National Walkout Day’s social media tag and logo.

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District terminates rest of North

Sanpete Middle School sports


By Linda Petersen
Staff writer

Mar. 8, 2018


MT. PLEASANT—The North Sanpete School District Board of Education has decided to discontinue the two remaining district-affiliated middle school sports programs: wrestling and girls basketball.

Club programs will continue to be able to use school-district facilities for a nominal fee, and the district will provide funding for another year to help the wrestling and girls basketball programs make the transition to being club programs.

The decision came out of a Feb. 20 school-board discussion on the logistics and costs of overseeing such programs at North Sanpete Middle School.

At that time, Superintendent Sam Ray told the school board that after its January decision to continue to fund busing of middle school wrestling team members to and from competitions, he had been approached by coaches from other sports to have their athletes bused too.

Additionally, since the school district pays the wrestling coaches a stipend, other coaches were also asking for one, he said.

“We’re looking for some direction. How far do you want to go with this?” he asked the board.

Middle school sports have evolved over the years in the North Sanpete School District. While at one point several sports were affiliated with the district, in the last several years most of them have moved to club leagues, Ray told the board.

Currently the school district only pays for busing and coach stipends ($1,300 per year) for the wrestling and girls basketball programs.

“Every other program has gone to a club team, an outside organization, so they can play more games and have a little more control on what’s going on,” North Sanpete Middle School Principal O’Dee Hansen said.

Ray and Hansen expressed concern over the lack of oversight by the school district in these programs.

Hansen said the coaches run the programs independently, choosing and paying coaches with the funds provided by the school district. He has never been approached about the hiring of coaches, approval of schedules when students leave school for games or busing, he said.

School district officials said it was unclear what the school district’s liability would be for these programs, particularly if it fulfilled the requests.

“If we go down the road with this … with paid stipends … I don’t think we can have our coaches appointing coaches. We’re going to have to go through the hiring process, which we have not done. … If you do this at the middle school level, and it blows up the way we’re talking about, it probably makes sense to have some kind of athletic director position,” Assistant Superintendent Randy Shelley said.

“We need to either fully fund and support it—I don’t know if we can afford to—or need to totally wash our hands of the whole thing. … If we’re either halfway in or halfway out, there certainly is a liability there for the district,” he said.

Board members went on to discuss issues the school district could be liable for including transportation, athlete safety and the conduct of coaches, athletes and students.

“We need to be all in or all out. If we’re all in, we can provide the controls and make sure we’re covering the liabilities, safety issues, travel issues, or we’re all out so we don’t have the liability issues,” Ray said.

After a prolonged discussion, board members agreed to discontinue sports programs at the middle school without a formal vote.

They decided to provide funding for another year to help the wrestling and girls basketball programs make the transition to being club programs.

School district officials said they would also work to find community members who would help with the two programs.

“I think we need to try to continue to build these two programs. Both of them are struggling. We need to provide whatever support we can for them. If this isn’t the support we can provide for them, maybe there are other supports we can provide to help those programs get off the ground,” Ray said.

At the same meeting the board voted to deed the former Fountain Green school property and building, which has been used as a city hall for several years, to Fountain Green City.

City officials recently decided to sell the building but discovered during a title search that there was an agreement in place that the property would revert to the school district if the building were ever sold.

Fountain Green Mayor Willard Wood told board members the city had two buyers. He said if he could get city council approval, he would like to pay the district a cash settlement if the building is sold rather than continuing to have agreements to take care of property the district owns in Fountain Green.

Third-grade students in Deanne Smith’s class (L-R), Hayden, Billie, Ty and Shayne, planted tulip bulbs at the school last fall. This year they are already watching them grow.

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Sanpete Valley Hospital offers

three scholarships to Sanpete seniors

By Lyle Fletcher

Staff writer

Mar. 8, 2018


MT. PLEASANT—High school seniors planning to pursue a career in healthcare may get a financial boost by applying for one of three scholarships.

Sanpete Valley Hospital is offering three scholarships worth $1,000 through their annual Sanpete Valley Hospital Scholarship program.

The press release from Sanpete Valley Hospital states: “Applicants must currently be a high school senior at a Sanpete County high school or participating in an accredited high school curriculum and reside in Sanpete County.”

Each applicant must also have a current GPA of 3.5 or higher, plan to pursue a career in healthcare and be actively involved in community service.

To obtain an application, visit or go to the front desk of the administration building located at 1100 S. Medical Drive, Mt. Pleasant.

High school counselors also have applications.

The completed application, along with a resume and an essay of 300-500 words, must be scanned and emailed to by April 27.

The application, resume and essay can also be mailed to Shauna Watts, Sanpete Valley Hospital, 1100 S. Medical Drive, Mt. Pleasant, UT 84647. It must arrive before April 27.           

The press release states: “The essay should provide details on the student’s experience with community service as well as plans for pursuing a career in healthcare and how they would use the scholarship award if selected.”

More details are at (click Hospital Information at top right on homepage; scroll down and click on Community Benefit at left; click on Sanpete Valley Hospital Scholarships at right of screen) or contact Shauna Watts at Sanpete Valley at or 262-1381.

Inside our Schools

Compiled by Linda Petersen

Mar. 8, 2018


Fairview Elementary

A recent fundraiser at the school for LeeR and Janeen Sorensen was very successful, PTA organizer Trine Huntington said. More than 500 hot dog meals were purchased, and the community was very generous in their monetary donations and donations for the silent auction.

The Sorensens are longtime Fairview residents, and LeeR has worked at the school and Janeen at Cache Valley Bank for several years. Both of the Sorensens have had serious health issues for some time, and Janeen had undergone two brain surgeries and had been hospitalized since November.

“Sadly, Janeen passed away last night,” Huntington reported on Monday, “but I know the love and help from family and friends will be forever appreciated.”


Manti Elementary

Next Tuesday, March 13, is Parent Leadership Day. Parents are invited to come to the school for a 9 a.m. student presentation, classroom visits and tours at 9:30 a.m., followed by a panel discussion and overview at 10:15 a.m. This Leadership Day is specifically for parents and not for any children.


North Sanpete Middle

Tomorrow is Spring Picture Day. Students can have their photos taken with siblings, friends and faculty. A free online preview will be available so parents/students can choose their favorites.


Gunnison Valley High School

On Wednesday, Feb. 28, Gunnison Valley High School hosted the Region 18 Jazz Festival at Gunnison Valley.

Just two other region schools, Parowan and Enterprise, have jazz bands, so the three schools made up the entire band participation.

Philip Kuehn from Snow College and Bryan Sullivan of Manti High School were the judges.

Each band played three prepared songs and then participated in a sight-reading session.

Gunnison Valley High scored superior ratings, and the other two schools scored excellent ratings.


Manti High School

On Thursday, March 1, several Manti High School students were inducted into the National Honor Society.

Last week the music department held school-level solo and ensemble qualifiers to choose students to participate in the Region Solo and Ensemble Festival at Richfield High School on March 22.

Those students are Kirah Pratt, Emily Frischknecht, Anna Johnson, Abigail Mack, Brayden Powell, Carter Mack, Erin Frischknecht, Nathan Howell, Andrew Olsen, Diego Bradley, Nathaniel Cox, Katelyn Allred, Carson Lawrence, Abigail Huff, Adam Huff, Aidan Hammer, Keegan Cheney, Bethany Malone, Avery Allred, Meagan Dennis, Anna Allred, Emma Allred, Kyleena Boylan, Cortlynd Cox, Emilie Lewellen, Jodi Christensen, Jaymee Ramirez, Sienna Thompson, Sierra Roberts, Jaxon Sharp, Kirah Pratt, Carter Mack, Kent Larsen, Katelyn Mathews, Maria Peterson, Angel Huff, Amelie Henry, Bridger Thompson, Joshua Vernon, Korben Cox, Cody Alder. Also chosen were MHS Small Percussion No. 1 and MHS Small Percussion No. 2.


North Sanpete High School

At the North Sanpete Idol talent show held last Friday, March 3, in conjunction with the junior prom assembly, eight participants performed a variety of talents: piano, short film production, Hamilton rap, dance solo and four vocal solos. Mikayla Robinson (above) sang a solo.

On Thursday, March 1, Cohort 2 GEAR UP students had the opportunity to spend time with Paradigm Shift, where they learned how to use their own personal leadership skills to begin getting ready for college.
Paradigm Shift is a collaboration of facilitators from across the U.S. specifically trained to lead powerful events for students. They discussed team building, high school success and developing oneself as a leader.

Sanpete Sterling Scholars to

represent schools as top scholars


By Linda Petersen

Staff writer

Mar. 1, 2018


Thirty-four Sanpete County high school seniors have been nominated for 2018 Sterling Scholar awards by their schools.

Manti High and North Sanpete High have 15 nominees, and Gunnison Valley High School has nominated four scholars.

The Desert News/KSL Broadcast Group contest honors outstanding public high school seniors in 15 different categories. (A nominee may be nominated in only one category). Along with academic achievement, the Sterling Scholars program recognizes the nominees’ leadership and service efforts.

The program is conducted in five regions throughout the state. Sanpete schools are part of the contests Central Utah Region. Participating schools are Gunnison Valley, Manti, North Sanpete, Delta, Juab, Millard, Piute, South Sevier, North Sevier, Richfield, Tintic, Wayne and West Desert.

From Gunnison Valley High School, four students have been nominated: Michael Hansen, Visual Arts; Carolyn Donaldson, Music; Kamree Tucker, General Scholarship; Kylee Keisel, Dance.

Manti High School has nominated 15 students: Alexis Jaussi, Dance; Denali Baker, Family & Consumer Sciences; Kristin DeLeeuw, Science; Jasmine Alcala, Agricultural Science; Killick Mickelson, Computer & Information Technology; Alex Stevens, Trade & Technical Education; Breanna Hedelius, Mathematics; Katelyn Allred, English & Literature; Justin Bawden, Speech & Drama; Regan Rouska, Visual Arts; Kjerstin Birch, Business & Marketing; Emily Frischknecht, Music; Timothy Krzymowski, World Languages; Warren Hess, Social Science; Jensen Wood, General.

Fifteen students at North Sanpete High School have been nominated: Tyler Blackham, Business & Marketing Education; Emily Barker, Family & Consumer Sciences; Trevor Ence, Mathematics; Emily Hill, Speech/Theater Arts/Forensics; Makade Talbot, English & Literature; Madisyn Allred, Computer & Information Technology; Kailee Burgess, Dance; Thomas De Groff, Science; Anna Staker, General Scholarship; Mason Mayo, Agriculture Science; Christian Sanchez, World Languages; Hannah Ostraff, Visual Arts; Wesley Madsen, Trade & Technical Education; Allyssa Ericksen, Social Science; Trevor Olson, Music.

Sterling Scholar nominees submit a portfolio online (and in some categories, exhibits) and are judged on scholarship, category scholarship, leadership, and community service/citizenship prior to being interviewed by the judges. Interviews for the Central Utah Region competition will be held on Thursday, March 15.

A presentation ceremony where the winners and first and second runners up will be recognized will be held at Richfield High School that evening. The winners and runners-up in each category receive cash awards. Several Utah colleges and universities also offer scholarships to both winners and runners-up.

The categories students can be nominated in are English & Literature, Speech/Theatre Arts/Forensics, Mathematics, Social Science, Science, World Language ,Visual Arts, Computer And Information Technology, Trade And Technical Education, Agriculture Science, Family And Consumer Sciences, Music, Dance and General Scholarship.

The Bionic Babes of Gunnison Valley Middle School took first place in their category at the recent FIRST LEGO League Utah South state championship.

GVMS Bionic Babes place

first in state robotics contest

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The cast of Manti High School’s upcoming “Something’s Afoot” will perform one of Agatha Christie’s whodunits (front row, L-R): Katelyn Allred, Malorie Hansen, Abby Huff, Emily Frischknecht, (back row) Zach Brown, Carson Lawrence, Dallin Brereton, Josh Peterson, Marcus Bahlmann and Justin Bawden.

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Ephraim Middle School teachers Lisa Schleuter (L-R), Linda Flitton, Tim Black and Valene Scott display their award for being selected as the Outstanding Middle School Science Department for the State of Utah for the 2017-2018 school year.


EMS Science department

teachers honored by Utah

Science Teachers Association

By Lyle Fletcher

Staff writer

Feb. 22, 2018


PROVO—Four teachers at Ephraim Middle School recently received a statewide award for their teaching efforts.

With a combined approximately 80 years of teaching science at the school, the four teachers were named the Outstanding Middle School Science Department for the State of Utah by the Utah Science Teachers Association (USTA) for the 2017-2018 school year.

The teachers—Valene Scott, Lisa Schlueter, Tim Black and Linda Flitton—traveled to Provo for the annual USTA conference and were highlighted at the USTA banquet held at the Provo Marriott Hotel on Feb. 9.

John R. Taylor, USTA president, and Todd Monson, USTA middle level state representative, gave the four science teachers the award.

Nominations for the award came from fellow teachers, administrators and district personnel, and only one middle school science department is selected each school year for the award.

These four teachers work together to create innovative and hands-on lessons “to energize and excite their students about science for their students,” states the brochure concerning their award.

For instance, their students at the middle school have created such things as models of the Earth, Sun and Moon; index-card cars with skewer axles and Lifesaver wheels; and egg-drop capsules.

Their students also have had fun learning science with hands-on labs for such things as Newton’s laws, magnetism, static electricity, rock identification and ecosystems.

Brief biographical information about each teacher is available at (put “Ephraim” in the search box).

For instance, the bio for Black indicates he was raised in Ephraim, lives in Manti and was a troublemaker in school. “I never dreamed or even thought of being a teacher,” his bio states.

After spending years trying to figure out what he wanted to be, he eventually went to college to become a teacher. He wrote in the bio, “I realized I liked teaching people things.”

He’s worked at Ephraim Middle School for 27 years now.

Scott has taught for 17 years at the middle school, and Flitton has taught 10.

The brochure states, “Together, they have taught science for about 80 years at Ephraim Middle School.”

Thus, Schlueter’s contribution to this “about 80 years” is in the close neighborhood of a quarter of a century.

The four teachers said they appreciated support from Kent Larsen, South Sanpete School District superintendent, who also attended the banquet.

Inside Our Schools


Compiled by Linda Petersen

Feb. 22, 2018


Ephraim Elementary School

Monday, March 5, will be a half day of school, and students will be excused early at 11:30 a.m. The teachers will be attending a district reading training in the afternoon. Students will be served lunch an hour early and then excused to go home. Buses will run as usual. There will be morning kindergarten and morning preschool classes; no afternoon sessions.


Fairview Elementary

Last week was Red Ribbon Week at the school. On Monday, which had a Hawaiian theme, “Lei Off Drugs,” students heard from local emergency medical technicians and firefighters how to help others during an emergency. Tuesday was “Too Smart to Start” (also Crazy Hair Day) where students learned how to team up against drugs and bullying. Valentine’s Day was “BEE Kind” (Crazy Sock Day) where students were encouraged to perform random acts of kindness. Thursday had a theme of “If you ‘mustache’ our school is drug and bully free’ and students got to wear a mustache to school.

Tuesday, Feb. 13, Sanpete County 4H sponsored Family Fun Night at the school where students and their families enjoyed games and refreshments.


North Sanpete Middle School

Students enjoyed a Sweethearts Dance sponsored by the business club on Wednesday, Feb. 14, in the evening. There was a photo booth, “kissing” booth and Cupid’s snack shack.

The school’s science department was recently recognized as one of three outstanding science departments of the year by the Utah Science Teachers Association. An elementary school and a high school were the other winners.


Manti High School

On Wednesday, Feb. 14, juniors participated in Post-Secondary Day where guests from several Utah colleges and universities shared information with them about their schools, including BYU, Dixie State, LDS Business College, Salt Lake Community College, Snow College, Southern Utah University, Utah College of Applied Technology, Utah State University, University of Utah, Utah Valley University and Weber State University.


North Sanpete High School

The school will host a Paradigm Shift Workshop next Thursday, March 1, at 7:30 p.m. for seventh- to 12th-grade students and their parents. The workshop will help students and their parents prepare for success in college. Children ages 2 to 12 can participate in activities in the commons. Dinner will be provided for the whole family.

Last Friday, Feb. 16, the student body officers (SBOs) sponsored a Winter Olympics assembly. The SBOs created different versions of four events: figure skating, biathlon, bobsled and hockey. Classes competed for the spirit stick .The seniors won all four events and claimed the spirit stick.

Hannah Ostraff recently won a juror’s award in the All-State Art Show in Springville. Her piece was selected as one of 25 pieces included in the traveling exhibition. She was also one of 28 students to have their artwork displayed in the State Capitol Art Show. Hannah received a $350 cash award.


Wasatch Academy

The Wasatch Academy Sustainability Committee, made up of students and faculty, has kicked off a “Ban the Bottle” campaign to reduce waste caused by plastic bottles. The school currently provides bottled water for campus events in a number of settings.

It is the committee’s goal for Wasatch Academy to be a “plastic water bottle free school” by Sept. 1.

Committee members and the Development Office have set a goal to raise $24,500. Funds raised through this campaign will be used to purchase and install 15 rapid bottle-filling stations and provide every member of the school community a Wasatch Academy logo bottle.

All juniors to take ACT test

By Linda Petersen

Staff writer

Feb. 22, 2018


Juniors at Sanpete County high schools are getting ready to take the ACT test Tuesday, Feb. 27.

The ACT is the most-used college entrance exam in the U.S. Five years ago, the Utah Legislature determined the ACT was so important that it passed a law requiring all Utah high school juniors to take it and funded that action.

At Gunnison Valley and Manti high schools, yesterday, for the first time, juniors participated in an all-day ACT boot camp. The event was sponsored by GEAR UP, a federal college readiness program.

At the boot camp put on by a company called MasteryPrep, instructors taught students content-specific strategies for the four subjects tested on the ACT: English, mathematics, reading and science reasoning, along with helping them with subjects they struggle with.

They also taught them test-taking strategies, tips on question types, along with pacing and time management.

After the boot camp, students received materials they can study and practice with before taking the ACT.

Annemarie Davis, Gunnison Valley GEAR UP site coordinator, said she heard about the boot camp from other school coordinators. “They said it was a great experience for their students and that there was a fairly dramatic increase in their scores,” she said.

Davis said one of the goals of her program at Gunnison Valley is to increase the confidence level of students taking the ACT and other standardized tests.

At North Sanpete High School, teachers have also been working with juniors to prepare for the ACT.

This evening, all juniors will take a mandatory practice test, the PreACT, which is similar to the actual test but is completed in a shorter time period.

Along with other tools, teachers and counselors at North Sanpete utilize Naviance Test Prep, an online learning program.

Using a personalized approach, Naviance tests students in the four subjects and provides them with a diagnostic of their scores and progress, along with college planning tools.

While the state mandates that students take the ACT as juniors, next week’s test will not be the first time for many of them. At North Sanpete, sophomores in the school’s college and career readiness classes take the ACT.

“We want them to be prepared for college classes their junior year, some of which require the ACT,” Nan Ault, North Sanpete’s principal, said.

North Sanpete also uses ACT Aspire, an ACT-prep program with the same content and the same benchmarks as the ACT, which tests freshmen and sophomores. Interim tests are taken in the fall and winter. A summative test in the spring predicts their ACT scores as juniors, Ault said.

Ault said ACT Aspire provides data that can be used to help teachers align their instruction to address the needs of the students, along with providing reports for parents on their progress.

Since a student may take the ACT up to 12 times, and most colleges and universities heavily weight ACT scores when deciding applications for scholarships, it is common for students to take the test multiple times in an effort to improve their scores.

The finalists in the recent Ephraim Middle School Spelling Bee are (L-R) seventh-grader Mischelle G (Gankhuyag), seventh-grader Juliana Nelson, sixth-grader Sara G (Gankhuyag), sixth-grader Canon Barclay, seventh-grader Evan Wright and seventh-grader Rachel Nelson, with the overall winner being eighth-grader Katelyn Nordfelt. Two pairs of sisters are in the seven finalists—the G sisters and the twin sisters Nelson.

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Members of Gunnison Valley Middle School’s two LEGO robotics teams, Bionic Babes and Nerd Alert, pose together after their recent wins at the qualifying competition (L-R): Noelle Condie, Bryant Shell, Bridger Stevens, Dylan Anderson, Sage Bjerregaard, Brayden Sanderson (with arms wide), Sarah Liddiard, Michelle Mellor, Maddy Montoya (coach in back), Gracie Mickelsen, Bryan Montoya (coach in back), Will Wescott, Eli Lambertson and Stockton Broderick.


Gunnison Middle School Gear Up

teams to compete with Legos


By Linda Petersen

Staff writer

Feb. 15, 2018


GUNNISON—Two teams from Gunnison Valley Middle School are heading to St. George on Saturday, Feb. 24, to compete in the First LEGO League South State Championship” at Dixie State University.

First LEGO League teams are LEGO robotics teams, and the Bionic Babes of Gunnison Valley Middle School—Noelle Condie, Sage Bjerregaard, Sarah Liddiard, Michelle Mellor and Gracie Mickelsen—took first place overall in the Jan. 20 Southern Utah University regional qualifier against 33 other teams.

A second team from the middle school, Nerd Alert—Bryant Shell, Bridger Stevens, Dylan Anderson, Brayden Sanderson, Will Wescott, Eli Lambertson and Stockton Broderick—took first place in core values.

Both teams were judged in four categories: core values, robot games, project solving and robot design.

In problem solving, teams were asked to solve a world problem. For that, the girls took on the issue of hydrodynamics and making the water cycle more human-friendly and designed an underwater vehicle to clean the ocean.

“They had to reach out to a lot of people to find out what solutions really work,” GEAR UP site coordinator Samantha Dyreng said. (GEAR UP is sponsoring the two teams.)

In the core values category, each team presented the values it had governed itself by during the season (such as how members worked together as a team) before a panel of judges. They also completed a core value activity (in this case, making their way through a maze with a ball on a towel) to show how the team works together and handles challenges.

To participate in LEGO robotics, students had to have Bs or above in their classwork. The robotics program is just one of the afterschool enrichment programs offered by USU STARS! GEAR UP at the school.

USU STARS! GEAR UP stands for Utah State University Science Technology Arithmetic Reading Students Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs.

The college readiness program funds personnel and programs at several local schools that provide students additional help and resources.

At Gunnison Valley Middle School, Dyreng, two assistants and two teachers provide tutoring and afterschool help for students who may be struggling. Dyreng, who is in her first year as site coordinator, has already seen students who have made a turnaround as a result of the help.

The program also sponsors parents’ nights and field trips to area colleges for students. A Jan. 24 parents’ night with speaker Dr. Rodney Hood had a “huge turnout,” Dyreng said, with more than 100 students and their parents in attendance.

“At the parents’ nights, along with speakers, we provide parents and students with information on how they can pay for college through scholarships, grants and other resources,” Dyreng said. “What we’re doing is changing the way people think. A lot of our students and parents don’t think college is an option for them.”

GEAR UP also helps fund a bus so students in outlying areas can participate in the afterschool tutoring and enrichment activities. The program coordinates with the lunch ladies to provide free afterschool snacks to participants through another federal program, Dyreng said.

Other Sanpete County schools that participate in the program are Ephraim Middle, North Sanpete Middle, Gunnison Valley High, Manti High and North Sanpete High School.

“The GEAR UP program has been a great experience for our rural communities and the small schools,” Dyreng said. “To participate in LEGO robotics is very expensive. We wouldn’t be able to do it and other things like college field trips without it.”

Inside Our Schools


Compiled by Linda Petersen

Feb. 15, 2018


Next Monday, Feb. 19, all Sanpete County schools will have the day off for Presidents’ Day.


Ephraim Elementary School

The school’s Box Tops for Education collection drive ends Friday, Feb. 23. The class that turns in the most box tops will win a prize.


Mt. Pleasant Elementary School

On Wednesday, Feb. 7, the fourth grade enjoyed a field trip to Thanksgiving Point in Lehi. The rest of the school enjoyed Valentine’s parties beginning at 1:30 p.m.

The school’s Box Tops for Education collection drive ends Feb. 26.


Ephraim Middle School

Students enjoyed a Valentine’s dance at the school last Friday, Feb. 9. Sixth-grade students could go to a dance for their sixth and seventh periods, or, if they preferred, enjoy an activity in the gym or the library. A dance for seventh and eighth graders took place at the school from 6-8 p.m. that evening.

GEAR UP is sponsoring a free trip to the Saturday, Feb. 24, BYU STEM Conference for interested students.


North Sanpete Middle  School

GEAR UP cohort 1, 2 and 3 students enjoyed a trip to the Living Planet Aquarium last Thursday, Feb. 8.



Gunnison Valley High School

A team took first place in parliamentary procedure at the recent Future Farmers of America (FFA) contest hosted by North Sanpete High School.


Manti High School

Last Friday, Feb. 9, the final regional basketball game against North Sanpete was Senior Night, and the school honored the senior members of the basketball, drill and cheer teams.

At halftime, Snow College hosted a halftime competition to kick-off the college’s SnowBlast Showdown. Showdown is a competition between Delta, Juab, North Sanpete, Manti, Gunnison and North Sevier to see who can get the most juniors/seniors to sign up and attend the SnowBlast Feb. 23-24 or April 6-7. The school that gets the most students to sign up and attend will get an ice cream party hosted by the Snow Ambassadors.

This weekend several juniors and seniors will attend Southern Utah University’s Red Riot where they will find out what SUU has to offer. GEAR UP is paying for attendance and transportation.

Theater students are hard at work putting the finishing touches on their upcoming performance of “Something’s Afoot,” a musical murder mystery comedy. Show dates are Feb. 26, 27 and 28 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5.


North Sanpete High School

Last week, to celebrate FFA, students dressed up each day. Monday’s theme was Merica when they wore patriotic colors. On Tuesday they could dress as twins, and on Wednesday they wore hats. Thursday for Spirit Day they wore school colors, and on Friday they wore yellow, the national FFA color. The week finished off with the FFA-sponsored Sweethearts Dance on Saturday, Feb. 10.

The North Sanpete High School Future FFA chapter recently hosted the Area 7 contest with eight chapters competing: North Sanpete, Manti, Gunnison, North Sevier, Richfield, South Sevier, Delta and Mt. Nebo (Juab).

Chapter members competed in prepared speaking, extemporaneous speaking, job interview, conduct of chapter meeting, creed speaking and parliamentary procedure.

First-place winners will advance to the state contest at the Utah FFA State Convention to be held in Cedar City in March.

A team from Gunnison Valley High School took first place in parliamentary procedure.

Mason Mayo from North Sanpete High School took second place in extemporaneous speaking.

This year the Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers also hosted a discussion meet where FFA members discussed current agricultural issues.

Stephanie Larsen

‘No sides, only love’ is motto

of LGBTQ resource center


By Max Higbee

Staff writer

Feb. 15, 2018


EPHRAIM—Stephenie Larsen, founder and CEO of Encircle LGBTQ Family and Youth Resource Center, believes that Provo—and the rest of the state, by extension—“should be the best place to grow up an LGBTQ child, because we do community so well.”

LGBTQ refers to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning.

“We can put a man on the moon, we can map our own genome, but sometimes we find it so hard to just love other people when they are different from us,” Larsen said to students last Thursday, Feb. 1, when she spoke at Snow College’s Convocation series alongside Encircle Chief Program Officer Jordan Sgro and Chief Operating Officer Jacob Dunford.

Larsen worked to create Encircle, which is a resource center in Provo, housed in a pioneer-era home just blocks away from the Provo City Center Temple.

The center seeks to provide community, healing and a loving, safe space to LGBTQ youth in Utah County and the surrounding area. It officially opened its doors on Valentine’s Day 2017.

Since then it has played a crucial role in organizing a music fest—the LoveLoud Festival last August and has put on the largest-ever youth conference for LGBTQ youth with its Ignite conference in December, in addition to its regular support groups and counseling.

Larsen’s presentation began with a video from Starbucks’ “Upstanders” series that outlined the unique difficulties that can arise growing up LGBTQ in Utah. The video also introduced Larsen and Encircle’s mission.

“There’s messaging that’s telling these kids ‘you are not okay,’” Larsen said in the video. “These are kids who feel like God doesn’t love them, their parents won’t understand, their community won’t understand who they are. The reason for Encircle is to keep youth alive.”

She introduced the problem: Suicide is the leading cause of death among youth ages 15-24 in Utah, even more likely than death in an automobile accident.

According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the youth suicide rate in Utah has increased four times faster than the national average, year by year. Members of the LGBTQ community are three times more likely than non-LGBTQ youth to commit suicide.

She shared how, over time, her thinking has changed.

When she left Brigham Young University, where she studied family science as an undergraduate before earning her law degree, she said she was a very black-and-white thinker and believed it was a sin to be gay.

Through marrying into her husband’s family and meeting and growing to love his uncle, John Williams, a gay man and prolific Salt Lake City restaurateur, she opened her mind to the idea that it is supremely important that families simply love and embrace their children wholly when they come out.

She said, “I was left with this question, ‘How can I say that John is not a good person or that he is a sinner, based on him being one of the best people I’ve ever met?”

After years sitting with that question and Williams’ death in 2016, she decided to do something about it and opened the Encircle house.

She found the house by simply going to the then-future site of the Provo City Center Temple and circling outward, looking for potential sites for the resource center.

“We wanted to put it in a home because there’s something about a home that just brings comfort and love and makes us whole. So instead of putting Encircle in a strip mall, we opened up in this little blue house,” she said.

When she first stumbled onto the house, it had two huge “available” signs on its lawn.

In spite of her worries over being able to afford it, she was inspired by the beauty of it, particularly of the 125-year-old rainbow stained-glass windows. So she continued to pursue it.

It ended up being bought by a friend of the foundation, a real-estate developer in Park City. The friend rents it to Encircle for $1 per month.

Larsen introduced the newest addition to the Encircle family of homes, a house that is slated to open this summer in Salt Lake City.

“We are so crowded at Encircle,” she said, “We’ve got 50-60 people there every day, we’ve gone from one therapist to nine, and we have kids coming from as far as Ogden. So we wanted to have another house in Salt Lake so it’s less of a drive.”

Sgro outlined the programs offered by Encircle, such as subsidized counseling for LGBTQ youth and their families, music nights, writing workshops, weekly support groups, lesbian support group and a body image support group.

Dunford shared his journey coming out to his family, growing up gay, being kicked out of BYU and excommunicated from the LDS Church, and, finally, finding Encircle and family there.

He runs the marketing for Encircle and the LoveLoud series, which will continue this year. He designed the foundation’s website,

Encircle is no anti-Mormon endeavor. It is not near the temple to serve as its adversary but as a sort of parallel companion. Larsen explained that she was and is a devout Latter-day Saint, as are many of the staff and volunteers.

Rather, their approach is summed up in their slogan: “No sides, only love.”

The Encircle community spans the spectrum from actively serving Mormon bishops to people who have never been in an LDS chapel, and Encircle seeks to be a space where all of those people are welcome.

“We will never tell any of the youth who they should be. We would never say, ‘You should stay in the church’ or ‘You should leave this community.’ Our approach is that you need to be who you need to be to be whole,” said Larsen.

She was rejoined by Dunford and Sgro for a question-and-answer forum with the students at Convocation at the end of the presentation.

Next week’s Convocation will feature Kenny Aronoff, who has been named one of the 100 Greatest Drummers of all time by Rolling Stone magazine.

The Manti Youth City Council visited Salt Lake City to learn about the state legislature: (front row, L-R) Miriam Bishop, Jessica Smith, Cari Carmody, Kody Godfrey, Josh Vernon, (second row) Katherine Christensen, Kort Cox, Josh Peterson, Whitney Dyreng, Kristen DeLeeuw, Riley Micklesen, (back row) Bobby Smith and Killick Mickelsen. Not pictured: Ethan Christensen and Breanna Hedelius.

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