West Valley City Journal January 2019

Page 1

January 2019 | Vol. 5 Iss. 1


GRANITE EDUCATION FOUNDATION CELEBRATES 30 years supporting students and community By Lindsey Baxter | l.baxter@mycityjournals.com hat started off as a small group of concerned educators, parents, philanthropists and community members in 1988 — who got together because they knew the needs were growing within their school district and they couldn’t use tax dollars from the district to help meet those needs — is now celebrating its 30th anniversary. The Granite Education Foundation is ranked amongst the top 15 education foundations in the United States. Over the last 30 years, the Granite Education Foundation has provided over $500,000 in grants to assist teachers in the classroom (Cash for Classroom grants). This year was a record year for the program providing $50,565 in grants to 47 teachers. Brooke Porter, the marketing and communications director for the Granite Education Foundation, has been in this role for over a year now. “One thing that we try to focus on is giving to students or kids a hand up. And the way we do that is through a variety of programs and some of the programs include programs for the educators because we believe that the educators need help in order to be able to give our kids a hand up,” Porter said. “So many of our kids in our district are facing so many difficult needs, especially when it comes to having basic needs, like food and clothing and so there is a lot that needs to be done to give our kids a hand up. To see outside the circumstances they have and be able to do what we can while they are here in Granite School District,” Porter said. Brent Severe, CEO of the Granite Education Foundation, has been in the role for over five years. “Our direct services that we offer sets us apart from other education foundations in the state,” Severe said. “There is no middle man in between the need and us. With a lot of other agencies, there are different levels that you have to go through to get the services that the families need, but with us, it’s direct. We find about a need and within 24 hours the families

and students are being helped.” Severe points out that the school administrator and/or social worker contact the foundation and they get right to work getting the needs of the student met. “Sixty-five percent of our students are at or below poverty and we have over 160 languages and dialects spoken. We are one of the most diverse districts in the state of Utah,” Severe said. We also serve 70 percent of the state’s refugee population. So with those numbers there comes all kinds of challenges, we don’t look at them as challenges, we look at them as opportunities. So, we can provide for their basic needs so they can attend school ready to learn, and it’s a winwin for everyone involved.” Severe said a couple of things make his job worthwhile. He can go home at night and he may not have met the student or the family but knows the foundation made a difference in someone’s life. “Another rewarding part is seeing the generosity of the community, the donors and the corporations wanting to make a difference,” he said. Another aspect that sets GEF apart, Severe said, is that “100 percent of whatever is donated goes to directly what it is needed…Our donors appreciate that too and we are very transparent about that as well. If they say they want one dollar going to Moss Elementary, one dollar will go to Moss Elementary.” The organization has grown much since the beginning and now includes holiday assistance, scholarships and student aid. There are also food pantries in schools as well as a mobile food pantry. All funding for these comes from the events they hold throughout the year. The teacher grants are mostly sponsored by the annual golf tournament called Fore Kids Golf Tournament. The next golf event is July 11, 2019. The Granite Education Foundation holds a variety of events throughout the year to raise money to continue to help fund grants for teachers and help students and families on a daily basis.

Awarding a teacher with a Cash for Classroom Grant. (Courtesy of Brooke Porter)

Another annual fundraiser is the Excel Awards which honors the top educators for the year. Different sponsors within the community will sponsor tables. The Excel Awards will be held April 12, 2019. This time of the year keeps everyone busy by assembling the Santa Sacks together. Families within the community help put these sacks together as a way to give back. Other opportu-

nities include Sub for Santa or the Angel Tree project. The Granite Education Foundation is always looking for more volunteers and donations. If companies want volunteer opportunities, they can contact the Granite Education Foundation at 385-646-KIDS (5437). l

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West Valley City Journal

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

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West Valley City Journal

Big Brothers Big Sisters helping children reach their potential By Sarah Payne | s.payne@mycityjournals.com


any kids face difficulties in their lives, and it’s beneficial to have someone who cares and can help guide them through tough times. That’s where Big Brothers Big Sisters comes in, providing trained mentors to guide children through the mazes of childhood, helping them grow up knowing that someone cares about them and their potential. “We serve kids facing adversity through one-to-one mentoring in order to change the trajectories of their lives,” said Nancy Winemiller-Basinger, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah.
 Big Brothers Big Sisters is a nonprofit dedicated to helping children develop the skills, goals and confidence they need to succeed. Big Brothers Big Sisters, a nationwide organization, is dedicated to serving children, ages 6–18, who face adversity in their lives and who don’t have that safety net. The Utah chapter was started in 1978. More than 13,000 children have been positively affected by the work of this organization in Utah since that time. Merlin Jensen, current CEO of Complete Recovery Corps, has been on the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah for about five years. This year, he is chairman, overseeing the direction of the Utah chapter. The Utah branch bases most of its activities in the Salt Lake county area, in which more than 800 matches are made annually, with approximately 150 more in northern Utah, southern Utah and Summit County.
 “Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah is there to help find mentoring opportunities and help mentor children that need help and wouldn’t otherwise get mentored,” said Jensen. This need may arise through family situations, such as single-parent homes, incarcerated parents, substance abuse, financial situations, demographics and more. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah finds a mentor or creates a match between a ‘big brother’ or ‘big sister’ volunteer and these children. This mentor will spend personal, one-on-one time with the child, helping them develop social skills, form educational goals and even career goals.
 “Having a great friend in your corner for a good long time, can have the greatest impact,” said Winemiller-Basinger. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah encompasses three main programs, in order to “meet kids where they are,” said Winemiller-Basinger. The first is the community-based program in which a mentor will be assigned to a specific child in the community who will become their “little brother” or “little sister.” Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah also has a site-based program which takes place on a specific day each week in elementary schools of Utah. The children are bussed to a facility, often a sponsor of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah such as Comcast, at a specified time and date. Thirdly, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah works with high schools in a program known as Mentoring 2.0. Currently, Cottonwood High

WestValleyJ ournal.com

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah matches mentors with kids who maybe don’t have a safety net. (Photos courtesy of Nancy Winemiller-Basinger, Photo by Duston Todd)

School is involved with the Mentoring 2.0 program. Starting in the freshman year, a match will be made in which a mentor will guide a specific student through their high school journey. Prospective mentors are recruited through a variety of channels, including through events hosted by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah annually in order to raise both revenue and awareness. After a lengthy application process in which background checks and other such tests are conducted, the mentor is presented with the opportunity to mentor their new “little brother” or “little sister.”
 A successful match is important. Mentors are volunteers, chosen for a specific child based on factors such as personality and interests. The need for more volunteers is great. The waiting list of unpaired children waiting for a match, at the beginning of 2018, held 270 names. At the close of the year, the waiting list is predicted to contain 165 names, approximately 25 of whom have been waiting longer than two years for a mentor. Male volunteers are especially in demand, with a high number of young boys awaiting mentors.
 These relationships are meant to last, giving the child a safety net throughout their childhood years. Average match length is 27 months. Mentors are asked for a commitment of at least 12 months, in order for the child to benefit as much as possible from their big brother’s or big sister’s guidance.
 The organization is making its mark, with 1,322 children matched this past year. On average, 91 percent of these children live in low- to moderate-income households, 10 percent have an incarcerated parent, 47 percent live with a single parent and 5 percent live with neither parent. Nine percent of these children are refugees.

There are a few ways to help Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah in its efforts to meet the needs of children. One way is to volunteer. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah needs all the volunteers it can get. People can contribute by donating clothing and home goods to their nearest Savers location. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah has an agreement with Savers in which a certain amount of money is donated to the organization for the items donated. Big Brothers and Big Sisters Officials appreciate online donations. Three major events —Bowl for Kids’ Sake, Golf for Kids’ Sake for golfers and Chef and Child, in which Utah chefs put together a dinner for a gala and auction — help raise funds and promote awareness of the nonprofit. Sponsorships, from Progressive Leasing and Comcast, make programs such as Mentoring 2.0 possible. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah also thanks Wells Fargo and other partners for their cooperation. “As I’ve spent time in nonprofit, volunteer spaces, I’ve really wanted to focus on areas that are going to be our future generation—the folks that are going to be running the businesses, running the government in the future, and I think that’s the children of today,” Jensen said. “I think there’s a huge need in today’s society for mentors that can help with children, giving them good goals, helping them with career goals and school goals in the future.” “The difference you can make in the life of a child is pretty phenomenal,” said Winemiller-Basinger. “We need more mentors, more people willing to invest a few hours in kids that really need it.” l

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West Valley City Journal




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January 2019 | Page 7

West Valley City 2018: captured in photos


f a photo says a thousand words, then the following pages could write a book capturing some of West Valley City’s most memorable

moments in 2018. From a foodie’s paradise to a Pink Patch campaign for breast cancer awareness, 2018 was one to remember. l

Hunter High ASL teacher Michael Barney poses for a photo with the West Valley City Council after receiving the Inspiration Award from the West Valley City Youth Council. Barney, born deaf, teaches American Sign Language at Hunter High. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

Steel Badger plays music during the Wasatch International Food Festival in August. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

West Valley City Clerk Nicole Dunaway speaks on Oct. 1 kicking off Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Dunaway was 42 when she was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer. The Pink Patch Project went on to raise $4,500 for the Huntsman Cancer Foundation. (Photo/Jenny Jones)

Page 8 | January 2019

Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration. (Photo by June A. Knight))

West Valley City resident Kate De Groote toured many places during her weeklong trip to Washington, D.C. Kate was one of 104 student delegates selected across the country to attend the 56th annual United States Senate Youth Program. (Photo by Jakob Mosur)

West Valley City Journal

One attendee eats an ear of corn at the Wasatch International Food Festival in August. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

Surprised expressions greeted the announcement that summer food vouchers for Burger King would be handed out. (Courtesy Brooke Porter/Granite Education Foundation)

Granger High teacher Ken Hopkins performs Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech during a Black History Month event in February. Hopkins would retire at the end of that school year. For the past 25 years, Hopkins performed the speech hundreds of times. (Photo/Granite School District)

WestValleyJ ournal.com

Kids and police interact during National Night Out on Aug. 7. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

Students give the Molina Healthcare mascot a hug. Employees at the elementary teamed up with the Granite Education Foundation, Molina Healthcare and other volunteers to provide students in need with school supplies, shoes, immunizations, haircuts, community resources and more in August. (Whitney Cox/City Journals)

January 2019 | Page 9

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Hunter High student Tia Harding was cast as Titiuba in the school’s play “The Crucible.” Harding comes from a family active in school activities. (Photo/Sara Harding)

Junior Melodie Childers holds one of the rabbits raised on the farm at Roots Charter High School in West Valley City. (Whitney Cox/City Journals)

West Valley City Journal

Hunter High student Annie Smith tried to steer her donkey toward the correct basket in the first-ever fundraiser basketball game March 23. The game raised nearly $700 for the athletic department. (Photo courtesy Chuck Smith)

Trent Dahlin (left) as Prospero and Erica Alexandra Carvalho as Miranda in the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s 2018 Shakespeare-in-the-Schools production of “The Tempest.” The show came to West Valley City in April. (Photo/Karl Hugh)

WestValleyJ ournal.com

January 2019 | Page 11

Runners don ugly sweaters to help kids stay warm this winter By Sarah Payne | s.payne@mycityjournals.com


h, the weather outside is frightful, but for West Valley kids at Valley Crest Elementary it’s so delightful. Thanks to this year’s Ugly Sweater 5K fun run at the Family Fitness Center, these children get to bundle up this winter.
The Ugly Sweater Fun Run started out as a 5K to allow people to have fun running in their favorite ugly Christmas sweater. Last year, the Fun Run partnered with Mountain View Corridor for a free joint Fun Run to celebrate its opening day. Participants were asked to bring a donation for the food bank. Some 1,200 pounds of food were collected for people in need. Today, the Ugly Sweater Fun Run contin-

ues in its annual efforts to gather donations for those who need them. The 5K is free, and no timer is used to determine a winner, although prizes are available for the owners of the ugliest sweaters. Its purpose is twofold — donations and fun. Participants are free to run, or walk, at their own pace. This is the first year that the Family Fitness Center hosted the race on its own, instead of partnering with another organization. Nick Coleman, the facility and membership supervisor at the FFC, oversees the Ugly Sweater Fun Run. With the help of his coworker Parker Chappell, FFC director Jamie Young and Nancy Day, director of West Valley Parks

and Recreation, he views the Fun Run as “a way to give back to our community.” This year, in place of food, the Ugly Sweater Fun Run was held to collect clothing for children. Items requested of participants included new or gently used jackets, socks, gloves, hats, and other cold-weather clothing. These items were then donated to Valley Crest Elementary. The turnout for the Ugly Sweater Fun Run has typically been about 30-40 participants, but in recent years the 5K run has grown in popularity. About 75 people signed up to participate in this year’s fun run.
 “I feel that this is a good opportunity for us as a city to give back,” said Coleman, “to

give our time and do what we can for the community.” The tradition will continue. The Ugly Sweater Fun Run is set to take place each year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, kicking off the holiday season before the winter snows hit. The race took place this year on Nov. 17, at Centennial Park, located next to the FFC.
 Runners who wore the four ugliest sweaters received prizes from the Family Fitness Center, including a day pass, a holiday light necklace and a movie day pass. Participants were generous. Five large boxes of warm clothing were donated to students of Valley Crest Elementary. l

Runners at the Ugly Sweater Fun Run. (Photos courtesy of Nick Coleman)

Page 12 | January 2019

West Valley City Journal

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January 2019 | Page 13

Winter driving safety: Snow falls and you slow down


he long line at the local auto body shop isn’t just for oil changes, it’s for winter tires too. With temperatures dropping and leaves soon to follow, it’s time for a refresher course on safe winter driving. 1) Know the conditions Technology affords us the privilege of knowing road conditions before ever leaving the house. Utah Department of Transportation has more than 2,200 traffic cameras or sensors which gives visuals and data on all major UDOT roads. Drivers can then adjust their routes or schedules according to the heaviness of traffic making for less congestion and less risk for accidents. The UDOT app means you can see all those cameras from your phone. Twitter feeds also provide alerts about traffic situations throughout the state, including roads up the canyon. Unified Police have a canyon alerts Twitter page for to update traffic in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons as well as tire requirements and road closures. 2) Prepare the car Make sure the car is prepared for the road conditions, first with good tires. Snow tires give greater tread for better traction. If only two new tires are placed on the car, make sure to put them in the rear. With the falling snow, it’s necessary to have quality wiper blades that ensures clear views rather than leaving water streaks across windshield impairing your ability to drive. The wiper

fluid reservoir also needs to be replenished before the first snows hit. Snow and ice should be completely removed from the windows, headlights and taillights prior to driving to ensure visibility. If your car is parked outside overnight, place towels over the windows. This keeps the windows from icing over. A system should be in place to check everything in your car such as the battery power and your cooling system. Antifreeze helps the vehicle withstand the freezing temperatures. The vehicle should also be stocked with safety items in the case of an emergency. The Utah Department of Public Safety suggests on its website to have jumper cables, a tow rope and small shovel in case the car gets stuck, reflectors or flares to make sure your car is visible to others driving, flashlight and batteries, extra winter clothes, first-aid kit, battery or solar powered radio, sleeping bag, fresh water and non-perishable food, paper towels and hand warmers. 3) Control the vehicle Keeping the car under control requires some safe driving tips. The most obvious: drive slowly. Despite our impatience or urgency to get to the desired location, slow driving is the safest driving. Staying under the speed limit, which is meant for ideal conditions, becomes even more important when traveling over snow, ice, standing water or slush. In driver’s education courses, prospective

drivers learn about the rule for distance between your car and the one in front of you. Driving 60 mph? Stay six car lengths back. 70 mph? Seven car lengths back. This distance should be increased even more during wet conditions to allow the car time and space to stop without rear ending the vehicle in front. All movements should be gradual rather than sudden. This means avoiding sharp turns, accelerating slowly and braking softly. Though you may have four-wheel drive or even all-wheel drive, this does not give license to drive recklessly in winter conditions. This means staying off cruise control as well. The need for seat belts increases tenfold during the winter. With car seats, place coats or blankets around the children after strapping them in. Coats can limit the effectiveness of a car seat. Stay alert. Deer become more active after storms. Black ice causes many crashes and that ice typically looks like wet spots. If skidding does take place, steer in the direction the back of the car is going and ease off the gas. Remember to keep the gas tank at least halfway full, it will keep the gas tank from freezing and if you get stuck in a traffic jam, you may need as much gas as possible. 4) Time For those of you who struggle with punctuality, this becomes paramount. Giving yourself plenty of time to reach your destination means you won’t rush, decreasing the chances of a crash. l


Granite School District is hiring Kitchen Managers, Nutrition Service Workers, and Nutrition Worker Substitutes! Applicants must have: High school diploma or equivalent, background check, and be willing to obtain a food handler’s permit. • • • •

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www.graniteschools.org/ nutritionservices/jobs Page 14 | January 2019

West Valley City Journal

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January 2019 | Page 15

Are letter grades failing students? Parents give the grade to report cards By Julie Slama | julie@mycityjournals.com


t may be a positive experience when little Gabriella or Alex brings home a report card from elementary school informing parents they’ve mastered or are progressing to meet a standard in the core curriculum — all without the traditional letter grade. But parents say that may not be the answer for high school students. “So far, my kids have been spared the drama of the standard-based report cards,” Bingham High PTA vice president Jodee Packer said. “With my kids applying to colleges, random proficiencies compared to letter grades don’t make sense. Everyone knows that a 4.0 GPA means all As.” Packer, who lives in Jordan School District, also points out to compete in high school athletics, GPAs are checked to allow students to compete, and to change it “complicates the system unnecessarily.” “It’s a system we all know. How do we check grades if we’re all doing proficiency-based report cards?” she said. Nationally, the trend is exploring standard-based report cards as educators say letter grade report cards diminish students’ interest in learning and result in them thinking about how well they’re doing rather than be engaged in what they’re doing, said education expert Alfie Kohn, author of “Punished by Rewards” and “Schooling Beyond Measure.” “The research quite clearly shows that kids who are graded — and have been encouraged to try to improve their grades — tend to lose interest in the learning itself, avoid challenging tasks whenever possible (in order to maximize the chance of getting an A), and think less deeply than kids who aren’t graded,” Kohn told the National Education Association in 2015. “The problem isn’t with how we grade, nor is it limited to students who do especially well or poorly in school; it’s inherent to grading. That’s why the best teachers and schools replace grades (and grade-like reports) with narrative reports — qualitative accounts of student performance — or, better yet, conferences with students and parents.” Locally, school districts are taking a closer look at transitioning to or have already made the change to standard-based report cards to complement their parent-teacher conferences. Granite School District, Salt Lake City area’s largest district, began reviewing the standard-based grading more than eight years ago and has been making the transition, tweaking it along the way, said Assistant Superintendent Linda Mariotti. Four years ago, 18 teachers tested the new system. Last spring, 400 Granite District teachers used proficiency-based grading. This fall, 1,200 of the 4,000 teachers in the district were on board, mostly in the elementaries, she said. “Anytime something is new, it can be overwhelming because change is hard,” Mariotti said. “But proficiency-based grading empowers our students. It supports student learning and we

Page 16 | January 2019

want to do what’s right for our students.” She, along with other educators, inform parents in town meetings about what the district calls proficiency-based grading (PBG), which she said is a synonym for standard-based grading. “I may be one of the oldest in the room and grading hasn’t changed since I was in grade school, but we need to let you know how well your student is learning at that moment in time and we can do that with proficiency-based grading where a letter grade can’t do that,” Mariotti told parents recently at town meeting held at Cottonwood High. “The PBG report card will show where students are struggling and how you can help them and with what. It allows teachers to evaluate the assessments and know where to reteach. It eliminates grade inflation and extra credit not based on course work. Our report cards now will have value where the traditional letter grade report cards haven’t been making the grade when it comes to measuring student progress and achievement.” In traditional grading, Mariotti said letter grades report the number of points earned on assignments in a subject but it doesn’t reveal what the student has learned. Proficiency-based grading, she said, offers better feedback by evaluating how well the student has met measurable standards. Through the PBG or standards-based grading, students will receive a score based on assessments put into an algorithm. The latest assessment will carry the most weight as students are expected to know the subject better, she said. “This will ensure that we are being consistent and that the students will be learning the standards,” Mariotti said about the assessments that can be retaken during that school year. “With PBG, students are given multiple opportunities to demonstrate proficiency in multiple ways — they can write it, build it, dance it, say it, paint it, say it in another language — any way they can articulate they know it.” That 1 to 4 score will be what is shown on report cards for elementary-grade children, but Granite secondary students will have that converted into letter grades as well. “Nationwide, colleges are placing less emphasis on GPAs and more on ACT and the courses students are enrolled in, but we realize it is a bigger system out there so right now, we’re continuing to provide both the score and letter grade. USHAA (Utah High School Activities Association) also has student-athletes eligibility on GPA so that’s another reason to provide both. But we know letter grades can be subjective and may not really be reflective of what students are learning and PBG eliminates that,” she said. However, the transition frustrates some parents. Sheri Wade’s children have some classes that are graded on a PBG system and some that are not — she thinks. “My daughter’s math class is straightforward,” she said about the eighth-grade honors

Granite School District Assistant Superintendent Linda Mariotti discusses the transition to proficiency-based report cards at Cottonwood High School. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

class at Bennion Junior High. “If the student gets a 1, then we know the student needs improvement and in what area. If there’s a 4, then we know the student has exceeded the expectations.” What confuses Wade is a science class. “I’ve been told that if a student receives 40 percent on a quiz, that it can’t be retaken and that assignments and labs are part of the grade where I’ve been told that with PBG it’s not graded so it’s hard to understand what is going on,” she said after the parent meeting at Cottonwood High. Earlier, Mariotti said homework is not scored. “Homework is independent practice. Teachers demonstrate and talk about a skill, then they do it together with students and then ask students to do it on their own either in class or at home. Teachers provide students feedback, but not in terms of grades or scores, but rather to see them do well and improve,” she said. “There also is no extra credit. The scores are based on proficiency assessments. It’s a new mindset that we’re needing to shift.” Cottonwood School Community council member and parent Robyn Ivins then questions the motivation for homework. “I really like the proficiency-based grading and I’m grateful for them trying to make a difference, but it’s confusing to students and parents with how assessments really work and if homework and extra credit are really not part of the grade,” she said. “I feel like all the teachers who have switched to PBG are on the same program, but they aren’t.” For example, Ivins said her daughter, who she thought was in a PBG math class, just had her homework graded and was told that the teacher informed her that homework needed to be completed if any student wanted to retake

tests that term. Even the change of mindset may prove difficult, Ivins said. “If teachers tell them they’re not grading homework, the majority of high school students won’t do it. It’s hard for them to be motivated to do it just for the sake of learning. It’s hard for students to suddenly be told they don’t have to get a certain grade. It goes against everything they’ve been told from first grade that they need to have certain grades so they can be ready for college and receive scholarships,” she said. Ivins also expressed concerns with the new grading system for refugee students and those with disabilities. Mariotti gave this example: if a parent has a sixth-grader and she is reading on a third-grade level, the teacher is still to teach the sixth-grade standards. “The IEP (the student’s individualized learning plan) will be able to show and help her with different ways she may be able to demonstrate her learning and trying to meet the proficiencies, which she may or may not get to, but she may get to a concept or objective level,” she said. “The same is true with an English learner, where a state test helps identify her understanding level and from there, she can demonstrate the learning.” Many parents wanted a concrete date the district will completely transition to PBG. Mariotti said there isn’t “a drop-dead date,” but encourages teachers to shift when they’re comfortable. “Already this is rolling over on its own, just snowballing. I know it’s frustrating to parents we don’t have a specific date, but we want teachers to embrace it, not resist it,” she said. In two years, she expects most teachers and schools to be on board with PBG for Granite’s 67,900 students.

West Valley City Journal

The transition also is occurring in nearby Jordan School District, which educates students in the southwest part of the Salt Lake Valley. Jordan School District Administrator of Middle Schools Michael Anderson said he’s “excited to give more meaning to our grading system. It’s part of the trend to get to the heart of school and learning and education.” While he said middle school and high school levels haven’t changed their letter grades, with PBG, they are able to provide an “accurate reflection of what students know and are able to do.” “With standard-based grading, extra credit, effort or not getting work down isn’t the focus; it’s assessments,” he said. “We’re changing report cards from a grading game to a learning game.” He said the assessments will reveal what standards students miss and will help teachers determine if the question was poor or if it’s an area that needs to be retaught. He said homework is used for students to practice what is taught to be ready to take the assessments.


ur report cards now will have value where the traditional letter grade report cards haven’t been making the grade when it comes to measuring student progress and achievement.” — Granite School District Assistant Superintendent Linda Mariotti

“Kids can retake assessments, but only after homework is done, so they have a chance to learn the material,” he said. “The 4-3-2-1 score with proficiencies will show if students know or can show proficiency and can demonstrate and apply it. This will give more meaning to the A to F letter grade on current report cards and allow the student to know why they may have a B in a class and know he or she needs to show proficiencies in certain standards to improve. Standard-based grading empowers the students to know where they are learning and what gaps they have.” Anderson said that since letter grades are “universal” with colleges worldwide, Jordan has remained with letters, but “has put more meaning into those letters” at the high school level. Elementary students are on the numeral system. “Our teachers and administrators have worked their guts out for better education and standards of learning for our kids,” he said. “Standard-based grading takes the guesswork out of report cards.” Oquirrh Elementary PTA President Beth LeFevre appreciates that.

WestValleyJ ournal.com

“The report cards are trying to explain it more and there’s no guessing that one assignment can bring down a grade,” she said. “It gives parents a better idea of what a child needs to work on, but I’d still like to see more explanation with the scores and see the percentage of where they’re at. If I don’t understand something, or want more detail, I don’t wait for the school to contact me. I just go to the teacher.” Both Granite and Jordan districts have online report cards so students and parents can review students’ learning — as does Murray School District. Murray School District students receive the common letter grades. “All Murray City School District schools use a traditional letter grade report card that measures completion,” said Scott Bushnell, Murray District assistant superintendent. “The MCSD report card is issued quarterly and gives a snapshot of a student’s academic, citizenship and attendance status at that time.” However, Murray District educators have looked into the pros and cons of standard-based grading. “We are focusing by grade levels and subject areas, across schools, working on agreement of standards and levels of proficiency. We are currently working within the traditional grading format and communicating with students and parents on how a student is performing. In English/language arts, math and science, we have begun to monitor the progress of students with respect to grade-level standards. This progress monitoring has been beneficial in helping students and parents understand standards mastery. This process began in elementary schools and is now being used in secondary schools as well,” he said. Canyons School District made the transition to PBG with elementary schools in 2013–14 and tweaked it with parent and teacher input for the following school year. “We feel parents have a better understanding of their child’s progress with our report card reflecting ‘mastered’ or ‘not yet mastered’ a standard rather than passing or failing,” Canyons Spokeswoman Kirsten Stewart said. “The idea is not to penalize the student, but to learn the material and retake the tests to demonstrate the mastery of the standard. One of the benefits of standards-based grading is it helps to convey that mistakes can be made and not getting 100 percent is part of the learning process.” While the standard-based grading system is in place in elementary schools, Stewart said there is discussion about placing it in the secondary schools although “there is no established deadline.” “It doesn’t have to be a score, but the letter grade can be based on those standards,” she said, adding teachers have more than 90 hours annually of instructional training to help assess student learning and achievement. “We feel standard-based grading is a nice balance to communicate to parents that their child is learning and learning skills that they will use through their lives.” l

January 2019 | Page 17

Addresses: Bell’s 48th Street Deli 1207 Murray Taylorsville Rd Taylorsville Lone Star Taqueria 2265 Fort Union Blvd Cottonwood Heights Cous Cous Mediterranean Grill 5470 South 900 East #1 Salt Lake City Guras Spice House 5530 13400 S Herriman Fav Bistro 1984 E Murray Holladay Rd Holladay Shaka Shack 14587 750 W Bluffdale Spudtoddos 7251 Plaza Center Dr #120 West Jordan

Lunch Madness


his summer, we took the best parks around the valley and pitted them against each other in head-to-head contests with winners determined by social media voting, until we had a victor. Now, we’re turning our attention to local restaurants, diners, grills and cafes. This is Lunch Madness. We started by selecting one restaurant to represent each city in the Salt Lake Valley, using

a variety of criteria. First and foremost, it had to be a locally owned and operated restaurant. As a chain of local newspapers, we’re all about supporting small and local business. Second, we wanted to have a diverse tournament so we selected a broad range of types of restaurants. From classic burger joints and taquerias to Thai-fusion and potato-centric eateries, there’s something for everyone in this competition.

Voting will begin the week of January 22. As with regular voting, we encourage all participants to be informed voters. So go try a few of these restaurants, especially if there’s one in your area that you’ve never been to before. Find a favorite, then help vote them on through the tournament. Voting will take place on the City Journals Facebook page. l

Bracket Seeding: Bell’s 48th Street Deli

Lone Star Taqueria


(Cottonwood Heights) Joe Morley’s BBQ

Abs Drive In


(West Valley)

The Break Sports Grill

The Break Sports Grill 11274 Kestrel Rise Rd South Jordan

(South Jordan)

Pig & A Jelly Jar 401 East 900 South A Salt Lake City

(Salt Lake City)

Spudtoddos (West Jordan)

Pat’s BBQ

Pig and a Jelly Jar

(South Salt Lake)

Pat’s BBQ 155 W Commonwealth Ave, South Salt Lake Sugarhouse BBQ Company 880 E 2100 S Salt Lake City Tin Roof Grill 9284 700 E Sandy Salsa Leedos 13298 S Market Center Dr Riverton

Shaka Shack

Fav Bistro



Cous Cous Guras Spice House (Herriman)

Joe Morley’s BBQ 100 W Center St Midvale


Page 18 | January 2019


(Sugar House)

Garage Grill 1122 East Draper Parkway Draper

Ab’s Drive-In 4591 5600 W West Valley City

Tin Roof Grill

Sugarhouse BBQ Co.

Mediterranean Grill (Murray) Garage Grill

Salsa Leedos

First Round Voting: January 22-23


Second Round Voting: January 24-25

Third Round Voting: January 28-29

Finals: January 30-31

West Valley City Journal

Changing schools for sports — is it good or bad? By Greg James | gregj@mycityjournals.com


s Carolyn Fotu and her husband Tevita debated on where they thought their two sons should attend high school and play football they never anticipated the windfall of emotion that the decision would involve. “Hard is an understatement,” Carolyn said. “We uprooted them from what they knew and put them in a whole new environment. The backlash that came with it made it even harder, but looking back at it now it was all worth it.” The Fotu family broke no rules when deciding through open enrollment where their children should attend school. In fact, initially they transported them to their chosen school and eventually they moved into the school boundaries. They enrolled into Bingham as part of the open enrollment program outlined by the State School Board. According to state code 402, a school is open for enrollment of nonresident students if enrollment level is at or below enrollment threshold. Carolyn and Tevita applied for their children to attend Bingham and were granted permission by the Jordan School District. “It surprised us that friends were offended when we went through it. Tevita had attended Bingham’s summer workouts and gotten to know the coaches. He liked the way they ran their program. That is what sold us on Bingham,” Carolyn said. The investment the parents made in research for the future of their children paid off. Their oldest, Malachi, was recruited and earned a football scholarship to Southern Virginia University. Sione is currently a junior and has received several college offers including the University of Utah saving the family thousands in college expenses. “Playing sports in high school helped teach them things they can use in everyday life situations,” Carolyn said. Scholarship offers can come to athletes no matter where they play their games. “We found the good players no matter what,” former Southern Utah University assistant men’s basketball coach Drew Allen said. “Honestly, where the student plays in high school means nothing. We found the kids in the off season camps and tournaments anyway. We could not come watch the high school games because we were playing at the same time. If the kid was good enough we found them no matter what.” Some examples of students who made it despite not playing at a powerhouse school include: Noah Togiai starred at Hunter High School as a basketball and football player. He was heavily recruited in both sports and ended up at Oregon State playing basketball for one season before later becoming a football only athlete. He has been rated by ESPN as one of the top 25 tight ends in the country and may enter the NFL draft this spring. Hailee Skolmoski, a graduate of Riverton High School, signed and played soccer at the

WestValleyJ ournal.com


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The football team at Granger High School has been decimated by player transfers. This season they closed out their campaign with less that 50 athletes on their roster. (Greg James/City Journals)

University of Utah. She scored 26 goals in her four year career for the Utes. She is part of the Real Salt Lake women’s developmental program. Atunaisa Mahe, from West Jordan High, is a freshman at BYU and has earned his way as a defensive lineman for the Cougars. Sometimes players and parents still try to manipulate the system to their best interests. “It happened to me once,” Cyprus head boys basketball head coach Tre Smith said. “A student came to me and asked if he transferred into our school if I would give him a spot on the team. I told him he would need to tryout just like everyone else. I never heard from him again. Honestly, tryouts is the toughest part of my job. I try to keep the best players. One year I kept a senior that I cut as a junior. He got better.” The UHSAA indicates undue influence and recruiting rules to be an important part of their jurisdiction. The violation of the association bylaws can be followed with penalties such as reprimands, probation, suspension, fines and vacating wins. It’s not just players and parents who look for loopholes, coaches aren’t immune either. Summit Academy High School received allegations of recruiting by one of its assistant football coaches in 2015. The UHSAA suspended the program from the 2016 state football playoffs and fined the school $3,000. An assistant football coach, Jeff Callahan, lost his position at the school. Callahan was accused of contacting then current Copper Hills players and encouraging them to transfer to Summit. Then-Copper Hills Principal Todd Quarnberg presented copies of text messages as proof to the allegations to the UHSAA. Initial eligibility is established by a student attending a high school or trying out for a high school team (whichever comes first). After eligibility is established, a student must submit a transfer request with the UHSAA if they want

to change schools. A request by the City Journals for a number of transfer requests reviewed by the association was denied. Former Summit Academy and current Wyoming long snapper Jesse Hooper transferred from Copper Hills. “Some of my old friends were not very happy at the moment,” Hooper said. “They understood what was best for me and my family. My old school and my new school were both very professional and welcoming. Wyoming has been everything I could have dreamed about. I started all 12 games. I finished the season healthy. I am truly blessed.” The UHSAA governs high school athletics and fine arts activities in the state. They include 154 member schools and over 100,000 participating students. The association sanctions 10 girls sports, 10 boys sports along with music, theater/drama and speech and debate. The UHSAA recently finalized its region realignments in 2019. The association has the responsibility to assign its member schools into classifications and regions. According to their bylaws they take into account any factors that promote fair competition. Every two years they arrange the schools into competitive regions. “For a lot of kids to be involved in something outside of the classroom it is a good thing,” Hunter High School Principal Craig Stauffer said. “Some of these kids because they get involved they know that they have to keep a certain GPA (grade point average) so they can play. It is like a huge insurance policy. To think they could be out on the streets doing something else makes it all worth it. Winning is not the most important thing although it is nice to be competitive.” Rob Cuff, the UHSAA executive director, told the City Journals in a recent story, “Winning teams and competitive balance is not the goal of the association. Our mission is about participation.” l


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West Valley City Journal

Wasatch Improv Festival ready to make 2019 bigger and funnier By Bob Bedore | bob@mycityjournals.com


ow do you put on one of the biggest improv comedy festivals in the country? Well, you improvise. “Last year we really didn’t know fully what we were doing,” admitted Wasatch Improv Festival Board Member Jason Wild. “All we knew was we wanted it to be something that we’d all be proud of and that everyone who came out would have some laughs and be glad they came. Somehow, we did that, and a lot more.” In its first year, the Wasatch Improv Festival (WIF) did a little, “let’s announce a festival and see if anyone comes.” Soon they were not only having to turn away acts that were submitting from around the country, but also guests who were trying to get into the Midvale Performing Arts Center. “We were putting in as many chairs as we could, but finally we just had to tell people we couldn’t fit any more,” said Wild. “This was one of the best festivals we’ve been to,” said Rolland Lopez of the Los Angeles improv duo Rollin ‘n’ Riches. “I can’t believe that this was a firstyear festival. This was better than a lot of festivals in their seventh year.” And now the people behind the Wasatch Improv Festival, taking place once again at the Midvale Performing Arts Center January 17-19, have their work cut out for them as they try to improve on last year and make it even bigger and better. A lot of their success was in the mix they represented last year, and that will be in play again this time out. The mix is not just in Utah and non-Utah teams, though that is very important (this year will feature teams from 11 different states), but also in the style of improv. This year will see a complete mash-up of different types of comedy. This means that you’ll be seeing something different every 20 minutes – and all of it funny. The Wasatch Improv Festival is all about exposing people to something a little different. “Last year’s festival was one of the greatest times of my life,” said board member Blake Heywood. “I met so many new friends and learned so much about different styles. I really can’t wait to see how this year goes.” Learning is also a big part of the festival. There is always something you can learn by watching others perform, but there are also classes that you can take. The WIF offers classes from national teachers Andel Sudik, Celeste Pechous


Dont Text & Drive

It’s hard to explain the Purdy Twins, but two things are for sure: they are funny, and there is nothing like them. (Blake Heywood)

and Nick Candon. There is even a “Free Lunch” class that can be attended that includes a lesson and lunch – all for free. “I’m really excited about the teachers we have this year,” said board member Tom Shannon. “These are teachers we really wanted to go out and get, and I’m so happy that they’ve said yes. It’s going to be a big part of our festival.” Once again, the festival will feature 10 different acts each night. The shows will start at 7 p.m. on January 17-19 (Thursday-Saturday) at the Midvale Performing Arts Center, 695 W. Center St. Each night will be broken up into two acts with a 30-minute intermission in between. Tickets will be $10 per night. There is a special pass available to the first 50 buyers for all three nights for $22. It should be noted that the comedy is mostly PG13, but there will likely be some language that can come out, especially in the second half of the shows. This will be especially true on the final set on Friday night. This year the WIF has some of their

favorite acts from last year returning, including Rollin ‘n’ Riches and The Purdy Twins, and some new acts including Murder, Murder (improvising a 20-minute murder mystery), The Next Generation Gap (father and son team), and Bird & Friend from New York. Utah teams like Quick Wits, Murder Fairy & Arson Leprechaun, and Park City Improv, will be joined by some other teams making their first WIF appearance. These include Improv Broadway and Rev Mayhem: The Improvised Rock Band. When not improvising, the performers will be enjoying the wonders of Utah as well as competing in the second annual WIF Top Golf Shoot Out, doing some “Laugh Yoga,” going on a ghost hunt in the Midvale Performing Arts Center, and wrapping up with a late-night karaoke party featuring “Life of the Party” and Rob Ferre. For more information about the festival and tickets, please visit their website at wasatchimprov.com. l

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Setting smart resolutions

elcome to 2019! As we all begin to realize the consequences of those holiday snacks and dinners, pesky New Year’s resolutions nip at the frontal lobes of our brains. As we set goals to help us achieve those resolutions, it’s important to remember that we need to set goals that can be completed. Setting a resolution like “lose weight” ends up in a spiral of money lost into programs, diets, gym passes, specialty foods and more. George T. Doran publicized his theory on how to set attainable goals in November 1981. His theory was aimed toward individuals working in the business world, since his original paper was published in “The Management Review.” However, it was such a great idea that today his theory is widely used and almost universally recognized. Doran recommends setting S.M.A.R.T. goals. That’ll be easy to remember right? Let’s walk through each of those letters, and illustrate them through one of the most common resolutions last year: losing weight. A resolution of “I want to lose weight this year” is not considered to be a S.M.A.R.T. goal. S stands for specific. Doran suggests targeting “a specific area for improvement,” even identifying who is

involved and what the action is. For our example, we could identify a loss of pounds, a healthier BMI, or reducing inches around your waistline. M stands for measurable. Doran proposes quantifying “an indicator of progress.” Luckily, for our example, this specific part of our S.M.A.R.T. goal overlaps a bit into measurable. We can measure how many inches around our waist or arms we have lost or see if our body fat percentage has gone down. A stands for achievable. Doran states that “the objective must be attainable with the amount of time and resources available.” In other words, we may think about this point as living within our means. If we know we will be able to set aside only three hours for exercise per week, and two hours for food preparation per week, our goal should not be to be as skinny as Keira Knightley or as bulky as Hulk Hogan. R stands for realistic. Doran advises creating “an objective that is reasonable to ensure achievement.” Health science research has found that an average human being can lose one to two pounds per week, healthily. So, our goal should only be to lose between four and eight pounds per month. T stands for timely. Doran recommends “specifying when results can be achieved.” Make sure to set time stamps

for goals. In our example, if we want to lose weight within the next year, we should set smaller goals within that time frame. For example, maybe we can lose 20 pounds within the first three months and an additional 10 pounds within six months. Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals can be the difference between achieving New Year’s resolutions and failing to even grasp at them. If we are constantly setting unspecific, non-attainable goals, we may be setting ourselves up for failure. Such failure inevitably leads to a depreciation of mental health and personal

well-being. This may be the ultimate objective for the recommendation of setting S.M.A.R.T. goals: making sure we set ourselves up for success, while in the process, protecting the state of our mental health, and ensuring a personal well-being. And hey, setting S.M.A.R.T. goals allows us to save some money as well. Un-S.M.A.R.T. goals usually leave us in a frazzled scramble where we spend too much money on things we think will help us achieve our goals last minute. Avoiding that crunch time helps our brains, as well as our wallets. l

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West Valley City Journal

Life and Laughter—High Intensity Interval Torture


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f you heard a loud groan echoing through the stratosphere, it wasn’t our planet finally imploding, it was the sound of millions of people rolling off their couches to start an exercise program for the new year. Maybe they want to lose 10 pounds, run a 5K - or maybe even a marathon if they think they’re some kind of freakin’ super hero. Some people hit the ground running. (I hit the ground every time I run. That’s why I stopped running.) Others might take a gradual approach, adding an extra five minutes each day until, like me, they’re exercising for five minutes each day. But some folks lunge directly into extreme exercise—trying to punish themselves into health, beating muscles into submission and then talking about it NONSTOP. There’s no one worse to talk to than someone who just discovered CrossFit. And people who do Parkour?? Intolerable. They jump from buildings, swing from trees, climb walls and don’t touch the ground for 24 hours. When I was a kid, this was called, “Don’t step in the lava” and we’d jump from couch to end table to piano bench to bookshelf to the safety of the kitchen floor. Now, it’s

basically an Olympic sport. There’s always a new health fad that promises to SHRED fat, BURN calories, BUILD muscles and DESTROY abs. (And they mean destroy in a good way.) Spokespeople are usually tree trunks with heads and are as hyped as a toddler mainlining Mountain Dew. If you trace exercise craziness back to its roots, you’ll find Jack LaLanne, the great-grandfather of fitness, and the first person to make everyone feel super crappy about their bodies. Jack LaLanne didn’t wear a shirt for 40 years. Before that, humans were basically doughy people who didn’t give a rip about biceps. Then, Jane Fonda high-kicked her way into the fitness industry, wearing high-cut leotards, leg warmers and terry-cloth armbands to fashionably wipe the sweat from her brow. She had a gajillion housewives burning calories with her VHS tapes, starting the workout-athome phenomenon. She’s 125 and will still kick your butt Now we’re obsessed with high-intensity fitness. (“We” meaning someone who isn’t me.) We throw down $50 to sweat through an excruciating hot yoga class, cycle like we’re being chased by stationary zombies and do hundreds of burpees to remixed hip-hop tunes.



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Guys at the gym bench-press Volkswagen Beetles and dead-lift redwood trees. Overtraining has become a merit badge for fitness success. People at the fitness center will warm up for 30 minutes, take a cardio class for an hour, a weight-lifting class for an hour and Zumba their way into intensive care. Here’s the thing. Overtraining is dangerous. It can leave you moody and fatigued, it saps your immune system, contributes to insomnia and makes you a cranky $%#*. There’s even been an increase in rhabdomyolysis, which is not rhino abs (like I thought). It’s muscle tis-


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sue breaking down from overuse. It can make your pee dark-red! Ew. I get it. Everyone wants a beach body, even though that term doesn’t really narrow it down. Walruses live on beaches. Whales have often been found on beaches. And even though I’m a Cancer, I’d rather not have the body of a crab. So before you roll off your couch this year, maybe set a fitness goal that doesn’t involve throwing tractor tires or leaping out a second-floor window. Mostly because your body will be healthier, but also because I don’t want to hear you talk about it. l

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January 2019 | Page 23

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