South Jordan Journal | September 2021

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s residents recently embraced the competitive spirit the Summer Olympics brought into their lives, South Jordan resident Debbie Millet has been embracing competition since 2005 when she began her Olympic weightlifting journey at the age of 36. Millet discovered there weren’t a lot of women competing in Olympic-style weightlifting at a local level at that time. She admitted that she was one of only a handful of women in the gym looking to lift weights, in the days before Cross-fit became popular. Millet recalled finding one weightlifting coach in Utah, Dave Turner, and trained long enough and hard enough to win accolades at a national and international level. Millet is a fourtime Masters National Champion, and a two-time Masters World Champion. “Once I learned how to do the Olympic lifts, I didn’t ever want to train another way,” Millet said. Olympic weightlifting is comprised of two techniques: the clean and jerk, which is a composite of two weightlifting movements with a barbell. The first part is the clean, lifting the barbell up from the floor to approximately the height of one’s shoulders, then the jerk, where the lifter raises the barbell from the stationary position completely up over the head. The snatch is the continuous motion of moving the barbell from the ground to above the head. Weightlifting debuted as a sport at the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, and has been contested at the Summer Olympic games since 1920. Prior to 1920, all lifters competed together in the same events; since 1920, competition is structured Continued page 14

Debbie Millet stepped away from individual competition to train the next generation of Olympic weightlifters. (Courtesy of Debbie Millet)


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September 2021 | Page 3

With balance at all positions, Bingham girls soccer aims to achieve more this season By Brian Shaw |


oming off a 10-7 season in which the Bingham Miners lost 3-0 to Corner Canyon in the second round of the 6A state soccer tournament, they wasted no time taking on more stiff competition in this year’s season opener on Aug 3. First up: Skyline, one of last year’s 5A state semifinalists. The Miners found themselves having to dig out of a tough spot in the first half, trailing 2-0 at the break. But Skyline was too much for the Miners, who lost 5-0 after having just started their season preparations just two weeks before. With another full week of preseason training under them, the second game of the season for the Miners went smoother on Aug. 10. They chiseled ahead of Bountiful with two nice goals from junior Ane Henderson in the first half and added another fissure in the rock with a Greta Davis goal, solidifying a 3-0 victory. That Davis goal was the first for the senior in 2021. She led her squad in 2020 in scoring with nine, but to get two from Henderson took some of the load off of last year’s leading scorer. Henderson’s goals against Bountiful were also twice the number she’s had playing varsity, a good sign for a team that is replacing several graduated seniors and key contributors. On Aug. 12 two days later, the Miners hopped on the school bus and took the short ride to the other side of Interstate 15 to take on the same school that ended their state tourney hopes last year, Corner Canyon. The two teams that were duking it out in the postseason a year ago at state battled hard in the first half in the preseason rematch. Then the senior Davis got out that reliable axe of a foot midway into the second half and swung the ball into the net for her second goal in 2021, giving the Miners their


second win on the still-young season, a 1-0 triumph. The Miners also have some balance to go with all that experience on offense, however, something they proved Aug. 17 when they hosted Springville. The Miners [3-1] got two goals, one from Journey Heward and one Olivia Myntti to take a 2-1 win in overtime. Between the goalkeepers Mia Roberts and Ensley Anderson that head coach Tennille Vance has been platooning in each half and a rapidly improving defense, the Miners have allowed just one goal over the past three games and posted two shutouts. Through the remainder of August, the Miners will play Mountain Crest, Pleasant Grove and Wasatch—all at home. They’ll take to the road to face West Jordan to close out the month on Aug. 31. The Region 3 season will begin for the Miners just two days later on Sept. 2. l




The South Jordan City Journal is a monthly publication distributed directly to residents via the USPS as well as locations throughout South Jordan. For information about distribution please email or call our offices. Rack locations are also available on our website. The views and opinions expressed in display advertisements do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions held by Loyal Perch Media or the City Journals. This publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express written consent of the owner. © 2019 Loyal Perch Media, Inc.

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Governor wants to incentivize lawn removal with a statewide buy back program By Alison Brimley |

What’s your legacy?


ov. Spencer J. Cox has a little bit of good news for Utahns. “Every water district has reported significant water savings this year as compared to previous years,” Cox told an audience at Conservation Garden Park in West Jordan on July 29. In response to Utah officials’ repeated pleas to conserve water in a record drought year, Utahns have stepped up. And thanks to Utahns’ compliance with fireworks bans, the state has also seen a significant reduction in wildfires, particularly in the weeks of July 4 and July 24. This is especially important in years like this one, when extra dry land increases the risk of fire and the state can’t afford to use precious water fighting flames. Still, Cox warned that we have “several months of dangerous wildfire season ahead of us,” and that people need to remain “vigilant.” Though some of the worst outcomes have been (so far) averted this year, Utah needs to step up its long-term plans for water conservation. As one of the fastest growing states in the nation, the systems put in place now to decrease water use will have huge impacts as the population increases. “Our administration is committed to advancing more aggressive water conservation measures,” Cox said. The governor spoke of four distinct areas in which Utah needs to act in order to lay the foundation for a more waterwise future. One of these areas involves individual home landscapes. Cox announced his intention to implement the Localscapes rewards and Flip Your Strip programs—initially developed in West Jordan and administered by Jordan Valley Water—across the whole state. “Turf buyback” programs like Localscapes Rewards and Flip Your Strip incentivize homeowners to replace “thirsty grass” in their yards with more waterwise plants. Flip Your Strip involves paying homeowners to replace grass in park strips, while Localscapes Rewards participants take a class about waterwise landscaping, then receive a cash incentive when they implement the landscape plans in their yards. Jordan Valley Water began offering Flip Your Strip and Localscapes Rewards in 2017. “With growing participation year over year and proven water savings, it became natural for other agencies to want to start offering similar programs,” said Megan Jenkins of Jordan Valley Water. “In fact, this was something Jordan Valley planned for.” While developing its rebate website,, Jordan Valley Water recognized they could expand the programs’ effectiveness by collaborating with other agencies across the state. “By allowing multiple agencies to offer conservation programs and rebates on the same website, many inefficiencies of past water conservation efforts could be elimi-

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Various waterwise landscape plans—as well as details on how to receive rebates for implementing yours—are available at (Photo courtesy Jordan Valley Water)

nated,” Jenkins said. Jenkins says the two programs have already seen great demand in West Jordan this year. So far in 2021, 659 households have applied for Flip Your Strip, with 392 coming from within Jordan Valley Water’s service area. This represents a significant increase from 2020, when a total of 177 Flip Your Strip applications were submitted. This year, Cox announced his intention to make Utah the first state to offer a “statewide buyback program.” Going forward, Utah needs to be a state where grass is planted only “in areas where it actively is used, rather than using it as a default groundcover.” At the July 29 event, Rick Maloy of the Central Utah Water Conservancy District, announced that beginning Aug. 1, these turf buyback programs pioneered in West Jordan would be available to all counties within the district. The district includes much of Salt Lake, Utah, Juab, Uintah, Sanpete, Wasatch and Duchesne counties, though a Flip Your Strip program is also available to Layton residents. (Murray City and South Jordan City are not eligible for Flip Your Strip because these cities offer their own park strip programs.) Utahns in eligible areas can apply to begin the process at Not only will those who participate get to help the state save water, they’ll also see savings on their own monthly water bill and get back a significant chunk of time they might have previously spent on lawn maintenance. “While the actual water savings will vary depending on the size of the park strip and the materials used, we estimate that an average 5,000-8,000 gallons of water will be saved each year for every park strip that is flipped,” Jenkins said. l

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Healing Field Flag Memorial marks the 20th anniversary of 9/11 attacks By Ileana Brown |

9/11 20 ANNIVERSARY A Program Of Colonial Flag Foundation 2021 TH

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n the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Al Qaeda terrorists aboard three hijacked passenger planes carried out attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. A fourth plane crashed into a Pennsylvania field after crew and passengers attempted to take control of the hijackers. Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the attacks that shocked the nation and became the deadliest foreign assault on U.S. soil. The country crumbled for a bleak moment as friends, family and loved ones became engulfed with despair. Yet, just as quickly as those were lost, America unwaveringly transformed into the proud and strong “United We Stand.” “Twenty years ago, on Sept. 11, 2001, three determined firemen managed to raise the American flag on a mangled flagpole amid the vast destruction at ground zero,” said Paul Swenson, president of the Colonial Flag Foundation Board of Trustees. “Within 24 hours, individuals across the country saw the first sign of hope rising from the ashes. From that powerful image of hope and strength, woven in the Stars and Stripes, came the inspiration for the first Healing Field display of flags.” The 20th annual Healing Field Flag Memorial, organized by the non-profit Colonial Flag Foundation and Utah Healing Field Committee, will take place at the Sandy City Promenade, at 10000 Centennial Parkway, from Sept. 8-13. On Wednesday, Sept. 8, at 5:30 p.m., volunteers will post more than 3,300 flags in remembrance of the 2,977 victims of the terrorist attacks, our Utah fallen soldiers, and first responders who have died since 9/11. On Sept.9, the field will officially open to the public. Visitors can read the personalized tags attached to the flags with each victim's name and a short bio. In addition, there will be a 14-poster exhibit from the 9/11 Memorial Museum titled “September 11th, 2001: The Day That Changed the World.” “My hope is that each of us will slow down, walk through the flags alone or with our children and remember that day 20 years ago when we lost so many and stood together,” said Swenson. On Sept.10, Rockin Hot Rod Productions hosts the “United We Stand” classic car show featuring local cars in the parking lot of the Aetna building at 10150 South Centennial Parkway, from 5-8 p.m.. The event will include awards, raffles, and food trucks. Following the car show will be a “One Light, One Life” luminaria light display by Real Salt Lake. Volunteers are encouraged to arrive at 6 p.m. to help Real Salt Lake and mascot Leo the Lion place luminaries by each flag to light up the field.

The tribute representslight through darkness, offering hope and healing to friends and families who lost loved ones that day. On Sept. 11, the day’s events begin with a “Ride to Remember” motorcycle ride. Riders will meet at Barbary Coast Saloon (4242 South State Street), at 6 p.m., then proceed to Sandy City Hall with a police escort. At 7 p.m., Conner Gray Covington will conduct the Utah Symphony to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Covington states, “All of us at the Utah Symphony are honored to partner with Utah Healing Field to present a concert to commemorate the tragic events of that day. We've chosen music that will provide a sense of comfort and healing to the audience but will also serve as a way to promote a feeling of optimism and unity moving forward.”“ The symphony will perform John Williams' “Hymn to the Fallen,” Elgar's “Nimrod” from “Enigma Variations,” Copland's “Lincoln Portrait” and Valerie Coleman's “Umoja: An Anthem for Unity.” Tickets for this performance are available at utah20th. The performance is in conjunction with the annual “Honoring the Fallen” from each branch of the United States Military, including all fallen soldiers and first responders from the state of Utah. The patriotic observance includes the national anthem, a flyover by four F-35s performed by Hill Air Force Base, the presentation of the colors, a 21-gun salute, a bugle performance of “Taps,” and a performance by The Utah Pipe Band, all until 8:30 p.m. Funds raised through donations and sales and the event will support ongoing charitable programs of the Colonial Flag Foundation. These programs include service dogs for veterans, child abuse prevention, food banks, homes for heros and homeless veterans assistance. Two decades later, hundreds of organizations have hosted Colonial Flag Foundation programs, raising millions of dollars for local charities. “The legacy of all these souls that were lost that day lives on through the millions of lives that are touched by those that walk among the flags and those that are assisted and uplifted through the thousands of benefiting charities,” Swenson said. The Healing Field will be open to the public until Sept.13, at 5:30 p.m., when volunteers will take down the flags. All flags are available for sale. Flags can be sponsored for $35 and taken home after the event. For more information visit, www.healingfield. org/event/sandyut21/ or l

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Mascots make a comeback, bring student involvement, spirit back to schools By Julie Slama |


ascots are making a comeback, as many area schools this year look to bolster school spirit and pride, which in any year school officials say is good but especially after 18 months of uncertainty in school life during the COVID-19 pandemic. “The mascot is one of the foundations of the visualization of school spirit,” said Tara Battista, Cottonwood High School’s student government adviser. “When you see a mascot, and you see your logo represented, jumping and cheering, that brings a whole new energy to the crowd, to the students and allows them just to see their school pride to come to life. We want student to feel when they come back to school, we will have this revival of things happening again. We will make it fun, we will make it safe and most of all, we want them to be able to display their Colt pride, so having a mascot is a critical piece of that.” Cottonwood High’s Colt is expected to be part of their homecoming, Sept. 23.

Murray High’s Spartan made its debut at the Fourth of July parade after an absence of years, then welcomed the football team onto its new field in the season opener. Brighton High is in process of ordering a Bengal costume. “Our costume was just old and hammered,” said Brighton Principal Tom Sherwood, adding that looking for a new mascot began after the Bengal’s last appearance fall 2020, but between COVID-19 and rebuilding the school, the process got pushed back. For the new school’s ribbon cutting, the construction company rented a costume so the Bengal could make an appearance, Sherwood said. “It’s not a matter of not having to have a mascot, but I think the costume might have gone down with the ship—or the building in this case,” he said. “I think mascots can be a good way to get fans involved and they can help control the crowd, they can help lead the cheers, they can be a support to cheer-

Midvale Middle School recently purchased its Trojan mascot costume to build unity in the school. (Photo courtesy of Midvale Middle.)

Murray High’s Spartan made its comeback this year after an absence of a few years. (Photo courtesy of John Smith/Murray High.)

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leaders, they can build school spirit.” Mascots can be seen in all levels of schools. Recently, Midvale Middle purchased a Trojan costume. Riverview Junior High renamed its mascot to a Raptor, and the mascot was paraded through the school’s hallways as part of the announcement. When Altara Elementary showed an updated look for its Kittyhawk, the mascot made an appearance—and many more since at assemblies, fun runs and other events. At Cottonwood, student government adviser Tara Battista said Charlie the Colt has been absent for at least the five years she has worked at the school; when inquiring, she was told that the old costume went missing. “When it disappeared, it was quite old, like 10 years, so maybe it was time to get a new one, but then no one ever took charge to make it happen so the mascot just got lost,” she said. School officials say its more common than one thinks as the responsibility of the role of the mascot shifts from cheer to athletics to student government advisers. Battista said that when she became student government adviser two years ago, it was decided to bring back the Colt. Then, COVID-19 hit, and the mascot got pushed to the backburner. Now, the $1,200 dark brown stallion costume is on order (from the same company that makes the Utah Jazz Bear’s costume)

and tryouts, which is open to any student gender, are being scheduled. There is a possibility of more than one student to be the mascot to share its responsibilities, but that depends on tryouts, she said. Battista anticipates Charlie the Colt to wear a football jersey on the field or a basketball uniform when it cheers on those teams. “We’re working with our student organizations to disperse the mascot where they want it,” she said, adding the Colt could wear a Cottonwood hooded sweatshirt when it’s at assemblies or supporting organizations and clubs. “One of the biggest goals for student government this year was to increase school spirit and school pride and get kids involved and excited coming to all types of activities.” However, don’t look for Charlie to tumble and do stunts. “We are still working through some safety concerns with that with the [Granite School] District,” Battista said. “Right now, it’s going to hyping up the students, their passion for Cottonwood, their Colt pride.” That’s the role the Spartan is taking this season, although previous mascots have been tumblers and on the cheer squad, said cheer coach Lia Smith, who is overseeing Murray High’s mascot in Murray School District and interviewed the student who was interested in being the mascot. “There weren’t any [tumbling] skills

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involved, it’s more just the student’s personality and drive to involved others, to create a positive environment and include as many people in the school and in the community,” she said, adding that the Spartan also has good grades and citizenship. The Spartan, which is named Leonidas, or Leo for short, made its comeback this year as a result of students approaching Smith. “A group of students came to me as cheer coach March last year and said they really wanted a mascot again, and they missed having a Spartan,” she said. “We felt like that would bring a lot of energy, and it’s something that we’ve been missing.” Wanting to bring spirit to the school and community, Leo asked to be part of the Murray parade but didn’t expect a costume malfunction, which resulted in missing the last third of walking in the parade. However, the Spartan has asked others to generate ideas and appearances, watched YouTube videos of other mascots and plans to reach out to college and professional team mascots. The mascot agreed to break his code of silence for the interview to share his insights; the condition was that he could only be identified as Leo. “I always thought of being the mascot; it’s cool,” Leo said. “I think my personality is already outgoing and wacky, and I feel that if I’d have a mask on, I feel I’d be amplified and make it fun for everyone. Before this, I’ve just liked being in the student section. I was always one of the people who just tried to get cheers going or if cheerleaders were doing a cheer, I would just start doing the dance with them.” While he hopes to “go to as many things as possible,” Leo said one of his responsibilities will be to wave a giant Spartan flag, which Leo said, “I will definitely have a lot of fun with.” He also knows being the mascot will be “physically demanding” so he does plan to stay in shape through running and joining cheer in some workouts. Leo isn’t worried about getting recognition. “If no one knows me, I can do a lot

more wacky stuff that I would be otherwise embarrassed to do,” he said. “It’s just one of those things I could have a lot more fun.” That also was a highlight of Aaron Dekeyzer, who as 2003–04 senior class pride president, was Harvey, Hillcrest High School’s Husky mascot. “It just let me take on a persona that I could just be silly and fun to the max without any discomfort about doing it and having nobody know who it was,” he said but admitted that the costume was “miserably hot, itchy and just generally uncomfortable.” However, Dekeyzer’s secret mascot identity was short-lived, as students knocked off his head at one of the last football games, so he only wore the costume at a couple basketball games. Dekeyzer didn’t audition, but said the position fell into his lap. “I think there was a vacancy and cheer was looking for someone to do it when they came to student government,” he said. “I was one of the silliest, funniest ones of the bunch so I decided to volunteer. I was energetic, fun, goofy and good at getting the crowd to do chants. I wasn’t flying through the air or doing backflips.” The Husky has evolved from its early days when a cheerleader had dog face paint while wearing a shaggy costume to taking on a full mascot costume in 1978–79 when former teacher and international baccalaureate coordinator Brian Bentley, who was a student at Hillcrest, first took on the role of Harvey. Nowadays, the student costume-wearers are highlighted in the yearbook, which is distributed at the end of the year. After Dekeyzer’s year, the mascot costume went missing—he maintains he didn’t take it—so Harvey took a leave of absence. “I don’t know if they found it or if it was just time to get another costume, but it was my understanding that he was MIA for a bit,” he said. “It was super fun though. I really enjoyed doing it and it was a great way to demonstrate the pride of the school and for students to identify with the spirit of the school.” l

Altara Elementary’s Kittyhawk, dressed as a mummy, participates in a fall festival fun run in 2019. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

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Nine years without a cold? By Priscilla Schnarr

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Continued from front page by weight class. In 2008, with a sponsorship from ICON Health and Fitness in Logan, Utah (now iFIT), Millet opened Praxis Weightlifting Center in her home basement, a place where men and women could come and train in Olympic weightlifting. “I had felt such a duty to be the Olympic weightlifting gym for Utah,” Millet said. In Greek, praxis means “to do,” and upon opening her doors, anyone looking to learn, would come to Millet wanting “to do” and to train in Olympic-style weightlifting. After a successful career, Millet has stepped into a role of coaching in recent years, helping the next generation of athletes who have a strong desire to compete nationally and internationally. “In weightlifting, you compete against your like peers, people your same gender, same weight and I fell in love with it,” Millet said. One such athlete is South Jordan resident Makayla Walden, who at age 13 is looking to find her way in Olympic weightlifting. Walden began training with Millet in the beginning of 2021. “I tried it for a couple weeks, and I fell in love with it,” Makayla said. “It was quite easy to figure out after a little bit.” Despite her age, Makayla trains four days a week for at least an hour. Her preference is the clean and jerk. Makayla admitted that since weightlifting came into her life, her confidence has increased as well as her physical fitness. She has received a lot of support and encouragement, especially from those who learn of her endeavor. “They’re usually pretty surprised, but they’re happy and excited for me and many people have congratulated me and encouraged me to keep going even though I’m so young,” she said. For Salt Lake City resident and University of Utah medical student Maci Wynn, the responses from family and friends were also skeptical upon initially learning of her weightlifting pursuits. “They didn’t really understand it at first; they didn’t know much about the sport; they didn’t know why I enjoyed it,” Wynn said. “Over the years, as they have seen me train, seen me make teams, now they are very supportive as they have learned a little more about it.” Wynn, 26, met Millet in 2017 and has been nothing but dedicated since that time, training with Millet five days a week

for two to three hours a session. Currently, Wynn is training for a regional North American competition in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in September featuring USA Weightlifting and Canadian Weightlifting Federation Halterophile Canadienne, and a US American Open competition approaching in December in Denver, Colorado. At team Praxis, every athlete is training with their own goals in mind, but despite working on individual goals, there is a team mentality where everyone is working together and supporting one another. During the pandemic, the Praxis team members trained in their homes, continuing their progress on homemade weightlifting platforms. Millet said she worked closely with the health department to ensure sanitation measures were met in her home gym and training numbers were limited to one athlete at a time. The entire team would often get together outdoors during the onset of the pandemic, running on trails through the mountains. “Everyone has their own goals, but when we are able to train together in the gym, we have a common goal of weightlifting,” Winn said. “It’s really special.” Malia Levy is another example of how Millet has been influential in helping athletes become the best version of themselves. Levy, a student at Lone Peak High School in Highland, met Millet at the age of 12 and began training in July of 2018. By November of 2018, she was a regional gold medalist for her age and weight class. “[weightlifting] was a huge learning curve,” Levy said. “I remember walking into the gym for the first time and seeing a clean and jerk. I just thought that was the weirdest thing.” Of the two Olympic weightlifting exercises, Levy admitted being more consistent in the clean and jerk but was able to take home silver medals in both exercises this past June at the National competition held in Detroit. Levy is currently preparing to compete within her age and weight class, alongside her teammate Wynn in December at the US American Open. The common denominator for all these athletes, having a coach who cares and who encourages in the gym and out of the gym. “Debbie doesn’t only care about weightlifting; she cares about us as people.” Levy said. For more information visit l

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Sandy, UT 84070 Maci Wynn completes a snatch lift at competition, lifting 100 kilos, or 220 pounds. (Courtesy of Debbie Millet)

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South Jordan’s Sophia Foresta has taken BMX racing to pro levels Caption: Bingham High School graduate Sophia Foresta (No. 57) is ascending the pro rankings as a top BMX racer. (Greg James/City Journals)


ophia Foresta has made a name for herself amongst national and local BMX riders. “If it wasn’t for her, I don’t think our younger racers would keep coming,” Rad Canyon BMX track volunteer Raquel Wagner said. In 2015 and 2017, Foresta was the USA BMX girls division champion. As a junior, in 2016, at Bingham High School, she was named “Sports Illustrated” February athlete of the month. In 2021, she is a professional rider and coach at the track. “We have been fortunate enough to travel around the country and be involved,” Sophia’s mother, Ashli said. “We told our kids school should come first. They had to earn the opportunity to race.” Foresta began racing when she was 6 years old. Her brother, Joey, had begun his career as a racer, and she followed suit. She is currently studying at Utah Valley University with a business management focus and deaf studies minor. As a USA BMX marketing director, she has been instrumental in a read to ride program implemented in schools around the area. “Schools that adopt the program have prizes with reading and things like that,” Foresta said. “We have a stem program that teaches kids about soil, facility needs, and they even get to build a model track. I give them the rider’s perspective on what I like at a track.” Her teaching at the track applies to life off it too.

“I teach gate clinics (starting line), which is one of the hardest parts about racing, but those little movements can get you ahead and make all of the difference,” Foresta said. “Just like in life, the tests can make a big difference.” She suffered an injury and is working her way back up the national ranking board. At the annual Great Salt Lake Nationals held at Rad Canyon BMX track at the end of July, she placed fifth in Friday’s racing and seventh on Saturday. In semifinal moto No. 2, she came off turn three in second place. She pedaled hard and ended up with the victory. “I have learned to push all the way to the end; it’s not over ‘til the end,” she said. “I followed the other girls until I knew I had a shot, and I made it happen. I have felt good about my racing. It has been a rough few years for me mentally and physically. I have worked to overcome that and make it back to where I was.” Foresta uses rad Canyon as her home track. She teaches beginner, intermediate and expert classes there on a weekly basis. “I have taught young kids up to 70-yearolds at the track,” Foresta said. “I love this sport and track; it teaches me sportsmanship and life lessons. I race against my friends and need to celebrate with them even when they beat me. Rad Canyon is my favorite track and my home track. I could talk for days about this sport and what this track has meant to me.” l

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South Jordan opens third Jiu Jitsu center in valley By Rachel Aubrey |


racie Jiu Jitsu South Jordan opened it training doors on July 6 offering classes to men, women and children. Head trainer and Daybreak resident Ryan Greer opened a certified training center to teach others how to become more empowered through the art of submissions and ground fighting. “We are not trying to beat people up,” Greer said. “It’s learning to apply the technique you learned against pressure.” Originally from Taylorsville, Greer has spent a lifetime in pursuit of knowledge in the martial arts. A current black belt in Hapkido, a Korean-based martial artform which focuses on tactical self-defense and combat, Greer wanted to improve his ground fighting techniques. After a little online research, Greer began his individual training with the Gracie Jiu Jitsu program in October of 2018, enrolling in the programs’ online training classes which allow for at-home training with a partner. He completed the training in April of 2019. “The Gracie philosophy is to train people on the basics,” Greer said. Different than other martial art formats, Gracie Jiu Jitsu or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was refined by the Gracie family in the early 1920s in Brazil. This martial arts style is based on submissions and ground fighting. It became more popularized in the late 1970s. There is little to no punching or kicking involved in jiu jitsu, rather besting an opponent by taking him or her to the ground and gaining a dominant position. Gracie Jiu Jitsu has cer-

tified training centers worldwide; its headquarters are located in Southern California. It was while training in Hapkido, that Greer met fellow black belt and South Jordan resident Megan Wiesen. Both Wiesen and Greer studied under master instructor Gordon Summers. Upon recognizing her skills in Hapkido, Greer mentioned the Gracie Jiu Jitsu Women Empowered program to Wiesen and gained her interest in becoming certified to teach the course. “I am always looking for something to challenge myself and add more skills to my toolbelt,” Wiesen said. Before the opening of the South Jordan location, there were only two locations in the Salt Lake Valley, in Sandy with head instructor George Dew, and Salt Lake City with head instructor Ryan Mitchell. Currently the Women Empowerment class is only available in Salt Lake City. Realizing he wanted to teach these techniques closer to his home base, Greer he went through a stringent and rigorous training to become certified to teach Gracie Jiu Jitsu. The standards to become certified to teach others were, and continue to be very high. Greer was required to score 95% or higher on his test. In March of 2020, he tested and scored 97%. Needing one year of teaching experience, Greer spent time at the Salt Lake City training center as was permitted by the county due to COVID restrictions. The Daybreak area was secured and sessions are currently being held at the Day-

break Community Center. The following sessions are being taught on Tuesdays and Saturdays: Gracie Combatives for beginner adults, Junior Grapplers for ages 8–12 and Little Champs for ages 5–7. Greer and Wiesen expect to begin offering Women Empowerment in South Jordan by July of 2022. “We do very controlled grappling [for the young students],” Greer said. South Jordan resident Laura Bickmore started bringing her two sons Eli,7, and Aaron, 4, to Gracie Jiu Jitsu to help them burn some energy, learn some wholesome values and build some confidence. “My hope is that they learn to defend themselves but also learn to deescalate situations before they happen,” Bickmore said. According to the Gracie website, children can learn to use verbal assertiveness to deter bullies and several non-violent self-defense techniques to stay safe is physically assaulted. As many children have reentered the classroom this school year, the opportunity for a bullying scenario has increased. “The idea is if your child is being at school, a couple things can happen,” Greer said. “A child could hit the bully back, and it doesn’t affect the bully; a child could be in more danger; or if a child hits a bully, there could be legal consequences if the bully then becomes hurt.” For more information about pricing and schedules, visit southjordan. l

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ingham High School senior Kaitlyn Oniki is busy these days. On top of being the varsity girls tennis captain for the Miners, she holds an even more important job. On a typical school day at lunchtime, Oniki walks through Bingham’s halls first, then saunters into the lunchroom. Her mission: looking for kids who are eating alone that she can befriend. “It’s just a really simple way but a really impactful way to show and spread kindness all throughout our school because everybody just needs somebody to be a friend to them, even if you don’t know them,” said Oniki in a TV interview on KUTV “Talkin’ Sports.” Oniki and others in the student body are upholding a Bingham tradition that has stood since the mid-2010s, when a hall monitor by the name of “Momma Jo” Jolynne Ward noticed that some students were hiding in various parts of the school from plain view. Thus began the Golden Gate Club, a group of students Ward founded that provides social support to new and disenfranchised classmates, of which the senior Oniki is a member. Its motto is to “be the person who smiles and the reason others smile! We will make others day every day.” Club members like Oniki sit down with these kids and after getting to know them for a few minutes, invite them to connect with other kids at designated tables in the lunchroom, building that vision that Ward had of a unified student body five years ago when she presented the idea to school administrators. From the lunchroom, it’s just a short walk down the hallway to the classroom for Oniki, who aims to do even more than she did in comparison to last year, according to head coach Mark Smith. The senior Oniki is so driven, said her head coach, that she is “a bit frustrated by the one A- she received last year,” one that snuffed out her quest for a perfect 4.0 grade point average through her first three years of high school. An amazing accomplishment nevertheless, added the head coach who anticipates the National Honor Society recipient Oniki will earn the Academic All-State award at the end of the 2021 season in addition to the reason for her having been on TV in the first place: the America First Athlete of the Week award last week for which Oniki was honored at halftime of the Bingham-Weber football game. “Academics are also important to Kaitlyn as she carries a 3.997 cumulative grade point [going into] her [fourth] year of high school,” said the head coach, who is always waiting for Oniki and her teammates on the

tennis court after classes end. Oniki told Adam Mukulich on KUTV “Talkin’ Sports” on Aug. 15 that as team captain of the Bingham girls tennis team, her athletic objective in her final year of high school is clear. “My goal is to help my team win region this year,” she said. The Miners finished second in Region 3 last year. However, they did place seventh overall last year at the Utah Class 6A state tournament—best among all the schools in Region 3. Oniki and her doubles partner, Jacey Robins, reached the state semifinals after winning their first two rounds in straight sets—so on the court, much is expected by Oniki, enough that Mikulich gently teased her as their TV interview concluded that he reminded her to “remember to have fun out there.” That’s something Smith also constantly asks the girls he coaches to do on a regular basis. “Our team goal is always to have fun and work Kaitlyn Oniki may not have a lot of free time. (Photo hard,” said Smith. “I just want the girls to courtesy of Mark Smith.) play to their potential, learn to work hard, feel the rewards of doing so and to enjoy in order to thrive. the experience of being on a team together “I expect them to use that experience with their peers. We are a very experienced to their advantage; knowing how to practice team with the varsity team consisting of all right, how to perform under pressure situaseniors.” tions and to be an example to their younger With 10 seniors, the Miners have built teammates as they show respect for the sport their foundation up to the point when they and their opponents,” said Smith. “We have can take all the life lessons they’ve learned some tough teams in our region, and we will the past three years and apply it accordingly have to play to our highest potential in order even though by the sport’s very nature, the to achieve our goal of a region championgirls must constantly square off against one ship as well as performing well in the state another, added the head coach. tournament.” “It is fun to watch them compete against As far as his team captain is concerned, each other for spots on the team yet still re- this season also culminates a long journey main great friends,” said Smith. “They all for Oniki—one that the head coach is acutemade a pact to keep tennis separate from ly aware of as his team heads into a big seatheir friendship, and they have been success- son. ful at doing just that. They compete hard, but “She has worked so hard over the last at the end of the day, they all remain good three years and improved so much pushing friends.” herself to be one of the top players on the Though most of them have been life- team,” said Smith. “I would hope that she long friends and are high academic achiev- will feel the rewards from the many hours ers who help each other out with homework spent on the court and just really enjoy the and through other trials in life, there still ride.” l must be an atmosphere of togetherness that these 10 seniors display on and off the court

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Back-to-School Shopping Costs More this Year By Robert Spendlove, Zions Bank Senior Economist


arents with school-aged children have probably noticed that backto-school shopping is costing more this year. Spending on school supplies is expected to hit an all-time high of $850 for the average family in 2021, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s about $60 more than last year. And families of college students are paying even more, with an average spend of $1,200, up $140 from last year. Of course, inflation is affecting much more than just school supplies. Over the past year, we’ve seen price growth across nearly all spending categories, with higher sticker prices everywhere from the grocery store to the gas pump. This is the result of pent-up demand as well as supply chain delays. Fortunately, it looks like price gains may be moderating. In July, the Consumer Price Index had its smallest month-tomonth increase since February after reaching a 13-year high in June. Still, inflation is well above pre-pandemic levels, with consumer prices increasing 5.4% over the past year. When it comes to school expenses, your pocketbook may feel the sting in a few areas: • Clothing prices have jumped

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4.2% over the past year, with girls’ apparel up 5% and boys’ apparel up 2.6%. • Replacing outgrown kids’ shoes with new ones will cost 3.6% more than last year, while footwear overall is up 4.6%. • Educational books and supplies have ticked up 2.6% since last year. • Prices on personal computers, including tablets, desktop computers and laptops, are 3.7% higher than last year, due in part to a global chip shortage pushing up prices. • Packing your child’s lunchbox is more expensive than last year, with food prices up 3.4%. • The school carpool has gotten much more expensive, with gas prices jumping 41.8% year over year. How long will price gains continue? That’s the big question economists are debating right now. Some are concerned that these inflationary increases could continue to build because of increased federal spending and low interest rates. Others say these price

increases are temporary and will slow down when the current supply chain disruptions start to recede. The surge in COVID cases tied to the delta variant could also slow price increases as consumers pull back on spending amid concerns about the virus, but no one wants that solution to inflationary pressures. Regardless of whether price increases slow in the future, we won’t see immediate relief on family budgets this back-to-school season. However, Utahns can take heart in the latest jobs report that shows our economy remains among the best in the nation. Beehive State employment increased 4.2% from July 2019 to July 2021, compared to a 2.8% decline nationally, according to Utah’s Department of Workforce Services. Meanwhile, the state’s unemployment rate of 2.6% is near historic lows, compared to 5.4% unemployment nationally. Despite the challenges of the past year and a half, our state’s economy has shown itself to be resilient and continues to perform well. Robert Spendlove is senior economist for Zions Bank, a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A

September 2021 | Page 21

Back-to-school night: A first for Aspen Elementary By Julie Slama |


hato, a second grader at Aspen Elementary, had just found his classroom and met his teacher. “He’s excited and loves the school,” his father, John Cheresh said. “How often do you get to go to school in a brand-new school? This is top-notch.” Aspen Elementary opened to students Aug. 17, the night before was its first-ever Back to School Night. After entering under a banner with the school’s name and an archway of balloons, Principal Suzie Williams greeted and directed students and their parents. Families explored the multi-purpose room with a stage and basketball standards, the library with a pencil as its focal point, the art room, two collaborative learning spaces, a holistic wellness room, a STEM room and classrooms. Students found their desks in their classrooms and met their teachers and parents could sign up to join the PTA. Some students even took part in a scavenger hunt to familiarize themselves with the new school. Ground was broken for Aspen Elementary March 11, 2020, just before the outbreak of COVID-19 in Utah. Designed by VCBO Architecture and built by Hughes General Contractor, the $18.5 million school at 11189 South Willow Walk Dr. has most of its stu-

Aspen Elementary opened to students and families in its first Back to School Night Aug. 16 after being built in about 16 months. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

dent body from the neighborhood and from Bastian Elementary community, which will ease the number of students enrolled there. Thato’s family had moved to the neighborhood one year ago and each day, watched the school being built. When asphalt, playgrounds and grass were added two months ago, he and his dad tried out the baseball field. “I wasn’t sure it would get finished, but it did,” Cheresh said. “It’s fantastic, beautiful, and it even smells new. The whole school is just gorgeous.” An official ribbon cutting and dedication date has yet to be announced. l

Students and families come to the first-ever Backto-School Night at Aspen Elementary to learn how to meet their teachers and navigate their new school. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

A student explores the library of Aspen Elementary during its Back-to-School Night. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

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By Brian Synan, President/CEO / 801-253-5200

The South Jordan Chamber of Commerce welcomed the following new and returning members in the last month: Alzheimer’s Association of Utah 12894 S. Pony Express Rd., Suite 300 Draper, UT 84020 A survey conducted by the Utah Women & Leadership Project shows women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

UWLP survey shows women in the workforce are struggling


By Peri Kinder |

f there’s one good thing about COVID-19, it might be that the pandemic illuminated the challenges that women face in the workforce, especially with childcare. As schools and daycare facilities closed at the beginning of the pandemic, women bore a disproportionate share of the burden as they tried to keep their heads above water by juggling job responsibilities, homeschooling kids and taking care of housework. Salt Lake County resident Heather Stewart felt the struggle firsthand when her office shut down, schools closed and she was stuck trying to homeschool two elementary school-aged children while keeping up with her full-time job. “It was hard to get done what I needed to for work and be present for my kids,” she said. “I felt stretched in every direction. My daughter got behind in math. I knew it was happening, I could see it happening but I didn’t have the energy to do anything about it. I was so burned out.” Dr. Susan Madsen, Founding Director of the Utah Women & Leadership Project, said she thinks it’s time to start a conversation about supporting women in their roles as business leaders and mothers. “Finally, the pandemic is opening the eyes of some legislators,” Madsen said. “Lt. Governor [Deidre] Henderson is on this and she knows we need to support our families.” More than 3,500 women responded to a survey sent out by the UWLP, asking them to share challenges they’ve faced during the pandemic in regard to caregiving, career advancement, homeschool experiences and burnout. The results showed 16% of women had some type of withdrawal from the workplace, whether it was a lay-off, the company closed, their hours were cut or they were furloughed. For another 12%, women saw their workload increase by moving from part-time to full-time or by taking on more responsibility. “We had women who just couldn’t do it. They couldn’t watch their toddler and teach their 3-year-old and manage their departments,” Madsen said. “Teachers really took the brunt. They weren’t being appreciated and put in so much more.” Madsen shared an example of a teacher who was sick with COVID but was still teaching online. There was nobody to fill in for her and she couldn’t let her students down. Childcare workers were also heavily impacted by

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COVID. The ones who responded to the survey expressed frustration at being disrespected and unseen. They don’t want to do it anymore. “In every case, they felt they were trying to take care of essential workers’ kids while worrying about spreading the virus to other children who might take it home to a parent or grandparent,” Madsen said. While national and global reports show the majority of workers were adversely affected by the pandemic, women seemed to be affected disproportionately. When Stewart was asked to participate at an in-person meeting for her job, all the men could be there, but she couldn’t attend without finding childcare. “Why was I the only one who had to stay home with the kids?” she said. “It’s such an entrenched part of how our society operates. My workplace was actually great and very understanding. It’s just how things shake out. But it’s how things always shake out.” The survey found similar results for women trying to balance working from home with teaching children. Mothers did the lion’s share of the work to keep everything together. “It was really the moms that took a beating,” Madsen said. “Only 24% of respondents said they had a supportive spouse or partner. The hard thing about work is it’s societal. You have to change society. We've been socialized from the time we’re born to believe that men should be leaders.” Madsen wants to start the discussion with legislators about improving the workplace for women by enhancing leave policies, creating flexible schedules and helping moms with childcare support. The UWLP will host a free, online fireside chat with Henderson on Friday, Oct. 1 at noon to tackle these topics. The event will be livestreamed to reach as many people as possible. Madsen hopes men will also listen to the conversation. Visit for more information about this discussion with the lieutenant governor who has secured the reputation for being an advocate for women. “I feel called to do this work,” Madsen said. “It’s not women versus men. What lifts women, lifts men, too. More people are listening but more people need to join the conversation.”l

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UPCOMING EVENTS MORNING MINGLE/EDUCATION SERIES September 7, 2021 – 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM, The Mill, SLCC, 3rd floor, 9690 South 300 West, Sandy, UT


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For more information about these events visit our website at September 2021 | Page 23

American Heritage of South Jordan student-dancers to perform at Pearl Harbor 80th anniversary By Julie Slama |


his December marks the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the turning point when the United States was thrust into World War II. It’s not a day that is taken lightly, as Americans and other people worldwide will pay tribute to those who served and sacrificed for freedom and liberties, said American Heritage of South Jordan Director Elsha Yorgason, whose brother, father and both grandfathers serve in the armed forces, including one who served in the Pacific. That’s why she accepted an invitation for her student-dancers to perform at the Dec. 7 memorial parade on the island of Oahu, Hawaii as well as the Dec. 6 opening ceremonies on the deck of the USS Missouri. “This is [likely] the last big event that will happen at Pearl Harbor; we just don’t have the World War II veterans anymore,” she said. “I feel like this is something that these kids will never forget, something that 21-SCCS-0239 - Jan21 - StAndrewDirectMail-a3-pas.pdf 1 most would never have the opportunity to attend yet be able to perform in an environment like this. It’s a historic opportunity. I think it’s really important for our students to learn and to understand the sacrifices that have been made for them.”

Yorgason said that a couple World War II veterans from Utah plan to make the journey and she plans to have her students make connections beforehand with them. Already this summer, the two dance auditioned companies—the Union Dance Crew, made up of seven boys and girls, and the B Troop, comprising five boys, were practicing. The student-dancers also will practice during a class period as well as after school. “They’re amazing; they already are practicing and gearing up,” she said. “They have had dance camp this week where they are working hard on new stuff for Pearl Harbor. They’ve performed at Disney twice; they performed at Lagoon and the Festival of Trees. They were supposed to perform at Disney World, but then it didn’t open (because of COVID-19). They have to be the very top. Our dance teacher, she’s very particular, and she won’t put them on stage unless they are pristine.” 2/3/21 11:21 PM In addition to being part of the Pearl Harbor commemoration, the students also will tour the USS Arizona memorial, go on an island circle tour and visit the Polynesian Cultural Center. The experience is not only open to the

dance students, but to all American Heritage of South Jordan students and their families. Before school began, 67 people already had booked the trip. This opportunity comes about six months after Yorgason arranged for 25 students and their families to tour the greater Washington, D.C., area where the group visited the National Mall, Gettysburg, Fort McHenry, Mt. Vernon, Jamestown, Yorktown and Colonial Willamsburg. “It was very history oriented,” Yorgason said. “We had arranged for guides everywhere we went; a lot of these places you can go, you can do a self-tour or an audio tour or listen to some guides there. [The hired guides], a lot of the times were in time period clothing, and it makes it much more personable. It helps the history come alive, which is what we want when we travel with the kids; we really want them to get a feel for what was happening at the time and why.” The group wasn’t able to tour some places that weren’t open yet to the public in early June because of COVID-19 restrictions and other reasons, but Yorgason feels like the group got a taste of American history. It was an optional trip, not required for a

Students from American Heritage of South Jordan will perform at the 80th anniversary memorial parade of Pearl Harbor Dec. 7 in Oahu. (Julie Slama/ City Journals)

class or grade. “It’s educational learning,” Yorgason said. “I really feel like getting outside of the classroom makes a huge difference for kids. Anytime that they can get out and see life as it really is, if they can see history—how it really happened, if they can experience things in their natural environment, it really makes learning come alive, and it allows that education to really be experiential moment for them that they’ll remember forever.” l


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you to popular Halloween tunes. There are two options for enjoying our menu. You can order from your table, in the traditional way. Come 30 minutes prior and order from your server once you have found your seat. If you feel more comfortable wearing a mask while you are in the theater, we will still be offering food service one hour beforehand in our banquet area. If you prefer this option, just text our main number, 801-266-2600, that you want a reservation. CALENDAR: “Les Miserables: Less Miserable Than 2020” Plays August 26 - November 6, 2021 Check our website for showtimes: Tickets: Adults: $26.95, Children: $15.95 (Children 12 and under) 4861 S. State Street, Murray, UT 84107 Text 801.266.2600 for dinner reservations For additional information, visit our website at www.DesertStarPlayhouse. com

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Area high school principals reflect on lessons learned from COVID-19 By Julie Slama|


igh school students aren’t the only ones who research, study and learn from their lessons. This past 18 months, most every high school principal had a crash course in how to operate a school successfully and keep students engaged and learning during a pandemic. Now, even as a new variant of COVID-19 emerges, administrators took time to a look at some of the lessons they’ve learned in addition to overall improved technology and incorporating it into teaching and learning. Cottonwood High Assistant Principal Jeremy Brooks saw faculty and staff members bond more through the pandemic. “I feel like staff members have been willing to be more vulnerable with each other, which has helped foster relationships within the school,” he said. “Having a sense of belonging can help us achieve our collective vision of cultivating excellence and fostering a global community.” Former Jordan High Principal Wendy Dau echoed those sentiments. “I think the most important thing is that we really came together as a school community,” she said. “We understood that the expectations for everyone increased, and we tried to help one another out and to be appreciative of the contributions of everyone as we tried to have as normal of a school year as possible. I think we learned to be more flexible, and that the new norm was change.” Administrators also found people willing to help, including parents and those in the public and private sectors. “What was really interesting was how many parents stopped by and recognized all that our teachers were doing,” Dau said. “We had doughnuts delivered. We had treats and oranges and thank-you notes dropped in teachers’ boxes. While certainly there were many who were critical of the restrictions, for the most part, our parents were super supportive and actually took the time to write positive emails thanking staff members for their efforts and expressing that they understood that we were in a tough spot as we navigated the new norm.” She also appreciated donations from businesses for masks and hygiene items which were “super helpful.” At Cottonwood, there was a greater help from community businesses and community members in terms of food, clothing and entertainment (card games, board games, decorations, puzzles and more), Brooks said. “Our food pantry saw an overabundance of food that we were able to give local families that were in need,” he said. “We also saw the greatest display of our Christmas Extravaganza that we hold each year right before the holidays. Students were in awe of the things they were able to take home for their family.” Brighton High Principal Tom Sherwood appreciated the help his school received not only from the PTA and seminary next door

Page 26 | September 2021

but also from the community. “We had plenty of people asking how they can help and be of service,” he said. “I think everyone just wanted to lighten the load.” Murray High School Principal Scott Wihongi was grateful for his community. “We had several donations from Kids Eat that provided extra food for our students throughout the year, as well as goodie bags for all faculty and staff,” he said. “We also had a company donate $10,000 in cash to be used for highly impacted family. We had several families lose a parent to COVID, so the donations were gratefully received.” Even with the community support, the principals learned some lessons. “We’ve recognized the need to have student engagement specialists to help connect students more readily to school,” Dau said. “We lost a lot of students as a result of online education in that they didn’t engage with their learning for an entire year. We are now putting in place support staff to help with this, which is a resource that should likely continue. We have increased our social and emotional supports for students, which should absolutely be continued.” Sherwood added that there were more students who were credit deficient than before the pandemic because they weren’t engaged as much in school because of remote options. So, this past summer, “we’ve had a bigger effort with student remediation.” Wihongi also saw a need to increase student engagement after these past 18 months. “I think we underestimated the number of students that would not show up to school, even though they could,” he said. “Many went missing, and many took advantage of the hybrid attendance and curriculum even though they were not doing well academically and should have been in class.” He added that his teachers are focused to reestablishing relationships and student engagement in what he hopes will be a more normal year. Brooks, too, said reestablishing those student relationships is an important part of his school’s attention. “We are in the process of accreditation this year, and our focus will be literacy and relationships,” he said. “In previous years, we’ve had elements of each of those in our professional development, but it has been a focal point this year.” Dau said there was a rocky start to the quick adaption to online learning “because information was just coming at us so fast and was changing so quickly.” However, one area her school could have improved was “in communicating effectively and in a timely manner to families where English is not their first language. We got much better at it as the year progressed, but it could still be better.” Some positives, in addition to more per-

sonalized learning whether it’s online, in person or a hybrid, was online ticketing for athletic events, performing arts shows and concerts, school dances and more, said Wihongi, as well as Sherwood, who both said those services will continue past the pandemic. “The pandemic forced us to online ticketing and streaming for events, as well as demonstrated the importance of in-person learning,” Wihongi said. “It was clear that nothing can replace the direct instruction and help of a teacher, counselor or mentor. Wihongi also said the school will likely continue with sanitary practices like hand sanitizing, mask wearing when sick and possibly contagious with a cold, and air purifying as all classes are equipped with a purifier. Corner Canyon Principal Darrell Jensen said his school will continue to have air filtration, hand sanitation stations around the school and directional walking in the hallways. While things were “spinning on a dime” during the pandemic, Jensen said he felt schools rose to the occasion with the test to stay. “I felt the community and the students were very supportive and understanding why we had to do that, and that’s still on the table; in fact, if we get to a 2% threshold, then we’ll have to do tests to stay,” he said. Wihongi, too, said COVID-19 testing, tracing and protocols improved during the year and can be quickly put in place if necessary. Sherwood appreciated not only the emphasis placed on academics but also athletics. “I hope people recognize how unique Utah was amongst other states,” he said. “Utah was one of only five states in the country that played all their state championships in every sport last year. There was a lot of effort to pull that off to make sure the kids got the experience they want and deserve to have.” Dau saw students appreciate the efforts made by teachers and others. “I think our students did a great job of showing their appreciation for all that the school did to try to make the school year as normal as possible,” she said. “It was such a hard adjustment with no dances and several extracurricular activities canceled, but when they finally got to participate in these, they were so kind and so appreciative because they understood how lucky they were.” Jensen said overall, everyone has become more grateful. “I learned, ‘don’t take it for granted,’” he said. “Don’t take being at school or being in your workplace for being with your colleagues for granted because when the schools shut down, there was no life in the building. It wasn’t a good feeling; I missed the excitement and livelihood that students and teachers bring to this place. So then, it was just a big empty building. It’s not good.” l

At Alta High School, directional arrows remain in place in the hall, a sign of what schools looked like during the 2020–21 school year. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

At Bingham High, like at many schools, signs were posted last year reminding students to social distance and wear a mask. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

Hillcrest High provided face masks and hand sanitizer stations at its school during 2020–21. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

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School districts facing rising costs in construction materials By Julie Slama |


his fall, Aspen Elementary opened its doors to elementary school children in the Daybreak community. The Jordan School District school was completed this summer, after holding its groundbreaking days before COVID-19 spiked in Utah in March 2020. Like many construction projects around the area, shortages of materials and labor were constantly monitored along with the rising costs of supplies, such as wood—and even wood glue, said Dave Rostrom, district director of facility services. In fact, Bingham High’s upstairs remodeling project was delayed because of the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, so the start of school was moved to online, the first time a Jordan District project wasn’t completed on time, he said. “It’s a really large project this summer that we were trying to accomplish, and that plays into it a little bit,” Rostrom said. “Plus we’ve run into labor shortages and the supply chain on all our projects, which has been very difficult.” He also said scarcities have ranged from HVAC components to whiteboards and hardware for doors. “I think a lot of the factories shut down, and they’re still trying to get caught up from orders after they shut down. There’s been a big shortage of truck drivers, and a lot of companies that have material are struggling to get things shipped.” However, the Aspen Elementary contract had already been awarded to Hughes General Contractors; its overall cost was $18.5 million. It was designed by VCBO Architecture, the same design used in other Jordan elementaries, including Golden Fields, Antelope Canyon, Bastian, Mountain Point and Ridge View. “The [Jordan] Board [of Education] has asked us to do a repeat on our build-

ings because we kind of get them down to a science,” he said. “There’s no or very little change orders because we’ve built it so many times that we’ve got all the bugs worked out of the design. It saves a lot of money when we do a repeat building.” The district currently is working off of two elementary school designs—a 1-story and a 2-story, which can save additional dollars; two middle school plans and one for the high school. Even so, Jordan factors in 8% construction inflation per year. “Every time we hit a mark, it’s basically we were paying an additional 8%,” he said. “That can vary; it’s all supply and demand. I would say this last year, it’s probably been a little higher.” He added that costs also would include projects such as leveling slopes before building schools. Currently, an elementary in Herriman with the exact same floor plan is under construction; just two years behind Aspen, its price tag is $19, 950,000, right at the mark—a 7.8% increase from Aspen Elementary’s cost. “I do have a concern on the elementary that we’re building out in Herriman now because you don’t know what’s going to be delayed,” he said about the school that is scheduled to open fall 2022. “Hopefully, these factories are able to start getting back up on top of their orders.” Rostrom said it’s school officials who decide upon projects and what to do with rising costs. “That’s when our school board has to determine what we do,” he said, adding that fewer projects may be considered. “There’s been some years where we wanted to do X amount of projects, and because costs come in higher, we’ve had to eliminate projects or

Canyons School District has multiple schools under construction, including Union Middle, so to cover expenses in addition to a 2017 voter-approved bond, Canyons Board of Education has been discussing taking out lease revenue bonds. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

Page 28 | September 2021

With the rising cost of materials and labor, Jordan School District officials estimate an 8% increase in construction prices annually. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

postpone.” Fortunately, Jordan District already owns property when the board decides to build additional schools, so they aren’t looking at high land costs, he said. While Jordan has 13 construction projects underway, the Herriman elementary is the only new build. Other schools are undergoing renovations, expansions or installation of security doors. Nearby Canyons School District also is facing escalating costs with several new construction projects underway. Officials just held ribbon cuttings for two rebuilt high schools and a renovation of a third, days before school opened Aug. 16. They also held three ribbon cuttings for two elementary schools and a middle school this past spring. Initially, when the $283 million bond was passed in November 2019, Hillcrest’s rebuild was estimated at $85 million, said its principal Greg Leavitt, and Brighton’s rebuild was $87 million, its principal, Tom Sherwood said. Now, the price tags are higher. “We thought early on, they could be around $90 [million], but that quickly turned on us,” said Canyons Chief Financial Officer and Business Administrator Leon Wilcox. Hillcrest will be about $121 million, and Brighton will be about $117 [million]. We’re hearing [new] high schools now can be close to $150 [million in Utah].” That’s about a 34% increase of cost on Hillcrest and a 30% on Brighton. At Alta High, renovations were first expected to cost at $38.5 million and resulted in about $57 million, he added. Canyons Superintendent Rick Robins said “rebuilding a high school is quite an undertaking. Tackling two is ambitious. But remaking three all at once is something for

the record books. The pace at which construction costs are soaring shows no signs of slowing. With those costs, other inflationary pressures and Utah’s labor shortage, it’s fortunate we started all of our school improvements when we did.” This summer, Canyons Board of Education started taking the steps to approve $38 million in lease revenue bonds to cover expenses, Wilcox said, adding that it is a customary practice in cities and some school districts to take out a loan or a bond, sell bonds, and repay it out of capital funds. “So, it will impact our future things we can do, but we promised the public we were going to complete these projects,” he said. “We had three schools—Union [Middle], Peruvian Park and Edgemont [elementaries] that were seismically unsafe and we really needed to replace and rebuild those so that’s why we’re doing what we’re doing right now on issuing these bonds. If we didn’t do this, we would have to wait about two to four years to complete Glacier Hills, Peruvian and Union, and we just didn’t feel like that was the right thing to do.” A future Draper elementary school also is figured into the numbers, Wilcox said. “We feel like we’re in a very good position with our buildings,” he said. “We put a lot in the last decade. We’ve done basically 20 projects. We’ve got our high schools all modernized; all our middle schools with the exception of Eastmont all brand-new or renovated. So, all our secondary schools are taken care of, and around six of our elementaries are brand-new with a few of them, just a few years older than that. These bonds will take up to 16 to 18% of our capital allotment or balance each year. We still have 80% to keep these buildings modern and functioning.” l

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Girls soccer SLCC and 6A high school preview By Greg James |


he soccer teams across the state have begun another season. The high school and college teams in the area want to celebrate their past success, but improve this season. Soccer is the first official UHSAA sport to begin its season. Most local teams will have reconfigured regions and rosters. Roy joins Region 2 and should have an impact right away. They defeated Kearns in the first round of last year’s state playoffs 3-0 and will stand as immediate contenders for the region title. Kearns is the defending champion of the region and Hunter will need to retool to be competitive. Cyprus, Granger, Taylorsville and West will battle for who is next among the region’s

Roy and Kearns faced off in the state playoffs last season. This year they are both Region 2 contenders. (Photo courtesy of Kearns historian)

competitors. Offensive production will be the key as the entire region proves its worth. In Region 3 the top teams have become valley powerhouses. Riverton has looked formidable in its preseason matches, going undefeated and scoring 21 goals in five games. Bingham, Herriman and Mountain Ridge should also contend for the regional title. West Jordan and Copper Hills have strong soccer tradition and will be teams to consider if one of the top teams falters. Advancing past the second round of the state playoffs could be the mark of a good season. Corner Canyon was the only 6A team in Salt Lake County able to accomplish that feat last season. The UHSAA is scheduled to begin region competition the week of Aug. 17 (after press deadline.) They will use the ratings performance index again this season to set rankings for the state playoffs. Herriman was the county’s top rated 6A team last year at four. The Salt Lake Community College is coming off its most successful season ever. In an abbreviated and realigned season they advanced to the NJCAA women’s soccer national championship match last spring. They lost to Tyler Community College (Texas)

2-0. This was Tyler’s second consecutive championship. Bruins head coach Mark Davis called it a “once in a lifetime opportunity” for his players. The team had three players named to the all-tournament team: Carli Jager, Cassidy Adams and Hannah Lee. That ended a fabulous women’s season. They had an outstanding 15-2-1 record and a

Scenic West championship. Davis stepped down as the team’s head coach shortly after the season and they hired Cassie Ulrich. Davis will continue as the men’s team coach. Ulrich had been part of the team’s coaching staff making the transition seamless. The success of the women’s community college team exemplifies the talent available at the high school level. l

Kearns captured its first region soccer title in 20 years last season. (Photo courtesy of Kearns historian)

Increasing Use of Technology Strengthens Communities By Bryan Thomas, Vice President of Engineering, Comcast Mountain West Region The internet is a powerful resource for furthering education, assisting with job searches, tracking your benefits, engaging in telehealth and keeping up with life. There’s no doubt, having access to the internet is more important than ever. And teams of hi-tech experts are working nonstop to provide Americans with internet access. In fact, Comcast and others in the broadband industry have invested nearly $2 trillion since 1996 to build some of the world’s fastest, most resilient, and most widely deployed networks anywhere—a remarkable commitment by any standard. ACCESS vs. ADOPTION As we emerge from the impacts of the pandemic, we are seeing that access isn’t the only gap to bridge. What often stands in the way of connectivity are roadblocks to broadband adoption, be it language barriers, lack of knowledge of available options, privacy concerns and more. Across Denver, and in metropolitan areas around the country, most homes have multiple

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choices of broadband providers. According to Broadband Now, there are nearly 48 internet providers covering 98 percent of Utahns having access to broadband speeds over 25 Mbps. Utah ranks high as the 8thmost connected state in the country. For more than a decade, Comcast has been committed to doing our part to close the digital divide and addressing both the access and the adoption gap. Our partnerships with community organizations, educational institutions and business leaders are critical in making progress. Since 2011, Comcast has offered our Internet Essentials program, which has connected nearly 160,000 low-income Utahns to low-cost, highspeed internet at home—over 90% of whom did not have a connection when they applied for the service. Internet Essentials offers heavily discounted residential broadband ($9.95 per month) to qualifying families, seniors, and veterans in need, and serves as a model for other providers nationwide. Impressively, the NAACP hailed Internet Essentials as “the largest experiment ever attempted to close the digital divide.” And Comcast, through its Internet Essentials program, invested almost $700 million nationally in

digital literacy training and awareness. With its new “Lift Zone” initiative, Comcast is equipping community centers across the state with free Wi-Fi to support distance learning. But it doesn’t stop here. Over the next 10 years, Comcast will invest $1 billion to further close the digital divide and give more people the needed tools and resources to succeed in an increasingly digital world. The combined work and partnerships with community, education and business leaders like you will be critical to ensuring people have access, the hardware, the skills and are willing and able to connect with a reliable, secure broadband network. You all know and work directly with your constituents, clients, neighbors – and you have the trust of the people you serve. The axiom, “It takes a village…” has never been more relevant. Achieving the goal of having all people connected to the power of the internet will take the kind of focus and commitment on the part of all of us to connect more people to what matters most. To learn more about Comcast’s digital equity initiatives, or to refer organizations or people who might benefit from these services, please visit https://

September 2021 | Page 29




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This column could be a bit divisive. I expect 48% of readers will send me envelopes of cash and loving social media messages. Another 48% will steal my birdbath and mail me dead raccoons. The remaining percentage are too busy stocking their underground bunkers to frivolously read newspapers. Let’s start with COVID-19, shall we? What a &$%@ nightmare. Cases and tempers continue to rise as we’re asked to wear masks and get vaccinated. It seems like a small price to pay if it ends a global pandemic that has killed more than four million people worldwide. Four million. Instead, Utahns are shouting about “rights” and “freedoms” and shooting guns in the air and hugging flags and buying MyPillows and yelling at federal and local leaders like this is some type of sporting event, but instead of winners or losers, people die. I hate wearing a mask, but I do it. I am terrified of shots, but I got the vaccine— twice. There are some things you just do because you love the people around you and want them to be happy and alive. I understand it isn’t possible to “reason” someone into “reason” but here we are. Next up, let’s talk about racism. Remember in “Jane Eyre” when you find out Rochester had his wife locked up on

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the third floor because she was insane? Well, Rochester represents the people who turn a blind eye to our country’s racist history, and his nutty wife is racism. And what happened when she got loose? She burned the damn house down. Just because you don’t want to talk about racism or teach how our country was built on the backs of enslaved people, or admit that systemic racism exists, doesn’t mean it’s not there. The last few years have shown us how it’s beating on the locked door, hoping to run rampant and destructive. (Sorry if I ruined “Jane Eyre” for you but you’ve had almost 175 years to read it. That’s on you.) And finally, let’s throw women some childcare love. Women have been the main childcare providers since Homo sapiens appeared on Earth’s party scene 200,000 years ago. It’s been a long slog. I think we can all agree that women are in the workplace. Correct? Women are working full-time, right? It took 199,910 years for women to step into the spotlight of their own comedy special, thanks to people like Susan B. Anthony and RGB. We can now get a charge card! Vote! Own a home! But we’re still the main caregivers, even if we run a company, own a small business or fly to the moon twice a week.

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Maybe it’s time for men to step up with us. Women often worry about taking time off to take kids to dentist appointments, doctor visits, piano lessons, lobotomies, etc. Do men do that? I’m genuinely asking because I’m willing to bet the majority of child Uber-services are performed by moms. If you’ve never been a single mom with a sick 12-year-old and you have to decide between using a vacation day or leaving your child home alone, then don’t tell me there isn’t a childcare problem in America. We’re a smart people. We are innovative and creative. Don’t you think we can use our brains to make society better instead of more divided? Maybe we’re not. Maybe our evolutionary progress ends with screaming and finger pointing. Just don’t mail me a dead raccoon.

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s residents recently embraced the competitive spirit the Summer Olympics brought into their lives, South Jordan resident Debbie Millet has been embracing competition since 2005 when she began her Olympic weightlifting journey at the age of 36. Millet discovered there weren’t a lot of women competing in Olympic-style weightlifting at a local level at that time. She admitted that she was one of only a handful of women in the gym looking to lift weights, in the days before Crossfit became popular. Millet recalled finding one weightlifting coach in Utah, Dave Turner, and trained long enough and hard enough to win accolades at a national and international level. Millet is a four-time Masters National Champion, and a two-time Masters World Champion. “Once I learned how to do the Olympic lifts, I didn’t ever want to train another way,” Millet said. Olympic weightlifting is comprised of two techniques: the clean and jerk, which is a composite of two weightlifting movements with a barbell. The first part is the clean, lifting the barbell up from the floor to approximately the height of one’s shoulders, then the jerk, where the lifter raises the barbell from the stationary position completely up over the head. The snatch is the continuous motion of moving the barbell from the ground to above the head. Weightlifting debuted as a sport at the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, and has been contested at the Summer Olympic games since 1920. Prior to 1920, all lifters competed together in the same events; since 1920, competiContinued page 14

Debbie Millet stepped away from individual competition to train the next generation of Olympic weightlifters. (Courtesy of Debbie Millet)


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