South Jordan Journal | February 2022

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February 2022 | Vol. 9 Iss. 14

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A DECADE OF GROWTH: SOUTH JORDAN’S DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD By Collin Leonard | c.leonard@mycityjournals.com

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n the past decade, the US Census Bureau reports South Jordan as the fifth-fastest-growing city in the country with a population over 50,000. The city outpaced both the state and county, with a staggering 51.8% growth rate. Utah was the fastest-growing state within the same timeframe, at 18.4%, and Salt Lake County experienced growth of 15.1%. The metrics, at first glance surprising, do not tell the full story. The comparisons in the census favor cities close to the 50,000 population mark (for example, South Jordan in 2010). Phoenix, for example, had a much greater numeric increase, but its growth rate as a percentage of its existing population was significantly less than the smallest cities in the same category. These rates do not provide a strong basis for comparison between cities of different sizes, but the fact remains: South Jordan is experiencing an unprecedented influx of new residents. As the city grows, many are wondering how these changes will affect the small businesses, home ownership, education and more. Brian Preece, South Jordan’s director of City Commerce, has held a front-row seat watching the city develop for the past 17 years. “Retail has stopped expanding almost everywhere,” he said. Medium-box stores and office spaces are no longer the strong markets they once were; the pandemic has increased reliance on ecommerce and allowed employees to work from home. According to Preece, “food is the new retail,” but commercial space is finite as developers struggle to keep up with demand. Local businesses follow in the wake of newly built A view of the growing city. (The City of South Jordan) Continued page 4

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Continued from front page communities but zoning appropriately for residential versus commercial space is a complex balancing act. The housing shortage and rising home prices incentivize more residential construction, but Preece says in the past “a diverse portfolio of businesses helped South Jordan weather the recession better than surrounding cities.” The city is running out of commercially zoned land, but some builders are improving the situation. Daybreak, a planned community acquired recently by the Larry H. Miller Group, will benefit from mixed-use zoning to fill tenant spaces with service oriented small businesses. Preece believes the corridors that are now connecting Bangerter with Interstate 15 will also improve the flow to local nodes of commerce. Katie Fagan-Small, a Utah small-business expert, has been helping businesses for 20 years. She believes the new work-from-home ecosystem is driving side business opportunities, which are made more attainable through government funds. Lower interest rates on a variety of small business loans are Above: Still room to grow in South Jordan’s west side (The City of South Jordan) Below: Highland Park in the Daybreak community (The City of South Jordan) there to help current and future entrepreneurs gain independence. Some industries have taken a big hit during the pandemic, and others have grown uncontrollably. According to Fagan-Small, education is an industry experiencing the greatest strains as the city grows, but even that provides opportunities for childcare businesses to crop up. The pool and pet industries are big winners, if winners exist in a pandemic, though most have been hampered by the unmet demand for labor. Fagan-Small and Preece agree there are always things that will need to be done in person, and the service sector is one of the best ways to “Bezos-proof” a business. l

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New business smashes into South Jordan By Rachel Aubrey | r.aubrey@mycityjournals.com

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ith Valentine’s Day around the corner, residents have the option this year to whisk their significant others away to throw axes, splatter paint or smash glass bottles. That’s exactly what owner, operator and South Jordan resident Krystal Williams wants for her customers, the opportunity to experience the satisfaction that her business, Axe n Smash will bring them. Williams opened her doors in July 2021, and has seen her share of couples come through for birthdays, anniversaries and of course, date night. “We have a lot of dates come through here,” Williams said. “You’d be surprised how many people come for birthdays and anniversaries in our smash room.” Not just for couples, Axe n Smash has something for everyone including two paint splatter rooms (for any age accompanied by a parent), two smash rooms (18 years and older) and seven lanes for throwing custom-made axes (ages 16 and older). “We really wanted to bring an activity-based business to South Jordan,” Williams said. “We wanted to bring diversity to this area.” Bringing something truly unique to this end of the valley are the paint splatter rooms. Those wanting to paint don’t need to worry about the mess, there are ponchos, hair covers, shoe covers and eye wear. Customers each get a canvas to splatter paint on that they can take home after. If using the washable paint isn’t enticing enough, customers can try glow in the dark paint. Paint splatter rooms accommodate 2-4 and are the only of its kind in Utah. “Our main goal is to bring the best experience to our customers in every way possible,” Williams said. After time spent with her uncle, the owner and operator of the American Fork location, Williams said the two of them took a lot of time to research what it is that people were wanting in terms of entertainment. The “smash” component of Axe n Smash according to Williams is the ultimate couple’s therapy. For a 30-minute (two or three people) or 50-minute session (four to six people), customers can have at it, smashing glass bottles, old telephones and various electronic equipment, all of which is properly recycled afterwards. Protective eyewear, gloves, face shields and jumpsuits are provided to ensure safety during the chaos. Each smash room comes complete with an Alexa device, allowing customers to listen to whatever music they feel is appropriate for the occasion. “You go into that smash room and rage out and smash to your hearts content,” Williams said. “The glass smashing is people’s favorite part; they find it satisfying.” Last but certainly not least is the axe throwing side of the business. Williams has custom designed axes brought in that are specific to axe throwing in addition to the armory,

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A lz he i me r ’s Sp e c ial Ca re Ce n te r i n Sou t h Jo rda n Dignified Living in a Delightful Location

Clockwise: Owner Krystal Williams wants her customers to be safe, have fun and throw axes. (Photo by Rachel Aubrey/City Journals.) Smash rooms come with bats and hammers for customers to smash to their hearts content. (Photo by Rachel Aubrey/City Journals.) One of two paint rooms where customers can select regular or glow in the dark paint. (Photo by Rachel Aubrey/City Journals.)

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an assortment of smaller metal objects: throwing stars, knives and throwing cards all aimed at providing a little variety for the customers. Axe n Smash is equipped to provide six interactive games or targets to ax throwers, projected onto the soft wood they use, positioned 12 feet away from the thrower. According to Williams, the most popular game is the zombie hunter, where axes are hurled towards zombie heads. While this all sounds exciting, Williams said they take safety very seriously. Age requirements are in place to ensure safety of the

customers in addition to three-strikes-out policy. If customers have to be reminded more than three times of the rules, they no longer get to participate. Axe n Smash’s recently welcomed Mayor Dawn Ramsey and her family to try axe throwing. The recently re-elected mayor shared pictures via her social media. Axe n Smash is available to for corporate events, parties and other larger gatherings. For information about prices and bookings visit its website at axensmash. com. l

A Tradition of Caring Together

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South Jordan runners represent at nationals By Catherine Garrett | c.garrett@mycityjournals.com

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nstoppable: that’s been the theme for the Race Cats programs the past two seasons, based on the Bethany Hamilton documentary of the same title. Race Cats Herriman/South Jordan coach Caisa Brown said her favorite line from that show is when the young surfer— who had her arm severed by a shark—said, “I don’t need easy. I just need possible.” The Race Cats Elite team from Draper learned a little bit more about that concept when they took 39 runners to the USATF National Junior Olympics in Paris, Kentucky, recently. And, amid freezing temperatures, tornado warnings, hailstorms, 40-mile-an-hour wind, the Utah contingent proved “unstoppable.” The 11–12-year-old girls team won the national championship Dec. 11, while South Jordan’s Kenny Briggs, who earned All-American status for the third time, helped the 11–12-year-old boys team take third. “It was an honor that we could go and competed and bond,” Briggs said. “And, I was aiming for my third hat [given to All-American recipients]. South Jordan’s Breelyssa Leeper and Saylor Warner were also part of the 13–14 girls who placed seventh at nationals. “It was pretty hard to run in the windy and muddy conditions, but we kept pushing each other,” Leeper said. “I just kept focusing on my two teammates ahead of me and trying to motivate myself.” “Running in the mud was such a party that brought a whole other level to the race,” Warner said. “It was pretty intense as we were worried about not slipping, but it was incredible and so much fun.” Race Cats Draper head coach Michele Brinkerhoff said: “Every single athlete finished the race, even though some had severe trauma and anxiety from the natural disasters. We are so proud of them. They travel from all over to compete and train together, sacrificing so much to be part of something special. And they are so special and deserve to be recognized for it.” Brown’s Herriman/South Jordan Race Cats team attended AAU Nationals in Charlotte, North Carolina, in early December with South Jordan’s Bennett Kasallis, Davis Kasallis, Quentin Kasallis and Avery Grover competing against the best in the country. “Our Race Cats cheer is, ‘Have Fun! Work Hard! Dream Big!’” Brown said. “We are so proud of the kids that chose to compete at national level meets this season and feel they accomplished all that cheer is about. But, ultimately we hope that every kid in our program (on any of our competition or elementary teams across any of our leagues) learned and was inspired to have fun, work hard and dream big in running and in life!”

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Top, bottom: The Race Cats Elite team competed at the USATF National Junior Olympics in Paris, Kentucky. (Photos courtesy Janica Watts)

Top: South Jordan’s Kenny Briggs earned his third All-American honor at the USATF National Junior Olympics in Paris, Kentucky, recently (Photos courtesy Joshua Briggs) Above: South Jordan’s Saylor Warner helped her 13–14 girls team to a seventh-place finish at the USATF Nationals in Paris, Kentucky, recently (Photos courtesy Janica Watts)

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Briggs, the son of Joshua and Priscilla Briggs of South Jordan, who is a seventh grader at Mountain Creek Middle School, said he runs to clear his mind of life’s stresses and typically logs up to 25 miles a week. “I’ve learned some things about how hard I can push and I can do a lot more than I think I can,” he said. Leeper, daughter of Steve and Becca

Leeper of South Jordan, feels that the sport has helped her tremendously with her dyslexia and ADHA struggles. “Running has let me get my emotions out and do whatever I want,” said the eighth grader at Mountain Creek Middle, who is also a swimmer. “It’s also given me a ton of confidence and I have done so much better in school.” Warner, the daughter of Clint Warner

and Janica Watts of South Jordan who attends eighth grade at South Jordan Middle School, has grown stronger mentally since taking up running a few years ago. “I love how hard running is and how rewarding it is all at the same time,” she said. “I love the finish line. You are so proud that you did it. Anyone can run; you just have to know you can keep going without dying.”

“I hope that through Race Cats we can teach so many kids what they are capable of and how much is possible for them,” Brown said. “Whether they place at a national level meet or cross the finish line last at one of our local meets, they can be unstoppable by working hard, having fun and dreaming big in their own individual way.” l

Left: South Jordan’s Saylor Warner helped her 13–14 girls team to a seventh-place finish at the USATF Nationals in Paris, Kentucky, recently (Photos courtesy Janica Watts) Above, below: The Race Cats Elite team competed at the USATF National Junior Olympics in Paris, Kentucky. (Photos courtesy Janica Watts and Joshua Briggs)

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Donating time: Virtual school’s twist on charity season By Jet Burnham | j.burnham@mycityjournals.com

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ocal high schools had successful charity seasons. Bingham High School students raised $75,852 for Project Strong. Copper Hills High School students raised $87,513 for Make-A-Wish Utah and to provide Christmas for local families. Herriman High School students raised $145,496 for the Nixon Strong Foundation. Mountain Ridge High School students raised $79,148 (with an additional $25,000 from a private donor) for Angel’s Hands Foundation. Providence Hall High School students donated items to provide Christmas for 15 families. REAL Salt Lake Academy High School students donated 380 wishlist items to Primary Children’s Hospital. Riverton High School students raised $194,000 for the Single Parent Project. Summit Academy High School students raised over $8,000 for the Leukemia Research Foundation. West Jordan High School students raised $35,085 for Ethan’s Super Angels. And Kings Peak Virtual High students provided 639.5 hours of service. As part of the Jordan District Virtual Academy, Kings Peak couldn’t hold fundraiser activities like other high schools because students don’t come to the school building. So administrators came up with a service hours drive as an alternative to charity fundraising. “We just wanted to encourage service during the month of December,” Principal Ammon Wiemers said. “We didn't

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want to commit to any one charity. Instead, we wanted to track the number of hours that students were doing, rather than a dollar amount.” Wiemers said the school leadership wanted the students to give of themselves and they felt that the gift of their time was valuable. “We wanted it to be meaningful to the students, and so we didn't want to limit it, so anything that they felt was service, that they did for other people, we counted it,” Wiemers said. “We encouraged them to find some way to help somebody and they found a lot of different ways to do it.” Students reported service hours for volunteering at homeless shelters, shoveling neighbors’ driveways, tutoring other students, cleaning up trash and donating toys. One student and their family spent eight hours volunteering at a soup kitchen. “I felt that the service hours was a fun way to really get involved and help people in my community,” freshman Adynn Jones-Wahlquist said. She clocked 25 hours of service, including offering free babysitting and knitting eighteen hats for the homeless. A school counselor provided materials to Adynn and others to knit hats for the homeless shelter. Adynn said staff members supported students, suggesting service ideas and encouraging them to include their friends and family members. “It made me feel really connected to my school doing service hours,” Adynn said. “It felt good.” The 250 enrolled students reported 639.5 hours of service during the month of December. Rocky Peak Virtual Elementary and Kelsey Peak Virtual Middle School were invited to participate, and the combined

Service hours were performed by Kings Peak High students throughout the month of December. (Photo courtesy of Ammon Wiemers.)

service hours students from all three schools performed totaled 1,153 hours. Wiemers said this month of service will be an annual tradition that will help unify the student body. An environment of positive energy and caring about community is part of the culture the school leadership hopes to create at Kings Peak High. “It's important for us to give back to the community; it's just a good thing to do,” Wiemers said. “And we think that students benefit by serving other people. It's a value that we want to encourage.” l

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Ready for more Bangerter overpass projects? By Justin Adams | justin.a@thecityjournals.com

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esidents of the southwest part of the valley are surely eager to see the construction projects along Bangerter Highway at 12600 South and 10600 South near their completion. But don’t hold your breath, because the Utah Department of Transportation is setting its sights on two more intersections in this corner of the valley: 13400 South and 9800 South. The projects are part of a broader effort by UDOT to upgrade Bangerter Highway by replacing intersections with overpasses and on- and off-ramps. Without the need to stop at traffic lights along the highway, drivers along Bangerter Highway are already saving an average of eight minutes on their commutes (and that’s even before the completion of the 12600 South and 10600 South interchanges). Of course, the benefits of upgrading to these freeway-style interchanges come after a year of construction-related headaches. The projects generally necessitate the closing of eastwest traffic along the road in question, causing drivers to take detours and alternate routes. The Journals also reported last year how the project at 12600 South impacted local businesses. One coffee shop on the west side of Bangerter lost about half of its business as a result of the construction project. Another potential impact for local businesses is needing to relocate. A Texas Roadhouse, for example, previously located near the 12600 South intersection had to move to a new location in South Jordan because it fell within the right-of-way for the project. While the 13400 South project mostly consists of ‘partial acquisitions,’ of neighboring property, the project at 9800 South projects multiple businesses and even some residential proper-

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ties having to be relocated. According to the State Environmental Study for 9800 South, the project would require the purchase of 10 residential properties, as well as the acquisition of three business buildings, which would result in a total of 11 businesses having to relocate. All those businesses are located to the northwest of the current intersection. On Jan. 26, UDOT was scheduled to hold a public hearing for the project at Elk Ridge Middle School, as well as an online meeting the following day (both after the Journals’ press deadline). If Facebook comments are any indication of public sentiment, many South Jordan residents aren’t convinced that the project is necessary, or worth the cost of relocating businesses and homes. On a post by South Jordan City informing residents of the public hearing, many people voiced the opinion that it might be better to simply close the 9800 South intersection to east-west traffic permanently rather than build a freeway-style interchange. Interested parties can also submit an online comment to UDOT by visiting the project’s web page at udot.utah.gov/ bangerter9800south. Comments can also be submitted for the 13400 South project at udot.utah.gov/bangerter13400south. The public hearing for the 13400 South project was held on Jan. 19 at South Hills Middle School. For that project, UDOT is considering three different options. One would have Bangerter pass under 13400 South, similar to the interchange at 11400 South. That would require a significant amount of underground utilities to be rerouted, which would increase the total cost for the project by $22 million.

The intersections of 9800 South and 13400 South (pictured here) are the next in line to be upgraded to freeway-style interchanges. (Justin Adams/City Journals)

Another option would be to have Bangerter pass over 13400 South, similar to the interchanges for Redwood Road or 9000 S. That would be the cheapest option, with a price tag of $99 million. The third option is a hybrid between the two, in which 13400 South would be lowered so Bangerter could pass over it. This is the design that the new 12600 South interchange utilizes. In any case, residents will have a little bit of a break before they have to deal with detours once again. According to UDOT project manager Brian Allen, construction isn’t expected to begin until 2023. Similar to the projects for 12600 South and 10600 South, construction could last nine to 12 months. l

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Learn about notable Utah African Americans for Black History Month By Karmel Harper | k.harper@mycityjournals.com

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ntil the November 2020 elections, slavery in Utah was still legal as punishment for a convicted crime. According to Article 1, Section 21, in Utah’s state Constitution, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within this State.” However, on November 3, 2020, Amendment C, which bans slavery in all forms, passed with 81% of the vote. Utah House Rep. Sandra Collins, who sponsored Amendment C, said, “Our constitution serves as a basis for all of our laws and policies. We need to be clearer about what prison is for and what prison is not. The notion of ‘slavery or involuntary servitude’ should not be imposed on people merely because they are convicted of a crime. By passing this measure, we will assert that slavery is not a Utah value.” Although slavery in Utah was not widespread, some Utah pioneers held African-American slaves until 1862, when Congress abolished slavery in all of its territories. Brigham Young sent three African-American men as part of an advance party in 1847 to clear brush, trees, and rocks to make a road for pioneer wagons. These men were Green Flake, Hark Lay, and Oscar Crosby. Their names appear on a plaque on the Brigham Young Monument in downtown Salt Lake City with the inscription: “Green Flake, Hark Lay, and Oscar Crosby, Colored Servants.” Kristine Murdock, a historian, and administrator for Our Kaysville Story Facebook page, said, “After Green Flake and his wife Martha Crosby (also a slave) were freed, they settled in the Salt Lake Valley. They were members of the LDS Church and very loved in the community. They are buried in the Union Cemetery Cottonwood Heights, Utah.” However, some Utah slaves’ stories were tragic. 1n 1858, when he was only 3 years old, Gobo Fango of the Xhosa tribe in South Africa was given to white property owners Henry and Ruth Talbot after famine afflicted the Xhosa. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Talbots set sail from South Africa to Boston in 1861, where they would join the gathering of saints in Salt Lake City. The Talbots smuggled Fango aboard in a wrapped carpet, but Fango was reported to have provided entertainment and helped take care of the sheep on-board once the ship set sail. After traveling west to Utah, the Talbots eventually settled in Kaysville. According to an article by the University of Utah’s Marriott Library, Fango’s feet froze one year when the Talbots allegedly forced him to herd animals in bare feet. When someone suggested that one of his feet re-

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Green Flake was one of three enslaved African American pioneers who entered the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. (Photo courtesy of Kristine Murdock.)

quired amputation, he said he ‘would rather have part of a foot than none at all.’ It seems that part of his heel was removed, but that doctors did not amputate his foot at the ankle. Years later, a woman reported that Fango would place wool in his boot so that his foot would fit into it and he could walk. He left the Talbots and worked as a laborer for the Mary Ann Whitesides Hunter family, who lived in Grantsville, Utah, roughly between 1870 and 1880. He was listed as a “servant” (likely employed as such) in the 1880 U.S. Census living in Grantsville. Fango settled in the Goose Creek valley of Idaho territory by the 1880s and worked as a sheepherder. However, tensions between sheepherders and cattlemen in the area led to Fango’s murder by cattleman Frank Bedke, who was acquitted. Fango, who was described as generous with a cheerful disposition, dictated his final will and testament before succumbing to his gunshot wounds. He bequeathed half

A member of the Daybreak Diversity & Inclusion club places a sign at Oquirrh Lake for Black History Month. Visit the lake in February to read about notable African Americans. (Photo courtesy of Vanessa Janak.)

of his estate ($500) to the Salt Lake Temple Construction Fund. Nearly 45 years after his death, Talbot and Hunter’s family members could not find evidence of Fango’s membership in the church and thus performed his baptism by proxy in the Salt Lake Temple on Sept. 20, 1930. The U of U article said, “Because Fango was a Black African, he could not be ordained to the priesthood posthumously, which would have made it possible for him to receive other LDS liturgies by proxy. As Louisa Hale wrote to a historian seeking information on Fango in 1934, ‘a Negro cannot hold the priesthood. So [performing his posthumous baptism] was all we could do for him. I, of course, feel that he is more worthy than many that do hold it.’” As February is Black History Month, we honor the stories of African Americans who have shaped this country and state. Notable African American Utahns include

Mignon Barker Richmond (1897-1984), who was the first African American woman to graduate from a Utah college and was a human and civil rights activist, and Anna Belle Weakley-Mattson (1922-2008), an astute businesswoman who was a significant force to Ogden’s growing Black community in the 1900s. Daybreak’s Club for Diversity & Inclusion places staked signs around Oquirrh Lake in South Jordan to honor Black History Month, displaying photographs and the history of notable African Americans. Visitors can enjoy the sights and sounds of the lake while learning more about these exceptional individuals. South Jordan’s Vanessa Janak said, “I think knowledge is power. And I think when we as a community can take even small opportunities to lean in and learn about people who aren’t just like us, it helps us become closer, appreciate others and their differences, and foster a greater sense of purpose and belonging. For everyone.” l

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How some South Jordan residents plans to keep their New Year’s resolutions By Rachel Aubrey| r.aubrey@mycityjournals.com

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he beginning of the new year means the ushering in of all the New Year’s resolutions. The idea of making new resolutions each year signifies that we might want to try a little harder in certain areas of our lives. Setting goals and making resolutions are the easy part; sticking to the goals and resolutions can often leave us feeling disappointed and defeated. Some of the following residents shared ways that they find helpful in goal and resolution keeping. South Jordan resident Jody Treu is a health and wellness educator and has seen her fair share of people making resolutions and not being able to see them through. “I love to help people see that they can set New Year’s Resolutions,” Treu said. “It seems that people write an entire list of things to do by March (or even the end of January), and 98% of their goals aren’t even looked at or realized, and they give up.” Treu said that she is a fan of the SMART goal setting tactic as a means of keeping on track to achieving resolutions. SMART stands for: • specific, • measurable, • achievable, • realistic, and

A new year means new resolutions in areas such as health, wellness, relationships, professional, personal and financial. (Image courtesy of the New York Times.)

• anchored within a time frame. According to Katrina Wagner from Happify Daily, the easiest way to stick to your resolution is to start simple. Wagner went on to explain that goals should hold meaning and allow for compassion and grace for the goal setter. “Giving yourself a leg up on your resolutions is to set goals that are realistic, measur-

able and yes, flexible,” said Wagner. Realistic goals are something that Nancy Tanner said help her to accomplish her New Year’s resolutions. A Utah native, Tanner has discovered that her passions include sewing, home decor, repurposing items, creating memorable pieces and meditation. Her goal for 2022 is to become a small-business owner, selling items she creates. And she has already started taking the necessary steps in achieving her goal. “I now have a dedicated space in my home to work on projects that can be left out for long periods of time,” Tanner said. “With this new space I will have room for all of the tools needed to create.” In addition to a dedicated creative and physical space, Tanner makes it a point to write things out in a journal. Seeing things written out helps to keep her accountable. It’s also helpful for Daybreak resident Keila Mower. Mower is the founder of the Daybreak STEM club. This busy volunteer and activist said the process of writing things out helps her to recognize her main goals. She is then able to divide the main goals into smaller achievements. Each month is a smaller goal that will eventually lead her to the overall resolution. “The idea for me is to schedule one ac-

tivity per month to reinforce my main goal,” Mower said. As idyllic as it is to make monthly goals for the new year, sometime more is required to achieve goals, more time that is. Long-term goals can get a bad reputation in so much that it takes longer than a typical year time frame. Higher education for example takes more than a year, it could take up to four years or more. Communications manager for LiveDaybreak Robert Stroud has been working on his Master of Business Administration at Weber State off and on since beginning 2018. Taking a year off due to COVID has pushed his goal back in a way that was out of his control. “I’ve been doing what I can when I can,” Stroud said. In addition to being a husband and father, Stroud nevertheless has his eye on the end result. His goal is still present his mind. He will finish his remaining classes just as quickly as circumstances will allow. Whatever the tips and suggestions might be for achieving your New Year’s resolutions, it may help to remember how the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg felt. “So often in life things you regard as an impediment turn out to be great good fortune,” she said. l

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City council rings in new year with emotional first meeting By Collin Leonard | c.leonard@mycityjournals.com

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he first South Jordan City Council meeting kicked off the new year with emotional statements by re-elected officials and discussions about new projects in the pipeline. After an invocation prayer led by District 3 Councilmember Don Shelton (attending via Zoom because of exposure to COVID), a flag ceremony led by Scout Troop 3851 and the national anthem sung by Rachael Van Cleave (communications manager/public information officer for South Jordan), the Oath of Office Ceremony took place for Mayor Dawn R. Ramsey and District 5 Councilmember Jason McGuire. Though Shelton was not able to participate in the ceremony during this meeting, his membership on the council began with the start of the term. “I’m grateful for all of our residents, who really are the ones who make South Jordan a wonderful place,” McGuire, who was re-elected to a second term, said.” Both South Jordan City Council Members Shelton and McGuire ran unopposed. Ramsey, moved to tears, began her statement: “As chair of this meeting and mayor of this city, you’re not supposed to cry when you’re sitting in this seat, but my heart is full and bursting with gratitude.” In 2017, Ramsey was the first woman elected mayor of South Jordan. At the meet-

ing on Jan. 4, she said “there are surely countless capable women who came before me who didn’t have an opportunity like this because it simply wasn’t allowed, so I’m really grateful to get to do this work.” According to the Pew Research Center, public trust in government has reached near historic lows. Ramsey echoed this in her statement, saying, “There is such a narrative that you can’t trust anyone in government, that there’s no one who has pure motives or who’s honest. It is simply not true.” She indicated her five fellow council members as evidence of this. The 2020 census has shown South Jordan to be one of the fastest-growing cities in America with a population above 50,000. With this growth comes opportunities and challenges. As the Bangerter highway project at 10400 South concludes, the city of South Jordan and the Utah Department of Transportation will focus on the interchange at 9800 South. The council was presented with an update on this project by Bangerter Highway Environmental Studies Project Manager Brian Allen. One of the major questions yet to be answered is whether the interchange will be an overpass similar to 7800 South in West Jordan or an underpass resembling 11400

The re-appointment of Mayor Dawn R. Ramsey at the Oath of Office Ceremony. (South Jordan City)

South in South Jordan. The public’s formal comment period on this project is from Jan. 17 to Feb. 15. To contact UDOT regarding the project, call the hotline at 888-766-ROAD (7623) or email bangerter@utah.gov. Also in this first meeting, the council issued a proclamation declaring Jan 23–29

School Choice Week and passed a resolution naming Jan. 16 Religious Freedom Day. Ramsey begins her second four-year term with a message of hope, saying, “Our best days are still ahead of us. We have great things to do, great things in the works, great things in store.” l

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February 2022 | Page 13


Two South Jordan middle school students join in Rose Parade inclusive marching band By Julie Slama | j.slama@mycityjournals.com

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wo Mountain Creek Middle School student-musicians had their shining moment Jan. 1, marching in the Rose Parade. Violinist Jaymi Bonner and trumpet player Emma Figueroa were selected to join other teens playing in the Honor Band of America, with the premiere student-musicians in the country. Alongside the two students with disabilities were student-musician mentors, who did everything from pushing wheelchairs to helping them with their music, so these two, and 15 others, could perform. “I thought it was going to be ‘here and there, ‘ just practicing and stuff, but it was cool,” Emma said. The two girls’ involvement came as Mountain Creek started the first chapter in Utah to incorporate United Sound into the school curriculum. The United Sound program partners special needs students with peer tutors who assist and support them playing in their school bands. “United Sound invited our chapter to apply to have student musicians and these two were the first ones to apply and be selected,” said their special education teacher, Karlee English. United Sound partners with the Honor Band every four years so more students with disabilities can be included in mainstream

Mountain Creek Middle School student Jaymi Bonner plays the violin with the Honor Bands of America in the Rose Parade. (Photo courtesy of Jeana Bonner)

opportunities. Since the parade was canceled last year, the offer was extended to Utah’s first chapter to participate this year. The two girls were selected in spring 2021. English remembered their reactions: “Jaymi used her happy cry; she was so excited,” and Emma “couldn’t even sleep, she was so excited. She immediately called and texted all her family and told them about it. She was

just over the moon.” Joining the Utah girls was mentor Chris Seale, a junior at Herriman High. He and another peer mentor from Maryland were alongside Emma in the parades. Two mentors helped Jaymi as well. It was a trip of firsts for both of the girls: first airplane ride, first time remembering going to Disneyland, first time being in a parade.

Before being in the parades, Emma said they were up at 6 a.m. daily to rehearse. “They didn’t actually get the music until they got to California,” English said. “When they got there, they had to start practicing and everything was adapted to what they could do.” The student musicians learned three songs that they would play during the parades. Their favorite was “For Good” from “Wicked.” “They would play that the most and at the very end of the song, the line, ‘Because I knew you, I have been changed for good,’ it was really touching,” said Emma’s mom, Roxy Figueroa. They also tried on uniforms – a red one for the Rose Parade and a blue one for Disneyland – and while they rehearsed, the uniforms were tailored to fit them. While they didn’t get to keep those, they did receive United Sound T-shirts and then were surprised when their bus driver gave each of them a trophy. The group first paraded at Disneyland. They returned two days later to explore the park with family members who came along to support them. It was Emma’s first time visiting since she was 5 and she loved going on the teacup ride. Jaymi, who has been to Disneyland twice before, was excited they got to see “Mickey

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Mouse and Minnie,” cruise through Radiator Springs in Cars Land and see the fireworks at the end of the day. After marching at Disneyland, they got up at 4 a.m. the next morning and boarded a bus that took them to the staging area for the Rose Parade. The band was the fifth entry to perform. With the other musicians, their route took them seven miles from where the bus dropped them off through the parade route to where they finished. Parents weren’t allowed to join them, so Figueroa said she didn’t see her daughter in the parade until the last half block before boarding the bus back to the hotel while enjoying an In-N-Out hamburger that was given to each band participant. While the girls saw some people lined up on the sides of the street, they didn’t get to see much of the parade themselves. They had hoped to preview the Rose Parade floats, but that didn’t happen because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I think they were having so much fun, they didn’t care what anyone else was doing,” Figueroa said. “I saw Jaymi and Emma and they both had the biggest smiles on their faces. They were loving it. It was awesome.” Throughout the week, the girls bonded with their mentors. On a day when it rained so hard the group wasn’t able to perform at the band fest, they went to see the new Spider Man movie together instead, which both girls said they enjoyed. English and band director Cameron Elliott watched the two in the Rose Parade on television, as well as kept in touch with their parents, saw photos on Instagram and checked in with other band directors and friends who were there. “It was such an awesome experience for them,” English said, adding appreciation to the physical therapists at Shriners Hospitals for Children, who donated to Emma a wheelchair with a mount for her trumpet so she could participate. Jaymi and Emma, and 11 other students with disabilities, became involved in the music program at their middle school when their special education teacher met with Elliott. “We were doing schedules and I said, ‘I want some of my kids to take band.’ I literally knocked him down; I am really big about inclusion. I want my students in every aspect of the school. They should have the same opportunities as everyone else,” English said, adding that Jaymi is a studentbody officer and Emma is part of Choose Kind club. “I really want them in band because typically kids with more severe disabilities don’t necessarily take that. So, I said to him, ‘Hey, what do you think about my kids taking your class?’ and he’s like, ‘Let’s do that.’” Elliott had heard about United Sound, so he researched the organization designed to incorporate more inclusive practices. “Looking into the logistics of how (United Sound) worked, we’re like, we could totally do this,” he said, and they proceeded to introduce it last year with the support of the school

S outh JordanJ ournal.com

Above: Mountain Creek Middle School student Emma Figueroa plays the trumpet with the Honor Bands of America at Disneyland. (Photo courtesy of Roxy Figueroa) Left: Mountain Creek Middle School student Jaymi Bonner plays the violin with the Honor Bands of America in Disneyland. (Photo courtesy of Jeana Bonner)

administration. Elliott opened up the class to English’s students, presented the instruments and said, “pick the one you want to play,” rather than “you guys play these few instruments because they’re the most adaptable.” Jaymi picked the violin, following the example of her older cousin. Emma, who has very little use of her right side, chose the trumpet, an instrument her grandfather plays. Then, Elliott went to his students, told them about the organization and said he needed mentors for each student wanting to learn an instrument. The mentors learned how to teach music and attended training provided by United Sound. Elliott said that to teach English’s students music, they first use recognizable images. “For longer notes, we used the word ‘soup’ and on the note head was a bowl of soup. For quarter notes, it’s ‘cake,’ and there’s

a cake on the note head and then for eighth notes, we use the word ‘donuts.’ So that’s how they learn rhythm,” he said. “Once they learn the rhythm, they kind of change in their regular notation; it’s color-coded to pitch so a certain color would be a certain pitch, depending on the instrument.” When learning songs, mentors take their sheet music and write a modified part for their peers. Elliott then types it into music notation software and prints it out “so it looks like a real formal piece of sheet music. They’ll learn the part and we add them into the ensemble. When the whole ensemble performs together, they’re actually playing and a part of the band.” The ultimate goal is for these students to perform with their peers in the spring concert, just as they did last spring. The group starts up again in February, practicing 45 minutes once per week after school.

The role of the mentors has extended beyond learning music. Last year, Jaymi’s mentor practiced with her, even coming over to her house. Every session opens with an icebreaker activity that mentors plan. Recently, they even held a holiday party and brought gifts for their mentees, Elliott said. While the program’s aim is to help students perform in an ensemble, and help mentors to learn more about inclusion, English said it’s about relationships. “It’s really building friendships. It’s about music, but it’s really building that gap,” she said. “As an educator, I’m a champion and an advocate for my kids. So much has changed since when I first started teaching and had to fight for things for my students. Now, we’re finding more ways for them to achieve. I don’t think I could have ever envisioned this opportunity of playing in the Rose Parade for my students. It’s just been awesome.” l

February 2022 | Page 15


South Jordan Elementary students apply knowledge of constitution to today’s issues By Julie Slama | j.slama@mycityjournals.com

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ave there been times when individual rights and the common good were in conflict? People sometimes disagree about what is best for all in the community; describe a situation and how do you think such disagreement should be settled? Suppose a small group of people in an audience gets angry with a speaker and tries to stop the person from speaking; who should the police protect? These and other questions were answered by a South Jordan Elementary fifth-grade class as part of the “We the People” congressional hearing. The prearranged questions were posed by elected officials, school district leaders and others serving in the community, who, along with parents, served as judges for the students answering the questions. “We the People” is part of a national curriculum where secondary students can compete at a state level, and high school juniors could advance to a national level. At the elementary level, the students compete at the school level. These fifth-graders were able to delve deeper into the framing of the U.S. constitution and government after having a recent hands-on activity in the House of Representatives in the Utah capitol on presenting, debating, amending and passing mock bills. “The timing of the two programs really coincided to give students a good sense of how and why our government works,” said their teacher Diane Witt-Roper. “It’s a good culminating activity.” The mock congressional hearing begins with students competing on four different teams: Each team addressed a different unit they have studied in their textbook, with topics ranging from the purpose of government to the responsibilities of citizens. At the congressional hearing, students present prepared statements before being questioned. For example, Team Washington talked about the need for a constitution and how people benefit from the common good. Then they were asked if common good or individual rights is more important, and how can each person serve the common good? Each team had about 15 minutes to present as well as answer questions. The judges – the mayor, the school board president, a school district administrator, the principal, a police officer and a state school board association president-elect – took note of their understanding and reasoning, their constitutional ap-

Page 16 | February 2022

After the mock congressional hearing, Mayor Dawn Ramsey takes time to congratulate the students on their understanding of the government. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

plication, their supporting evidence and their responsiveness. Principal Bev Griffith, who served as a judge for her second time, said she appreciates being part of this program. “To be part of it is really fun – to see how much the students learn and apply reasoning to the questions that we asked,” she said. “They really had to learn it and they could bring in that experience they had at the legislature.” Jordan Board of Education President Tracy Miller, who joined the students at the capitol and was a mock congressional hearing judge, said that these experiences broaden and deepen students’ knowledge. “We the People is such a good program to help students understand how government works and apply that to what’s going on today,” she said. “They’re making connections and it was good to hear what their opinions are and to understand their thinking. For example, when asked about individual rights versus common good, they said we have to find the right balance for individuals and society and gave examples. So, it was impressive to hear them think through it and debate as it is something we have to face all the time.”

Current topics came up, from wearing masks and getting COVID-19 vaccinations to establishing and contributing to food pantries to freedom of expression. Students addressed questions of voting, everything from should the voter age be changed, to voter responsibility, to Mayor Dawn Ramsey asking how to encourage more citizens to vote, citing the last city election only had 13,000 votes of the 48,000 registered voters, to which the reply was to make a YouTube video. “I love getting a fifth-grade perspective about what leaders can do to get people involved and excite them,” she said. “They all have opinions and ideas, and good ideas. We need to remember just because they’re young, they shouldn’t be discounted. These students are smart. They acknowledged that the decisions that need to be made can be easy and hard. Every time I’m a part of this, I learn how passionate our students are about the government today, and I am reminded that they have an outstanding teacher and that we just have really good educators working hard to teach our kids. and how good our educators are. I wish this program was in every school for every fifth-grader in America.” l

S outh Jordan City Journal


Elk Ridge students get glimpse of possible future jobs on career day By Julie Slama | j.slama@mycityjournals.com

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lk Ridge seventh-grader Bailey Harris learned about what a family lawyer does and the schedule a lawyer keeps. “I found it interesting,” she said, adding that by listening to Kimberly Hansen, it may have gotten her interested in studying law as a career. That was the hope of the career day organizers. “If kids can see the connection between school and their future career, they’ll become more engaged and motivated,” said counselor Alishia Huefner. “That excitement can start with a glimpse of a career.” Bailey also learned about careers in the banking industry, where she was surprised to learn people can begin in the field at age 18. Career and technical education teacher Megan Rees said that the Cyprus Credit Union representative Wendy Buckner explained not only positions in the company and how people can work their way up, but she also explained to students how they can open their own accounts. The representative also showed a video of their nearby credit union, which made a connection with students. “The kids asked a lot of questions; I loved that she told them they use Microsoft and not Google Docs,” said Rees, appreciating knowing what she is teaching students about the cloud not being secure is in alignment with the industry, especially when dealing with financial documents. “It’s good that students are seeing real-life application. We focus on core subjects, but in the long term, it’s the electives that will support our families and so it’s good for them to learn how the core subjects apply to their electives and how we are making that connection to industry.” Rees said that the college and career and technical education teachers had parents volunteer in four different fields: law, finance, medical and using computers with family ancestry. Seventh-graders Olivia Condie and Brandon Morris both said they’d prefer careers in family ancestry over dental hygiene. “I learned to really brush my teeth; the pictures were so gross of those who didn’t,” Olivia said. Dental hygienist Lisa Ashby shared with students her typical work schedule, the average salary of individuals in her field and the classes that helped her reach her career goals. She also explained some of the transferable skills she has gained, such as working with X-ray equipment and computers. She told students how important social skills are in her position, that she needs to be able to communicate and interact with all of her patients. The students were especially intrigued to see some of the X-rays Ashby brought, ranging from a broken tooth to mouth cancer. Nearby, other students learned about the origin of their first or last name and where in the world it is common through family an-

S outh JordanJ ournal.com

cestry presented by Devin Ashby. They also learned about what was happening at the time they were born. For many, it was 2009, when gas cost $2.35 per gallon and the LA Lakers won the NBA title. “The family history was cool,” Olivia said. “You could learn about your family’s past; it’s a career I’ve never thought of before.” Brandon added that although he may want to become an innovator or lawyer, he found the presentations “awesome.” “They really were descriptive about what they do, why they enjoy it, and showed or demonstrated to us what they do,” he said. Career and technical education teacher Angela Hardy said students regularly do surveys to identify their interest and potential careers, but that having presenters come share their careers was “fantastic. The students were really engaged. We can expose them to as many careers as possible, but if this sparks an interest, they’ve directly made a connection with someone in the industry and are hearing about the career first-hand.” Career day extended to eighth- and ninthgrade students as well. Eighth-grade students set up their own job shadows in a career that interested them, Huefner said. Those included shadowing a fire training captain, a jeweler, a bank manager, an accountant, a small business owner, a sales manager, a judicial assistant, a teacher and more. Some students opted to learn about classes at the Jordan Academy for Technology and Careers, which will lead to other careers. “We had a student who was just fascinated about attending class in the vet assistant program,” Huefner said, adding that the student observed some surgeries. “In a previous year, we had a student do the job shadow in heavy-duty diesel mechanics there and came in the next day and said, ‘yesterday changed my life.’ He found that connection and it made a huge impact.” She said that often once that connection is made, students’ interest in school and attendance improve, as do their grades. Part of the assignment also required eighth-grade students to write thank-you notes to those they shadowed. Ninth-graders typically listen to a panel of JATC students share with them about their classes so they know their options as they approach high school. This year, they watched a short video survey of the classes, then attended presentations of four of their top choices. “This way, every kid learned about every program in 10 minutes, but then they got more in-depth with their top four,” Huefner said. Programs included aviation, EMT and fire science, horticulture and landscape architecture and nail technician. In January, ninth-grade students took part in mock interviews as part of their college and career preparation. l

Dental hygienist Lisa Ashby told seventh-graders about her job during Elk Ridge Middle School’s career day. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

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February 2022 | Page 17


Family tradition: South Jordan mother, four children all St. George Marathon finishers By Julie Slama | j.slama@mycityjournals.com

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n 1982, when 9-year-old Anne Simmons ran the St. George Marathon, little did she know she was starting a family tradition. “I never dreamed that it would turn into every single one of my kids wanting to be part of that experience,” she said. This past fall, her 10-year-old son, Rush, ran the 45th annual St. George Marathon, being the last of his siblings to complete the tradition, most of them as fourth-graders. “I didn’t ask him or any of them. They came to me and said, ‘I want to do this.’ And that’s ultimately what kept them going. It was their decision, not mine, and that’s what kept them motivated,” Simmons said. “When we’re done, we are just so excited and proud of each other.” Rush said he was excited to run a marathon. “I wanted to run it because all my other siblings ran marathons when they were about my age; I’m a person that has lots of energy and I like to get it out,” Rush said. Despite feeling sick during the race, Rush completed the marathon, ninth in his age group of 14 and under, with a time of 5:34. He placed 2,816th overall or 1,605th in males.

“It felt like so much joy. I can’t really explain it, but once you finish that finish line, it’s like boom, six months of training and I did it,” he said. Rush said that it was the story of his uncle not finishing the marathon when he was eight that kept him motivated. “He only got to mile 19 before an ambulance picked him up. He couldn’t finish it and I really wanted to,” Rush said. “I almost threw up at an aid station (stationed toward the end of the course) and a girl sat me down and said, “I’m going to call one of my people to pick you up.’ I literally yelled at her, ‘No, you don’t’ and I just ran off. I wanted to finish.” After the race, he took his medal to school to show his class. “His teachers at Monte Vista Elementary didn’t know about it so a lot of them were like, ‘are you sure you ran 26 miles?’” his mother said. Also running the marathon were two cousins in Rush’s age group an uncle and an aunt, making it a true extended family marathon. With each of her kids, Simmons has trained alongside them and run in the same marathon. “I was able to keep up with each of

my daughters for probably the first 15 miles and then they would leave me,” she said. “My 14-year-old son was way too fast. I never was with him at all. And even my youngest this past marathon, I never could keep up with him either. It was, ‘I’ll see you at the finish line.’” During the race, Simmons said adrenaline kicks in. “The first 15 miles is actually easy. I remember (daughter) Ava saying, ‘oh, I feel great.’ It’s about mile 20, where you’re like ‘wow, this is new territory’ because often times, you don’t train past 20 miles and you have six more,” she said. It’s around that distance in the St. George Marathon where people are allowed to line the course and cheer. “Luckily, every year we’ve had family members make that drive and they’ll meet us. Rush said that it was such a boost for him to see his family,” she said, adding that they are able to track runners on the course to see where they are. “At that point, you’re almost in town and it’s always nice to have people cheering you on the last six miles, when it gets the hard-

est.”

Ava said she was glad she was cheering as Rush ran by her and remembered thinking, “’Thank God I wasn’t doing this.’ I don’t know how I did it when I was 10.” Even so, Ava said that although she liked cheering people on, she also likes “being the one that has big accomplishment.” Simmons said with each of her kids, they trained for the 26.2 miles. For Rush, it began last spring. “We just would start out with low mileage, running to school, a couple miles. Then, we’d gradually increase our mileage until we could get up to like 20 miles. By then, they knew how it feels to run for hours and hours,” she said, adding that they’d also prepare by doing half-marathons. Rush said it wasn’t easy. “At the beginning, I was like, ‘I don’t want to wake up early to run to school, because I always ride my scooter to school. So that was hard,” he said. “I remember thinking that mile-and-a-half was hard and

Anne Simmons, seen here at age 9 running the St. George Marathon, started the family tradition of marathon running. (Photo courtesy of the Simmons family)

Page 18 | February 2022

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now, running five miles is easy.” Simmons, who grew up in Southern Utah, said she got into running when she realized she was the fastest runner in her elementary school class. “I could beat all the boys, so I thought I was really fast,” she remembered. “My teacher would say, ‘OK, everybody out and run around the school’ and I would beat everybody.” She was encouraged by her dad, who had his doctorate in physical education and was into running. “He said, ‘well, maybe you should start running’ so he took me to my first 5K in Zion National Park and I came in the first woman overall. I was probably 8. So, I got this confidence of running to school, which was about two miles, then doing a 10K and then a half-marathon. For the marathon, I trained with my brothers and my dad, but then he got into a motorcycle accident two weeks before the marathon and couldn’t run with us.” Simmons said she finished the St. George Marathon fourth in her age group with a time of 4 hours 43 minutes. After that, she ran track in high school and some 5Ks, but she never thought about running another marathon until she had children. Fast forward to 2013, when her then 9-year-old daughter Ellie, now a Bingham High senior, decided she wanted to run a marathon. “Ellie knew I ran my first marathon when I was 9, so she was like, ‘I want to do that too,’” she said. Ellie ran the St. George Marathon twice, the second time finishing first in her age group as a 12-year-old, when her sister, Ava was a fourth-grader, ran her first marathon and finished fourth in the 14 and under age group. Ava now is a ninth-grader at South Jordan Middle. The two girls’ accomplishments were celebrated at Jordan Ridge Elementary in the school newsletter. Ava remembers running those 26 miles in just over five hours. “It was super challenging for me,” she said. “I would train with my mom and sister, and I really liked that. When I finished, I was really proud of myself.” After his two sisters ran marathons, their then 14-year-old older brother, CJ, who just graduated from high school last spring, ran the St. George Marathon, clocking in at 3:45, the fastest time for the Simmons family. He finished second in his age group. “His assistant principal (Tim Heumann) told him if he could run the marathon in under four hours, he would give him a pair of SoJo (middle school) socks — and he did,” she said. “We were going to run it again the next year, but then CJ tore his ACL so he couldn’t run it again. So, we dropped out. My big thing is I don’t like running marathons unless I’m building a relationship at the same time.”

S outh JordanJ ournal.com

Clockwise: Ten-year-old Rush Simmons, a Monte Vista fourth-grade student, became the fourth and last of Anne Simmons’ children to complete running the St. George Marathon. (Photo courtesy of the Simmons) Ava Simmons, a ninth-grader at South Jordan Middle, was a fourth-grader when she ran her first marathon, and finished fourth in the 14 and under age group. (Photo courtesy of the Simmons family) Bingham High graduate CJ Simmons ran the St. George Marathon as a 14-year-old, clocking in at 3 hours 45 minutes. (Photo courtesy of the Simmons family)

Rush said the training runs were fun alongside his mom. “It was always fun because my mom, when she’s working, she’s on a lot of calls, so I get to talk to her a lot when we’re running together,” he said. That is something she has cherished as she has been on training runs alongside each of her children. “What comes with training for a marathon is mental toughness. You have to push through so much like I’m so tired, my feet hurt, it’s so hot. With every one of my kids, I had conversations in training on route about how negative energy can suck the air away. I had that opportunity to encourage them to push through hard things,” she said. “The common takeaway from the whole family is confidence. They will all tell you that running a marathon has helped them believe they can do anything.” That has translated into school as “they are all straight A students and leaders at school. Both Ellie and Ava are studentbody officers and my youngest, he’s in Chinese dual immersion and Chinese is really hard, so he has used those skills to push through it. They’ve all learned how to

work hard, but they’ve gained confidence and keep going,” Simmons said. Ava agrees. “It definitely taught me that I can do hard things and that when I want to give up, I shouldn’t because the end result is really satisfying,” she said. Running with Rush, Simmons completed her seventh St. George marathon, narrow-

ing in on the marathon’s 10-year club, which hasn’t been a goal, but she said may become a possibility. “I don’t know if I will; it’s not really on my radar right now,” she said. “If it happens, it’ll happen because it just naturally does if my kids or their cousins want to run it again and I’ll be right there training with them.” l

February 2022 | Page 19


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South Jordan Elementary’s new principal to focus on engaging all students By Julie Slama | j.slama@mycityjournals.com

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ryce Eardley is OK to shave his head or ride around the school on a tricycle. “I’m a principal that wants to be very interactive with the students as much as possible so I’m not afraid to do some silly things if it motivates them to read more minutes,” he said. “I really am all about building relationships, being a positive influence in the lives of students.” The new South Jordan Elementary principal started in January, after former principal Bev Griffith moved to the Jordan School District office to become the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Specialist over federally allotted funding. Eardley, who recently oversaw Dugway school, which served kindergarten through high school seniors, has 21 years in education, in Utah, Craig, Colorado, and his hometown of Baker, Oregon. He mostly taught his passion – history – which he also incorporates into his career by researching why history isn’t included in the testing of core curriculum standards. “I really fell in love with history itself. When I was younger, I really loved reading a lot of nonfiction books, especially about history. I had a teacher in high school that I just loved going to his class, and he really made history come alive for me. Because of those reasons, I just wanted to become him and emulate him so much. That’s kind of what started me on the path. But once I got into it, I found that there was so much more to education than just history,” said Eardley, who roots for the Yankees because of their rich history. While he has taught in the middle school, has experience as an administrator in primary and secondary levels and has been a district technology director,Eardley has a soft spot for the younger grades. “They’re excited about their teachers and all the faculty so that’s always a fun thing. I have a love for the academic side of elementary level; I have a love of reading and literacy and helping students on the basic levels of literacy. Trying to get our students to be able to learn how to read is really something that’s a passion for me,” he said. “ Eardley said that reading is a basic necessity for life. “It is the most essential building block of learning, that if we are not able to successfully read at just the basic level, especially once you get up to some of the higher levels, you’re going to struggle in so many other aspects. So making sure that a student starts off with a solid foundation of reading literacy, that they’re able to read at their grade level, they’re going to then find so much more success in the years to come,” he said. “I really love teaching students and helping them become successful.” Eardley’s first impressions of South Jordan Elementary included noting “We have a

New South Jordan Elementary Principal Bryce Eardley introduces himself to kindergartners during his first week at the school. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

very strong faculty who are very passionate about their students and about the learning that goes on here.” After getting to meet students and learning about the school, he wants to celebrate what is going well and “then talk to them about some of the ideas that they have on what we can do to improve. I looked at (student) scores, they’re already doing well, but there’s always room for improvement. One of the things that I’ve always tried to do in every school that I’ve gone to as an administrator is to really focus on and make sure that we’re trying to reach every student and to look at the ways we teach, the way we interact, the way that we lesson plan, the way we ask questions, that we look for responses in which we are making sure that every student is learning and that we don’t have anyone that’s left behind, that we are checking for understanding from everybody. The more that we can do that, the more we’re going to find success.” While Utah has been his home for quite a few years, it’s only recently he moved to the Salt Lake Valley. He often escapes on a mountain trail or heads off fishing when he isn’t cheering for Brigham Young University or the Utah Jazz. He’s finding his home now at South Jordan Elementary — somewhere Griffith has been fond of for the past two years. Griffith’s first day at South Jordan Elementary was a rare snow day. “The students loved me with the first day of school, but then that spring, the world shut down with COVID,” she said, then added “Students thought shutting down a school for one day is good, but shutting down for the rest of the school year was not so good.” Even with the pandemic continuing through most of her tenure, the highlight of her time as South Jordan Elementary’s principal

was the relationships and the impact she had on students and faculty. “I’m missing the students – big time,” Griffith said. “One of the things I wanted to implement was Battle of the Books and the PTA saw the activity last year and loved it. They’ve taken over the activity, so it’s been really fun to see. I remember the kids were nervous about doing it at first. Then afterwards, some kids were telling me that they wouldn’t have read some of the books because they have boring covers or whatever, but now they love them. It’s been great to see kids learning and encouraging them to learn. The students are so involved in activities like the spelling bee, the musical, We the People, their recent experience to go to the legislature — all these experiences where they’re getting to be involved and learn.” In addition to helping faculty roll out some new curriculum, she worked with teachers to identify how and why students struggle with their learning. “Teachers would come and say the students are struggling and I would say, ‘Well, what specifically are they struggling in?’ Then it was teaching them how to diagnose reading difficulties or math difficulties and what to do about that,” Griffith said. “I look back on the two years and think, ‘Wow, we did accomplish a lot.’” Other administration mid-year changes in South Jordan public schools include Bingham High Assistant Principal James Groethe named as South Hills Middle principal; and Aspen Elementary and Terra Linda Elementary administrative intern April Thompson transferring to Elk Meadows Elementary and Monte Vista Elementary, replacing Assistant Principal Baylee Lansford, who is assuming those duties at Blackridge Elementary and Foothills Elementary. l

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Bingham girls wrestling ready to grapple for a chance at state By Brian Shaw | b.shaw@mycityjournals.com

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cross the state, she can now grapple her way to a state championship too, thanks to the Utah High School Activities Association decision in 2021 to sanction girls wrestling. Females no longer need to wrestle on boys teams in Utah. Bingham High School has taken advantage of the new ruling, and now has two all-star wrestlers to brag about as well. Mailien Tran has been a machine on the mat. The 105-pounder currently has an 11-1 record, her only blemish coming at the All-Star Duals at which she lost to Tenley Jones of Morgan by fall at 2:38. Tran was one of two Bingham representatives on the Class 6A all-star team. The other Miner on the 6A allstar team was Mikaylee Stitcher. The 190-pound senior, who has a 9-4 record at press time, lost by fall to Canyon View’s Talisa Matakaiongo three minutes and 31 seconds into the match. The Miners have had a number of other very successful girls wrestlers this year. Angela Van Girls wrestling is now Valkenburg currenta sanctioned sport in ly has an 11-3 record Utah as of 2021. (File going into February photo City Journals) while Alexis Smith is 10-4 overall. Bingham is currently ranked eighth in Class 6A—good enough to place the Miners in Division A as they get ready for the Utah State Championships Feb. 18-19 at Utah Valley University in Orem. First up for the Miners, however, is the Division Tournament Feb. 4-5 at Westlake High School. Smith finished fourth in the 136-pound category at last year’s state championships while Van Valkenburg is a returning bronze medalist at 140. Stitcher, however, will be moving up to 190 from the 170-pound category she competed in at state last year—where she finished fourth. Meanwhile, Tran may have the opportunity to appear in her first state championships depending on how she and her teammates do at the upcoming Division Tournament. Across the country 32 states have now sanctioned girls wrestling, however, this trend has only occurred very recently. As of 2018, however, only six states had: Hawaii was the first in 1998 and Texas followed suit in 1999. It wouldn’t be until 2007 that another state sanctioned girls wrestling, when Washington did. California became the fourth state to do so in 2011, and Alaska and Tennessee were the fifth and sixth states in 2014. l

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Bingham hires new head football coach after Dave Peck retires By Brian Shaw | b.shaw@mycityjournals.com

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hen Dave Peck returned as Bingham High School head football coach, it was hard to know at the time how long he might stay. It turns out that Peck’s time back at the place where he won multiple state championships and region titles would be short. Peck stepped down in December and now the Miners have hired someone to try and follow a legend. Eric Jones was named the Miners new head football coach recently. He knows he faces the unenviable task of trying to be the equivalent of what some might think is a garage band following The Beatles at the Rose Bowl. “Wow, what a privilege and honor it is to follow Dave Peck and the winning tradition he’s built at Bingham,” Jones said. “He’s obviously a great coach who was able to assemble high quality coaching staffs while getting the most out of the talented athletes who consistently pour through the doors of Bingham High.” Make no mistake, however, Jones himself comes from an impeccable coaching pedigree. The new Bingham head coach Jones has learned this craft under Fred Fernandes, who is of course known as the architect of arguably one of the, if not the most successful, high school football programs in the 1990s and 2000s at Northridge High School in Layton. “I’ve watched all the work that [my uncle and] Coach Fernandes put into being head coaches for 16 years,” said Jones. “It’s a challenging profession. I’ve been content being an assistant for a long time. But there’s a small handful of premier football jobs in Utah that everyone keeps their eyes on. When Coach Peck announced his retirement, I decided to apply. I thought my application would be a long shot but one I would’ve regretted not taking. The fact that it worked out in my favor is a dream come true.” Jones played at Roy and at Weber State University, walking on to and making the Wildcats team as a linebacker, where he played from 2001 to 2005. Following his graduation from Weber State Jones started working as an assistant and teaching math at Woods Cross and Syracuse high schools before joining Fernandes’ staff at Roy, where he’s coached on Fred’s staff there as a defensive coordinator and has taught math for more than a decade. “I am extremely humbled and excited to have the opportunity to work with the kids and community who make Bingham the amazing school that it is,” said Jones. “For this to be my first head coaching job

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Eric Jones was named the Miners new head football coach. (Photo courtesy Eric Jones)

after 16 years as an assistant seems surreal. I’m so fortunate that Principal [Rodney] Shaw and his committee selected me from a pool of great candidates.” Casey Miller, who is currently the head football coach at Cottonwood High and played at Cyprus High for the legend Peck, said he thinks Jones is the right man for the Bingham job. “Eric is an awesome guy who went to Weber State with my sister,” Miller said. “Awesome coach, and has learned from one of the best up at Roy the past decade.” To give you an example of what to expect here from Jones, his Roy defense allowed just 230 yards in Class 6A Region 2 en route to a second-place finish in 2021. And in 2020 his Royals allowed a similar number of points but went 8-2 overall and won a region championship. To that end, Jones knows that he must put his own unique stamp on the Bingham football program—aside from having to follow a Utah high school coaching legend at a school that many consider to still be among the top five in the state. “More importantly, Coach Peck is a high character man who’s beloved in South Jordan and admired across Utah’s football coaching landscape. You can’t replace a coach or person of that caliber,” added Jones. “I just have to be myself and do the best job I can to help Bingham Football continue the traditions of winning, working hard, and doing things the right way.”l

February 2022 | Page 23


Bingham basketball on a special run Photos by Pat McDonald

Clockwise: Kam Dupaix tosses an alley-oop to Devin Carlson in a region game against Riverton where the Miners won 73-49. The Miners were 13-2 at press time holding the No. 2 seed in the RPI where Bingham has played the toughest schedule (opponents winning percentage) so far.

Devin Carlson battles past Riverton defenders in a home region game. Carlson is one of four Miners averaging double figures so far this season for the 13-2 (at press time) Miners.

Tyler Newbold drives the lane for two of his 11 points against Riverton. Bingham is on a tear this season winning 13 of its first 15 games with its two losses coming against a California team at the Tarkanian Classic and an early December loss to an undefeated Orem team.

Page 24 | February 2022

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February 2022 | Page 25


Miners still among best in 6A Photos by Pat McDonald

Above: Chloe Daniels drives around her defender. Daniels and her Miners team were 9-6 at press time. With four of losses coming against the top six teams in 6A. Above right: Ruby Mcleish is averaging 10 points per game so far this season. Right: Sierra Lichtie looks to maneuver her away by the Riverton defense for two of her 16 points. The senior, signed to play at Cal State East Bay is averaging almost 17 points per game. Below left: Chloe Daniels drives to the basket in the Miners road game at region rival Riverton. Below right: Head coach Skyler Beard calls down his talented bench during a region game. Beard and his Miners were 9-6 at press time holding the No. 9 seed in the RPI. Four of losses coming against the top six teams in 6A and the other two against out-of-state competitions.

Page 26 | February 2022

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February 2022 | Page 27


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By Justin Adams | justin.a@thecityjournals.com

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or the second time in six months, a Herriman native is headed to the Olympic games. What’s even more amazing is the journey she’s taken to get there. Growing up in Herriman, Kaysha Love was a talented and passionate gymnast. She competed just up the road at Olympus Gymnastics in South Jordan. Eventually though, the sport began to take a toll on her. She was putting in 30 hours a week. She didn’t have much of a social life. Injuries began to mount. So as she entered high school, she made the decision to pivot to track and field. It turned out to be a great decision. In just her second race, she broke a state record. “That’s when I realized that track could pay for my school,” she said. Love would go on to win state titles in the 100 and 200 meter races… as a freshman. Her 100 meter record still stands to this day. Love is quick to credit her track and field coach for her success. “I had a fantastic track and field coach. He was one of the best high school coaches in Utah,” she said. Her high school success led to a scholarship offer from UNLV, where she competed until graduating last year. During Love’s junior year, her coach began working with a runner who also competed in the skeleton race. He began doing some research into what it takes to compete in the skeleton and bobsled competitions. “He came to me and said it could be a successful sport for me after college,” Love said. “You need to be fast, powerful and explosive.” At first, she was a little apprehensive. “I had to remind him, I’m from Utah but I left Utah to get away from the winter and the cold and now you want me to do a winter sport?” But, perhaps remembering all the good that had come from her making a jump from gymnastics to track as a high schooler, she decided to give it a go. In October of 2020, she was invited to a rookie mini-camp hosted by the USA bobsled team at Lake Placid, New York. The event provided a handful of athletes with an introduction to the sport, and a chance to prove their potential with a competition. Love took first place in that competition. “The coaches were pretty excited about my potential in the sport,” she recalled. However, Love was still in the midst of her senior season at UNLV at that point.

She returned and raced track from January to June of last year. After a two week break, she went back to Lake Placid where she competed for, and won, a spot on the US national team. That punched a ticket to Europe, where for the past couple months Love and her teammates have competed in the Bobsleigh World Cup. It was Love’s first time traveling outside the country. “The culture difference was incredible - to see a different part of the world. The way Europeans live life was just fascinating and incredible,” she said. It was also an extremely successful trip for Love and Team USA. In Altenberg, Germany, Love and her teammate Kaillie Humphries took first place. In other races, Love was paired with Elana Meyers Taylor, who ended up winning the gold medal based on her cumulative scores throughout the competition. In the two-person bobsled competition, one person is in charge of’ “driving” the sled. They’re referred to as a pilot. The second person, seated in back, is called the “brakesman.” With Love being so new to the sport, she falls into the second category. Most of the pilots have been competing for years. About 90% of them started out as brakesmen though, before eventually jumping into the pilot’s seat; something that Love hopes to do herself someday. “That’s something I’m very interested in,” she said. “I wouldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t give it a try.” Given her track record of stepping out of her comfort zone to try new things, that wouldn’t come as any surprise. Love found out that she had officially made the US Olympic team the second week of January, just weeks before the competition was set to begin in Beijing, China. She found out on a Zoom call while sitting in a hotel room. “It was incredible. It was a very surreal feeling. I just burst into tears,” she said. Love said she’s excited to see yet another part of the world, as well as to represent her country on the biggest stage in sports. The two-woman bobsled event is scheduled to take place on Feb. 18-20. With strong pilots like Humphries and Meyers Taylor, there’s a good chance that Love could end up on the podium. (The team hasn’t yet decided which brakesman will be paired with which pilot). No matter who she’s paired with or how she does, Love knows her family and friends from Herriman will be proudly cheering her on from a watch party at their home.

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High school boys ‘rose’ to the occasion By Jet Burnham | j.burnham@mycityjournals.com

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ocal high school boys are asking for help from the community to ensure that every girl gets a rose on Valentine’s Day. Donations are being accepted on the gofundme page Valentines Day roses for EVERY girl at HHS to purchase enough roses to pass out to all the girls at school on Feb. 14. The tradition began in 2018 at Herriman High School and has spread to both Riverton and Mountain Ridge High Schools. HHS juniors Leland Johnson and Noah Jenkins are spearheading the project this year. Leland is the younger brother of Bobby Johnson who began the tradition in 2018. Bobby coordinated his teammates on the cross country team and Leland has coordinated his teammates on the swim team, but any boys who are willing to help fundraise or dethorn and hand out the roses are invited to help. RHS cross country coach Chase Englestead is impressed that the boys organize the project without any help from staff members. “I think it's cool that they take the initiative without being compelled to do it—I think that's an amazing attribute,” he said. Englestead said providing this service to their classmates not only makes the boys feel good, it has also strengthened their relationships with each other.

“It's a thing that they do together as a team and it was something that, last year, Herriman’s team and our team shared, which was pretty cool,” he said. “There's a better camaraderie between those two groups because they shared in something like that.” Boys from HHS and RHS combine fundraising efforts and then split the roses. The boys ask friends and family members to contribute to the fund. Last year, they even reached out to professional runner Craig Engles over social media and he donated $5. “We just reached out to him and he was totally down, which is cool,” RHS junior Jake Seegmiller said. The boys hand out roses at every school entrance on the morning of Feb. 14 and then continue to pass them out in classrooms and hallways throughout the day. RHS junior Tyler McDougal said it took most of the day last year but the boys were committed to make sure every girl received a rose. “We had some people roaming the halls to make sure that everyone gets found,” he said. “I remember finding this one girl who was just looking down while she was walking, just doing her thing.” Her surprised and excited reaction when he offered her a rose made his day.

Boys hand out roses to all their female classmates Feb. 14, 2020. (Photo courtesy of JSD.)

“It made me feel really happy,” he said. “It was just really fun to do something for someone that's not an opportunity that you just do all the time—you can't just buy a million flowers and hand them out, so this is just awesome.” Leland said the purpose of the project is to reach the girl who really needs a boost to her day. “The goal was to make not every girl in Herriman [high school] to feel special, but to make at least one girl feel special,” he said.

“And if you do it to everyone, then at least one of them is going to feel special.” Last year, the project spread into the community. After the boys had handed roses out at HHS and RHS, there were still some left over. “We had so many roses left over and we're like, ‘whoa, what do we do with all these?’ and so we just kept going,” Tyler said. A group of boys headed to a shopping center and gave roses to women there. l

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Sometimes it is rocket science

Life

T

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hree things could doom our country: domestic terrorism, Olivia Rodrigo and the rejection of science. The first two are obvious, but rejecting science? When did scientists become the bad guys? As more people deny mainstream science, I think about the good, old Russian pseudoscientist Trofim Lysenko. (You can call him Tro.) He and Joseph Stalin were BFFs after Tro convinced Stalin he could “educate” crops to grow using his “law of the life of species” theory which included planting seeds close together and soaking plants in freezing water. Stalin embraced this nonsense and seven million Russians died from starvation when the country ran out of food, because Tro (you can call him The Idiot) convinced Stalin that science-based agricultural practices were garbage. There’s lots of science I don’t understand, like quantum mechanics, curved spacetime and string theory, which proves kittens will play with a ball of yarn indefinitely. But I don’t have to understand science because, and here’s a key point, I am not a scientist. I’m saying this louder for those in the back: science shouldn’t be a partisan issue. But here we are. Anti-science is on the rise and people (i.e., non-scientists) are putting their own batty (often dangerous) theories

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out in the universe, much like Tro the Idiot. More than 2,000 years ago, Aristotle decided our planet was a sphere, not a flat disc flung through space in a game of Frisbee golf played by Greek gods. But people didn’t believe him. Some flat-folk still don’t believe him. Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake for his theory of the cosmos which included the heretical idea that the earth revolved around the sun. Before his death he proclaimed, “Perhaps you who pronounce my sentence are in greater fear than I who receive it.” And that’s what it boils down to: fear. A campaign of distrust based on fear slowly erodes faith in scientists and any theory they present. We all know the government is run by rabid lizards in human suits, but scientists have saved our bacon for centuries. In 1796, Dr. Edward Jenner used gunk from a cowpox sore to inoculate a child against smallpox and gave the world its first hope to combat the terrible illness. When he wasn’t performing in “Hamilton,” President Thomas Jefferson strongly recommended smallpox vaccinations to eradicate the disease. Dr. Jonas Salk developed the polio vaccine in 1955, becoming a national hero. When vaccines for measles, whoop-

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ing cough, rabies, and tetanus were introduced, they were welcomed as miracles. Researchers first identified human coronavirus in 1965 and studied diseases like SARS and MERS before COVID-19 jumped up like a maniacal Jack-in-thebox. The COVID vaccine was based on years of research, not months of blindly pouring pretty colors into test tubes. And what about climate change? For decades, researchers told us fossil fuels contribute to an increase of greenhouse gases, which sounds like a great sustainable energy source, but actually traps heat and warms the planet. What did we do to those silly goose scientists? We ripped out their livers and made foie gras. Now we have higher temperatures, severe storms, drought, flooding, Oliva Rodrigo and wildfires because, just like when Aristotle and Bruno walked the (much cooler) earth, people can’t wrap their minds around reality. With little or no science knowledge, deniers continue the assault, and the world is paying the price. What evidence would change their minds? Why do they believe conspiracy theories over proven results? I guess you can guide someone to wisdom, but you can’t make them think.

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