “We will get emails with people who want to find someone who plays a certain sport or went to the high school they went to. We have people adopting from as far away as Alaska and Hawaii. It isn’t about getting stuff, it’s about cheering up the class of 2020.” Just like all good things, Adopt a Utah Senior must end. Kennedy said they will take their last senior on May 23 and allow 24 more hours for adoptions to be finalized. The following week they plan to allow gratitude posts. Kennedy isn’t worried about any of the graduates not being adopted because of all of the generosity she has seen so far. “Anytime we’ve gone on and said we need angels to take a referred senior we’ve had so much support,” Kennedy said. She is sad to see the project come to an end. “There has been so much love and random kindness,” Kennedy said. “It’s been so awesome to see smiles on these kids’ faces that have had so much taken away.” l

Cottonwood Heights City Journal

Brighton teacher introduces plants to help clean air during construction By Julie Slama | j.slama@mycityjournals.com


Summer is around the corner and many homeowners ask “Should I Replace or Repair my central air conditioner?” The Pro’s at Comfort solutions can help. Are you deciding whether to replace or repair your air conditioner? There are a few important factors that can help you decide the best choice for your home and family. As we spend more time in our homes during these uncertain times your families comfort and safety should be considered first. Next consider efficiency, cost and equipment life expectancy. Finally, what works best for your budget? SHOULD I REPLACE MY AC? Here are some general guidelines when considering upgrading/replacing your central air conditioner. Most manufactures current life expectancy for your HVAC equipment is 18-20 years. If you have had small repairs during the 18-20 years of running your equipment and your central air all of a sudden stops working. It may be time to look at replacing Brighton CTE and financial literacy teacher Camille Haskan and social studies teacher Steven Guerrero and your AC/Furnace system. With that age of other faculty and staff created pots to hold snake plants in an effort to cleanse the air at the school during equipment repair cost can get expensive and construction. (Pace Gardner/Brighton High) those funds could be better used to replace vs repair. When you consider replacing your imilar to that of what he expects of his Principal Tom Sherwood, who com- HVAC equipment you will likely gain higher students, Brighton High English teacher mends the contractors in their efforts to re- efficiency equipment, reduced operating cost Pace Gardner identified a problem and came duce dust by putting in barriers separating and more comfortable living environment. Ask up with a solution, which is expected to im- construction from classroom sites, said that for details on Variable speed, 18-20 Seer and prove the environment for the school’s stu- when the response to make pinch pots was smart phone controls. A new system will be reliable for years to come and keep your family dents, staff and faculty. greater than expected, he was happy to find a comfortable year round.


“The air quality is gross, bad here with all the construction,” he said. “Plus, with the way this school was built 50 years ago, there aren’t windows so we can’t see the visual beauty.” After identifying those concerns, Gardner learned that snake plants are known for their air-cleaning abilities. “A NASA study said that snake plants are considered better than most other indoor plants as they can absorb excessive amounts of carbon monoxide,” he said. “They are one of the easiest ways to clean air.” Gardner, who is a member of Canyons School District’s living leader program, applied for a $300 grant from the school district to not only purchase the 10-inch plants, but also to buy 50 pounds of clay and some glaze. “I thought it would be a good social, team-building aspect if we were able to make our own pots for the plants,” he said. “This should be a nice, simple, passive sort of way of getting healthier air and getting to know our colleagues better.” He reached out to Brighton art teacher Laura Malan and got her on board, Then, he created a pottery sign-up for a non-student day, on Feb. 28, which 35 staff and faculty immediately jumped on board. “I didn’t expect that kind of immediate response, so the principal found more money so others could participate. I think I cleaned out all the plants on the east side of the valley,” Gardner said.

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way to support the additional expenses. “We are all about making healthy habits,” he said. “Last year, Pace was involved in the healthy heart challenge and involved us into improving our exercise and diet. This year, he’s focusing on air cleansing and even mindfulness and managing stress, as he’s leading us in new skills in making pots as an escape. I think it’s making that effort and awareness to be healthy is absolutely important.” Gardner is using this project to illustrate to his class how “the plants are a simple solution to a straightforward problem.” His students have a similar class assignment where they need to find a situation that needs improvement, research, plan their proposal and follow through with specific actions. “Students have identified the need for a water filtration function, tampon dispensers in the restrooms, a need for a principal pantry for students in need, parking restriping and other ideas. They present their ideas to administration along with solutions so they learn how to take ownership and represent this project and show how it will evolve into our new school,” he said. In Gardner’s case, the potted plants can easily be transferred into the new school’s classrooms and offices. He said students helped to fire and glaze the pots for the staff and faculty, who were expected to receive them with their plants this spring. l


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Continued from front page credited football with improving his physicality. While his lateral movements in lacrosse improved his footwork for football. Both Hemm and lacrosse head coach Chris O’Donnell said how valuable it was playing different sports. While it helps the sports are similar, for Hemm, he said they want multi-sport athletes because of their competitiveness. Which he said both Yates and Cirillo carry in spades. Hemm also pointed out it’s nice to experience different lessons, situations or adversity and “just get a break.” “They don’t need to be specializing particularly in one sport,” Hemm said. “I believe burn out is a thing. Being able to take a break, decompress, focus on something else. I think that’s a huge thing. From our strength and development aspect, we’re not necessarily trying to create great football players, we’re trying to create great athletes.” “I think these guys were great examples of the benefits of those that do play multiple sports,” he said.  THE ACCOLADES Not only did they play multiple sports, but excelled at them. Cirillo, a long stick middie in lacrosse where he won the positional MVP last year, and was named an All-American. He was also first-team All-Region and second-team All-State this past fall in football

Blake Yates is known for always having a smile on his face. (Photo courtesy Blake Yates)

Matthew “MJ” Cirillo breaks free from the Olympus defense. Cirillo was second-team All-State in football his senior year. (Photo courtesy MJ Cirillo)

where he led the team in receptions, yards and touchdown receptions. “He’s just a freak to be honest,” lacrosse coach O’Donnell said of Cirillo. “He’s probably the best player in the state, I’m obviously biased, but he’s probably the

best player in the state at any position.” Not only was Cirillo a threat offensively, O’Donnell noted his stickwork when throwing checks, that he’s a “groundball machine” and is “as physical as can be.” “When you get his physicality in there, he can push his body around,” O’Donnell said. “It’s a force to be reckoned with.” Cirillo and Yates are part of a close group of friends who have grown up together. Yates credited his close friend with

helping form the player he became. According to Yates, Cirillo’s good at everything. “He’s one of the friends you love but hate, because whether it’s the first time he picks up a ping pong paddle or the first time he does anything, he somehow figures out a way to be so good,” Yates said. “He’s got a high IQ for sports.” Cirillo, who is undecided on his lacrosse future but plans to be an orthodon-

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Brighton’s Matthew “MJ” Cirillo is a premier long stick midfielder, having earned All-American status a year ago. (Photo courtesy MJ Cirillo)

tist or in construction management, credited his coaches and his father for turning him into the athlete he is. As for Yates, who plans to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Fiji before playing lacrosse at Utah Valley University, he was first-team All-State in lacrosse a year ago and second-team All-Region this past fall. Known for his constant smile, Yates had a “first step that’s just unbelievable,” O’Donnell said. Early in his high school career, Yates was a bit of a faceoff specialist before really developing into an accurate and dangerous scorer from anywhere on the field. “Which makes him easy to isolate with, he’ll beat you with that first step and put the ball where he wants to,” O’Donnell said. Yates, with his 3.98 GPA, describes himself more as a cerebral player. Never been the fastest or strongest, he said, but can find the correct matchup and use his skill. “He’s really smart and has a good work ethic,” Cirillo said of Yates, adding they put in extra work together outside of practice. THE MERRY-GO-ROUND Both teens were described as positive, energetic individuals and reliable leaders by their coaches. “Those guys experienced a lot, they had three (football) head coaches in their high school career,” Hemm said. “They’ve been through quite a bit. For them to welcome me, welcome our staff, and trust us as much as they did, shows the type of people they are.” It wasn’t just football where they had several head coaches. In their four years at Brighton, they had six different head coaches—three in each sport.

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For Cirillo, he never really thought about it. “I wish we didn’t but it’s nothing I can change. You just have to deal with it and keep playing I guess,” he said before later adding, “and you learn from every coach, even if it’s not just sports stuff.” Yates said it was tough “because you have to relearn their system, but they each teach you a little something else that helps contribute to your game.” THE MOMENTS Four years across two sports makes for plenty of memorable moments, like playing in three straight state championship games in lacrosse. “That’s just a cool thing not many kids get to say,” Cirillo said. Two moments stood out to both players and coaches. In the season opener this past fall against Fremont, the Bengals were losing 28-24 having just surrendered a touchdown with 1:02 left. On the ensuing possession, Cirillo caught a pass in triple coverage before breaking free for a 67-yard touchdown with 17 seconds left that would prove to be the game winner. “That’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life…still kinda gives me chills,” Hemm said. “It was a great moment,” Cirillo recalled. “It was such a cool feeling, everybody started yelling, I got the chills while I was running.” While Yates also has memorable moments, from his 100th point in lacrosse to a one-handed interception in the endzone, one stands out for how its endured. Yates scored a late goal last year against Corner Canyon that would seal the victory, a scorcher that stung the top right corner. In the euphoria of the moment, O’Donnell did the Conor McGregor strut along the sideline.

Matthew “MJ” Cirillo defends against Park City. Cirillo and rest of his senior class played in three straight state championships before this shortened season. (Photo courtesy MJ Cirillo)

“(O’Donnell’s) usually a quiet dude and he went all out doing the Conor McGregor and as soon as I saw him doing it, I started walking towards him doing it because I couldn’t help it,” Yates said. “Blake always makes fun of me for it,” O’Donnell joked. “Any chance he gets, he brings it up.” THE CANCELLATION Perhaps those moments can override the most recent athletic memory, the senior season of lacrosse cut short after two games. After Cirillo heard the news, he said he went for a run. And kept running. “It’s like I was running away from it being true, so I just ran for a really long time,” he said. Now he tries not to think about it. Though he understands why it happened, it still makes him sad and frustrated.

The sadness is compounded, Yates said, because they don’t get to experience senior night nor do they get to realize the potential of a team returning practically its entire offense from its run to the state title game a year ago. “The hardest part is we’ll never know how good this team could have been,” he said. But for O’Donnell, he has nothing but gratitude for them and the entire senior class. And that was his message to them. “I thanked them for what they did: introducing me to Brighton lacrosse, setting the tone for the tradition and legacy that they’re going to leave behind even if they don’t know it yet,” O’Donnell said. “They definitely are going to leave a lasting impression on this program.” l

June 2020 | Page 9

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National FBLA high school conference to be hosted in Salt Lake City rescheduled to online By Julie Slama | j.slama@mycityjournals.com


hile many high school activities, from state debate to spring sports championships, were canceled in light of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, about 500 students nationwide had been looking forward to coming to Salt Lake City, this summer’s host of the national FBLA conference. Originally scheduled June 29 through July 2, the Future Business Leaders of America’s academic competitive event and leadership development conference is considered to be the pinnacle of high school students’ experience who are preparing for careers in business. According to the organization’s website, there are more than 230,000 members who are preparing for careers by becoming community-minded business leaders in a global society through relevant career preparation and leadership experiences and focuses on leadership development, academic competitions, educational programs, community service and more.

However, in a recent update, the organization’s board of directors decided to ensure the safety of student members and volunteer advisers and not hold the conference as scheduled in Salt Lake City. Instead, FBLA is developing an online event that will include a keynote presenter, leadership workshops, competitive events and the annual election of national officers. It did not address if Salt Lake City will host the national conference in 2021, which was already scheduled for Anaheim to hold it. Chicago is slated as the host in 2022. Students, like Hillcrest High senior Emily Zhang, may breathe a sigh of relief she will still get to participate, even though the conference will look different than what she imagined. Zhang has taken part in FBLA competitions for four years, and last year, placed second at nationals in the health care administration competition, which was held in San Antonio.

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This summer, her plan has been to compete in business ethics with classmate Annika Torres after qualifying in the event at the state competition. “Nobody has committed at this point to nationals because everything is undetermined what will happen,” she said before the recent announcement that the competition and conference will be virtual. “We’re prepared. We have everything written, memorized. There’s nothing more we can do, except wait for the announcement of what is going to happen.” Zhang was referring to the March 12

statement that said the organization’s leadership was working in collaboration with the states to develop alternative plans to best support student members in their involvement with conferences and competitive events. Hillcrest, alone, had qualified about 35 students to compete at the national competitive which was to be held at the Salt Palace Convention Center, she said. “We all were just preparing for nationals and then, the coronavirus spread, and we just hit pause on everything,” Zhang said. l

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Virtual County Library available as reopening takes shape By Joshua Wood | j.wood@mycityjournals.com


esidents of Salt Lake County have gone without a lot of things over the past couple months. Some resources and services previously taken for granted have suddenly been dearly missed. One of those resources is the Salt Lake County Library system. Since midMarch, all 18 full-service physical branches have been closed. However, many of the library system’s services have been available online, and its staff members have worked to expand virtual offerings while the community stays at home. “Everything is online right now,” said Sara Neal, marketing and communications manager for Salt Lake County Library. “Limited staff is going into branches to do some

Salt Lake County Librarian Nancy Moos, and her husband, Philip Moos, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Utah, demonstrate how to extract DNA from strawberries during a STEM Friday video for the library. (Photo courtesy of Salt Lake County Library)

prep work for opening the libraries.” In the meantime, and for the past several weeks, librarians have worked to make themselves more available online to the community. They started a daily online story time for kids on the library’s Facebook page each morning at 10:30. The library’s focus on children home from school has driven an expansion of online book offerings for kids of all ages. The County Library has developed programs like its Stay at Home Challenge encouraging people to do things like write a letter to a grandparent they can’t see in person. Kids were also challenged to read a short book in a half hour. “We wanted to help people fill some time and try to take their minds off things,” Neal said. Online offerings have expanded to include access to more books, magazines and movies. People can even get their library card by applying online. “Librarians are not at a desk right now, but they are still getting resources available to the community,” Neal said. The virtual Ask a Librarian service offers the kind of help that librarians typically offer when physical branches are open. People can ask their librarians online for help with research, writing a resume, or how to apply for unemployment. That type of online assistance will not go away when physical branches start to reopen.

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“We are working on how to serve members of the community who might be high risk,” Neal said. The County Library has worked with government officials to plan how to reopen safely. “We are working closely with the county and state,” said Cottonwood Heights Communications Manager Timothy Beery. “We have to take into account our needs and the needs of our neighbors.” As communities work toward reopen-

ing, the County Library has worked on how to keep patrons safe when libraries reopen. Everything from a safe curbside pickup program to properly cleaning materials as they come in has to be considered. “How do you monitor a 6-foot distance in a library?” Neal asked. “We are looking at what other urban libraries are doing to find what’s safest for the community.” l

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“Bar food” is taking on an entirely new meaning at Brickyard Bar. Instead of “bar food” being a plate of nachos or fries that pairs well with a pitcher of beer at midnight, bar food here means made-from-scratch quality meals ordered throughout the day. Owner Adrienne Isbell knew she wanted food to be a staple at Brickyard Bar long before the grand opening. For over a year, she pursued the executive sous chef from Proper. Once she finally got him, he straightened the whole kitchen out and created an unique menu. “Everything is made in house if possible. We go out of our way to do it from scratch,” Isbell said. “The food hype has been for the burgers and wings.” Burgers are Kobe beef and are smoked inhouse. Some burger options are The Utah, The Classic, The Korean, and of course, The Brickyard, which consists of house-ground Kobe beef, fried onions, smoked gouda, bacon jam, bread and butter pickled jalapeños, arugula and bone marrow aioli. The wings, ribs, and chicken tenders are all Traeger-smoked with sauce options like buffalo, Korean BBQ, Texas BBQ, honey habanero, tikka masala and sweet chili. Don’t worry vegetarians and vegans,

Brickyard Bar didn’t forget about you! Smoked cauliflower wings are on the menu, along with a white bean falafel burger available with cucumber, onion, cilantro, hummus and harissa tomato jam. Additional entrees that are only sold after 5 p.m. include Traeger-smoked Turkey Club, Pot Roast Poutine, Chili Dog Mac and Cheese, Spaghetti and Meatballs, and a 12 oz. smoked Prime Rib. On weekends from 10-2 p.m., brunch is served. One of the most unique brunch options is the Biscuits and Gravy Pizza. A house-made biscuit crust smothered with sausage gravy and topped with chopped bacon, cheddar, eggs and chives.   Of course, Brickyard Bar can meet all the alcohol needs. “We have expanded our craft beer menu,” Isbell said. She is “going back to her roots with classic cocktails.” The Brickyard Manhattan is highly recommended with High West Double Rye Whiskey, sweet vermouth, sour cherry, orange bitters, and a Luxardo cherry garnish. . Brickyard Bar has space for everyone. The main bar provides a sports bar atmosphere, but without the noise. Sports enthusiasts can come watch the game, and patrons who didn’t realize

there was a game today can still spend time in the bar without being bombarded.. A garage door opens to a covered patio. Isbell is looking forward to utilizing the patio more as the weather gets warmer. The basement is a different space where live bands can play and karaoke will be held. In addition, the basement is reservable for private events.   Brickyard Bar is located where the old Lumpy’s sports bar was. Isbell wants to make sure the legacy of Lumpy’s lives on within Brickyard Bar. As Lumpy’s was a sports bar, she makes sure to provide the atmosphere and opportunities for sports viewership. “People want to still watch sports here,” she said. Hanging on a wall of the main floor, between two television screens, is a signature from Lumpy’s — a shiny red bike.  Not only does Brickyard Bar have great space and awesome food, it has unique and exciting events as well. Thursdays are game days with trivia, bingo, and comedy open-mic from 9-10 p.m. Friday nights are for karaoke. Local bands will play live music on Saturday nights and one specific local band will play every Monday night. “Mondays on Mars” will include Highway

on Mars, a bluegrass band, playing their own original music from 7-8 p.m. But from 8-10 p.m., they will host an open-mic jam session where people can request songs, sing with them for live-band karaoke, or bring their own instruments to jam with the band. Sunday mornings are reserved for Planks and Dranks. Planks occur first, with an hourlong yoga class beginning at 9 a.m. Dranks are available after, as attendees can enjoy mimosas. There is a $10 fee. All quality made-from-scratch menu items from Brickyard Bar are available to order to-go. Customers are welcome to use GrubHub, or call Brickyard Bar directly to place an order at: 801883-9845. To learn more visit their website at: www. thebrickyardbar.com. l

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Tentative city budget makes adjustments for COVID-19 By Cassie Goff | c.goff@mycityjournals.com

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Page 14 | June 2020

The city’s tentative budget is available to view and for comment until June 2. (Justin Adams/City Journals)


t is budget season! The Cottonwood Heights 2020-2021 tentative budget has been drafted and published on the city’s website. A public hearing for the tentative budget will be held virtually on June 2. Residents are welcome to send in comments on the budget for that hearing before 5 p.m. The Cottonwood Heights City Council will adopt the yearly budget two weeks later, on June 16. This year, outlining tentative budgets has been difficult for governmental agencies all over the state, as the impacts of COVID-19 are yet to be fully known. There may still be future impacts to revenues and expenditures. Revenues based on taxes are likely to be reduced, as well as expenditures due to hiring freezes.


The current draft for the Cottonwood Heights tentative budget accounts for a revenue “reduction for six months, and then a recovery to prior budgeted revenue levels,” said Finance and Administrative Services Director Scott Jurges. Overall, city revenue for the full fiscal year is budgeted at $19,972,750, which will include a $543,245 reduction from last year (a 2.73% decrease). One of the major revenue sources for Cottonwood Heights is sales tax. Within the tentative budget, the city is accounting for a $600,000 reduction of sales tax from the 20192020 budget. This is based on anticipating no new growth and subsequent reduction within the next six months, between July and December (a 9.4% annual reduction). Early estimates show that the city will likely see a $100,000 monthly reduction is sales tax revenue. “The reality is this will be more of a larger upfront impact followed by gradual improvement over the six month period. This could change as the effects of the current financial difficulties are not fully known,” said

Jurges within the budget packet. In addition, Energy Use sales tax is anticipated to decrease by 4.88%, which will bring revenue down to $1,950,000. Franchise tax will also see a 4.62% decrease and is budgeted for $310,000, which is a $15,000 reduction from last year. Class C road funds will see a reduction of $30,000, which will leave that revenue at $1,210,000. However, a few revenue sources for the city are anticipated to stay the same or increase. Property taxes are expected to increase by .63%, which would increase property tax revenue to $8,050,000. Fee in lieu of property tax will not change from $425,000. County Option Highway sales tax is not anticipated to change from $600,000. School District Resource Officer revenue will stay consistent at $80,000. And the Transient Room tax will stay consistent at $35,000. Besides tax revenue, the revenue acquired from licenses and permits, intergovernmental revenue, charges for service, fines and forfeitures, and interest will remain consistent.


Expenditures for the upcoming year will total $17,622,294. “Overall expenditures have been kept as flat as possible due to the current economic conditions,” writes Jurges.   In keeping expenditures flat, the tentative budget includes no increase to market, merit, and cost of living adjustments (COLA) for city employees. If the pandemic was not a factor, the recommendations would have been to increase average compensation for individual city staff workers by 4.3% (altogether $325,000), COLA by 2.3% ($165,000), and merit by 3.62% ($223,000). However, these recommendations will be discussed later in the year when city officials have a clearer picture of the economic impact. The majority of expenditure changes

from last year’s budget include: the Unified Fire Authority (UFA) ($81,556); liability insurance costs ($50,000); city hall maintenance ($30,000); parks maintenance ($15,000); dispatch and records management (Versaterm and VECC) increases ($16,181); Salt Lake County Park and Ride ($6,500); and Mill Hollow and Butler Parks maintenance and water ($130,000). Total expenditures for the 2020-2021 fiscal year includes $10,252,560 for public safety; with $6,074,478 for police, $4,001,694 for UFA, and $176,388 for ordinance enforcement. General government including city council, planning commission, legislative committees, judicial costs, city hall and administrative offices will expend $3,565,219. Capital Improvement Road funds along with Debt Services for building, police vehicles, public work vehicles, will expend $3,691,305. $2,834,914 will be expended on Highways and Public Improvements including public works, storm drains, class C road program funds, and traffic signal street lights. The Community and Economic Development city services will expend $969,601 for planning, economic development, and engineering. Expenses from the Fund Balance will include pavement management, striping, hazard mitigation, police equipment and vehicles, Ferguson Canyon nature and dog park match, and Big Cottonwood trail maintenance. To view the Cottonwood Heights 20202021 Tentative Budget Outline visit the city’s website at: www.cottonwoodheights.utah. gov/home. Residents may submit comments to the city recorder by email at recorder@ ch.utah.gov by 5 p.m. on Tuesday. l

Cottonwood Heights City Journal

More traffic on local trails as residents seek escape By Joshua Wood | j.wood@mycityjournals.com


alt Lake County’s trails have afforded residents a nearby escape from COVID-19 restrictions. While crowded routes have added waste and social distancing concerns, they have also helped grow community appreciation of local trails. Mitt Stewart and members of the Wasatch Trail Run Series still hold out hope for some form of in-person running events later in the summer. Meanwhile, they have taken their popular series online. Stewart has worked on developing an online feature that will enable people to find challenges and trail routes to run, log their times, and compete with others. “The whole reason for doing this is to offer people some connection while we’re not connected,” Stewart said. “We’ll be running virtual races.” To do that, people can look up the race route and take it on individually. They can then submit verification of their effort using their favorite fitness app. Stewart hopes to help people connect as a running and biking community while they maintain a safe distance. Keeping that distance has been a challenge with increased trail usage. “Any increase in trail or usage is anecdotal, but it is clear that our public spaces have been a place of refuge during this time,” said Clayton J. Scrivner of Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation. “Last month we launched our ‘Be Park Smart, Stay Apart’ campaign that is designed to educate users of our public spaces on responsible use according to current health

guidelines.” Stewart has noticed the increased traffic on the trails as well. While more people on the trails can create problems, it also gives people throughout the community a healthy outdoor activity. “A big reason to go out is to have solitude, so that’s been a bit of a buzzkill,” Stewart said. “On the flipside, it’s healthy and good for people.” Stewart likes the idea of people connecting by sharing their appreciation of local trails and their achievements on them. He also thinks measures could be taken to help vulnerable members of the community enjoy the trails. More signage at trailheads instructing people on trail etiquette and social distancing could help, he said. Stewart would also like to see special hours set aside for the elderly to enjoy trails without the crowds. Those crowds have plenty to enjoy, though. “Salt Lake County maintains over 100 miles of trails and pathways,” Scrivner said. “Jordan Parkway, Dimple Dell, Rose and Yellow Fork Canyons, Parley’s, and Utah and Salt Lake Canal trails are the most extensive.” While increased trail use has produced things like more garbage and animal waste bags left behind, it has also helped the community through unprecedented times. “People need to get out and exercise,” Stewart said. “It’s a great way to keep people motivated.” l

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New Canyons superintendent ready to face post-coronavirus education challenges By Julie Slama | j.slama@mycityjournals.com


ith the unanimous vote, the Canyons Board of Education appointed Rick L. Robins to lead Canyons School District’s 34,000 students when current superintendent Jim Briscoe retires June 30. Canyons Board President Nancy Tingey said the appointment comes at an “unprecedented time” as the world copes with the COVID-19 pandemic. That was evident in Robins’ approval as some board members cast their ballots from remote locations in light of the COVID-19 social distancing guidelines. It not only was an unprecedented time in the school board naming its fourth-ever superintendent, but also as earlier that day, April 14, Gov. Gary Herbert announced that K-12 public schools would remain online for the rest of the school year. Robins met challenging questions about the extended school closure after the announcement, by a scattering of media, who were in attendance and could sit in chairs spaced apart from one another. “None of us, any of us, could predict this, or see it really coming, so, yes, it’s a real challenge, one for the ages,” Robins said about the pandemic. “It’s overwhelming for everybody right now, for sure. As I mentioned, we’re in it together. It’s really un-

precedented. We’ve never really experienced something like this. So, I think really the key is to take care of our kids and our family and make sure they’re OK.” As a self-proclaimed optimist, Robins is “holding out hope” that schools will be back in session next fall. “Our families and especially our students are really looking forward to the day they’re back in the schools. Moving into next year, I think really the discussion points will be around the bridge and coming from this situation we’re in right now to the fall and trying to address those gaps,” he said, adding that there likely will be baseline assessments in the fall to do “what’s best for each individual student.” Robins applauded school faculty and staff statewide in helping families during this crisis whether it’s academics, nutrition, support or whatever is needed. “I have full confidence in the teachers and staff of Canyons School District, just like the rest of our teachers and staff around the state. They’ve been amazing in this transition. I see this as a ‘we’ proposition. It’s not educators and parents separately. That’s one of the beauties of Utah; we work together well, and in times of crises, like this, we come together,” he said.

The social distancing passing of the torch from current superintendent Jim Briscoe, left, to the newly named fourth Canyons School District superintendent, Rick L. Robins. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

Robins earned his bachelor’s degree from Southern Utah University where he was inducted to the university’s hall of fame in 2013 after being a four-year starter at quarterback for the football team. He received his master’s degree from Grand Canyon Univer-

sity and a doctorate in educational leadership from University of Nevada-Las Vegas. His 25 years in education began as a history teacher at Copper Hills High School in Jordan School District and he worked as an assistant principal and principal in the

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The first photo together—a screenshot—was taken of the Canyons Board members and newly appointed superintendent, Rick L. Robins, with the help of Canyons School District’s communications director, Jeff Haney. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

videos that student government officers are putting out for their classmates to support their classmates and you know, just a lot of love and support. These (spring sports and year-end) activities for the kids mean everything. It’s the heartbeat of our schools. To me, whether it’s football or the play, arts or the choir or whatever our kids’ passions are, they’ve all been put on hold and that’s a really tough place to be, especially our seniors this year. My heart breaks for them because it’s their last opportunity for most of them.” l



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Alpine, Nebo and Juab school districts. He also has coached both boys’ and girls’ sports. As Juab High School principal, Robins was named Utah’s high school principal of the year in 2012 by his peers. Under Robins’ leadership as superintendent, Juab School District was inducted into the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools in 2015 and the district was honored by the National School Boards Convention by the Center for Digital Education as a top 10 winner in 2018. While the Board welcomed Robins, they also praised Briscoe’s leadership. “This district just got a whole lot better” with Robins’ appointment, Briscoe said, adding that the two bonded as they were both appointed superintendents of schools the same year. Joining Robins at the meeting was his wife, Heidi, who is a school psychologist. The couple have four children, ranging from age 8 to college—including one who is spending her senior year at their Nephi home. Robins credited seniors for the tough year to end their public education years. “I’m so proud of the seniors in every school district,” he said. “You see all the

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Thoughtful gifts for thoughtful students Spring is the time for new beginnings… after graduations. During those events, you might overhear stories about someone’s parents buying them a new car for graduation, or someone’s rich relative flying them and their three closest friends to an island for a few weeks. Depending on how many people you know who are graduating, and how high the expectations have been set for you, buying gifts for grads can be expensive. Instead of spending more money, try one of these doit-yourself (DIY) gift ideas. One of the most common DIY graduation gifts are graduation leis, similar to those Polynesian garlands of flowers, but without the flowers. You’ll need a lot of plastic wrap for this one. Gather the things you wish to include in your lei. This may include snacksized candy bars, gift cards, rolled-up dollar bills, mints, etc. Be very careful as you lay out a long piece of plastic wrap. (Alternatively, you may choose to use smaller pieces of plastic wrap and tie all the pieces together at the end.) Place all your goodies out, side by side, leaving about 2 inches between each item, down one edge of the plastic wrap. Roll that plastic wrap over to trap the goodies in their new packaging. After you have wrapped all the items thoroughly, tie each of the spaces between goodies together. Alternatively, if you’re talented with origami, you

can fold dollar bills and tie them together to create a beautiful flower-resembling lei. If you, or your graduating human, really likes being cheesy (like me, I usually go so-cheesy I approach Gouda territory), you can make small graduation caps to put on almost anything you may think of. You’ll need a circular base, something resembling a lid of a jar or a bottlecap, some parchment paper, a button, and some string. Wrap the parchment paper around the circular base and glue or tape it down. Then, glue or tape a square-shaped piece of parchment paper on top of the circular base to create the top of the cap. Glue or tape (hot glue might work best for this part) a button to the middle of the top of the squareshaped parchment paper. Lastly, wrap the string, (which needs to be tied to create a circle, with cut segments of the string draped through the middle, and tied together to create a tassel) over the button. As mentioned, almost anything can be

capped. You might buy a small jar from your local Michael’s or Handy Dandy (my nickname for Hobby Lobby) and make the lid of the jar a graduation cap. Then you can fill the jar with candy, gift cards, anything your heart desires. You can do the same thing with a lightbulb and use a cheesy saying about how bright the graduate’s future is. You could put little graduation caps on a handful of different candies. You might even attach a cap to the lid of a drink tumbler and fill the tumbler with confetti and the aforementioned goodies. Lastly, you could stick a cap on the top of a money cake: a cake made out of rolled-up dollar bills placed in a circular shape.

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In a subtle attempt to calm me down, my husband enrolled me in a meditation course. I love meditation, in theory, and had a random practice that included meditating in bed, grocery store lines and during TV commercials, but I didn’t have an actual sitdown meditation practice. Now I do. Twice a day I sit for 20 minutes and watch the thoughts in my brain battle to the death. According to Instagram, nothing proves to the world how spiritual you are more than sitting for a long time in silence. The longer you sit, the better a person you are. Fact. So now I’m a super-spiritual Zen person. I make sure I talk about my meditation practice all the time. The more you talk about how you’ve merged with your inner self, the more interested people around you become. They could listen to you talk about your meditation practice for hours. You also need an expensive meditation cushion. Here’s a conversation I had with my husband, who just couldn’t understand the complexities of meditation. Husband: Can’t you just sit in a chair? Me: To be uber-spiritual, I need an $80 meditation cushion so I’m closer to Mother Earth. Husband: Why don’t you just sit on the floor? Me: Don’t be crass. I tried sitting on the ground to meditate. I was in San Luis Obispo at a conference, and I went to the beach early in the morning. I listened to the waves, communed with my inner being and radiated calm as I left the


Laughter AND



Om is Where the Heart Is




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beach to go back to the hotel. As I ran up the trail from the beach, I tripped on a rock and fell face-first onto a wooden stair, nearly breaking my nose and spending the rest of the weekend with a bruised and swollen face. If I’d been sitting on a beautiful cushion instead of the ground, my inner being wouldn’t have been pissed off and try to kill me. Fact. Meditation in nature is supposed to be super-relaxing, but right when I close my eyes I feel an ant crawl across my foot and I have to look to make sure it isn’t a spider because then I have to jump up and scream. The only reason to meditate outside is so people can see you mediate and understand you’re a super-spiritual person. I’m teaching my puppy to mediate with me, hoping my calm energy will soothe her. After 10 minutes of getting her to settle down, I’ll place my hand on her back, syncing our breath and heart rate. Just as I create an intense connection to her heart chakra, she jumps in my lap to lick my face and ruins everything. She’ll never be as spiritual as me. Fact. People ask what I do when meditating. First, I sit quietly on my expensive cushion, noticing the thoughts running across my mind. I spend several minutes trying not to notice the thoughts running across my mind. I achieve two seconds of stillness before the thoughts start up again. Soon I become numb from the waist down. The more numb you feel, the more spiritual you are and the more disconnected from those pesky thoughts you become.


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Soon, I can’t feel my toes and my knees are screaming for help. But that just proves to the Universe that I’m dedicated to my meditation practice. Sometimes I fall asleep and jerk awake before I hit the floor. I expect I’ll achieve enlightenment any day now since I’m so good at meditating. If there’s one thing I excel at it’s doing absolutely nothing. Fact.


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June 2020 | Page 19



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Cottonwood Heights City Journal | June 2020  

Cottonwood Heights City Journal | June 2020  

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