Students in Whitney Wheeler’s second-grade class at Mt. Pleasant Elementary are excited to begin reading the books they received as a result of Ripple’s donation to Donors Choose.

[Read more…]

Manti High School’s team took first place in its division at the Snow College math contest.

Wasatch Academy, Manti

High take firsts in annual

Snow College math contest

By Linda Petersen

Staff writer

Apr. 12, 2018


EPHRAIM—Local students finished strong in last week’s annual math contest at Snow College.

A total of 385 students from 24 public and private schools participated in the math contest this year on Tuesday, April 3.

Wasatch Academy won first in its division, Manti High won first in its division and many local students placed in the top 10 in their divisions.

Students compete against each other in a timed test, and the students are not allowed any calculators or aids.

In the senior division (grades 10-12), students try to answer 40 questions in two hours, and a “team” consists of the top five scorers from each school.

A team from Wasatch Academy took first place in their division of private and charter schools with a combined score of 524.

Team members swept third through eighth place. John Kim placed third with a score of 124, George Zhao fourth with 120, Wending Wang fifth scoring 111, Winnie Li sixth with 86, Brian Lyu seventh with a score of 83, and David Liu placed eighth with 78.

Manti High’s team took first place in their division (schools of 310-619 students) with a combined score of 253.

In their division (Division 3), Manti and Gunnison swept the second through eighth places, following closely behind winner Chandler Williams of South Sevier.

Manti High’s Breanna Hedelius took second place with 56 points, followed by third-place winner Ethan Morgan with 54. Korbend Cox took fifth place with 50 points, Russell Christianson scored 46 and took seventh, with Kjerstin Birch placing eighth with 42.

As second- and third-place winners in their category, Breanna and Ethan will each receive a one-year full-tuition scholarship to Snow College (worth $1,800) and a Math Jock T-shirt.

Gunnison Valley students Alexander Stewart scored 52 and Gabriel Jensen scored 49, taking fourth and sixth places respectively.

In the junior division (grades 7-9), students have 20 questions to answer in one hour.

In the junior division, in ninth grade, Eric Yang of Wasatch Academy took third place with a score of 51.

In each category, the five members of the winning team (determined by combining individual scores) and their math instructor each receive a Math Jock t-shirt.

The annual contest was started in 1977 by Bart Nelson and Ted Olson. The college’s math department has been sponsoring it ever since. The junior division of the test began in 2007.

Ephraim Elementary student Wyatt Mann (left) with his dad, Josh Mann, share their love of mountain men during the school’s Jr. Genius Fair.


Fair showcases specialists,

experts, even geniuses


By Linda Petersen

Staff writer

Apr. 12, 2018


EPHRAIM—What can make students more satisfied than participating in something they enjoy, are curious about and is not required?

That’s what 130 Ephraim Elementary students feel—quite satisfied—after participating in the school’s annual Jr. Genius Fair on Friday, April 6.

For months, students from kindergarten to fifth grade have been preparing for the fair, which is much more than a science fair.

Participation in the Jr. Genius Fair is optional. This extracurricular activity is designed to teach students how to research a topic of their choice.

With no requirements or even guidelines, students get to choose what they’re interested in or passionate about.

This year those topics ranged from Star Wars to chocolate.

Students check out books or videos from the school library, and Shauna Wayman, the school’s librarian and the event’s organizer, helps students negotiate the internet to find what they are looking for.

As they prepare their topic, students can choose to attain various levels based on the depth of their research.

To earn the level of Specialist, students read four books, one magazine article, one encyclopedia entry, look up one internet reference and complete two out of 10 other activities that will help them learn more about their topic.

For the Expert level, students read six books, two magazine articles, one encyclopedia entry, two internet references and complete four out of the 10 activities.

For the level of Genius, students read eight books, two magazine articles, one encyclopedia entry, three internet references and complete six of the 10 activities.

Those activities each must relate to their chosen topic and include watching a movie or TV program, visiting an information place, interviewing a knowledgeable person, making a short book or pamphlet, finding a club or group, writing a poem, making up a PowerPoint presentation or movie, trying to stump the principal with a question, giving an oral presentation to their class or making up a game, puzzle or word search.

Each student participating in the program makes a display about their topic and presents it during the Jr. Genius Fair.

“We have some wonderful and amazing displays each year at the fair, and I’m always impressed with how much a student knows about their topic,” Wayman said. “They are excited to answer any question you have when you visit their display. It’s a great way to motivate kids to read, learn and research a topic that interests them,”

This year there were 85 displays (students can work in teams of two or three if they choose). Many get really into it, dressing up in costumes.

This year’s subjects also included slime, Helen Keller, scorpions (the student caught wild scorpions and displayed them in a cage), pets, rocks, crystals, buffalo skeleton, sharks, mountain men, the Titanic and tropical birds.

Principal Gannon Jones visits every display and asks students questions about their topic.

“It’s amazing how well they know their topic,” Wayman said. “They know enough information from their research that they are always able to stump him with a question.”

At the end of the day, participants each get a special Jr. Genius treat. They are also recognized with certificates at the end of the school year.

Snow offering yoga

instructor certification class


EPHRAIM—The community education program at Snow College is offering a class leading to national certification as yoga instructor.

The class will meet three days a month (on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.) for six months. The first class meeting is tentatively scheduled for April 26, and the last session is Saturday, Sept. 15.

The class is designed to prepare participants to teach yoga “in gyms, community recreation centers, schools and corporate settings,” according to promotional literature.

The instructor, Amy Davis, is certified as a “master trainer” and has taught in yoga instructor programs throughout the nation. She is presently group fitness director for the Sports Academy and Racket Club in Logan.

The course costs $1,895. But 50 percent of the tuition can be refunded if a participant currently teaches yoga for a for-profit business or if the participant works teaching yoga at a for-profit business after the course ends.

For information, call 283-7670 and press option 4, or go to

Inside our Schools


Compiled by Linda Petersen

Apr. 12, 2019


Read-n-Swim Club for North Sanpete

The Mt. Pleasant Aquatics Center has kicked off a new reading program—the Read-n-Swim Club. All students in elementary and middle school in the North Sanpete School District are invited to participate. Students who read for 20 minutes each day for 20 days and record it on a special chart will receive a one-day free swim pass to the pool. The charts are available at the Aquatics Center (74 E. Main).


Spring Fling for Middle Schools

Tomorrow is the annual afterschool Spring Fling dance for students at all three Sanpete middle schools. The semiformal event will be held at North Sanpete Middle School and will include dancing and refreshments. Students at each of the schools had to qualify to be able to attend the event.


Fairview Elementary

Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum visited Fairview’s fifth grade on Monday, April 2. Students enjoyed a Reaction Time assembly. Reaction Time is a hands-on science outreach program that takes innovative chemistry instruction to fifth grades across the state. The program covers matter, physical changes and chemical reactions. After the assembly, students got to design and perform chemistry experiments under the direction of a Discovery Gateway science outreach instructor.


Manti Elementary School

Kindergarten registration for the 2018-2019 school year will be on Monday, April 16. Parents should receive a letter assigning a time for registration and testing the week prior. If you have not received a letter, call the elementary school at 835-2271. Bring birth certificates and immunization records to registration.


Mt. Pleasant Elementary

Pictured are (front, L-R) Katie and Miley and (back) Seth, Aramis and Indie, members of Jena Larsen’s fourth-grade class who conducted a fundraiser at the school for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

The five students started working in January on this project. They came up with all the ways to promote this project to the school and to encourage students to donate to their coin war. They first researched about leukemia and lymphoma and then visited each class about their project. They made posters to hang up around the school to encourage students to be a superhero and donate money. For the three weeks school was in session in March, money was collected. Each class was able to donate coins, cash and online. Larsen’s class counted the money each Friday and Monday in order to announce the weekly leader. The school goal was to raise $750. At the end of the three weeks, the school raised $1,053.51 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Mt. Pleasant Elementary is very proud of all their students for being superheroes and raising money for cancer.


Gunnison Valley Ag Day

On Friday, April 6, students from Gunnison Valley Elementary and Gunnison Valley Middle School enjoyed Ag Day in the middle school’s parking lot.
Local farmers, ranchers, dairymen, farm supply retailers and Future Farmers of America students presented an outdoor program on this year’s Ag Day theme, “Agriculture: Food for Life.” Students learned what it takes to get food from “Farm to Fork” through short lectures and displays of farm machinery and livestock.


Gunnison Valley High School

All students attended a special Digital Citizenship Assembly yesterday where they learned how to stay safe online and heard from Cindy George and Darren Curtis, parents of Jake Curtis, a young man who took his own life after becoming a victim of online extortion. Gunnison Valley sheriff’s officers also spoke to the students. Parents were invited to attend.


North Sanpete High School

North Sanpete High’s production of “Little Shop of Horror” has received several nominations as a finalist for the Utah High School Musical Theater Awards in the following categories: Best Actor (Spencer Brown), Best Actress (Brynne Lamb), Best Supporting Actor (Salem Kimball), Best Director (Alex Barlow), Best Set Design, Best Costume Design and Best Lighting Design. The winners will be announced in May.

The school recently received the U.S. Marine Corps Commander’s Award for its outstanding support of the Sanpete County Humanitarian Council’s Toys for Tots program. “Your generous contributions have enabled the Marine Corps to bring the joy of Christmas and send a message of hope to America’s less fortunate children,” the certificate read.

At the state jazz festival, the school earned excellent ratings. Pictured above Lucy Quinn performs at the state jazz festival.

Before spring break, several North Sanpete High students performed at the Region Solo and Ensemble event. Several received superior ratings and qualified for state: North Sanpete Percussion Ensemble and soloists Trevor Olson (saxophone), Mariah Ashworth (bass clarinet), Jamie Walker (violin) and Braxton Smith (vocal).

Several students received superior ratings as soloists: Landon Stewart (tuba), Tawnee Allen (euphonium), Serena Smith (flute), Spencer Olson (saxophone), Lilli Rowan (violin), Kevin Johansen (piano), Aubree Whitman (piano), James Christensen (piano).

Some received excellent ratings: Soloists Alecia Terry (clarinet), Chloe Swapp (vocal), Elizabeth Madsen (vocal), Emily Kerksiek (piano) and Natalie Day (piano), along with ensembles Tawnee Allen, Marley Booher, Aubrey White and Ariel Valko (female vocal quartet); Morgan Drew, Scarlett Lusk and Jamie Walker (female vocal trio) and North Sanpete Women’s Chorus.


Wasatch Academy

Enrique Roces (left) and Lalo Martinez (second from right) represented Wasatch Academy at BYU’s High School Business Language Competition and came in third. Jonathan Wood (right), managing director of the Whitmore Global Management Center of BYU’s Marriott School of Management, said, “This event helps students think about how this skill they’ve obtained is useful. This is real-world application experience. It pushes them in a direction they don’t normally go.”

In the competition, students are given a product, generally from a recent start-up business, for which they must create a marketing strategy to position the product within the Hispanic community of Utah. Students are given only three weeks to research the product, learn about the Utah Hispanic market and develop a business plan to market the product effectively.

CentraCom offering six

college scholarships


FAIRVIEW—Tomorrow is the deadline for six CentraCom scholarships.

For over a decade, “CentraCom Interactive has offered scholarships to eligible high school seniors planning to attend college,” says the CentraCom press release.

The six scholarships are for $500, yet if a recipient chooses to attend Snow College, the scholarship value increases substantially to $1,250 since CentraCom’s part becomes $1,000 and Snow College adds $250.

“The scholarship may be used for any college expense, such as tuition, books, housing, etc.,” and “scholarship deferrals for service opportunities will be managed by Snow College,” states the website (

To apply for a scholarship, obtain an application by contacting Erin William at 427-0688, by e-mailing her or by downloading the application.

The requirements include being a high school senior planning to attend or accepted to attend college in the fall of 2018 and being a legal dependent of a CentraCom Interactive customer.

In addition to the completed application, candidates must submit an essay, high school transcript, ACT results, a recommendation from a principal or teacher and a recommendation from an employer, civic leader or religious leader. More details are at the website.

Completed applications must be postmarked no later than tomorrow and mailed to CentraCom, PO Box 7, Fairview, UT 84629 or delivered to the office at 35 S. State in Fairview.

A committee will use the following criteria for evaluation: “originality and creativity in presenting the essay, noteworthy involvement in community service and school activities and future goals demonstrating a genuine interest in continuing education.”

Those selected will be notified by telephone and by mail and will also be featured on CentraCom’s website.

NSHS nixes casting call on campus


By Robert Stevens

Managing editor

Apr. 5, 2018


MT. PLEASANT—A proposed documentary about rural Latter-day Saint teens will not be using North Sanpete High School in Mt. Pleasant as a basis for their filmmaking efforts.

A film production crew approached North Sanpete High administration about making a documentary series on the lives of rural Mormon teenagers, beginning by hosting an on-campus casting call.

However, leaders at the school and in the district are skeptical about the proposition.

“I guess I am a little worried about the association with the school,” Nan Ault, the school’s principal, said during the last meeting of the North Sanpete School District. “I am very protective of my students. I asked myself how I would feel as a mother and how I feel as a principal.”

During Ault’s report at the school board meeting on March 20, she said the production crew claimed to be funded by social media giant Facebook.

She said, by all appearances, the crew seemed to be nice and genuine people, but she is very hesitant about granting the filmmakers their request to host a casting call at the high school for the project.

Ault said her main concerns were a negative portrayal of North Sanpete High and its students, either due to inaccurate reporting or Hollywood-style stereotyping.

One of the board members agreed with her concern, saying, “You never know how they will end up editing what they film.”

According to Ault, the filmmakers—who were professional and polite in their request—want to host the casting call as the first stage in the reportedly Facebook-funded documentary series. The crew told her they expected to have a finished pilot episode by summer.

Ault said the casting call was the only request the production crew had made so far, so she didn’t know if they wanted to film the series itself on the North Sanpete High campus.

Sam Ray, superintendent for North Sanpete School District, agreed with Ault that there was potential for problems in the concept, which he said would be better off handled by the LDS Church, instead of North Sanpete High or the school district.

Ray said if the production crew wanted to do a series on Mormon teenagers in rural Utah, they should go through the LDS Church to make it happen.

“The church has an entire media relations department,” Ray said. “They have public relations specialists. The show concept is almost entirely religious. The church is much better equipped to handle something like this.”

Ray suggested that if this production crew was intent on moving forward at North Sanpete High, he thought the only place the casting call should be hosted was in the seminary building adjacent to the school, since the pitch was about the lives of Mormon teenagers, not simply rural Utah teenagers.

He suggested that if an arrangement were made with the production crew, the crew should rent the seminary building—thus maintaining a separation between church and state, but the North Sanpete High campus is not a good place for it.

Sixteen of the 19 gold cup winners performed at this year’s Gold Cup Recital in Ephraim on March 18.

[Read more…]

Student thespians from Snow College’s upcoming play, “Peter and the Starcatchers,” get into their parts for the theatrical Peter Pan precursor (L-R): Gavin Ruska locks eyes with Dakota Davis, while Corben Cantrell wrestles with Lee Harding over the Neverland ship.

Come be a child again


Snow Theater presents
‘Peter and the Starcatcher’


By Robert Stevens

Managing editor

Apr. 5, 2018


EPHRAIM—The final play of the season for the Snow College Theatre Arts Department is set in Neverland, and it is really a “play,” since it “playfully explores the depths of greed and despair … and the bonds of friendship, duty and love.”

The play, which is a “Peter Pan” prequel of sorts, is titled “Peter and the Starcatchers.”

The summary at Snow College’s website adds that the play contains “marauding pirates,” “jungle tyrants,” “unwilling comrades and unlikely heroes” as a “young orphan and his mates” embark on a journey that “quickly becomes a thrilling adventure.”

“This show is the embodiment of the idea that you should follow your dreams, and I think that it can restore that idea in the people who come to see it,” says Corben Cantrell, who plays the character Black Stache in the play. “I feel this show can instill hope in people, and people need hope in today’s world more than ever.”

In the show, Peter and his friend Molly fight pirates and thieves to keep a magic secret safe from villains. There will be familiar characters, and others not so commonly known in the world of Neverland.

The story is based on a series of youth books by Dave Barry and Ridley Peterson that are the precursors to the Peter Pan story. The play is written by Rick Elice and will be directed by Milinda Weeks.

“I think we all wish that we could live life a little more like we did when we were children,” said Max Higbee, who plays the part of Peter Pan. “That’s part of what makes the Peter Pan story so timeless and valuable is that it appeals to all of our senses of nostalgia. The idea that we could never grow up still seems to be a happy thought.”

He adds, “This show examines that idea in a new and really inspiring and interesting way. I think it’s a play that anybody who loves stories, anybody who loves Peter Pan especially, should see.”

The adventure begins Wednesday, April 11, and runs through Saturday, April 14.

Curtain time for the show, which is being held in the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, is at 7:30 p.m., and ticket prices are $8 for adults, $7 for high school and younger and $2 for Snow College students with their ID card.

For more information, call 283-7478.

Manti High School’s drama program took first place in region competition. The school’s drama students have won region seven times in a row.

[Read more…]

ACT Aspire will replace

SAGE for 9th, 10th graders


By Linda Petersen

Staff writer

Mar. 29, 2018


A change in state student testing is music to the ears of some local educators and administrators.

On March 16, the Utah State Board of Education announced that beginning next year, ninth and 10th graders will take the ACT Aspire test instead of the SAGE (Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence) test. Younger grades will still take the SAGE test.

North Sanpete High School has already been using ACT Aspire to help students prepare for college.

“This is exactly what we’ve been preparing for,” North Sanpete School District Superintendent Sam Ray said. “ACT Aspire is a much better assessment of our students’ ability than the SAGE test.”

Ray said SAGE is a good exam, but “due to state policies, there is no incentive for students to even try.”

According to those policies, SAGE testing is not mandatory, and with parents’ permission, students can opt out. Test results also cannot be counted toward a student’s grade.

Ray said students often didn’t take the test very seriously, and they were getting whatever students felt like doing that day, not their best work.

“With the ACT and ACT Aspire, the students know they’re used to help them get into college. There’s little challenge to get them to try,” he said. “We feel it will be a much better measure of our students’ abilities.”

SAGE was originally intended as an assessment for third through 11th graders.

In 2016, lawmakers passed legislation allowing school districts a choice on whether to have 11th graders take the SAGE test. This year, both school districts passed on having juniors, who already have to take a state-mandated ACT test, do so.

While more reserved in his response, South Sanpete School District Superintendent Kent Larsen said implementation of Act Aspire over SAGE “probably is a pretty good idea, in my opinion.”

(Larsen said he had not heard from leadership about the change and so was reluctant to comment officially).

Larsen said when SAGE, a Utah-developed test, was introduced by the Department of Education, its objective was to make it more aligned with international testing of students. Initially, American and Utah students did not seem to measure up to their peers in other countries, he said.

“Their assessment was we don’t expect enough of our kids,” he said, “but the truth is, in the U.S., we test all kids. In other countries, many students are diverted to alternative schools where they are trained in blue-collar skills. So they’re really just testing the top 30 to 40 percent of kids.”

“SAGE was really hard at first. It was a step up for all Utah students, especially the elementary school students,” he said. “The standards themselves are good, but there were people who didn’t like SAGE who opted their kids out.”

“Once 7 to 10 percent of kids are opting out, the validity of the test goes away,” he added.

Larsen said while the emphasis on preparing for college is good, it is important that students who choose alternatives such as vocational college or training not be overlooked.

“There is a growing need for technical occupations,” he said. “The narrative is changing. It used to be that students that had bachelor’s versus associate degrees or certificates made more. That’s not necessarily true anymore.”

“We don’t want the emphasis to be solely on preparing kids for four-year universities. We want to push our kids to get everything out of school they can,” he said.

Going forward, younger grades will still take a SAGE-like test, according to Darin Nielsen, Utah assistant superintendent of student learning.

The state recently rebid the contract, and it has gone to a new vendor, Questar (not to be confused with the former utility company).

The test’s core was developed by Utah educators and is owned by the state, but with a new vendor, there will be a new portal or delivery system for the test. Additionally, there will probably be a name change, Nielsen said.

“The name implies things that are no longer true,” he said. “We may need to rebrand to provide clarity to those changes.”

Inside Our Schools


Compiled by Linda Petersen

Mar. 29, 2018


Ephraim Elementary

Coming up on Friday, April 6, is the Junior Genius Fair from 8:30-10 a.m.

The PTA is looking for someone who is willing to serve as PTA president next year. Interested parties should contact Sandra Summers.


Ephraim Middle School

Ephraim Middle School Symphonic Band performs at Utah Music Educators festival.

The Ephraim Middle School Symphonic Band participated in the 2018 State Utah Music Educators Association Junior High Concert Band Festival last Friday, March 23, in the Libby Gardner Concert Hall at the University of Utah. The festival took place over two days, Thursday and Friday. In order to be invited to participate in the festival, each band must submit a recording of the required chorale and a piece selected by the director that best represents the strengths of the group. The submissions are then evaluated by a group of judges, which narrow the 30 bands down to 15 which are classified as Sweepstakes bands and play on Friday. This year was Ephraim Middle’s second year in the Sweepstakes category. Band members played well, did great with their sight-reading piece and enjoyed a music clinic with Robert T. Herrings III.

Nathan Bigelow, son of Russell and Amie Bigelow of Manti and an Ephraim Middle School student, was recently selected by audition for the All State Jr. High Band. The band was under the direction of Jermie Arnold of California State University, Long Beach. They performed in Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City on Jan. 20.


Gunnison Valley High School

Next week will be student body elections with an assembly on Wednesday, April 4.


North Sanpete High School

North Sanpete High School took second overall at the region drama competition at Manti High School last Friday and Saturday, March 23-24. Keagan Mitchell was named Best Actor for his portrayal of Otto Frank in the school’s one-act version of “The Diary of Anne Frank.” Taking first place in Classical Scenes were North Sanpete’s Emily Hill and Brynne Lamb. Second place in Contemporary Scenes went to Aubrey White and Nettie Knudsen and third went to Alicia Perry and Kylee Davis.

North Sanpete High School will present “The Diary of Anne Frank,” written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, newly adapted for a new generation by Wendy Kesselman, on April 4 to 7 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 for students/seniors and $7 general admission. Anne’s diary tells of eight people hiding from the Nazis in a storage attic during World War II, and the play captures the ups and downs of their emotions during those two dark years. Yet Anne’s voice shines through, as she wrote on April 5, 1944: “I don’t want to have lived in vain like most people. I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death! And that’s why I’m so grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to develop myself and to express all that’s inside me! When I write I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived!”

The cheer team recently hosted Red and White Night on Thursday, March 22, with performances by the cheer team, Snow College Badgerettes, Britts Just Dance and Airborne Gymnastics and Cheer.

The team from Ephraim Middle School which built an electric car and raced it at the state competition last year (L-R): Ashton Hirschi, Kaulin Nielsen, Mathew Olsen, Keegan Merrill and Kaden Owens (in car).


Green car competition set for April 26


Will Sanpete schools power
their way to victory again?


By Linda Petersen

Staff writer

Mar. 29, 2018


Students at several local schools are getting ready for the annual Utah Greenpower Exhibition which will be held at the Utah Motorsports Campus in Tooele on April 26.

Last year, Sanpete schools swept the top four spots, showing the Green Power program, where students build and race a single-seat, electric car, has been very popular in the county.

Twenty schools are participating this year.

At the race, the qualifying heat lasts about 45 minutes and then the main heat goes for around 90 minutes.

Winners are determined by how many continuous laps a car completes. At least three drivers take turns on the course. The car that has the fastest lap gets extra points.

In addition to racing the car, participants must make a video introducing themselves and their role in building the Green Power car.

“The kids have to learn the best speed to race at to be the most efficient,” Tiffanie Baker, Ephraim Middle School’s GEAR UP coordinator, said.

Ephraim Middle School was last year’s fourth-place winner (tying with Uintah and Clearfield high schools). Students at Ephraim Middle School are working on making modifications to last year’s car to improve their performance this year. They are also giving the car a fresh coat of paint.

Utah State University sponsors the Green Power program to inspire students to go into the engineering field.

“They found that while a lot of kids would sign up for engineering classes in college, many would quickly become overwhelmed and drop out,” Baker said. “With programs like these, the kids are much more comfortable with engineering before they reach college.”

“There are just so many opportunities out there these days,” she said. “A lot of those opportunities are in engineering and computers.”

At Ephraim Middle School, the number of students involved in the Green Power program varies but is usually a core group of about six. About half participated last year and are taking what they learned to improve their car.

“They think it’s great that they get to drive a go-cart around the parking lot,” Baker said. “The program is very student driven,” whether her pun was intended or not.

At all of the schools, teachers, generally Career Technical Education (CTE) teachers, are paid an hourly rate by GEAR UP to run the program after school. The groups all purchased kits and built the cars from there.

Gunnison Valley Middle School has about 11 students in the program, about half of whom participated last year, Samantha Dyreng, GEAR UP coordinator, said.

Last year was the first year GEAR UP offered the program at the school. At the state competition, despite a tire that picked up a screw in the preliminary race which resulted in a flat tire, Gunnison Middle School took first place.

Last year’s Manti High School car took third place at state but went to international competition (as a result of a first-place state finish the previous year) against 24 other teams in England in May and competed on the Grand Prix road circuit at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The Manti team took fourth place overall despite major electrical problems which caused the motor to completely fail during the preliminary heat.

The team had a strong second heat and was able to use its score from that heat to achieve the fourth-place finish.

Four Sanpete students to

attend leadership meet in

Valley Forge during April


By Linda Petersen

Staff writer

Mar. 29, 2018


Four local high school students will attend a four-day conference in Pennsylvania next month.

Three Gunnison Valley High School juniors—Tiandra Taylor, Teersa Payne and Ruth Lyons, along with Manti High junior Edison Cluff, will shortly have the opportunity to attend the April 12-15 Spirit of America Youth Leadership Conference at Freedoms Foundation in Valley Forge, Penn.

To be considered for the conference, students must submit a detailed application and an essay and be interviewed by a selection committee.

“It’s pretty unusual for us to choose three students from one school, but we were just so impressed with the students from Gunnison,” committee chair Dennis Ward said.

Sponsored by the Freedoms Foundation, the conference brings together students from across the nation to study the American political process, citizenship, democracy, the free enterprise system and the judicial system.

“It’s absolutely invaluable for the kids to go because of their exposure to the roots of American history,” Utah chapter president Dennis Randall said.

Edison said he is fascinated with the political process and wants to learn how to utilize it to help others.

Tiana said she is looking forward to learning more about the history of our nation.

Along with lectures and reenactments, students will participate in a mock Congress where they will debate hot topic issues like gun control and national security.

“The adults back off and let the teens work together,” Randall said. “It’s fascinating to watch.”

At the conferences, participants are intentionally not housed with the group they travel with so they are exposed to a diverse mix of youth. This is something, Edison, who moved to Manti from Texas just over a year ago, is particularly looking forward to.

Along with conference tours of Valley Forge and the Medal of Honor Grove, the group will also get to tour Independence Hall, homes of George Washington and Betsy Ross and the new Museum of the American Revolution before heading home to Utah.

The Utah chapter of the Freedoms Foundation pays $900 of the $1,300 cost for each student’s attendance at the conference and the airfare. The students are asked to pay the rest and are encouraged to obtain sponsors.

Edison’s grandmother and aunt agreed to sponsor him if he would perform acts of service around his neighborhood and community.

“It was a bit different being paid to do service,” said Edison, who usually serves without charge.

Tiandra said her parents paid half of her costs, and she paid the rest.

Randall said the Utah chapter is blessed to have several wealthy donors who help fund the program and volunteers who are willing to visit schools to share the program with students.

“There’s a real passion for the principles of patriotism and the values of the Freedoms Foundation, and the reality that this country is made up of all kinds of people and states yet we’re all in it together,” he said.

The Freedoms Foundation also sponsors a weeklong summer program for history teachers. All costs are covered by the local chapters.

More information can be found at


Sanpete Sterling Scholars shine


Depth of candidate’s knowledge and
skills required are remarkable


By Suzanne Dean


Mar. 22, 2018


RICHFIELD—The Sterling Scholar program is designed to recognize high school students for achievement in 14 subject areas. A few students are honored in the 15th category, “general scholarship.”

But when Maria Shilaos of KSL Radio read profiles of regional winners during the Central Utah awards ceremony last Thursday, March 15, at Richfield High School, it was obvious the talent and drive of Sterling Scholars stretches far beyond their specific subject areas.

Breanna Hedelius of Manti is named the regional Sterling Scholar in math at an awards ceremony at Richfield High School. Congratulating her are Dallas and Janelle Overly of Gunnison, co-chairs of the program in Central Utah.

Take Breanna Hedelius of Manti High School, the Sterling Scholar in math.

At age 4, she learned the square root of 144. She’s currently taking calculus. And she got 33 out of 36 possible on the math section of the ACT, which put her in the top 2 percent of test takers nationwide.

But Breanna, the daughter of Eric and Merilyn Hedelius of Manti, is much more than a math brain. She’s a student body officer at Manti High, serves on the Manti Youth City Council as mayor and is the reigning Miss Manti.

And she played a key role in collecting 7,460 books for Kenya.

Thirteen high schools participated in the Central Region Sterling Scholar competition this year. A number of small schools had contestants in only a few categories.

Nonetheless, it was notable that five of the 15 winners, or one-third, were from two Sanpete County schools. Manti High ended up with three winners, while North Sanpete had two.

Besides naming a winner, Sterling Scholar judges tapped two runners-up in each of the 15 categories, or 30 runners-up total. Twelve of the runners up, or 40 percent, were from the three public high schools in Sanpete County.

North Sanpete had seven runners-up, Manti three and Gunnison Valley two. (See accompanying chart.)

Hannah Ostraff of North Sanpete High talks with her father, Joe Ostraff, before the Sterling Scholar awards ceremony. Later, she was named winner in the visual arts category. Her father is also an artist.

Other top winners from the county were like Breanna. Their profiles, as read by Shilaos, showed a broad range of accomplishments.

Kjerstin Birch, daughter of Troy and Lori Birch of Ephraim, who attends Manti High, was named Sterling Scholar in business and marketing.

She has been an officer in Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) at Manti for the past three years and was selected as a Utah delegate to the national FBLA convention. She participated in a three-day entrepreneurship competition at the Leonardo museum in Salt Lake City.

But besides those business-related activities, she played volleyball and basketball for Manti, is mayor on the Ephraim Youth City Council, has a 4.0 grade-point average and had a composite score of 30 on the ACT, which puts her in the top 5 percent of the nation.

Trevor Olson of North Sanpete High with his proud dad, Glen Olson, after Trevor was chosen as Sterling Scholar in music.

But she says the highlight of her life was building housing in Merida, Mexico, for neglected and abandoned elderly women.

The regional winner in music was Trevor Olson, a North Sanpete High School student and the son of Glen and Ann Jeanette Olson of Moroni.

A saxophone player, he has participated in state competitions in band, jazz band and marching band. Last year, he was the drum major of the marching band. He has also participated in community music ensembles.

But aside from his music, he helped found the chess and math clubs at North Sanpete, has a 3.99 grade-point average and scored 29 on the ACT, which put him in the top 8 percent.

Another North Sanpete High student, Hannah Ostraff, the daughter of Joe and Melinda Ostraff of Fairview, was the regional winner in visual arts.

She has participated in four international art shows, two national shows and several state exhibitions. She organized an art show involving six schools in New Zealand and another that drew from schools in Ireland.

Besides her art activities, she played tennis all four years in high school and was a state semi-finalist her senior year. She is on the staff of the North Sanpete school newspaper, has a 3.9 GPA and has organized many community projects, including one with a senior citizen center.

The fifth Sanpete County winner was Killick Mickelson, a Manti High student and son of Ryan and Jennie Mickelson of Manti. He was named Sterling Scholar in computer and information technology.

Killick has attended computer camps at Southern Utah University and Snow College, he took charge of filming Manti High football games and is a team captain for the wrestling team specifically in charge of media.

Sanpete County stood out in music at the Sterling Scholar awards program last week. The winner and both runners-up were from the county. Seated at the piano is runner-up Emily Frischknecht of Manti High. Behind her are runner-up Carolyn Donaldson of Gunnison Valley High and winner Trevor Olson of North Sanpete High.

He’s also involved in civic and community activities. He attended Boys State, observed at the Utah Legislature, was a member of the Child Abuse Prevention Team, was on Manti Youth City Council and coached a junior wrestling team for three years. He scored 32 on the ACT, which put him in the top 2 percent.


A traditional part of the awards program is a Sterling Scholar from the previous year returning to present a tribute to parents and teachers who helped the students on stage become Sterling Scholar finalists.

This year’s tribute was presented by Jennifer Boekweg of Mt. Pleasant, the 2017 winner in speech and drama, and a graduate of North Sanpete High School.

Recalling her Sterling Scholar experience, she said, “When I wrote my essays, my mother helped me through the revisions. … When I had stressful deadlines, she helped me through the emotional breakdowns.”

Boekweg said teachers from kindergarten through 12th grade had nurtured her and other Sterling Scholars. Often, she said, students started to love the subjects in which they are being honored that night after they were reached and inspired by teachers in those subjects.

The Sterling Scholar program relies not only on faculty advisors at the high schools but on community volunteers.

Dallas and Janelle Overly of Gunnison, outgoing co-chairs of the Central Utah program, received service awards.

And Andy Peterson was recognized for serving for seven years as Sterling Scholar faculty advisor at Gunnison Valley High School.

North Sanpete High School students gather around their student body officers, who delivered a message of kindness and support during the students’ observance of National Walkout Day last week. Approximately three dozen students participated in the walkout on Wednesday, March 14.

[Read more…]