PCHS Custodian Selected as Utah’s 2019 Outstanding Education Support Professional

 Park City High School custodian Candelario “Cande” Ponce was recognized as Utah’s 2019 Outstanding Education Support Professional of the Year during a surprise assembly at the high school today, Tuesday, Nov. 20. Park City School District administrators along with leaders from both the Utah School Employees Association (USEA) and the Park City Classified Employees Association (PCCEA) joined students and staff in honoring Ponce as their unsung hero.

Education support professionals (ESP) are the support staff — clerical services, custodial and maintenance, food services, health and student services, paraeducators, security services, skilled trade services, technical services and transportation services — who work tirelessly to ensure students are healthy, safe, engaged, challenged and supported.

As the winner of USEA’s award, Ponce will be Utah’s nominee to the National Education Association’s ESP of the Year. He will attend the national conference in March 2019 in Las Vegas. Ponce will also travel throughout the state to meet members, raise awareness of ESP issues and advocate on their behalf.

Ponce has been a custodian at Park City High since 2009. “Schools today are filled with many young people who are hurting emotionally and struggling with self-identity,” says PCHS biology teacher Ed Mulick. “To have a humble, caring role model like Cande present in our school and taking interest in others, helps create an environment of security, peace, and acceptance…his strong dedication to his job represents the essence of his character.”

A father of five, he and his wife own a successful food business open 12 hours a day, seven days a week – all while working full-time as a school custodian. “All who know Cande and his calm and humble way tend to gravitate to him,” says Maryann Gilmore, Area 4 USEA Executive Board member.

PCHS junior selected for inaugural statewide Student Advisory Council

Daniel Bernhardt

Daniel Bernhardt, a junior at Park City High School, is one of 15 students appointed by the Utah State Board of Education’s inaugural Student Advisory Council.

“The students will advise the USBE on issues relevant to high school students throughout the state,” according to a press release from the USBE. “They were selected following an application period this fall after the USBE approved a new policy establishing the council.”

Students appointed to the council represent both traditional and charter  schools. They will be advising the board of student issues such as: mental health and bullying, racism and discrimination, access to STEM and technology, homelessness, LGBTQ challenges, students with disabilities, college readiness, and school funding.

The SAC will meet at least every other month to discuss how decisions made at the state level affect students.

PCHS outscores state, nation on ACT

Park City High School graduates outscored their counterparts in Utah and across the country on the 2018 ACT (American College Test)

PCHS had a composite score of 23.7, compared to Utah’s composite of 20.4 and the national composite of 20.8.  Park City graduates have seen a steady increase in ACT scores the past four years

“We have amazing students and teachers,” said Principal Roger Arbabi. “The results are an indication of rigor in the classroom and college readiness.”

Scores by section include:

English: 23.6  compared to 19.4 in Utah, 20.2 nationally

Mathematics: 22.6 compared to 19.9 in Utah, 20.5 nationally

Reading: 24.3 compared to 20.0 in Utah, 21.3 nationally

Science: 23.8 compared to 20.5 in Utah, 20.7 nationally

The ACT is is designed to measure skills needed for success in first-year college coursework.  ACT Research has shown that it is the rigor of coursework – rather than simply the number of core courses – that has the greatest impact on ACT performance and college readiness.

Some 390 PCHS students took the ACT in 2018, 43,791 students took the ACT statewide, and nearly 2 million students nationwide took the ACT in 2017-18.

Three PCHS Miners Named National Merit Scholar Semifinalists

From left: Principal Roger Arbabi, Harrison Paas, PCHS counselors Liz Moskal and Kristen Hall, Dennis Rothwell, and Cameron Stevens

It is one of the country’s most prestigious scholarship competitions — the National Merit Scholarship Program.

Today, three Park City High seniors were announced as semi-finalists in the program: Harrison Paas, Dennis Rothwell, and Cameron Stevens.

The 2019 nationwide pool of semi-finalists represents less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, and are chosen from a field of 1.6 million students at more than 22,000 high schools.

The finalists and winners will be announced Spring 2019 and will be selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies. The finalists will compete for $31 million in scholarships.

PCSD Hires Additional Secondary Assistant Principals

Park City School District Interim Superintendent David Gomez has announced the addition of four new secondary assistant principals for the 2018-19 school year.

By adding an additional assistant principal at each secondary school, Superintendent Gomez said it will bring the ratio of administrators to students more in line with the Utah ratio. Principals have also said they need additional administrators in their buildings to help with licensed evaluations, assist with UHSAA and club sports, school clubs, student supervision, safety, student wellness, discipline, evening and weekend activities, increase in 504s, and parent communication.

–Jamie Weekes, currently an assistant principal at Ecker Hill Middle, appointed assistant principal at Park City High

–Melissa Tschabrun, currently an instructional coach at Treasure Mountain Junior High, appointed assistant principal at TMJH

–Claustina Mahon-Reynolds, currently Educational Equity Supervisor for Salt Lake City School District, appointed assistant principal at Ecker Hill Middle

–Tracy Fike, currently Interim Principal at Parley’s Park Elementary, appointed assistant principal at Ecker Hill Middle (one-year appointment)

Jamie Weekes

Jamie Weekes

Weekes has been teaching for the past 15 years at middle school, high school, and summer school levels. She has worked as a math interventionist for eight years in both middle school and high school. Weekes has taught at Park City High for six years.

Melissa Tschabrun

Melissa Tschabrun

Tschabrun started her career in education 14 years ago in Vermont where she was a math teacher, alpine ski coach, and soccer coach. She has taught middle school math at a charter school, and taught high school math and served as the department chair at a private school in Salt Lake City. She came to PCSD two years ago as a math teacher at TMJH. She spent half her time this past school year as an instructional coach at the school.

Claustina Mahon-Reynolds

Claustina Mahon-Reynolds

Originally from Westchester County, New York, Mahon-Reynolds is starting her 19th year in education. Her educational experience includes teaching (K-12), coaching (K-6), middle school administrator, higher education instructor, and staff developer. She is currently completing her doctoral studies at the University of Utah in the Educational Leadership and Policy Department. She has lived in Utah for 13 years.

Tracy Fike

Tracy Fike

Fike has been the Instructional Technology Coach at Parley’s since 2016 and has been an administrative intern at Parley’s Park, Ecker Hill Middle, and Park City High. From 2013-16 she was a reading intervention teacher at Ecker Hill Middle.

Recent PCHS Graduate Awarded $10,000 Scholarship

Mellissa Mellin, a 2018 Park City High graduate, was awarded a $10,000 scholarship at the Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship Luncheon held at the Capitol Rotunda today, June 20.

Mellin was one of 34 students recognized for her academic achievements, demonstrated leadership, and commitment to community service. She has been accepted to Westminster College where she plans t0 study political science.

Scholarships were awarded by the Comcast Foundation and ranged from $1,000 to $10,000. Mellin was the only student to receive the $10,000 award. This year she served as co-president of Latinos in Action at PCHS. Her two sisters attended the luncheon with her as well as PCHS Interim Principal Kathleen Einhorn.

The Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship Program is a nomination-based award, and one student per school is nominated by their principal or guidance counselor.

High School Implementing ‘Homeroom’ for 2018-19 School Year

Park City High School is implementing homeroom for students next year in an effort to provide a space for students to reflect and grow socially and emotionally, and develop authentic relationships with their peers and teachers.

Homeroom, which is required for all students, will be held 35 minutes during second period every Monday. Students will not be graded but will receive credit for attendance and participation. Students will be randomly assigned by Powerschool to homeroom and classes will consist of students in grades 10-12.

“Two years ago, students proposed the idea with the intent of reducing student stress, increasing academic engagement, providing greater student support, and creating a greater school community,” said Interim Principal Kathleen Einhorn. “Over the course of the past two years, our Leadership Team has examined various curricula and best practices to best meet the needs of all of our students. Research shows that students who have a greater school connection and consistent time to reflect are better prepared for success beyond high school.”

Homeroom will consists of activities such as YouSchool topics, study skills building, counseling curriculum, school culture building, and class competitions.

PCHS counselors will educate students about stress management, bullying, test-taking strategies, mental health, and substance abuse. Parents will be informed on the topics being discussed so they can continue the conversations at home with their students.

Einhorn also noted that the most recent visit from the AdvancEd accreditation team suggested the school improve upon its systemic student-teacher connections. PCHS is also using homeroom to  satisfy the Federal and State mandates around Social and Emotional Learning.

“The high school’s new principal, Roger Arbabi, has been included in the implementation of homeroom and is excited to see how homeroom improves students’ relationships with not only their teachers but also other students,” Einhorn said.

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.

International Arts Festival planned for May 24 at Parley’s Park

An evening of performances and presentations featuring integrated learning and the arts is planned for May 24 from 4:30-7:30 p.m. at Parley’s Park Elementary. The event, which is open to the community, will highlight a variety of projects including spoken word, visual arts, technology, dance, and music.

The public is invited to walk through the school, similar to a museum walk, to see the various projects and performances. “This year’s event will include the entire school grounds, including outdoor and indoor stages, a hallway art gallery, and displays in the lobby and library,” said Aaron Webb, music specialist.

Now in its third year, the festival highlights the school’s arts partnerships with Elementary Visual Arts (EVA), Kimball Art Center and Park City Education Foundation, the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program (dance), and Arts Youth Empowerment (after-school violin program).

“Our festival began as a celebration of Hispanic heritage by the dual immersion classes, and has grown to be even more inclusive of the entire school and other cultures and art-forms,” Webb said. “We are uniquely fortunate at Parley’s to have a comprehensive curriculum in dance, music, visual art, and technology that both supports and is supported by the core curriculum in the classroom. Many hands come together to make the festival work, including PTA, Mountain Town Music, food vendors, administrators, teachers, and most importantly, our students. Our goal is to celebrate the creative accomplishments of the students at Parley’s Park Elementary, and there are many.”

Anna Stampfli, founder of Arts Youth Empowerment, started the after-school violin programs recently Parley’s Park and Trailside Elementary Schools. She calls them “integrated youth learning orchestras.” Students initially focus on the violin, learning the fundamentals of playing a stringed instrument and developing a close connection with their core subjects.

Violinists from both schools will perform. Additionally, Stampfli has worked with four core teaches in grades 2, 3, and 5 at Parley’s to develop projects that integrate music with a deeper understanding of what students are academically learning. A second-grade class has made a violin mobile for the front hallway at the school, a third-grade class has created storyboards about the water cycle and published them on a life-size storybook scroll. And fifth-grade students have advance their knowledge by breaking down the volume of a cylinder and crafting personalized Djembe drums with things that inspire them.

“These are just a few examples of integrated learning that can happen,” said Stampfli. “The entire evening will showcase the immense arts we have here at Parley’s Park and how the arts can be used as a powerful tool for learning.”

Park City High Senior Gives it Her All on Stage

PCHS senior Alexa Wilcox portraying Jo in “Little Women” (photo  by Riki Case)

Editor’s Note: In the coming weeks leading up to graduation, we will highlight Park City High seniors and their outstanding accomplishments.

Alexa Wilcox is a drama queen — literally! The Park City High senior has an impressive list of performing arts accolades not only theater, but also dance. Her accomplishments are so impressive that she will be attending the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University for its musical theater Bachelor of Fine Arts program, with a dance concentration. After two months of auditioning, she decided to enroll at Roosevelt University where she has been awarded a prestigious talent-based scholarship.

During the months of January and February she missed school frequently to audition for programs at several universities. Through it all, she has maintained a rigorous academic schedule taking six Advanced Placement classes this year and last.

Wilcox’s theater accomplishments are many. She was a finalist for best actress at the 2016-17 Utah Musical Theater Awards for her role as Jo in “Little Women,” and has had lead roles at the school, including Anne Frank in “The Diary of Anne Frank,” Wednesday Addams in“The Addams Family,” and Mary Warren in “The Crucible.”

“Alexa’s drive and talent within the field of theatre is only secondary to her deep respect to every character she creates on stage,” said PCHS theater teacher and director Rick Kimball. “Whether it is a young pioneering writer or a psychopath, she commits fully on stage with every fiber of her being.”

Her dance honors are just as impressive. She won second place at the Shakespeare Festival for an interpretive dance with Kalli Peers, has been on the PCHS Dance Company for the past three years, and she and Peers were selected to attend a a national high school dance festival at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Penn., for a number they choreographed and performed.

Last summer she was one of only 12 high school students to participate in the Emerging Young Artists program at Webster University and the prestigious MUNY in St. Louis. MUNY is America’s oldest and largest outdoor musical theater. She has qualified for national Classical Singer Music Voice competition for four consecutive years and has been an Individual scholarship award winner with the Artists Simply Human Dance Convention.

“She is such a caring and devoted artist and it has been a privilege to work with her,” Kimball said. “I am absolutely certain she will achieve amazing things on stage and in life.”