Board Seeks Input on Student Wellness Policy

The Park City Board of Education is updating its students wellness policy and is asking the community, parents, students, and educators for feedback.

The district is committed to providing a school environment that enhances learning and development of lifelong wellness practices. It recognizes the relationship between adequate nutrition, physical activity and academic achievement.

The policy, which can be viewed here, outlines the district’s nutrition programs and promotion, nutrition guidelines for all foods available on campus during the school day, and nutrition education.

The wellness policy is posted for its required 20 days during which time the district accepts public comment. Feedback can be sent to Lorie Pearce, lpearce@pcschools.us prior to Dec. 17. The board anticipates adopting the policy at its Dec. 18 regular session.

Police and District Ask Parents to Help Ensure Drug-Free Schools

Student safety and well being is paramount. The Park City community cares about the health and well-being of each student.

Park City School District Superintendent Jill Gildea is asking parents to work with the district and law enforcement to ensure safe and drug-free schools remain the norm.

Vaping devicesNationally and locally, schools are confiscating a variety of drug paraphernalia including vaping devices. Since the start of the school year, Park City School District staff have recovered drug paraphernalia in a variety of vaping devices (see photo).

“It is not appropriate for students to bring tobacco, alcohol, or drugs to the learning environment,” said Superintendent Jill Gildea. “Our students have a right to expect a safe and drug-free learning environment. Prevention education, disciplinary consequences, and appropriate interventions and supports are provided to students who are found to have brought e-cigarettes, tobacco, or any drug or look-alike substance to schools.”

One such incident occurred today when a 9th grade student was transported to the hospital after a medical incident. The student allegedly smoked THC from a vaping pen. The 9th-grade student who provided the THC was referred to police.

Park City Police remind parents to check their students’ backpacks, bedrooms, and cars for drug and vaping paraphernalia. Those parents who need additional resources related to substance abuse should contact the Summit County Health Department.

“It’s important we get this information in the hands of parents,” said Park City Police Chief Wade Carpenter. “We cannot deal with the issue alone. We need to enlist the help of parents and peers.”

If anyone locates anything suspicious they should contact law enforcement immediately.


News Media Contacts:

– Melinda Colton, Park City School District Communications Director, 801-631-7770

–Capt. Phil Kirk, Park City Police Department PIO, 435-731-0082

New Lunch Menu Piloted at Jeremy Ranch Elementary

Students attending Jeremy Ranch Elementary will get the chance to taste 24 new lunch items during the month of October. The school is piloting the district’s new menu that provides healthier options for students.

The new menu officially kicks off Monday, Oct. 1, during lunch that is served from 11 to 12:30 p.m. The menu will feature  roasted chicken thigh’s with homemade barbecue sauce, homemade potato salad, Kodiak Cakes cornbread, a salad bar featuring fresh fruits and vegetables, freshly prepared sandwiches, and a hummus and pita plate. Student, parents, and staff are invited Monday to try the new menu items for themselves. (Student meals are $2.25 and adult meals are $3.50.)

R.J. Owen, director of Child Nutrition Services, said the menu items will feature more scratch cooking and more offerings of fruits and vegetables. “Every day we will serve 2-3 fruit and 5-6 vegetable options during lunch. The district’s goal is to make Park City School District a leader in the field of school nutrition.”

Owen also said the benefits of school lunch include: prepared hot meals, nutritionally balanced meals, and improved attendance and test scores through a healthier diet.

Adding healthier options to the menu is expensive, Owen said, but can be sustainable over time if the district increases the number of students participating in the breakfast and lunch programs. He invites students to try school lunch, especially in October when new items are being featured.

Some of the homemade items that will be piloted at Jeremy Ranch Elementary in October include: Hawaiian chicken and fresh vegetable stir fry, cheesy chicken pasta with basil, fresh roasted flatbread, sesame noodles with chicken and fresh vegetables, and shredded pork tacos.

Click here to view the October lunch menu at Jeremy Ranch Elementary.

PCSD Nurses Remind Parents When Sick Students Should Stay Home

In an effort to control the spread of infectious diseases at school and allow students to be available for learning, Park City School District nurses want  parents and guardians to follow district guidelines when deciding whether or not to send students to school.

“Every effort is being made in the school setting to properly clean and sanitize our students’ work and play areas, but the best defense is prevention,” said District Nurse Suzanne Tanner.

Students should remain home from school for the following reasons:

–Any temperature greater than 100 degrees. Children should be fever free, without fever reducing medications for 24 hours prior to returning to school.

–Vomiting and/or diarrhea require that the student remain home until 24 hours after the symptoms have subsided without medication.

–If your child has a heavy, moist productive cough, chest congestion, or discolored nasal drainage.

–Any rash of unknown origin should be evaluated and cleared by a physician prior to the student returning.

–Strep infections require early treatment and students are encouraged to remain at home for the first 24 hours. In addition, students should be fever free and feeling well before returning to school.

–If your child has pinkeye (conjunctivitis), he/she needs to have completed 24 hours of medication.

“As a general rule, students should remain home until they have been symptom free for 24 hours. This is important for your child’s health and the health of his/her classmates,” Tanner said. “Please continue to remind your children of the importance of frequent hand washing, proper nutrition, adequate rest and proper use and disposal of tissues during this school year.”

Tanner also asks that parents/guardians notify the school of the student absences and also given a reason for the absence. “This helps us monitor disease outbreaks and disease prevention,” she said.

Please refer to the District’s Guidelines for Student Illness and Exclusion for further information.

Sept. 10 Front Line Blue Line Focused on Dark Web, Harmful Drugs

Parents are invited Monday, Sept. 10, to spend an evening with law enforcement learning about drugs and the Dark Web. “The Front Line Blue Line — Parents and Police Working Together,” is presented by the Summit County Sheriff’s Office and members of the Summit County Mental Wellness Alliance.

“Educating parents on issues affecting our student is a subject that is incredibly important,” said Dr. Ben Belnap, Associate Superintendent of Student Wellness. “This is one of the most important events our parents can attend all year.”

The event, which is for parents only, begins at 6 p.m. at the Eccles Center.  Park City School District Superintendent Jill Gildea will welcome parents, and remarks will be give by Sheriff Justin Martinez, Park City Police Chief Wade Carpenter, Lt. Greg Winterton (drugs and harmful substances), and Special Agent Clinton Kehr (the Dark Web) from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

The Dark Web is a subset of the dark web or deep web, is a place where illegal activity thrives and criminals function in perceived anonymity. Illegal drugs are one of the most dangerous categories of goods marketed on the Dark net, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Following the speakers, a resource fair featuring 20 community partners will be held in the Park City High gym.

Free childcare will be available for children ages 4-11.

NOTE: The community is also invited to attend an Open House from 5-6 p.m. in the lower lobby of the Eccles Center to meet the district’s new Superintendent, Dr. Jill Gildea.

KPCW Story

Park Record Article

13 Ways to Connect with Your Teenager

By Dr. Ben Belnap | Licensed Psychologist | Associate Superintendent of Student Wellness, Park City School District

Here are “13 Ways to Connect With Your Teenager.”

Show interest in your teenager: They don’t want to talk? They’d rather just sit and watch Netflix? Instead of telling them to shut the TV off, sit down with them. Ask them about their show. Be interested. Don’t expect them to take interest in you or openly share their feelings (e.g. family dinner discussions). They won’t meet you halfway. You’re going to have to start by meeting them where they are

Use accurate reflection in your interactions: You might say something like, “Okay, so if I’m understanding you correctly, you’re saying you can’t trust Olivia because she talks about you behind your back. Is that right?” If it’s right, tell them what a horrible feeling that must be. If it’s not right, ask them to clarify. Don’t seek a solution. Just ask and try to understand. It really does help. You can trust me…unlike that filthy liar, Olivia.

Empathize: Try to imagine what your teen could be feeling. Dig deep into the recesses of the adolescent brain you once had. Look at it the way your adolescent brain would have looked at it. You might actually remember and relate. This helps you avoid that ever-present black hole of parenting: “This is just temporary.” “You’ll look back on this in just a few months and laugh.” “You’ll be better in the end for having gone through it.” It may be true. But remember when your parents said stuff like that to you? You didn’t believe them. You thought they were annoying. You swore you’d never say that to your kids. Think like an adolescent. Don’t get sucked into the black hole.

Remind them it’s temporary (without telling them it’s temporary): Help link their feelings or behaviors to events. You might say something like, “Since you are on the debate team, taking 2 AP courses, and working 15 hours a week, I understand why you’re feeling so overwhelmed right now.” This seems obvious, but when we are overwhelmed by the emotion of an experience, we have a hard time connecting the dots as to why we are so emotionally wound up. This exercise helps your teen to engage the logical/rational mind by connecting the proverbial dots for them. When we logically connect the dots about our emotional experience, it helps us to understand that our distress is connected to an episode. It helps us understand that the distress is temporary; not permanent.

Communicate that you believe your teen’s behavior and/or feelings are reasonable: If your teen is isolating or refusing to go out, you might say, “Since your friends have bailed on you, I can see why you’re hesitant to try to hang out with new people. It makes sense to me why you would want to be by yourself. I am sorry you’re feeling this way. What an awful feeling.” Leave it there. Don’t offer a “…but you still need to…” Leave it alone. The connection is better received than the perfect life-changing lesson you think you have prepared.

Treat your teen as a valid human being: Be genuine. Recognize that they are seeking a solution to feel better, however ridiculous or irrational that solution might be. Nothing is more disingenuous than, “I understand that must be hard for you, but…” Stop it. Your teen is a human being with real human being emotions. Seems obvious, but so many parents forget it. Don’t forget it.

Empower them to solve their own problems: This happens not by telling them to solve their own problems. Rather, this happens by listening, asking sincere information-seeking questions, and eventually saying something like, “Wow. What a tough situation. What do you think you should do about it, and how can I support you?” If they offer a terrible plan—or even a great plan—ask, “Okay. So what do you think would happen?” Or, “How do you think that might solve your problem or make you feel better?” This empowers a teen. This helps them to learn that they can solve their own problems. It also communicates that you trust them to solve their own problems.

Go through old photo albums together: Remind them of core characteristics and attributes they had when they were younger. When looking at an old picture of them, ask them what they think the little boy or girl in the picture expected to accomplish in their lives at that time? Share funny or nostalgic memories from those days. Remind them that the little boy or girl in that picture is still inside of the teen. Remind your teen how much you loved them back then and how much you still love them.

Focus on the emotion; not the behavior: When your teen does something impulsive or acts out, replace “Why did you do that?” with “It seems like you’re really upset. How are you feeling?” They may not immediately respond, but if you continue to do this with sincerity, they will come to understand that you care for them as an individual and are concerned about their feelings regardless of their behaviors.

Ask them to make you a playlist. Listen to it. Give them feedback: Look, no one said parenting would be easy. This is a prime example. You don’t want to do it, but music is one of the primary methods teenagers use to connect. My own dad once told me in passing that he thought Rivers Cuomo from Weezer had a cool voice. He probably doesn’t remember this at all, but it meant the world to me to hear him say that when I was 16 years old. If you show interest in their music and actually listen to their playlist, you are telling them you are interested in them. You are interested in their emotional experiences. You care about them. This eventually leads to emotional connection and opens the door for open and honest communication. Just try it.

Service: Reaching out to others puts problems in perspective. Service gives a sense of meaning and purpose. Clear back in 1896, Mark Twain said, “The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up.” It’s as true today as it was then. They will complain. They will protest. Offer them big rewards and drag them to go serve somewhere with you anyway. It pays huge dividends down the road!

Foster passion: A common characteristic between individuals with major depression is a loss of passion about something in their lives. What is your teen passionate about? What did he/she used to be passionate about, but lost it somewhere along the way? Find it. Foster it. Watch a movie about that subject with them. Take them to the library to read about it. Do an internet search with them. Whatever you need to do, do it. Passion drives purpose, which drives resilience.

Praise effort: When you see your teen trying to cope with his/her struggles, praise that effort. Don’t worry about how successful they are; praise the process. Focus on how far they have come since whenever. Focus on how hard they are trying. Let them know how much you respect and look up to them for their efforts. Even if the effort is minimal, make a big deal about it. Leave out the negating follow-up temptation of, “Imagine if you fully applied yourself how much better you’d be doing.” Just stop at the praise part. If you do this, they will come to you for advice. And when they come to you, they will actually listen and appreciate your feedback.

Show Your Pedal Pride on Friday, May 18

In partnership with the Park City Municipal and Summit County, Park City School District is asking students and parents to show their pedal pride during its annual “Bike to Work, School and Play Day” on Friday, May 18.

The event is an opportunity to remind students about safety and the importance of bicycles as great options transportation and recreation.

Those biking to school should meet at 7:50 a.m. at PC MARC, Aspen Villas, Arches Park (south side of Comstock) or Park City Heights (meet at 7:30 a.m.). The route, along Kearns Boulevard, will lead the cyclists to the Park City High. Law enforcement, Park City staff, parent volunteers and teachers, will be assisting with the ride that morning to ensure safety along the route.

The Park City High School visitor’s parking lot will be a community hub for bicyclists, parents and students from 7:30-10 a.m., with breakfast served and bicycle safety materials and bike tune-ups.

The Snyderville Basin will be hosting snag and swag booths that morning from 7:30-8:15 a.m. at Trailside, Jeremy Ranch and Parley’s Park Elementary Schools.  That afternoon at Trailside Park (upper parking lot) there will be a bike obstacle course, helmet fitting, barbecue, and safety demonstrations from 1-3 p.m.

At McPolin Elementary, a Bicycle Rodeo for students will be held from 11 a.m. to noon. The PCHS Mountain Bike Club will set up the rodeo, the school’s Bici Club will wash and tune-up bikes, a parent volunteer will be conducting helmet fittings, and representatives from Park City Municipal will provide safe riding tips.

Parents and students not able to bike to school tomorrow (May 18), are invited to attend breakfast at PCHS (7:30-10 a.m.) or lunch at Trailside Park (1-3 p.m.).

The Park City area has received numerous accolades as a bike-friendly city, and the League of American Bicyclists recognized Park City Snyderville Basin Community with a Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Community award — the only community in Utah to receive the Gold-level award.

Park City School District is happy to partner with Park City Chamber, Summit County Health Department, Summit County Sheriff’s Department, Park City Police Department, Mountain Trails Foundation, Snyderville Basin Recreation, Park City Municipal, and Summit County to conduct this community-wide event.

Sheriff’s Office to Educate Parents About Safety, Drugs, and Electronics

Parents are invited  Monday, May 14, to spend an evening with law enforcement learning about school safety, drugs, and electronics.  The Front Line Blue Line — Parents and Police Working Together, is presented by the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, Communities That Care, and Park City School District.

“The threats and dangers in our society are constant and rapidly evolving,” said Lt. Justin Hemingway, patrol division commander for the Summit County Sheriff’s Office. “Your school district and law enforcement are united in keeping children safe and protecting the sanctity of the family and the home. This is one of the most important events you can attend all year.”

The event begins at 6 p.m. at Ecker Hill Middle School. Sheriff Justin Martinez will address school safety, Lt. Greg Winterton will talk to parents about drugs and harmful substances, and Sgt. Ronald Bridge will talk about electronics and the Internet.

Following the speakers, community resource booths will be available to parents, including the Sheriff’s Office, Summit County’s Health Department and Mental Wellness Alliance, Valley Behavioral Health, CONNECT Summit County, Children’s Justice Center, and Park City School District.

Free childcare will be available for children ages 4-11, and PCSD students will receive an incentive if their parents or guardians attend.

District Wellness Committee Seeks New Members

Park City School District is looking to expand its Wellness Committee by four in an effort to have a more well-rounded community voice.

“Specifically, we are looking for a pediatrician, school counselor, student, and parent,” said RJ Owen, Director of Child Nutrition Services. 

The Wellness Committee acts in a advisory position on topics such as nutritional standards in schools, what foods are offered, nutrition education, and physical activity.

The Wellness Committee is currently reviewing the district’s wellness policy and will be making recommendations to the Board of Education for future revisions.

The district is accepting applications until June 6. The committee’s next meeting is this fall, and there is no term limit. 

Applications are available online here, or at the District Office, 2700 Kearns Boulevard.  Completed applications can be dropped off at the District Office or emailed to rjowen@pcschools.us.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Park City School District is proud to support CONNECT as its hosts a month of events in throughout Summit County focused on mental health awareness. May is national Mental Health Awareness Month and CONNECT has 18 events planned on topics such as mindfulness, social media wellness, opioid epidemic, aging, depression, and eating disorders.

CONNECT is a grassroots, non profit community advocacy organization that brings together residents who are concerned about mental health issues facing our community and who want to see  improved mental health services with greater accessibility in the county.

Wednesday, May 2, Park City High students will take part in “Ask Me Anything Night,” a question/answer session beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Park City Library’s  Jim Santy Auditorium. Pizza and dessert will be served.  Those taking part in the interactive, cross-narrative discussion representatives from CONNECT, Park City Library Teen Advisory Board, Latinos in Action, iMPACt/Park City High Hope Squad, and the PCSH Gay-Straight Alliance. Student speakers, who also presented at Tedx Youth Park City, include: Piper Moeller: What Does a Drug Addict Look Like;  Saide Ortiz: Battling Cultural Stereotypes; Natalie Fink: A Piece of my Soul; and  Lexi Laufer: Let People Love.

Thursday, May 3, features “Social Media Wellness: Understanding the Intersection of School, Stress, and Social Media.” Author  and national social media expert Ana Homayoun will discuss how to better understand the new world of social media socialization and offer practical tips on how making better choices around social media use and overall wellness. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Park City Librarys Jim Santy Auditorium.

Monday, May 14, Park City School District is partnering with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office and Communities That Care to host “Front Line and Blue Line: Parents and Police Working Together.” The event begins at 6 p.m. at Ecker Hill Middle School and is open to parents. Sheriff Justin Martinez will address school safety, Lt. Greg Winterton will talk to parents about drugs and harmful substances, and Sgt. Ronald Bridge will talk about electronics and the Internet. Following the speakers, community resource booths will be available to parents. Free childcare will be available for children ages 4-11, and students will receive an incentive if their parents/guardians attend.

For a complete calendar of mental health events in May click here