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February 2020 | Vol. 20 Iss. 02

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MAJESTIC ELEMENTARY SAVED BY ART, MUSIC By Jet Burnham | j.burnham@mycityjournals.com

The Majestic Elementary community members make their voice heard at a public hearing to keep the school open. (Heather Reich/Majestic Elementary)

A new kind of school

Majestic Elementary will not be closed. It will stay open, and beginning this fall, will be a magnet school with a music and arts emphasis curriculum. “There are no other schools with this level of arts emphasis,” said Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. “We have really worked hard to increase the art options and exposure to various types of art in all of our elementary schools, but this will be the first time that we’ve concentrated resources and opportunities in one school like this.” Community members are excited for the new school program, but ultimately, they are thrilled their school will not be closed. Majestic is located at the northeast corner of Jordan School District boundaries where it has suffered from low-enrollment for years. “It’s not being completely responsible with the taxpayers’ money if we leave a school with that few numbers open,” said Jordan District board of education member Jen Atwood. However, the board wanted to find a way to save the

school as much as the families did. “It weighed very heavy on the board to close the school because we felt like not all avenues had been looked at,” Atwood said. They have spent the past year looking for solutions that would entice more students to enroll at Majestic instead of relocating the 340 students to nearby schools. “More than anything, I wanted school to be a good experience for the students,” Atwood said. “I wanted them to be able to have the learning opportunities that other kids have. So, it was just really trying to find out the best way to do that.” District officials collected input from parents, researched options and even traveled out of state to look for solutions that could save Majestic. The board reviewed various options for creating a magnet school with a science-based curriculum, an arts emphasis curriculum, an Individual Guided Education and an extended-day/after-school program. Ultimately, the board chose the music and arts option. “These kids do not have the opportunity to put their

hands on instruments, to have that additional music lesson,” Atwood said. “That’s why that option was more appealing.”

Prepared for change

Not knowing which option would be chosen, Majestic Principal Kathe Riding began preparing students and staff last year to incorporate elements of all the ideas into the curriculum. Students have regular experiences with art, science and computer skills during weekly rotations. An art specialist works with small groups, and a master teacher came out of retirement to “wow” students with enrichment science activities previously reserved for gifted students. Every other week, students attend band and choir classes. “We thought we would try all of these things to see, in case one of these did come true, how this community of kids would accept it and if they were comfortable with it,” Riding said. Kyla Asmar, a sixth grade teacher at Majestic, said the arts integration has been well received by her students. “It’s one of their favorite parts of the week,” Asmar Continued page 5

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In wake of church break from Boy Scouts, community troops gather By Alison Brimley | a.brimley@mycityjournals.com

Scouts gather at the first meeting of West Jordan Community Troop 6, held Jan. 8. (Photo courtesy Jonathan Winn)

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hen the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced in May 2018 that it would be formally ending their relationship with the Boy Scouts of America, members had mixed reactions. Some parents rejoiced at the knowledge that they’d never have to oversee another Eagle Project. Some were sad to see the partnership end. The partnership has been in place for more a century, and scouting has played a vital role in many boys’ lives. But even though the church ended its status as a chartered organization of Scouting effective last Dec. 31, members remained free to organize and participate in troops of their own. So West Jordan Community Scout Troop 6 was born. Jonathan Winn, one of the scoutmasters of West Jordan’s new troop, is one of the many for whom scouting was an important part of growing up. He earned more than 60

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merit badges during his time as a Boy Scout, completed his Eagle and volunteered at Boy Scout camps once he had graduated from the program. He describes himself as an outdoorsman for whom “camping is just a part of life.” But even though Winn had sons he was excited to help through the Boy Scout program, he wasn’t upset when he learned his church would be cutting ties. His reaction was positive. He saw an opportunity for his boys to participate in a smaller, more independent Boy Scout troop that could better take advantage of all Boy Scouts had to offer. Winn’s troop is small; it just includes Winn, his fellow scoutmasters Paul Emett and Brian Morse (all of whom have years of previous experience as scoutmasters), and their own sons. They meet every other Wednesday at the Sunridge Assisted Living Center. They expect their numbers will be smaller than previous church-affiliated

troops, and they don’t see that as a negative. When scouting was a part of church activity, Winn said, boys who weren’t necessarily interested in it were expected to participate. The same was true for some adults called to serve in scouting. “People were ready to be done with it, so when they were called to serve, they wouldn’t give it their all,” said Paul Emett. So, I felt the program was suffering.” Now, it will be more of an extracurricular event, just like anything else. “Some kids are basketball kids; some kids are computer nerds; and some kids are scouting kids,” Winn said. “It’s not for everyone, and that’s fine. We don’t want anybody here who doesn’t want to be here.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ scouting program also involved many rules that didn’t apply to BSA in general. For example, in church troops, a boy couldn’t become a Boy Scout until age 12. The BSA allows boys to join at age 10. The Church also put restrictions on the distance troops could travel for camping trips and other activities. Now, Winn said, his troop could go to Florida if it wants, where a “sea base” sails the Caribbean, offering boys opportunities to learn navigation, snorkeling and fishing. If they can earn the money to cover the trip, it’s “on the table,” Winn said. It might not happen in their first year. “Right now, we’re just trying to collect snowshoes for a snowshoeing trip,” he said. The financial aspect of scouting will look a little different for independent troops than for church-affiliated troops. The activities of the Troop 6 will be 100% self-funded. And because their group, unlike the church groups, isn’t classified as a nonprofit (though it hopes to be someday), donations aren’t tax deductible. The troop will soon participate in a fundraiser selling beef jerky. Before its first meeting on Jan. 8, the troop was soliciting donations of scout uniforms. Winn guessed there would be plenty

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of used scout shirts floating around. Right now, Winn said, they’ve got “literally zero dollars in the bank.” But he’s optimistic. He anticipates other challenges too. As a scoutmaster, Winn sees his commitment to his troop as no different from the commitment of a parent with kids on a football or baseball team. But he understands some parents’ hesitancy to get involved in a scouting troop that isn’t part of a church activity. “It used to be that their scouting time commitment was their church commitment,” he said. “Now they have both.” And they don’t want their boys’ troop activities to compete in any way with church activities. “If we had to compete, we’d choose church,” Winn said. They remain “a religious troop,” Emett said. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ statement that announced its break from scouting explained that it needed a program that would better serve a worldwide membership and help youth focus on their faith. Some have asserted that the split resulted from BSA’s 2015 decision to allow openly gay men to serve as scoutmasters. Emett emphasized that theirs is an “open troop,” and that they accept all the changes BSA has made to membership requirements. “I’ve got a nephew who is transgender, and we’ve talked to him about joining our troop,” Emett said. “These are the types of life situations that we feel comfortable navigating under those more inclusive rules.” The troop is also in search of people who can give back to scouting in any way, whether it’s donations of supplies or skills. And it welcomes any service opportunities for their troop as well. While the troop may not be an official part of the church, the members hope to remain a part of the community. l

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Continued from front page said. She believes art not only appeals to students’ desires to express themselves but that art provides a variety of ways to teach students with different learning styles. Asmar recently completed an arts partnership program and plans to continue working for an arts endorsement that will help her integrate art into her classroom curriculum. District administrators will also provide arts training to staff and will hire arts specialists for the areas of emphasis, which could include any combination of visual arts, digital media arts, music (choir and band/orchestra), dance and theater. Riding is thrilled with the proposed program. “It’s going to enrich their lives and give them greater experiences,” she said.

Student scores soar

Incorporating arts and science into the curriculum and working hard to convince the board to keep the school open, the efforts of Riding and her staff have already resulted in improved student performance. Utah State Board of Education’s school grading report for 2018–19 showed increased achievement scores in all subject areas for Majestic students, with the most significant changes in science, which rose from 28.7% proficiency to 41.7%.

Riding said Majestic’s EL program was previously rated “in critical need.” The most recent report shows the program is performing above district and state averages. “We’re seeing that everybody’s responding favorably to what’s happening here,” Riding said. “We’re just thrilled.” Students’ achievements and growth will be celebrated at an upcoming family night. “We’re going to have a showcase at our school to let the parents come and see what the kids are doing and the progress they’ve made,” Riding said. They will also be celebrating that the school will stay open.

“We’re on cloud nine for a few minutes, and then we have to get back to work,” Riding said.

Staff will begin training now to prepare for the new curriculum beginning this fall. “We’ll prepare the staff so that they’re able to do the things that we need to do to support the program,” Riding said.

Saving Majestic

While the goal is for the arts and music offerings to draw in more students to the school, community members want to preserve the close-knit culture they fought to defend at the many public hearings and board meetings where the school’s fate was

discussed. The board was sensitive to parent feedback as they discussed closing the school. “The community loses their identity to a degree when a school is closed,” Godfrey said. “So, we wanted to be sure that with such a high stakes decision on the line, parents didn’t have any obstacles to being able to make their case directly to the board.” When the first public hearing was held at Riverton High School—on the opposite end of the district from Majestic—the district provided a bus. “We understood that it would be very difficult for many parents from that community to get transportation in time to participate in the public hearing,” Godfrey said. “We provided a school bus that picked parents up and took a couple of different trips from Majestic to Riverton and back to give them a voice in that process.” Atwood said while it was hard to see so many upset parents at the public hearings, she believes if they hadn’t shown up and voiced their opinions, they would not have had the same end result. Riding agrees the new program for Majestic was made possible because the threat of closure put a fire under parents and staff to work harder to prove their school deserved to remain open.

“I think it was a powerful combination of parent voices uniting in support of the school and the Board of Education being very open to the feedback they received,” Godfrey said. “They listened to the parents and are trying to offer something that benefits not only that community but anyone in the district who wants to be part of it.” Riding said it was a good experience for Majestic parents to get involved in community issues. “They were polite, but they spoke up,” she said. “It was hard for them to do that— they even had to do it with translators. But they were willing to speak their voice and to do the surveys.”

What’s next?

Parent feedback continues to shape board decisions. Many parents have expressed interest in an extended day or after-school program, which is still a possible solution for other West Jordan elementary schools. “Our enrollment numbers throughout the schools in the West Jordan area are going down,” Atwood said. “We need to be able to help supplant whatever we can into those schools to bring those numbers up.” l

You were just in a car acident, now what? Unless you’re one of the few anomalies in the world, we’ve all been in an accident. We’ve experienced that sickening feeling when your car makes unwanted contact with another vehicle. We’re frustrated and disheartened. While we may want to crawl into a hole, we can’t. There are things to do and we’ve given you 10 to be aware of (in no particular order). 1.Have an emergency kit in your car. While this step comes before the accident occurs, it’s essential to be prepared. Whatever you kit entails, make sure it has a first-aid kit, flashlight, reflective triangles and a small (and simple) camera in case there’s been damage to your phone. We’re typically frustrated or frazzled after an accident and not inclined to rational thinking. Being prepared limits the possibility of forgetfulness. 2.Take a deep breath. Accidents are traumatic experiences. Taking a breath will shift focus from what just happened to what needs to be done next. 3.Get a status check on everyone in the car. Check with each passenger to see if they are OK. Have someone call

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911 immediately if someone is injured or unresponsive. 4.Move to a safe location. Most insurance companies recommend relocating the vehicle to the sidewalk or shoulder of the road as soon as possible after the accident. If the damage to the car is minor, this should be relatively easy. But if there are major injuries or questions about the safety of the car, leave it where it is, even if its blocking traffic. 5.Increase your visibility. Turn on your hazard lights and set out your attention items from the emergency kit—flares, orange cones, reflective triangles, etc. One accident should not lead to another. Take precaution to ensure other drivers on the road remain safe. 6.Stay calm. It is very easy to lose your temper in this situation, it’s human nature. Keeping your cool will keep the situation from getting worse. If it wasn’t your fault, it’s easy to want to let your emotions loose on the other driver. This will cloud your judgment and may lead to something that does not help the situation. You still need to exchange information. l

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Fighting the haters and the water-wasters: Despite online bullies, ‘localscaper’ shares wisdom in her TED talk By Alison Brimley | a.brimley@mycityjournals.com

West Jordan landscaper Cynthia Bee on stage the day of her TED talk, delivered last Sept. 21 at Kingsbury Hall. (Photo courtesy Cynthia Bee)

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ver wonder what goes on behind the scenes of a TED talk? West Jordan resident Cynthia Bee can tell you. Salt Lake City’s recent TEDx event took place in September, but hopefuls begin the application process months earlier. They submit a short description of their talk, which focuses on an idea related to technology, entertainment or design. The first round is a completely blind process. Those who advance to the second round submit a 90-second video of themselves making a presentation. In this round, the TED committee determines, “Is this person the right person to make this idea real for people?” Bee said. If you stutter, they can work with you on that. But they can’t give you passion you don’t have.” Bee, a landscape architect and outreach coordinator for Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District, was just one of 14 chosen from a pool of 363 applicants to appear on the TED stage. The TED experience was one of the most amazing of her life. But she didn’t come to the stage without reservations. She taught her in-person and online audience about “localscapes.” She and her team coined the term in 2015 to describe a yard that looks traditional but works for Utah’s climate. Because 75% of what Jordan Valley delivers goes to residential use, not public spaces, helping residents save water is the most efficient approach to water conservation. The five elements of a localscape, outlined in Bee’s TED talk, are: a central open shape, gathering areas, activity zones, paths and planting beds with climate-friendly plants. Bee has taught landscaping classes to

Page 6 | February 2020

tle her message down. Workshops taught the speakers how to bring emotion into their talks. “By the time we stepped on the stage, all of us could give our talks in our sleep,” she said. Working with other presenters was part of what made the experience rewarding. “We have nothing in common when we start, or think we don’t,” she said of the diverse group of speakers. But by the end of the experience, they were close friends. But Bee had one challenge she didn’t feel her fellow presenters fully understood: the struggle of appearing in public as an overweight woman. “There were a couple times in rehearsal when I got emotional because I thought, “Oh no, people are going to see me,’” she said. Others reassured her it wouldn’t be a problem. She told them, “Oh no, you don’t understand.” TED talks are available on YouTube, where the comment section can be toxic. Bee credits her employer for encouraging someone who’s “not a Barbie doll” to represent the organization. “You can’t be overweight and not ever have been made fun of,” she said. “You know it’s coming.” If you look at the number of overweight people in this country versus the number of overweight TED presenters, Bee says, you might see a disparity. “It’s not because we don’t do and know stuff; it’s because we self-edit,” she said. Bee felt the urge to self-edit but applied to present anyway. Even after she’d com-

A yard homeowners designed after learning the principles of localscaping. Bee reported that more West Jordan residents have localscaped than any other city in Utah. (Photo courtesy Cynthia Bee)

mitted to appear on the stage, she fought the instinct to “shrink herself,” to hide, to wear black. Bee consciously chose a pink dress— her way of saying she wasn’t hiding. Still, she was unprepared for how much the virtual insults she received would hurt. “I did cry,” she said. But even though she got “nasty” comments early on, what happened after “restored [her] faith in people.” Many commenters affirmed the value of the information she shared. Bee’s talk has more than 32,000 views. Bee has a message for those who “self-edit” for whatever reason: “Get over it.” “Yeah, I did get made fun of on the internet, just like I thought I would,” she said. “And guess what? I’m still here; I’m still fine. The idea is still good.” l

homeowners for years. Teaching has taught her a lot, too. It’s taken time to learn that when people come to a class, they don’t just want information—they’re trying to solve a problem. It was an approach that came in handy when preparing her TED talk. Bee used to teach xeriscaping to conserve water. The reaction from homeowners was less than enthusiastic. People tended to think they had a choice between extremes: either “a yard full of grass with meatball-shaped shrubs or a yard full of cactus and lava rock.” Localscapes embrace the idea that the best thing for Utah’s climate is something in between. She said it also wasn’t motivating to preach about saving water, because most people already think they’re doing as much as they can. “Of course, they’re not accepting our solution; it’s a problem they don’t think they have,” Bee said. Instead, Bee learned to ask, “What do you think your problems are?” People would answer that their yards lacked privacy or were too high maintenance. They worked to develop solutions to these problems while conserving water, so that “by solving their problems, we’re also solving our problems.” Though Bee often speaks in public for her job, writing the TED talk was a challenge. She wasn’t just representing her own ideas but the collective knowledge of everyone she works with. The final presentation is 10 minutes. “You’re a hundred hours into that 10 minutes,” Bee said. The TED committee, which selects and prepare speakers, puts A localscape designed by Cynthia Bee for a Daybreak home featured in the Parade of Homes. in even more time. Bee met multiple times (Photo courtesy Cynthia Bee) with the committee, which helped her whit-

West Jordan City Journal


Kaylee Bucio: National Mariachi Vocal Grand Champ at 8 years young By Jordan Hafford | j.hafford@mycityjournals.com

CENSUS 2020 BEGINS ONLINE MARCH 12, 2020 The U.S. Census helps fund our schools, health care, roads, and other important parts of our community. Grand Champion vocalist Kaylee Bucio at the 25th Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza. (Photo Courtesy Martha Chavez)

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t the tender young age of 8, Riverside Elementary student Kaylee Bucio has been named National Grand Champion Vocal Winner at the 25th Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza, the most competitive mariachi vocal competition in the United States. “I have been teaching Kaylee since she was 4 years old,” said Kaylee’s vocal coach, Martha Chavez. “I don’t normally take tiny tots like Kaylee was when she started; however, there was something about her that caught my attention: her natural ability to sing, personality and dedication.” Chavez is herself a seasoned vocalist with years of classical training and a powerful voice. She carries a lifelong passion for Mariachi music, partly due to her parents, who were both singers in Mexico and performed live on radio shows. Chavez’s skill and extensive knowledge of music these days, however, is mainly focused on the success of her students. “I love teaching young people and adults,” she said. “I take a genuine interest in the development of their talents.” Kaylee is passionate about her vocal lessons, and although she has a very strong support system, it seems to be Kaylee herself that is pushing to achieve her highest potential. She attends vocal lessons with Chavez regularly along with piano lessons. Although she has only been around eight years, Kaylee is very familiar with the spotlight. She is a previous participant

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in Access Broadway in Vegas, as well as a performer at the New York City Play Station Theatre on Broadway as a reward for winning at the regional level. Kaylee also recently performed in her hometown of Salt Lake City at the Tabernacle on Temple Square for New Year’s Eve 2019. Bucio has an impressive ability to memorize songs quickly and boasts over 60 songs in her current repertoire. At the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza, Kaylee competed against 42 vocalists that

ranged in age from elementary to college from across the country and was crowned champion through her performance of the vocally challenging classic “Granada.” According to its website, mariachimusic.com, Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza was founded in San Antonio, Texas, in 1995 “with the mission of promoting and presenting world-class mariachi artists and preserving the cultural traditions of Hispanic heritage.” While in San Antonio for the competition, Kaylee also sang at the famous River Walk alongside hundreds of mariachi groups from all over the nation. “While we were there, I was able to see the richness of culture and how mariachi music is implemented into the school curriculum programs,” Chavez said. “I wish that Utah could do the same for our young people, especially in heavily Hispanic populated areas.” Chavez, along with her supportive parents and family, are convinced that Kaylee truly enjoys what she does and loves sharing it with the world. “She sets an example to other children of dedication, hard work and discipline,” she said. The little superstar from West Jordan is now under contract with Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza and will be opening at the Kaylee with mariachi band Mariachi Vargas de Chicago Symphony Center on Feb. 15. l

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New council adviser position filled by former city manager By Erin Dixon | erin@mycityjournals.com

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David Brickey reads what the responsibilities are for the council chairperson. (Erin Dixon/City Journals)

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hree new members of council, four incumbents—Kelvin Green, David Pack and Melissa Worthen—joined Kayleen Whitelock, Chad Lamb, Chris McConnehey and Zach Jacob on Jan. 8, for the historic first meeting in the new form of government. The brand-new council voted unanimously to hire the former City Manager David Brickey as council adviser, a new position. Brickey served as city manager for two years with Mayor Jim Riding. When Mayor Dirk Burton was elected last November, Burton decided to let Brickey go. Korban Lee was given the position, who had previously been assistant city manager under Brickey. The contract extended to Brickey lasts until this coming April 6 but could be extended if the council is unable to fill the position with someone else. McConnehey describes the job the adviser will fill. “Mr. Brickey’s title and responsibilities will be that of city council transition

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adviser to provide advice, guidance and services as requested by the city council,” he said. For example, during city council meeting on Jan. 8, Brickey explained to the council what the criteria are for the council chair, including signing resolutions and other council business as decided by the council. When council members take their seats, they may not know the intricacies of their role, so the council adviser will help guide them through codes and regulations. This new position is a permanent one, not just for just the period of adjustment in the new form of government. Interviews are ongoing to find a new council adviser and will replace Brickey as soon as the right candidate is selected. “I anticipate continuing to provide guidance and services associated with the new role the city council plays as the city’s legislative arm and balance to the executive branch,” Brickey said. l

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hy should we pay attention to Brigadier Gen. Michael J. Turley? First, he’s the man behind the 7,300 soldiers that are prepared to help you in a natural disaster, like the massive earthquake that is predicted. Turley is the adjutant general of the Utah National Guard and Utah Air National Guard. He commands the soldiers that will be the first to help Utahns in an emergency. “We have, in West Jordan actually, a huge helicopter capability so we can do medical evacuations, move people in and out of areas,” Turley said. “Using our high-clearance vehicles, we can get in and out of areas that other people cannot get into; we can do ground evacuations. We have engineer assets that come in and clear roads; we can help and assist in urban search and rescue. We have the ability to provide food and water; we can create water.” Turley thinks that the citizen soldiers in our national guard make them uniquely qualified to serve their own people. “We have soldiers and airmen that are highly professional but also serve in the civilian world,” he said. “They’re police officers and businessmen and teachers. I think that’s a healthy thing for us because it connects our military with our people.” Second, he’s your neighbor. Turley has called West Jordan home since 1995. “I like West Jordan for the simple reason it tends to be what I consider the strength of Utah: a close-knit community, lots of people helping others, people within neighborhoods know who each other are,” he said. “It’s a small town in a big city.”

Other roles of the National Guard

Page 10 | February 2020

The Utah National Guard can also be called up by the U.S. president if more soldiers are needed in an international conflict. “We see a resurgence of a global power competition with two competitors who sometimes work in consort and sometimes do not,” Turley said during the change of command last December. “Russia and China both field large, modern and lethal military forces. They have upgraded their arsenals in the past few years in dramatically daunting ways. Therefore, we must be prepared to deter our enemies and, if required, to defend our homeland and defeat our enemies at a moment’s notice.” There is a National Guard for each of the 54 U.S. states and territories. “National Guard” may be a name used for military forces in other countries, but the United States Guard is unique. “They will call them the national guard, but they tend to be a paramilitary police force,” he said. “They’re not citizen soldiers. The Swiss, you go through two years [of mandatory] training, and then you’re in the reserves until you’re 60. The only thing they give you is a rifle and a bicycle, and you store it in your garage.” Turley often mentioned the tension between U.S. governing bodies, military and citizens when it comes to his decision making. “There is a pressure to meet both needs, the needs of the governor and the state and the needs of the federal government and president,” he said. “Those do have some conflicting interests; there’s tension. It’s a healthy tension. It’s like the tension between say the three branches of the government, and I’m the one that sits between that.” He said the hardest decisions are when

the choices are between regulations versus taking care of individuals. “I like to use the phrase ‘we’re an organization of standards, but we’re also an organization of humans,’” he said. Turley has an extensive military and management background. Out of high school, he joined the Marines to pay for his education. After he left the Marines, he owned his own business. He then returned to military service through the National Guard and completed war college training. His decision to join the National Guard was simply a career move. He didn’t anticipate rising as high as he did. “I think I looked at it as everybody does in their career: You’re hoping for the best, and you’re planning for normal,” he said. “I came into the Guard thinking, ‘Oh, maybe someday I’ll be a general or a colonel.’ I just kept getting really neat opportunities.” l

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Gen. Michael Turley (second from right) stands with Gov. Gary Herbert (fourth from right) during the presentation of colors at the change of command last December. (Photo/Utah National Guard public affairs)

West Jordan City Journal


New West Jordan Mayor, council members take oath of office By Erin Dixon | erin@mycityjournals.com

I

n November 2019, West Jordan voters chose a new mayor, three new councilmembers and returned two councilmembers to their seats. Councilmembers Chad Lamb and Kayleen Whitelock hold their seats until the 2022 election. The representatives by district are as follows: District 1: Chris McConnehey District 2: Melissa Worthen District 3: Zach Jacob District 4: David Pack At-large: Kelvin Green At-large: Chad Lamb At-large: Kayleen Whitelock

Dirk Burton takes the oath of office as West Jordan’s 14th mayor, accompanied by his wife Janet. (Erin Dixon/City Journals)

Mayor Dirk Burton also returns to the city but no longer as a council member. He holds the first strong mayor position in West Jordan history. Burton grew up in Kearns but spent much of his professional career as an electrician in Missouri. He owned and sold some electrical companies and taught community education classes for electricians. When he returned to Utah, he settled in West Jordan.

After taking the oath of office, Burton gave a speech that he said was like him, “it’s going to be short.” “Today we honor our democracy,” he said. “Because you have taken the time to vote, you have selected who the leaders of our city are going to be. Recently, West Jordan voters voted to make a change in our government. Today, that change goes into effect.” “I’m honored to be the first mayor with this form of government and thank you for selecting me to do this with you,” Burton said. “With you, not for you because I can’t do this by myself. I need your help. And with this new form of government, you have a say in how this goes, so I’m looking forward to working with you. I will be available. Don’t be the silent majority; I want to hear from you. Thank you very much for your support.” Check out westjordanjournal. com for more stories on the recent change of government. l

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February 2020 | Page 11


First council meeting of the year: a coin toss, urging for transparency By Erin Dixon | erin@mycityjournals.com

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Councilmember Chris McConnehey was voted as West Jordan’s first council chair. (Erin Dixon/City Journals)

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ithout a majority, the vote is passed to a coin toss. When city council meeting first convened in January, council members voted for who they would like to see as council chair. In the new form of government, the mayor is no longer the head of the council. “The council chair in the prior form of government was the mayor, whose duty it was to represent the council,” Councilmember Chris McConnehey said. “In this new form of government, they are the reflection of the council, not the driver of the council.” The first round of voting failed to capture a majority vote (four votes needed from a seven-seat council). McConnehey received three votes, Zach Jacob received two votes, Kayleen Whitelock received two votes. So, what happened next? There was a coin toss. Someone not on the council had to toss a coin to decide which member would be in the revote. A city attorney wrote the initials ZJ on one side, KW on the other. The coin landed with KW facing up. Another round of voting brought McConnehey five votes; Whitelock had two votes. McConnehey is the new chairman of the city council. This is not the first time West Jordan voting has been decided by a coin. In 2016, Councilmember Sophie Rice left her seat. After many interviews, Alan Anderson and David Pack were the final candidates. Because that current council was split evenly 3-3 for each candidate, the decision of who would win the open seat was left to a coin toss, which Alan Anderson ultimately won. He served from 2016 to 2019. Gray area in law During the same meeting, City Attorney Rob Wall conducted a training based on the Open Meeting Act. Wall began the training with a similarly gray statement. “The difference between a moral man and a man of honor is that the latter will regret a disreputable act

even if it works,” he said. There are some specific rules, such as legislatures are forbidden from texting each other during an open meeting, but phone calls are allowed. “The office of the legislature and general counsel has advised the legislature that talking on the telephone isn’t the same,” Wall said. One reason behind this rule is that others can visibly see that the member is talking on the phone to someone, while sending a text or email during the meeting is more private. However, outside of public meetings, electronic messages are allowed. “Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to restrict a member of a public body from transmitting an electronic message to other members of the public body at a time when the public body is not convened in an open meeting.” Enacted by Chapter 25_2011 General session. Wall advised the council members to base their actions in being honest and open. “It’s not the lunch,” he said. “It’s not the three of you getting together to have a conversation. The problem comes in when you don’t share that information or when you do start deliberating outside this room. It’s really easy to justify it under the law, but the media and voters view it very different than the law would argue.” McConnehey, who has served on the city council since 2012 and is the longest-serving member on the current council, advised his fellow members to be cooperative, especially since city leaders are treading new government policy waters. “We’re figuring this out together for the first time,” McConnehey said. “We all need to be able to work together; we need to have open, honest conversation. Those of us on the dais have not been down this road before. This is new territory; we’re going to hit some bumps. We need to have some flexibility.” l

West Jordan City Journal


Superintendent’s podcast gives behind-thescenes glimpse of Jordan School District By Jet Burnham | j.burnham@mycityjournals.com

Superintendent Anthony Godfrey said his visit to the veterinary science program at JATC helped him understand the firsthand experience students get. (Photo courtesy Jordan School District)

J

ordan School District Superintendent Anthony Godfrey showed his confidence in his district’s educational programs when he asked a student in the barbering class at the Jordan Academy of Technology and Careers to cut his hair. “He gave me the best haircut I’ve had a long time,” Godfrey said. His experience was shared with the listeners of Godfrey’s weekly podcast, Supercast. The podcast explores a range of topics such as nutrition, current trends, and literacy. Other episodes highlight district programs and heartwarming experiences, showcase talented students and creative teachers, and introduce listeners to the individuals that keep the school district running smoothly. “I’m just continually amazed at the creative and individual ways that adults are meeting the needs of students in the district,” Godfrey said. “I know that’s happening, but it’s always rewarding and really astonishing to see firsthand just how dedicated everyone is to helping students have the best experience they possibly can.” In this first year as superintendent, Godfrey has learned more about programs, employees and students as he travels to various schools to record podcast episodes. Sometimes he is surprised by what he

finds, such as when he witnessed an actual surgery take place at the veterinary science classes at JATC north campus. “I knew that program existed, but it wasn’t until I was there to do the podcast that I really understood the deep level of firsthand experience that kids get,” Godfrey said. Godfrey also enjoys meeting employees and expressing appreciation for their role in the district. “The more connected I am to all those job families and the various aspects of our operation, the better job I can do,” he said. Godfrey said one of his favorite experiences was driving the floor scrubber at Mountain Ridge High School. “It’s kind of like a mini Zamboni,” Godfrey said. “I’d seen them around for a long time, but I’ve never been on one. So I rode that around and got to see the operations of a new high school.” In another episode, Godfrey shadowed Fox Hollow Elementary nutrition manager Kathi George. “I was so glad when he approached us to shine a light on our program and all the wonderful ladies who work so hard every day,” said Tammy Horger, district nutrition services coordinator. “To know we’re all important, to know we all matter is a really important message to send to everybody.” Continued to Page 14

WestJordanJournal .com

Share the love, not the cold By Priscilla Schnarr

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More and more people are saying they just don’t get colds anymore. They are using a new device made of pure copper, which scientists say kills cold and flu viruses. Doug Cornell invented the device in 2012. “I haven’t had a single cold since then,” he says. People were skeptical but New research: Copper stops colds if used early. EPA and university studies demonstrate repeatedly that viruses Businesswoman Rosaleen says when and bacteria die almost instantly when people are sick around her she uses Coptouched by copper. perZap morning and night. “It saved me That’s why ancient Greeks and Egyp- last holidays,” she said. “The kids had tians used copper to purify water and colds going around, but not me.” heal wounds. They didn’t know about Some users say it also helps with viruses and bacteria, but now we do. sinuses. Attorney Donna Blight had a Scientists say the high conductance 2-day sinus headache. When her Copperof copper disrupts the electrical balance Zap arrived, she tried it. “I am shocked!” in a microbe cell and destroys the cell in she said. “My head cleared, no more seconds. headache, no more congestion.” So some hospitals tried copper touch Some users say copper stops nightsurfaces like faucets and doorknobs. time stuffiness if used before bed. One This cut the spread of MRSA and other man said, “Best sleep I’ve had in years.” illnesses by over half, and saved lives. Copper can also stop flu if used earColds start after cold viruses get in ly and for several days. Lab technicians your nose, so the vast body of research placed 25 million live flu viruses on a gave Cornell an idea. When he next CopperZap. No viruses were found alive felt a cold about to start, he fashioned a soon after. smooth copper probe and rubbed it genDr. Bill Keevil led one of the teams tly in his nose for 60 seconds. confirming the discovery. He placed mil“It worked!” he exclaimed. “The cold lions of disease germs on copper. “They never got going.” It worked again every started to die literally as soon as they time. touched the surface,” he said. He asked relatives and friends to try The handle is curved and finely texit. They said it worked for them, too, so tured to improve contact. It kills germs he patented CopperZap™ and put it on picked up on fingers and hands to protect the market. you and your family. Now tens of thousands of people Copper even kills deadly germs that have tried it. Nearly 100% of feedback have become resistant to antibiotics. If said the copper stops colds if used within you are near sick people, a moment of 3 hours after the first sign. Even up to 2 handling it may keep serious infection days, if they still get the cold it is milder away. than usual and they feel better. The EPA says copper still works even Pat McAllister, age 70, received one when tarnished. It kills hundreds of diffor Christmas and called it “one of the ferent disease germs so it can prevent sebest presents ever. This little jewel real- rious or even fatal illness. ly works.” Now thousands of users have CopperZap is made in America of simply stopped getting colds. pure copper. It has a 90-day full money People often use CopperZap preven- back guarantee. It is $69.95. tively. Frequent flier Karen Gauci used to Get $10 off each CopperZap with get colds after crowded flights. Though code UTCJ10. skeptical, she tried it several times a day Go to www.CopperZap.com or call on travel days for 2 months. “Sixteen toll-free 1-888-411-6114. flights and not a sniffle!” she exclaimed. Buy once, use forever. advertorial

February 2020 | Page 13


Continued from page 13

Horger said the podcast interview was a unique opportunity for George to have the ear of the top boss for an hour. “Normally, the superintendent wouldn’t have been able to just talk to her and ask questions of her,” Horger said. District Communications Director Sandy Riesgraf said when Godfrey arrives at a school to record a podcast segment, employees often take the opportunity to talk with him. “I don’t know how many stops along the way we have when we go through a building, but they suddenly realize this is an approachable guy,” Riesgraf said. Riesgraf and communications specialist Doug Flagler run the audio recording equipment to gather clips for the podcast. Kids don’t usually know who Godfrey is, but they recognize he’s someone important with such an entourage. Some have even thought he was the president. “It’s especially fun talking to the younger kids and hearing their responses to questions and seeing what they think of the world around them,” Flagler said. Godfrey said the tip to interviewing children is to have an open mind about where the questions will lead. “Kids are going to take you down the path, and it’s fun to just follow where they go,” he said. Answers got very creative when Godfrey interviewed second graders for the Thanksgiving episode. They gave opinions on how long to cook a Thanksgiving turkey and what exactly is in stuffing. Their answers made for an entertaining interview. Flagler said Godfrey’s interactions Breton Yates Elena Douglas M Woseth Angela Brimhall with people make the podcast entertainD.O. FAOCD M.D. FAAD Hadjicharalambous M.D. ing. M.D. FAAD “The superintendent is really good at connecting with people and joking with them,” he said. Those that participate or listen to the podcast get to know Godfrey in a way that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to said Riesgraf. “It shows how interested and passionate he is about being out in schools and getting to know teachers, knowing what’s Shane Farr Michael R Swinyer Alisa Seeberger going on and seeing these programs firstP.A. -C P.A. -C F.N.P. -C hand,” Riesgraf said. “This isn’t a superintendent that’s sitting in the office all Salt Lake City Clinic: 1548 East 4500 South, Suite 202, Salt Lake City day—any day, ever.”

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Filming the Supercast takes careful planning to work around Godfrey’s busy schedule. Often, he films several segments at one location. Other interviews are recorded in a studio set up in a small closet at the district office. Riesgraf and Flagler coordinate the topics, interviews, editing, and production of the podcast. “I’m really appreciative to them,” Godfrey said. “I say all this stuff—I just kind of throw out whatever ideas I can and ask the questions and go with the flow. They do such a great job of editing it and putting it together into a coherent listenable form because you never know what’s going to happen and I want to follow that.” Godfrey said his podcast is a unique and easy way to get information to families. “I know that it’s hard to sit down and read an email from the district or watch a video or go on the website,” he said. “I just wanted it to be as convenient as possible. I thought it would be a nice way for people to get to know the great students, employees and parents, we have in Jordan District.” Episodes can be accessed at supercast.jordandistrict.org and through a variety of podcast platforms. New episodes are posted every Thursday. “That’s a pretty aggressive plan when you’ve got someone like this who is extremely busy,” Riesgraf said. However, the success of the podcast justifies the frequency. “We’re quite proud that we’ve got a podcast that people are listening to,” Riesgraf said. “It has gone above and beyond our expectations and it keeps growing.” The podcast is for students and parents of Jordan District, but Riesgraf said anyone can tune in. “The kind of information we put out there is good for any parent, no matter where you live,” she said. Godfrey encourages anyone with ideas for the Supercast to contact him at superintendent@jordandistrict.org. “I would love to hear from anyone who can think of an individual that ought to be highlighted, or a program that they’re particularly interested in, or questions they have, or something they found interesting, or that they’d like to know more about,” he said. l

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Page 14 | February 2020

West Jordan City Journal


G O OD NE IG HBOR

NEWS

FEBRUARY 2020

Paid for by the City of West Jordan M AY O R ’ S M E S S A G E “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted,” is an adage attributed to a Greek storyteller named, Aesop. It’s as true now, as it was when he released his famous fables in 600 B.C. The third full week of February is known as random acts of kindness week, it encourages people to change schools, the workplace, families, and society through kindness. An act of kindness can go unseen, but social media makes it so some of those acts don’t go unnoticed. For example, I’ve seen recent posts from West Jordan Police officers who have helped residents with spontaneous flat tires and West Jordan Fire fighters who start washing dishes in a home they have just responded to. Now, imagine all the acts we don’t see on social media. Being kind has no sense of measurement. You can provide a stranger a meal or allow someone in your lane while driving. Both acts are good for your heart, boost your self-esteem and, in the end, make you a happier person. Other ways to offer thoughtful gestures of kindness include; shoveling your neighbor’s driveway, moving your car off the street after a snowstorm, and supporting local businesses in West Jordan. I encourage all of us to do a kind act, no matter the month, no matter the time. I’m always looking for ways to brighten someone’s day or lighten their load. We must all work together to make our neighborhoods, our city, and our state a better place. Let’s make kindness the norm. Sincerely,

Mayor Dirk Burton

West Jordan Woman Gives One of the Greatest Gifts - Life Drea Richardson doesn’t call herself a hero but after hearing the sacrifices this military veteran, mother, and West Jordan resident has made— you may disagree with her. Richardson’s cousin Destiny was born with a metabolic disorder. “We’ve always known she was sick,” Richardson explained. “She was diagnosed at just four days old.” Destiny is just under two-years-old now. The rare disorder she has makes it so her body can’t break down essential nutrients. She needed a new liver, despite being too young to even make it on the transplant list. Destiny’s mother made the heartbreaking announcement on Facebook near the end of 2019. “She posted that Destiny needed a liver transplant,” Richard said. “She never asked anybody to be tested, it was just letting everyone know what was going on and asking for prayers.” When Richardson saw the post, she said she felt sad but hopeful that someone would step up to the plate. Little did she know, just weeks later, she would be the one up to bat. “Our family is so close, and you know I thought I might be a match. I’m going to throw my hat in the ring.” Richardson said. Throwing that hat in the ring was just the beginning of Richardson’s long journey. In the next few weeks, she would answer a questionnaire, get in-

terviewed, undergo bloodwork and then make her way to Colorado, where her cousin Destiny lives. The further along Richardson got, the more confident she was a match. After a two-day process consisting of MRIs, CT scans, EKGs, X-Rays, and more bloodwork, Richardson finally got the news she was waiting to hear. She was a match and she didn’t waste any time telling Destiny’s mother the news. “I was actually still at work when I made the call,” Richardson said. “The doctors asked if they should call Destiny’s mom or if I should, I was like no way, I’m going to tell her!” One-fifth of Richardson’s liver was given to Destiny. Both are making quick recoveries and Richardson says she’d do it all over again if she had to. “If someone needs something and we can help, why not do it? Why not be the match?” Richardson said. Donating an organ can be a difficult decision for some, but Richardson says it is lifechanging when it’s all over. Richardson says there was a powerful quote from Albert Einstein that helped push her through this journey. It reads: “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” February 14th is National Organ Donor Day. To register visit: OrganDonor.gov


GOOD NEIGHBOR NEWS: WEST JORDAN NEWSLETTER

PAID FOR BY THE CITY OF WEST JORDAN

West Jordan City Public Works Mechanic has a Knack for Fine Art Scott Hammer is employed by West Jordan City’s Public Works Department in the fleet division. “Our job is to take care of all the equipment,” Hammer said. “Anything that has a motor that the city owns.” Anything with a motor means; fire trucks and ambulances, all the way down to street sweepers and lawnmowers. Hammer started working for the city back in 2001, as a seasonal worker. Three months later a fulltime position opened, and Hammer snagged it. “People give up early,” Hammer said. But Hammer isn’t talking about letting a good job pass you by, he’s talking about a hobby he picked up just a few years ago. When Hammer isn’t shuttling or licensing cars, he’s painting. “I’ve only been painting since 2016 and I’ve probably painted about 150 paintings,” Hammer said. “I’ll find something that interests me, find a photograph and go for it.”

But it wasn’t always that easy for Hammer. Trial and error are something every human endures, and it was no different for him. “The first time I tried it I went down to Walmart and bought primary colors, a little pallet, some brushes and canvas boards,” Hammer said. In less than an hour, he became disgruntled and gave up. “I thought… this is a disaster,” Hammer said. “I crumpled the thing up, threw it in the garbage and threw the rest in a little shoebox.” A few months passed and a co-worker’s photo of a rock formation, taken during a trip to Southern Utah, sparked an interest in art for Hammer once again. “I got it done and I was happy with it,” Hammer said. “I put it in a nice frame and gave it to him because he’s a good support for me.” When Hammer isn’t at home with his wife, he’s changing oil and checking brakes on vehicles at the city’s Public Works building. He and many other mechanics spend their day in a large garage with several bays filled with snow plows and city vehicles. The men consider themselves more than just co-workers or employees, they’re friends, they’re family, and for Hammer, they are an entire support system. “I’ll take a finished painting to the shop with a big sheet over it,” Hammer said. “The guys call it the art show. It’s a good comradery for the crew.” Out of the 150 paintings Hammer has completed, he’s given 50 to 60 away to family and friends, many of whom work beside him every day. So, when he was asked to help touch up a military memorial in Veterans Memorial Park, he quickly agreed. “Scott possesses an amazing work ethic and is always willing to help anyone when the need arises,” said Public Works Director, Brian Clegg. “I was asked to do it and thought it’s something

Oath of Office – Welcome your New Representatives 2020 brings new leadership and a new form of government for the City of West Jordan. On January 6th five new councilmembers and the city’s first strong-mayor were sworn in to office. In 2017, residents voted to adopt a mayor-council form, or ‘strong mayor’ form of government. Mayor Dirk Burton says he’s optimistic about the direction the West Jordan is taking. “As a Councilmember for four years, I’ve long recognized that residents are the city’s customer. That’s why one of the key campaign promises I made was to make our city more responsive the residents – a promise I can live up to as the first Mayor of West Jordan to manage city government on a day-to-day basis,” he said. The new leadership sworn in are Mayor-elect Dirk burton and Councilmembers Chris McConnehey, Kelvin Green, Melissa Worthen, Zach Jacob, and David Pack.

good for the community,” Hammer said. It wasn’t just all for the community though, Hammer has two sons who served in the Marine Corps. It took him two days to touch up the paint. His work did not go unnoticed, Hammer said a couple of veterans came by telling him about their time serving in the military. They also gave their two-cents on Hammer’s progress so far. “They said boy that sure looks nice… but I’m not gonna mention that drip of paint,” Hammer said laughing. “I told them I’m not done, I’m not done.” Hammer said he didn’t want to overstep on what was originally painted. “I went into it respecting it and being patient,” Hammer said. “For the city, for the veterans and for my kids. I’m really proud of them.” If you’re interested in purchasing one of Hammer’s American Motorcycles calendars go to ebay.com and search ‘2020 Harley Davidson Motorcycle Calendar.’


GOOD NEIGHBOR NEWS: WEST JORDAN NEWSLETTER

PAID FOR BY THE CITY OF WEST JORDAN

Kent Bingham Sheffield Artwork Up for Display in Schorr Gallery

Do Your Tires a Favor– How to Report Potholes If you’ve ever driven a car, chances are you’ve at least seen a pothole before. The holes in the ground can be ruthless, putting any tire at risk of a flat. Let’s get scientific and talk about how these potholes form. Potholes are caused by the expansion and contraction of ground water, after the water enters the ground under the pavement. Freezing temperatures become the perfect ingredient for that water to freeze and expand. This makes the road bend and crack, ultimately leaving a big gap behind. West Jordan City crews are no stranger to potholes, they fill about 1,400 of them every year. In order to prevent potholes from forming in the first place, crews overlay and repave city streets each year. But, with more than 800 miles of streets, and a limited asphalt budget, it’s anticipated that some of those cracks will be missed. To report a pothole, contact Public Works by emailing publicworks@ wjordan.com, submitting a form online at westjordan.utah.gov, or calling 801569-5700. West Jordan Public Works Operations respond to pothole reports within two working days after receiving the notification. If the pothole is dangerous or is causing problems with traffic, crews will respond immediately.

Born in Salt Lake City, Kent Bingham Sheffield is a Utahn through-and-through. Don’t miss the chance to see his beautiful paintings up close. Bingham Sheffield retired in West Jordan, enjoying his sunroom, painting, and family until his death in February 2019. The Schorr Gallery is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and is located on the third floor of West Jordan City Hall, 8000 South Redwood Road.

Small Business Spotlight— BFF Turon

West Jordan GIS Specialists & Public Works Staff Present at Worldwide Cityworks Conference

A newly-opened Filipino restaurant in West Jordan is already making headlines. BFF Turon is owned and operated by four women. They told the Salt Lake Tribune that they are focused on bringing the food of their heritage to the Wasatch Front. Recently, their Bicol Express combo meal was named one of the best dishes from new Utah restaurants in 2019 by the Tribune. The dish is served warm over steamed rice in a combo meal, which includes rice noodles, vegetables, chicken, and pork. The restaurant has four-and-a-half stars on Yelp with guests raving about huge portions and egg rolls. To try for yourself, visit the restaurant at 8860 S. Redwood Road. To be featured in our Small Business Spotlight email: marie.titze@westjordan.utah.gov.

In January, employees with the City of West Jordan were privileged to present two breakout sessions at a heavily attended conference. People in attendance traveled as far away as Sweden, Finland, Jordan, and Australia, in total there were more than 1,200 people there. In one of the sessions, employees presented West Jordan’s service request app that allows residents to connect and report problems in the city with just a few clicks. “Our program creates a work order that goes directly to the correct department,” said GIS Administrator Clint Hutchings. “We cut out the middle man.” Residents can use this service to report anything from potholes to stray animals. A photo can also be submitted with the report, allowing citizens to provide as much information as possible. The City of West Jordan is the first in the country to interact directly with the work order system and asset management system.

“I’m extremely proud of our group,” said Hutchings. “There are a zillion service requests out there but ours is special. Being able to tie this software in with software we already have also saved the city money.” You can find the tool at westjordan.utah.gov/ service-request.


GOOD NEIGHBOR NEWS: WEST JORDAN NEWSLETTER

PAID FOR BY THE CITY OF WEST JORDAN

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PRESIDENTS’ DAY

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CITY OFFICES CLOSED

City Hall 8000 S. Redwood Rd. 6 p.m.

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CITY COUNCIL MEETING

PLANNING COMMISSION

CITY COUNCIL MEETING

City Hall Council Chambers 8000 S. Redwood Rd. 5:30 p.m.

City Hall 8000 S. Redwood Rd. 6 p.m.

City Hall Council Chambers 8000 S. Redwood Rd. 5:30 p.m.

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Mountain Heights Academy students create virtual buddy bench app for national contest By Jet Burnham | j.burnham@mycityjournals.com

ally shows that you have a passion for that have an upcoming event that we’re going to particular topic and that you really want to do go ahead and use our Buddy Bench Crew for and just show what it is like for our video.” something about a certain issue.” Lora Gibbons, the other team adviser, is Kate Larson said winning is not why students enjoy participating in the contests— thrilled that the team is moving on. She has been impressed with the students’ teamwork though they do win quite often. “We have learned a ton, and we have so far. “The innovative response and collaborafound something that we’re all passionate about,” she said. “It’s really the fact that we tion of all these great thinkers is really what’s want to make a difference is what matters going to tie together in a beautiful kind of tapestry to help a problem that affects everyone,” most to us.” The MHA team was one of six Utah fi- Gibbons said. Eighth grader Joshua Wood, who has nalists which included Jordan Academy for Technology & Careers, Riverton; Richfield done most of the programming, is proud of High School, Richfield; Nebo Advanced what the team has accomplished. “It wasn’t just one of the teachers,” he Learning Center, Salem; West Bountiful Elementary School, West Bountiful; and Valley said. “It was all of us combined to come up with this idea.” Elementary School, Eden. The team said teens at other schools In December, MHA advanced to the top 100 finalist phase. The ultimate grand prize could benefit from the app. Pace said as an is $100,000 in technology and classroom open educational resource, MHA often shares materials, and a trip to Washington, D.C., to curriculum with other schools. “Once we get the bugs worked out and present their project to members of Congress. MHA has already won $15,000 in school sup- develop it into a program that is sustainable Students from Mountain Heights Academy are finalists in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest. plies and Samsung product—including a lap- and works, then it would be really easy for us (Jet Burnham/City Journals) top, a tablet and a phone they will use to cre- to share it out with other schools,” Pace said. l ate a video for the next phase of the contest. “We think that if there is more connecteam of students from Mountain Heights “It’s going to be a promotional video to Academy, an online public school based tion between the students, that’s helping them explain what our idea is,” Alexis said. “We in West Jordan, has been chosen as a finalist feel less alone,” said Kate Larson, an 11th in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest. grader on the team. Last year, there were some suicide atThe national competition challenges students in grades 6–12 to creatively use STEM (sci- tempts by MHA students. “It’s something that hits us all quite ence, technology, engineering and math) skills to solve complicated issues affecting hard,” Alexis said. “So, we decided to try and make a difference.” their communities. There is a lot of enthusiasm from students The MHA team of students is developing a phone app called Buddy Bench to solve a to be involved in the project. While there are common social problem among teens. Work- 10 students on the development team, 50 stuing as a virtual version of a buddy bench, on dents have signed up to be on the Buddy Crew which kids sit if they need a friend to play and volunteer to be matched with others who with on elementary school playgrounds, the request a friend for an activity. “It’s really cool to be a part of that crew app connects teens when they need a friend. “Sometimes, kids are hesitant to attend and provide them with the opportunity to feel a school event because they don’t know any- included and welcome,” said Kate Larson. Pace said the platform appeals to teens body,” said Amy Pace, science department lead at MHA and one of the team’s advisers. because they are already comfortable con“So, this was the idea that if they could make necting through social apps. Team members McDougalFuneralHomes .com. a friend before and know somebody was there have varying degrees of experience in digital waiting to be their friend when they got there, skills. The contest provided an opportunity for them to develop these skills for a good FREE Dinner Hosted by McDougal Funeral Homes then they would be more willing to come.” Come receive valuable information about: MHA students live in cities all over the purpose. Competitions are a regular part of the • Pre-arranged Funerals • Wills • Trusts • Burial Plots • Cremation state. Because they don’t meet in a physical classroom each day, some feel as though they MHA experience. “We have a variety of competitions that don’t know the other students and are reluctant to go alone to club activities, service proj- we encourage and support the students to participate in,” Pace said. ects and field trips. 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What is ALPS and why is it expanding? By Jet Burnham | j.burnham@mycityjournals.com

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program for gifted and talented students is coming to a school near you. The Jordan School Board of Education has approved expansion of their program, ALPS (Advanced Learning Placement for Students). This fall, ALPS programs will be available at Joel P. Jenson (West Jordan), Elk Ridge Middle School (South Jordan), Hid-

den Valley Middle School (Bluffdale) and Oquirrh Hills Middle School (Riverton). The Oquirrh Hills program is being phased out and will only be available to those already enrolled for the next two years. In the long term, the board would like to expand ALPS options to be in every elementary and middle school.

What is ALPS?

ALPS is Jordan District’s gifted and talented magnet program for students in grades 1–9 who demonstrate capacity for high performance beyond grade/age expectations and thus require specialized learning experiences beyond the regular curriculum. Specially trained ALPS teachers move at an accelerated and rigorous pace, provide greater depth and complexity, and infuse creativity and critical thinking into the curriculum. Gifted students often begin the school year proficient in 50% of the curriculum. Without the challenge of an ALPS curriculum, they don’t gain a year’s growth, which is the district’s goal for every student. “If they come in knowing a lot, we want to keep them moving forward,” said Gifted and Talented Curriculum Administrator Rebecca Smith. Donna Hunter, current principal at Oquirrh Hills Middle and former ALPS teacher, believes ALPS is necessary for the same reason that Special Education is. “We are not surprised by the fact that 10%–15% of our students are behind and need Special Education services, but somehow the tendency has been to think that gifted kids will be OK or that they don’t exist in our area,” she said. “That is a fallacy. Many gifted students fall through the cracks, and the opportunities to help these students pass us by.” Hunter said in some states, gifted students are on IEPs to make sure their edu-

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What is the difference between ALPS and Honors?

ALPS and honors classes meet the needs of different groups. Students choose to take Honors classes, while ALPS classes require students to qualify by testing in the top 25% of a cognitive abilities test administered by the district. Honors classes move at an accelerated rate and go more in-depth than regular education classes. “These are students who want more of a challenge and are willing to work for it,” Hunter said. “These are the kids who usually have parents who know how to help them study or kids who just want to be around other motivated learners.” ALPS classes also move at an accelerated and rigorous pace, but students aren’t always self-motivated. ALPS teachers are

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“With parent feedback and with looking at a few other factors, the plan has evolved and it continues to evolve,” said Smith. Instead of optional ALPS testing, the test was given to every sixth grader last year to identify the top 25% qualifying for the Gifted and Talented program. Currently, only 6% of students grades 1–9 participate in the district’s ALPS program. Some qualifying students don’t want to attend a school outside their neighborhood because of transportation or social issues. Many other students who could qualify have not been identified because parents are unaware of the option. “Our gifted students have been some of the most underserved in our district because we didn’t know they were there,” Hunter said. Jordan District is dedicated to serving gifted and talented students and will continue to explore ways to make ALPS more accessible to both middle and elementary school students, Smith said. Buses will be provided for all four middle school ALPS programs next year.

trained in alternative strategies to challenge these students, who often learn better when among other gifted students. “They have those connections with those who are their cognitive peers and are like-minded,” Smith said. Erin Curtis has taught both ALPS and regular education classes. She said ALPS is the best way to prepare gifted students for college. “There are many examples of gifted and talented students who breezed through

their elementary and secondary school work but greatly struggled with collegiate work,” she said. “This is, in large part, because they were never challenged in grade school and What is the cost? didn’t learn the necessary coping skills.” Smith said there’s not a significant Why expand? Jordan School District has been work- amount of extra funding that goes to a ing to improve learning for accelerated self-funding program such as ALPS, even learners. The original plan was to move the with the impending expansion. “You’re going to have to have a teachmiddle school program to Joel P. Jensen Middle and then dissolve the one at Oquirrh er for a session of 30 students,” Smith said. “Whether it’s an ALPS-designated class or Hills.

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Curtis said gifted and talented programs benefit all students; schools that host ALPS programs have high performance rates among all their students. “This is a great way to share teaching strategies among teachers,” Curtis said. “A lot of strategies for gifted and talented students are also beneficial for general ed or even struggling students. Having those resources in more schools will benefit all students, not just ALPS kids.” l

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a general education-designated class, you’d still have a teacher for that, which would be part of regular funding.” While costs specific to Jordan District are currently in flux due to expansion, statewide numbers show funding for accelerated students is minimal. According to data from the Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst found at Utahfoundation.org, funding for accelerated students in 2017–2018 was just 0.80% of Special Populations Funding Amounts Related to Basic School Program. That amount includes not only gifted and talented programs such as ALPS but also Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs. In comparison to the 0.8% of funding spent on accelerated students, 68% is spent on students grades 1–12, 13% for Special Education students, 3% for kindergarten and 3% for Career and Technical Education.

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2020

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Students celebrate holidays with service By Jet Burnham | j.burnham@mycityjournals.com

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Page 22 | February 2020

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Middle school students at Navigator Pointe Academy proudly show the hats they made to donate. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)

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ach class at Riverside Elementary is making Valentine’s Day 100 times more special by doing 100 acts of kindness in the weeks leading up to the holiday. “Valentines become kindness, not—think about this as a second grader—all lovey-dovey,” said second grade teacher Zelda McAllister. “The kids get excited watching for kindness so they can report it.” Many local schools are choosing to replace typical holiday celebrations with service-related traditions. While most students spent the day before Winter Break decorating cookies and playing games, those at two local charter schools were serving their community. “We don’t do parties; we do service projects,” said Judy Farris, director at Navigator Pointe Academy. Each student at Navigator Pointe brought a stuffed animal and a book or journal to donate to Utah’s family sanctuaries for displaced families. They spent the day decorating the journals, writing personal cards and crafting bookmarks 5-star Presenting sponsors for them as well. “I feel happy giving to another person who does not have what I have,” said fifth grader Zoey Humphries. Eighth and ninth grade art students created a “Book of Inspiration” for those staying at the sanctuary. They filled it with artwork and quotes of hope, perseverance and finding joy. They also knit winter hats for them. Keegan McPherron, an eighth grader, said it feels good to serve others. “Everyone should take every chance they can to give back to others,” he said. Junior high teacher Jackie Casdorph said the school tradition helps students develop sympathy, gratitude and a love of serving others. “I think they learn to be a little more grateful for what they do have,” she said. Emily Otteson has seen how the tradition has affected her children. This year, her son, a fourth grader, insisted on selecting the book he wanted to donate on his own, which made the experience more meaningful. “It gives them the opportunity to share what they have with others,” Otteson said. “It gives them an opportunity to see that other children have a need that they can help fulfill.” Farris said many alumni still make dona-

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tions and are involved in the tradition. “It’s contagious and heartwarming,” she said. At Hawthorn Academy’s West Jordan campus, the day before Winter Break is also a day of service. Fourth grade teacher Kathy Pretell prefers that kids are focused on service instead of a sugary holiday party. “This really puts the emphasis back on helping the community and being better citizens,” she said. “It supports so many more people rather than gives them a sugar fest.” Fourth graders tied fleece blankets and wrote personal notes to be given to Bikers Against Child Abuse at an assembly later this month. BACA members give the blankets and cards to children who feel threatened or intimidated. Fourth grader Noa Kerrigan was excited the blankets were going to a good cause. “It’s so nice and soft—one kid’s going to love that blanket,” Noa said as he placed a blanket into the donation bag. He said he loves the special blanket his grandma made for him so he knows these children will feel special when they get the blankets he and his classmates made for them. “I feel really happy that they’ll know that they’re loved,” Noa said. Sixth grade students tied blankets 50 blankets for Primary Children’s Medical Center. “They’re doing something for kids their own age,” said sixth grade teacher Deborah Su’a. Many of her students have been given a similar donated blanket while at the hospital for a broken bone or surgery. Other classes spent the day serving their school and their community. Fifth graders sang at a nearby assisted living center. The Spanish class caroled to classrooms and the front office to spread cheer. Secretary Lori Brockbank said the day of service is a tradition students and staff look forward to each year. “They are just as excited about it as if they were having a party,” she said. During the month of December, Hawthorn students also collected 3,000 pounds of food and 400 toys for donation. By Dec. 20, school counselor Sally Robinson’s office was overflowing with bags of more than 500 coats and blankets from the Anti Bullying Club’s coat drive. l

West Jordan City Journal


Roll in and sink that shot —Wheelin’ Jazz a ‘very unique team’ By Greg James | gregj@mycityjournals.com

The men and women on the Wheelin’ Jazz take adversity head on as they attempt to qualify again for the wheelchair basketball national tournament. (Photo courtesy Wheelin’ Jazz.)

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group of athletes have grabbed support from each other while climbing to the top of the national wheelchair basketball standings. Each player came to be a member of the Wheelin’ Jazz team from a different path. One was shot in the chest, one lost a leg in a car accident, one fell nearly 40 feet and one was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident. “We have a very unique team,” former Paralympian and team member Jeff Griffin said. The Wheelin’ Jazz are a nonprofit organization currently ranked eighth overall in the National Wheelchair Basketball Association.

The team provides much more to its players than trophies for winning contests. “There are more than 2,000 wheelchair basketball players in the United States,” Griffin said. “It all started when veterans started coming home from World War II. There are junior, pee wee and elite division teams like this one.” The team was organized in the mid ’80s by director Mike Schlappi. He has been a member of four Paralympic wheelchair basketball teams and was a member of the organizing committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. The team travels to participate in wheel-

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chair tournaments around the country. They are members of division one in the NWBA, which includes 20 teams, a majority of those teams have NBA connections. “We wanted to expand on what Mike has built,” Griffin said. “It gives an avenue to help others that have had spinal cord injuries or physical disabilities such as physical, social and emotional therapy. This is one way to do that, to help them on their road to recovery.” The team has been ranked in the top 10 nationally for more than 25 years. Last season, the team were ranked third and came within one shot of advancing to the championship game. “I am a competitive guy,” Griffin said. “I would love to have a national championship here with the Jazz. Most people do not know that most NBA teams have a wheelchair team, too.” The team is made up of 15 players, including Taylorsville High School student teacher Amanda King, the only female on the team. Players practice once a week and will play approximately 20 games. The Wheelin’ Jazz could then qualify for the division championship. “It would be cool to partner with the Jazz and play a doubleheader with the Stars,” Griffin said. “That is something we are working on. We may be in wheelchairs, but we still feel the same

as everyone else. We have dreams and aspirations just like everyone else.” Schlappi spent time in Phoenix and Los Angeles. When he moved to Utah, he knew this area was in need of a team. “This is not professional sports, but we care,” Schlappi said. “We hope we inspire a lot of people. Sometimes when you are disabled, you need a role model. We all get each other. There is a whole lot more than what most people realize. We want to be that inspiration. If we can help someone, then it is all worth it.” Running the team is expensive. The proper wheelchair alone can be more than $3,500. Team members are currently raising funds to help curb travel costs and purchase the proper equipment. “This gives me a community that I can feel accepted in,” said team member Ryan Nelson. “In public, I can be treated differently, but here I am just one of the guys.” “We invite anyone that is in a wheelchair to come out,” said team member Ryan Nelson. “They may not play at this level, but they can still be welcome. They are still important to all of us. They can be part of a team,] but a part of the community. This is one of the greatest groups of men and women that just happen to be disabled.” l

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February 2020 | Page 23


Family first for the Lady Jaguars basketball team By Greg James | gregj@mycityjournals.com

six games. They defeated Cyprus in their first region contest but fell to Hunter and Kearns. “We have such a young team that we need to find more chemistry,” Lolohea said. “We work on getting to know each other off the court so that it can form on the court. Learning the IQ or game of basketball is what we need now.” The Jaguars loss in December to Corner Canyon (39-45) was important even though they did not come out victorious. “We are picking up the competitiveness from playing tough teams,” Lolohea said. “If this team is better than us, we can learn from them and see what makes them good. We want to schedule some teams that make us rise to our potential. That is the biggest part of West Jordan basketball, that we have not hit our potential as a team. I know it is up there.” Senior April Aguado is the leading scorer on the team. She is averaging 9.2 points per game. She scored a season-high 23 Jan. 3 against Mountain Ridge. “[Aguado] grew up and has matured

The Jaguars have adopted the word “family” to remind them they are a team. (Photo courtesy of Lei Lolohea)

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he West Jordan High School girls basketball team has learned more than the game. Players have learned to serve one another as a family. “We talk about family a lot,” Jaguars head coach Lei Lolohea said. “When I was an assistant, the seniors were only freshmen; they believed in the culture and have set the foundation we are trying to build.” The Jaguars spend time finding ways

to help each other. Secret sister events during the holidays and senior mentors have helped the team bond. “I am my biggest critic,” Lolohea said. “I feel like we have a good flow going with the team. We have great senior leaders that have set the tone. These girls have been with me since I got this job. Now that it is region, we want our season to go from going well to going great.” The Jaguars won five of their first

from her younger years,” Lolohea said. “She has become a positive leader and an advocate for girls athletics here at West Jordan. She is so positive. She picks up the girls when they have their heads down. She teaches the game as a player. The relationships they have outside of the court, the way they take care of each other is more than I could ask for. There is a lady jag pride.” That pride is important to their coach. She sees that, even in players that don’t get much playing time. “Shelby (Baker) comes off the bench and does not get as much playing time, but she is a leader,” Lolohea said. “When she goes into the game, she goes 110%. Even on the bench, she teaches the young girls. It is kind of like a big sister little sister kind of thing.” The Jaguars’ head coach wants her team to succeed. “I think all of my girls deserve the recognition,” she said. “This is a team that is headed in the right direction.” l

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West Jordan City Journal


Shorts sets Copper Hills assist record By Greg James | gregj@mycityjournals.com

Carson Butler has benefited from his point guard’s perfect passes; he averages more than 13 points per game. (Photo courtesy of Dave Reeder)

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rebound, outlet pass and hard dribble to just below the foul line all led to the pitch-out pass to the corner where Junior Carson Butler nailed the three-pointer. Kylan Shorts had done it: His pass set a school record for assists. “It makes me feel good that my teammates

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knocked down all of the shots,” Shorts said. “It is all them. I just get the ball to them. I look for ways to help them out the best and find them in positions that they can hit the shots.” The Grizzlies came out of halftime and capitalized on several turnovers. They scored

30 points in the third quarter against West on Jan. 17 and propelled Shorts to the record. His 12 assists broke the record established in 2017 by Callahan Blackham. He had tied the record earlier this season. Shorts is the all-time assists leader for the Grizzlies, averaging more than seven assists per game this season. “[Shorts] has great vision and is a good allaround player,” Grizzly head coach John Watkins said. “He is not the type of guard that is going to hunt his own shot. He looks to get his teammates going, and when he needs to score, he does.” “I’m used to him getting me the ball,” Butler said. “He always finds me, and I just hit it. We (the Grizzlies) have had some ups and downs. I feel we are starting to peak right now—perfect timing.” Copper Hills started the season 8-7 and won its first three region contests. Its preseason schedule included a holiday trip to Orlando, Florida. “We have played really well,” Watkins said. “Our record does not reflect how well we have played. We have lost a lot of close games. Hopefully, that will come back to benefit us in the future. Being in those situations could help us later on this season. I am excited at the direction we are trending.” In five losses, the Grizzlies have been outscored by only nine total points. They beat

Bingham 59-52, Riverton 59-39 and West 8648 to begin region play. Watkins likes the way his offense is playing. “When they can get open looks, we feel good about our chances,” he said. “We focus a lot on looking for the right guy and making the right pass. Our point guard does that well, and it is easy for a shooter when his point guard finds you in those open situations.” The Grizzlies were scheduled to play at Jordan Jan. 24 and Herriman Tuesday Jan. 28 (both after press deadline). Watkins took over for Andrew Blanchard following last season. He spent time as an assistant at the school for over 13 years. “These are big shoes to fill,” he said. “I feel a little pressure, but I have experience with the kids and the program, and we need to keep it going. I am not coming in changing everything we do. Every team is different, so I match our team.” The Grizzlies were ranked 10th at press deadline in the current rating performance index. The Utah High School Activities Association has adopted the RPI this season to seed its state playoff. “These are great kids and spend time together off the court,” Watkins said. “They cheer for each other. They are connected. The entire program has always felt like brothers. I see it every day at practice.” l

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t seemed like there was a new LDS missionary every week, each with a different name and each confusing a new convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; that is why Naag Tag was born. In 1969, “[the founder of Naag Tag] called Church headquarters and discussed the matter with the missionary department of the Church. He told them that the missionaries needed name tags and the Church

agreed. Not only did they agree, but they told him to go ahead and start making them. This is where Naag Tag got its start,” said Naag Tag’s Leslie Benzmiller. Now, Naag Tag does more than missionary name tags. “We will support our customers’ ideas on creating unique products. From name tags to key chains to mirrors to journal covers. If you can imagine it, we will do our best to

make it a reality,” Benzmiller said. Whatever the creation, Naag Tag works with customers all the way to the finished product. “We ensure a personal touch throughout the complete process. From the initial order, the proof, the final product and follow up, we will make sure that you can speak with an actual representative to ensure that your order is done accurately and in a timely manner. We want our customers to be completely satisfied with every order placed. This is one of the reasons we have such a great repeat customer base,” Benzmiller said. Naag Tag’s team of designers, creative laser workers, finishing and shipping specialists, and front office staff commit to making life as easy as possible for their customers. “Our business is based on personal recognition at its best. We realize the value and importance of the smallest detail; whether it’s ensuring that someone’s name is spelled correctly or a plaque is designed with an individual in mind or possibly a particular act or service. The reward comes in the kind acknowledgment from our customers when they are more than satisfied with our presen-

tation,” Benzmiller said. But you don’t need to be a customer to benefit from Naag Tag. For the past five years, the company has been giving back to the community with a $1,500 scholarship. The CFF scholarship is part of an effort to raise public awareness of cystic fibrosis. Each year, Naag Tag holds a barbeque to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and bring people together. Linda Lindeman, Naag Tag owner, was inspired to start this scholarship by her own grandson who suffers from the genetic disorder. “In addition to our many years of service to our customers, we also serve our community and friends as active participants in the efforts to support those with cystic fibrosis,” says the Naag Tag website. To get the scholarship, students submit essays between 500 and 800 words on how we can help people with the condition, how it has affected them, or how they can raise awareness or money for research. However students share their stories, Naag Tag is ready to listen and share the stories of their customers in the meantime.

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Page 26 | February 2020

West Jordan City Journal


Utah’s STEM and Charter School Expo lets students showcase science projects By Stephanie DeGraw | s.degraw@mycityjournals.com

Students demonstrate how the twisting of a forest fire creates fire tornadoes. (Photo provided by Beehive Science & Technology Academy)

H

ow student science projects apply to real life will highlight the seventh annual Utah STEM and Charter School Expo on Feb. 29. The event is free and held at the Mountain America Center, formerly known as South Towne Expo. Activities run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Students from Utah middle schools, high schools, and colleges/universities will be participating in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) projects at the event. “We ask the students how their project can be used in the real world to benefit society,” Kerrie Upenieks, Beehive Science & Technology Academy STEM coordinator/department chair, said. “Besides their project, students need to have a YouTube channel and post it on their website.” Beehive Science & Technology Academy is a charter school and serves students in grades sixth through 12th. They have expanded in 2020 to include kindergarten through grade five. Utah students can apply to have an exhibit at the expo by emailing principal@beehiveacademy.org. Beehive Principal Hanifi Oguz said last year’s event included displays from approximately 350 students from 20 Utah schools. Oguz estimated 4,500 people attended last year’s expo. “The expo provides a venue for students from across the state to showcase their STEM projects,” Upenieks said. “It allows companies and institutions with the opportunity to show how STEM is used to improve our communities.” Students also learn public speaking skills when they explain the science behind their projects to expo participants. They learn to engage their friends and teach them about science. The goal of the expo is to connect schools to the community, students to profes-

WestJordanJournal .com

sionals, generate interest, and excitement for STEM programs in general, Upenieks said. During the expo, people can take part in hands-on experiments. There will be LEGO robotics, presentations, science shows, science trivia, and chances to win donated prizes. Demonstrations include a fire tornado demonstration, a robotics competition and a demonstration on static electricity among others. More girls have become involved with the STEM program in recent years, according to Upenieks. Some of their seventh-grade girls went to the national Broadcom MASTERS competition, where only the top 30 students in the seventh and eighth grades in America compete. Their school also had 11th-grade girls attend the International Science and Engineering Fair, where ninth to 12th graders from around the world compete. New this year will be a large, blowup planetarium where people can go inside to see simulated stars. To learn more, visit www.utahstemexpo.org. Sponsors to date are: STEM Utah, Beehive Science & Technology Academy, the Utah Association of Public Charter Schools, Accord Institute for Education Research, Westminster College, Weber State University, University of Utah, University of Utah Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Utah College of Science, University of Utah Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, Utah State University Cooperative Extension, IM Flash Technologies, Sandy City, Utah Chapter of the Computer Science Teachers Association, Utah Association of Public Charter Schools, Neumont University, T.D. Williamson, Hill Air Force Base, STEM, U.S. Navy, Utah National Guard, ALS, US Synthetic Engineering, Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce, The Leonardo, Myriad, Merrick Bank, and Orange Peel. l

February 2020 | Page 27


Nation takes notice: Utah girls football show their skills at NFL’s Pro Bowl By Catherine Garrett | c.garrett@mycityjournals.com

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he nation’s first all-girls football league is in its sixth year here in Utah and the National Football League has not only taken notice, but they invited an all-star contingent to their Pro Bowl, Sunday, Jan. 26 in Orlando, Florida. The Utah Girls Tackle Football League (UGTFL) took 22 players and six coaches to showcase the state’s talent and trailblazing efforts in an 11 vs. 11 scrimmage during halftime of the NFL’s own all-star matchup. “It was so amazing!” said Mountain Ridge High junior Sam Gordon, who made a name for herself eight years ago as a viral sensation for her little league football highlights. “Getting to go out in front of the crowd and prove girls can play football was an awesome experience. The crowd was super into it and this is a day I’ll never forget.” Early on in the second half of the Pro Bowl, NBC’s sports broadcasters Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland commented about the girls halftime scrimmage, particularly noting the “execution on offense and tackling on defense,” saying that it “was a treat to watch.” Bingham High’s Ambrea Kunkel, who plays right tackle and defensive end, said she had a mixture of nerves and excitement at the opportunity. “I still can’t believe that I got to play at the Pro Bowl. I didn’t realize how loud a stadium could get when you are on the field and how exciting it is to hear people cheer you on,” she said. “I am so happy with support of the NFL and how welcoming the fans were. I feel like we are getting one step closer to showing the world that girls have a place in football.” The opportunity came up in mid-January when the NFL called Sam’s father, Brent Gordon, co-founder of the UGTFL in 2014 along with Crystal Sacco. So, Brent, UGTFL president Shawn Goetz and coach Jason Dixon hurriedly selected 22 players from 17 high schools to represent the league and the state. “We were looking for fantastic players who have demonstrated commitment to the league as it was our opportunity to show the world some of our best,” Brent said. “On every single team, any girl from our league can explain what playing football means to them and they express themselves in such a compelling way that they are really our best ambassadors.” Also on the 22-member all-star team

The Utah girls football all-star teams pose at the Pro Bowl Jan. 26. (Photos courtesy Brent Gordon)

that competed at the Pro Bowl were AAI’s Grace Lamoreaux, Bingham’s Syd Sessions, Copper Hills’ McKell Collotzi, Corner Canyon’s Rylee Taylor, Herriman’s Ellie Bisquera, Hunter’s Anapesi Tofavaha, Jordan’s Kammi Bilanzich, Juan Diego’s Jonna Tucker, Lone Peak’s Aysha Burke, Mountain View’s Cassidy Lindberg, Mountain Ridge’s Kloe Garcia, Murray’s Olivia Green and Naliyah Rueckert, Pleasant Grove’s Erica Afualo, Riverton’s Ella Morgan and Megan Perri, Summit Academy’s Lauren Dixon, West Jordan’s Laura Goetz and Westlake’s Hope Brennan and Tila Malungahu. Brent Gordon, Dixon, Goetz and Sacco along with Christian Lambert and Eddie Ruiz coached the squads. In its first year, the UGTFL had 50 fifth- and sixth-grade players sign up and the program has continually risen in interest and players with 460 girls competing last season in grades four through 12. “We’re trying really hard to expand opportunities for girls and pushing to allow girls to play traditional sports,” Brent said. He has filed a lawsuit against the Utah High School Activities Association to require Utah high schools to offer girls-only football teams. “These girls are good and the response to our league has been fantas-

tic with a complete upward trajectory.” Sam Gordon, recipient of the NFL’s inaugural Game Changer award who also appeared in a 2019 Super Bowl commercial, said she is grateful to the NFL for their support of girls football. “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to look back and see the greater effect that this has had and it’s incredible that the NFL uses their giant platform to be so supportive of us,” she said. Kunkel said she has been taught so many life skills through playing football, including teamwork and dedication. “It’s important for us to show that girls can play football and we appreciate those that support our desire to play,” she said. Registration is open for the volunteer-run Utah Girls Tackle Football League, for those in grades four through 12, which will begin with practices in March. Teams are formed based largely on location in Salt Lake and Utah counties and will play six Saturday games before two weeks of playoffs are held. A flag football division for grades first through eighth will also be available. Online registrations can be filled out at football.eventbrite.com while more information can be found at www.utahgirlstacklefootball.com. l

West Jordan City Journal


Desert Star Presents “James Blonde: Agent 7-11 in License to Thrill” Desert Star proudly presents their latest parody on the James Bond series, that will shake patrons with killer laughs. This double-O-funny parody opens January 9th and it’s a hilarious musical melodrama for the whole family you don’t want to miss! Written by Jenna Farnsworth, adapted from “Casino Real” by Ben Millet (2009) and directed by Scott Holman. This show follows the story of BETSY’s best agent, Agent 24/7 who must face down the diabolical Professor Blowfish, but Director M&M won’t let her do it alone. Much to 24/7’s chagrin, he enlists the help of the overly smarmy James Blonde. The colorful characters include the ultimate femme fatale, Ivanna Yakalot, nerdy henchman Life Hack whose got a hack for every occasion, as well as gadget-guru QWERTY and alluring assassin Sister Mission Mary. Can Agent 24/7 and James Blonde find a way to work together to stop Professor Blowfish from brainwashing the entire world? Will they find the traitor in their midst before BETSY and the world are destroyed? Adventure, romance, and comedy with double-O-laughs come together in this hilarious parody James Bond mash-up, as well as topical humor torn from today’s headlines.

“James Blonde: Agent 7-11 in License to Thrill” runs January 9th through March 21, 2020. The evening also includes one of Desert Star’s side-splitting musical olios, following the show. The “British Invasion Olio” features hit songs from the Beatles, Rolling Stones and more mixed with Desert Star’s signature comedy. Food is available from an á la carte menu and is served right at your table. There is also a full service bar. The menu includes gourmet pizza, fresh wraps, appetizers, and scrumptious desserts.

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February 2020 | Page 29


Valentine’s Day: The Day of the Dead By Joani Taylor | Coupons4Utah.com Awe, love is in the air, tis the season to give your sweetheart an extra lift. If you aren’t feeling it, the barrage of commercials will make sure you don’t forget it. I say extra lift, because if you’re lucky enough to have a sweetheart, we should strive to lift them every day, but no sweetheart minds a little extra chocolate sauce on their ice cream once in a while. It’s not uncommon to hear naysayers find reasons to put down this national day of love, it’s too commercial, too lonely, too fussy, too childish. To be honest, having suffered the loss of my husband I was inclined to agree. There’s so much pressure put on us to celebrate Valentine’s Day with roses and a partner by our bedside it can make the rest of us feel… well… a little pathetic. I’m here to tell you to lighten up on yourself. It’s time to stop thinking there is something wrong with being single on Valentine’s Day! Who cares! Instead of focusing on the fact that you aren’t in a relationship this February, focus on loving yourself by giving love to those around you instead. Here are 3 ideas to get you out of the love day funk.

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Page 30 | February 2020

1 - Give love to friends and family. It could be as simple as sending out a card or two to your closest friends or someone you know that is in a similar situation, to going all out and inviting people over for a dinner party and movie night. 2 – Give love to a stranger. This could be as simple as making a monetary donation to a charity, organize a collection of needed items for shelter or go great guns and spend a day volunteering. Do this in honor of your loved one if you’re missing one. 3 – Give love to an animal. Keep it simple and spoil your pet. Take your dog to his favorite dog park or spend an afternoon reading snuggled up with your cat. Maybe make a donation to a foundation that provides therapy animals for people, like Utah Pet Partners or run a food drive for the Humane Society. Just like Mother’s and Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day is a day meant to spend appreciating someone. It’s a day intended to lift someone special. What better way is there to lift ourselves up than to spend it lifting another? l

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West Jordan City Journal


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I blame Love’s Baby Soft for destroying my archeological career. Up until I started spritzing the perfume popular with the seventh-grade girls in my class, I’d never given any thought to how I smelled. My mom was lucky to get me to shower, yet, here I was, dousing myself in baby powder-scented toilet water. The perfume’s slogan should have been a warning, “Because innocence is sexier than you think.” Seriously? Who came up with that? Hustler magazine? My mom saw the signs and tried desperately to distract me. Basketball practice. Dance lessons. Piano lessons. But it was too late. I’d discovered this scent could lure 12-year-old boys to my locker better than a steak sandwich (which I also tried). But this wasn’t me! I didn’t care about boys! I had planned a life of adventure! In first grade, I decided to become an author. I read “The Little Princess” until I absorbed the ability to write through osmosis. I spent the day in my room, penning stories and jotting down poems then submitted my siblings to “a reading” where I’d share my work and they’d complain to mom. Becoming Nancy Drew was my second-grade goal. I was ready to uncover ridiculous clues to break up the den of bank robbers living somewhere in Murray, Utah. As a third-grader, I checked out library books so I could learn hieroglyphics. When the call came to go dig up tombs in Egypt,

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Sure enough, the glossy, smelly trap I’d set began attracting boys who were just as confused as I was. Just last summer we played baseball in the street and now we circled each other like strangers, unsure of what the hell was going on. Hormones raged. Thanks to the distraction of the opposite sex, I never deciphered hieroglyphics. I never performed under the bright lights of a New York stage. I was never asked to solve the Mystery of the Secret Bracelet. I blame Love’s Baby Soft. If it hadn’t been for that innocent aroma, I’d be a world-renowned expert on ancient Babylonia, accepting Tony awards for my depiction of Eliza Doolittle. Seventh grade! Boys! Gah!! l

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“Se Habla Español”


February 2020 | Vol. 20 Iss. 02

FREE

MAJESTIC ELEMENTARY SAVED BY ART, MUSIC By Jet Burnham | j.burnham@mycityjournals.com

The Majestic Elementary community members make their voice heard at a public hearing to keep the school open. (Heather Reich/Majestic Elementary)

A new kind of school

Majestic Elementary will not be closed. It will stay open, and beginning this fall, will be a magnet school with a music and arts emphasis curriculum. “There are no other schools with this level of arts emphasis,” said Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. “We have really worked hard to increase the art options and exposure to various types of art in all of our elementary schools, but this will be the first time that we’ve concentrated resources and opportunities in one school like this.” Community members are excited for the new school program, but ultimately, they are thrilled their school will not be closed. Majestic is located at the northeast corner of Jordan School District boundaries where it has suffered from low-enrollment for years. “It’s not being completely responsible with the taxpayers’ money if we leave a school with that few numbers open,” said Jordan District board of education member Jen Atwood. However, the board wanted to find a way to save the

school as much as the families did. “It weighed very heavy on the board to close the school because we felt like not all avenues had been looked at,” Atwood said. They have spent the past year looking for solutions that would entice more students to enroll at Majestic instead of relocating the 340 students to nearby schools. “More than anything, I wanted school to be a good experience for the students,” Atwood said. “I wanted them to be able to have the learning opportunities that other kids have. So, it was just really trying to find out the best way to do that.” District officials collected input from parents, researched options and even traveled out of state to look for solutions that could save Majestic. The board reviewed various options for creating a magnet school with a science-based curriculum, an arts emphasis curriculum, an Individual Guided Education and an extended-day/after-school program. Ultimately, the board chose the music and arts option. “These kids do not have the opportunity to put their

hands on instruments, to have that additional music lesson,” Atwood said. “That’s why that option was more appealing.”

Prepared for change

Not knowing which option would be chosen, Majestic Principal Kathe Riding began preparing students and staff last year to incorporate elements of all the ideas into the curriculum. Students have regular experiences with art, science and computer skills during weekly rotations. An art specialist works with small groups, and a master teacher came out of retirement to “wow” students with enrichment science activities previously reserved for gifted students. Every other week, students attend band and choir classes. “We thought we would try all of these things to see, in case one of these did come true, how this community of kids would accept it and if they were comfortable with it,” Riding said. Kyla Asmar, a sixth grade teacher at Majestic, said the arts integration has been well received by her students. “It’s one of their favorite parts of the week,” Asmar Continued page 5

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West Jordan City Journal February 2020  

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