Park City Leadership Academy created for at-risk sixth-grade students


Rob Harter, executive director of the Christian Center of Park City, knows that one of the most critical transitions in a student’s life is the transition from elementary school to middle school.

“We heard of stories of students who were doing great in school in elementary but quickly began to lose interest in school throughout middle school and for some later dropped out altogether by high school,” said Harter. “When we coupled that with the reality that there are no current leadership programs for at-risk students in sixth grade at Ecker Hill, we were motivated to start a leadership program specifically for them.”

Thus, the Park City Leadership Academy (PCLA) was created. It provides an environment where students can both learn and apply leadership skills from hearing and interacting with local, regional, and state leaders.

“We hope our end result is that these sixth graders will believe that they too can become leaders,” he said.

“This is a pretty amazing program,” said Ecker Hill Middle Principal Traci Evans. “It’s a pre-leadership program for our sixth-grade students.”

A ninth-month curriculum was developed and the PCLA consists of once a month meeting from 3:50 to 4:50 p.m. at Ecker Hill Middle School.

The curriculum for the remainder of  year includes:

-Nov 15: Panel Discussion including local Latino business leaders such as Gabriel at Chase Bank, and Jorge Fierro from Rico Brand

-Dec. 13: Service opportunity through Operation Hope Toystore in Park City

-Jan. 15: Martin Luther King Jr. Day with guest speaker

-Feb. 15: Multicultural Youth Leadership Day at the Capitol (all day event)

-March 14: Guest speakers within hospitality industry

-April 18: Panel discussion from nonprofit leaders who love what they do and give back to the community

-May 16: Joint meeting at Camp Kostopolous with Latinos in Action, Bright Futures, Teen Council, and Young Life


PCHS to present ‘The Addams Family’

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They are creepy and they are kooky, and they are coming to the Eccles Center in November.

Park City High School’s theater department presents “The Addams Family” Nov. 16-18 at 7 p.m., and a Nov. 18 matinee at 2 p.m.  Doors open a half hour before each show. Director Rick Kimball said to come when the doors open because the show starts the moment you enter the theater.

Comedy ensues when the Addams family tries to fit in with Wednesday’s boyfriend’s family. This show has all the great characters you would expect like Gomez Addams, Morticia Addams, Wednesday Addams, Uncle Fester, Pugsley and their crazy Grandma. You will also meet tons of their dead relatives and new characters as well.

“This new musical, which premiered on Broadway a couple of years ago with Nathan Lane, has a contemporary sense of humor,” said Kimball. “You will find yourself laughing the whole time, as the characters try to fit into a world that considers them a little different.”

Kimball said the students have been working really hard at this musical. “They have been looking over the script during the summer and were actually memorized completely the first day of school,” he said. “On top of that, this is the most choreography our musical theater department has had in recent memory. The music in this is really difficult, but you will really see how talented our students are as they excel in this musical.”

Tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for students and children under age 12. Tickets are available at the door (cash and checks accepted).

A silent auction will be held Friday, Nov. 17, at 6 p.m. outside the Eccles Center. The theater department is presenting seven shows this year, performing and Disneyland, and raising funds to study with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Europe in two years.

For more information about this production and all future productions, please visit

Last year, Park City High’s musical “Little Women” won best orchestra and best set design in the state of Utah.

The cast includes: 

Gomez Addams: Jack Jorgenson

Morticia Addams: Makenzie Addams

Pugsley Addams: Tori Kenton

Wednesday Addams: Alexa Wilcox

Uncle Fester: Dallin Gull

Grandma Addams: Katie Lobrot

Lurch: Stryder Larsen

Mal Beineke: Adam Hickey

Alice Beineke: Joey Neubecker

Lucas Beineke: Marcello Caro

Dead Bride Ancestor / Grandma Addams understudy: Katie Rusconi

Zookeeper Ancestor / Fester Understudy:  Jonathan Cook

Dead Pioneer Ancestor /Mal Understudy: Caleb Strange

Dead Flapper Ancestor / Alice UNDERSTUDY : Caroline Waldmann

Dead Native Ancestor :  Courtney Peabody

Dead Saloon Girl Ancestor : Kalli Peers

Dead Conquistador Ancestor: Olivia Netland

Dead Pirate Captain Ancestor: Aubrie Walker

Dead Caveman Ancestor: Jared White

Dead Soldier Ancestor: Blake Matamoros

Dead Baker Ancestor: Ellie McGinnis

Dead Athlete Ancestor: Bella Shaw

Dead Queen Ancestor: Gemma Feltovich

Dead Royal lady Ancestor:  Sadie Gualazzi

Dead Old Police Officer Ancestor: Heidi Brown

Dead Ballerina Ancestor: Rachael Guthery

Dead Victorian woman Ancestor: Coco Berwald

Dead Cowgirl Ancestor: April Buys

Dead Naval Captain Ancestor: Zoe Lupcho

Dead Hunter Ancestor: Josie Chesley

Dead Gladiator Ancestor: Kasey Kriklen

Dead Housekeeper Ancestor: Mylie Lenard

Thing: Chelane Clift

The After Life Dance Company includes:

Caroline Applegate

Clara Bradford

Bella Buehner

Rylee Bukovinsky

Ella Hansen

Ali Herman

Allison Lambert

Ella Markham

Alexa Medes

Vivian Pinnell

Shelby Porges

Franzi Ritzinger

Taylor Sharrar

Amelia Skinner

Josie Slobodow

Bailey Stowall

Mia Strup

Nicole White


Debate Team wins first-place sweepstakes at southern Utah tournament

IMG_5750 (1)The Park City High School debate team brought home the first-place sweepstakes trophy from the  Dixie High School Flyer Frights Tournament held this past weekend in St. George.

Ten schools with 300 students competed in the 4A division.

Here are the first and second place winners in Varsity and Novice:

-Novice Extemporaneous Speaking: Paige Hassel, 1st

-Novice Impromptu:Jack Poynton and Annie Sheinberg, tied for 1st; Lance Rothchild, tied for 2nd

-Novice Public Forum Debate: Max O’Reilly and Jack Engel, 1st

-Novice Congress:Jack Poynton, 1st;  Lance Rothchild, 3rd

-Varsity Dramatic Interpretation: Alicia Whitty, 1st

-Varsity Humorous Interpretation: Krissy Brian, 1st

-Varsity Duo Interpretation: Aiden Beukema and Krissy Brian, 2nd

-Varsity SPAR:  Ryan Gilbert, tied for 2nd; Nina Williams, Jack Engel, Teddy Johnson, and Max O’Reilly all earned points for the team

-Varsity Extemporaneous Speaking: Matt Gustafson, tied for 2nd;  Zach Primo and Aiden O’Brien both earned points for the team

-Varsity Impromptu: Aiden Beukema, Reede Nasser and Will Efrusy, triple tie for 1st

-Varsity Oratory: Adam Hickey, 1st

-Varsity Congress: Adam Hickey, 2nd; Matt Gustafson, top 5

-Varsity Lincoln-Douglas Debate: Zach Primo, 2nd; Brendan Sweeney and Aiden O’Brien earned points for the team

-Varsity Public Forum Debate: Boyana Martinova and Nina Williams, tied for 1st’ Gavin Serr/Will Efrusy were also undefeated and earned 10 points for the team.


‘PCSD Chat’ is district’s new text message system for parents


Park City School District launched a new communications tool today, Oct. 25, in an effort to help parents stay better informed.  “PCSD Chat” is a two-way text message system that allows parents/guardians to receive texts from the school district.

“The best part of the system is that it also allows parents to text us,” said Melinda Colton, director of Communications. “This allows us to be more responsive and provide immediate answers.”

Once parents receive the text tomorrow, they can simply add the V-card into their contact list by clicking the link.

Park City is the first school district in the country to use this system which was developed by AtlasRTX, a company based in Park City.

“As a Park City parent, I couldn’t be more honored for our company to partner with our own school district,” said Bassam Salem, CEO of AtlasRTX. “This will showcase the future of community engagement: from the convenience of a mobile phone or online, in real-time with district staff backed by an artificial intelligence ‘chatbot,’ and in any language, so it is inclusive of every member of our community; that is the vision for PCSD Chat.”

The district is just about ready to pilot this text message program this year at the school level at Trailside Elementary and is calling it “Trailside Chat.”  If successful, Colton said the system will be available at all PCSD schools at a later date.

“Not only can we text parents about important events, but we can also keep them informed about what the Board is doing and alert them in case of an emergency,” Colton said. “The benefits of having such immediate communication with our parents are endless.”

Community members and employees are welcome to join the texting service by simply texting your first and last name to 435-602-4444 or registering via the PCSD website.

PCSD will continue to use SchoolMessenger to email parents general district announcements.

More strategic planning meetings held for employees, community

Strategic-PlanningThe Board is meeting with Park City School District employees this week in an effort to get their feedback on the district’s Strategic Planning.  Board members met Monday with staff from Park City High and Treasure Mountain Junior High.

Additional meetings include:

-Wednesday, Oct. 25: Meet with administrations at 9 a.m. at the District Office.

-Friday, Oct. 27: Meet with Ecker Hill Middle and all elementary staff at 3:30 p.m. at Parley’s Park Elementary.

-Wednesday, Nov. 1: Meet with community members at 6 p.m. at the District Office.

The Board has spent the last few weeks reviewing all the feedback it received at its Oct. 2 community meeting. From that meeting, the Board has narrowed the district’s values to five: academic engagement, communications, community involvement, excellent personnel, and leadership accountability.

“These values reflect the overarching PCSD goals of a student-centered culture promoting a safe, healthy, challenged, supported and engaged child,” said Board member Anne Peters. “Everything we as a board, administration, and district do must uphold these values as communicated to us by the community.”

Peters said the Board is reaching out to the Latino community via Eric Esquivel and his Latino Outreach team.

Those not able to attend the follow-up meetings are invited to share input by emailing

The values, in more details, include:

We value:

Academic Engagement

-Engaging all students, no matter where they are in their academic journey.

-Creating a culture of inclusiveness and respect for the rich diversity of our community.

-Meeting the children where they are and accommodating for their types and speeds of learning.

-Equity for all learners.

We value:


-Trust and transparency.

-Frequent and easy to understand.

-Two ways.

-Listening to feedback/suggestions and communicate back how it is to be used.

-Explain why we are doing things, what is the outcome and how does it affect me and my child?

-Consistency in how information is communicated.

-Inclusion of non-English speakers.

-Inclusion of the entire community.

We value:

Community Involvement

-Inclusion of the whole community in all ways to better understand the direction and needs of the district.

-Collaborating with our partners to uphold our mission of supporting the whole child.

-Outreach to local support first, including the community and local talent base.

-Creating opportunities for the community to engage with the schools and staff.

We value

Excellent Personnel

-Consistently hiring the best and the brightest for all positions.

-Recruiting outside the district.

-Always hiring personnel in a transparent, fair, equitable and consistent manner.

-Building trust and respect for all employees.

-An inclusive, talented, collaborative and diverse talent pool.

-Training and support to set every position up for success.

We value:

Leadership Accountability

-Holding everyone no matter their position or status accountable for their actions.

-Tangible goals that are established then monitored and measured starting with the Board, Superintendent, Administration and all-staff.

-Clear processes and procedures that are transparent, free of favoritism, by the book and available for all to review, participate in and measure.

-Leadership’s commitment to honor their word and deliver the expected level of service on time.

-Consequences for those not upholding their goals.











Nov. 1 Lunch & Learn to feature ‘Mindfulness’ techniques

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If you need to reduce your stress or make healthier food choices, then you won’t want to miss Park City School District’s next Lunch and Learn planned for Wednesday, Nov. 1, from noon to 1 p.m. at the District Office. Featured guests will be Randi Jo Taurel and Rebecca Brenner who will teach mindfulness techniques. In anticipation of the upcoming holidays, Taurel and Brenner will also teach mindful eating exercises.

Mindful learning includes simple ways to reduce stress and improve impulse control, attention span, emotion regulations, and empathy. Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.

Thanks to a grant from the Park City Education Foundation, the two experts are working with 12 teachers and three counselors at Ecker Hill Middle about the benefits and uses of mindfulness. The mindfulness exercises are then taught to their students and used in their classrooms.

Taurel has been teaching yoga and mindfulness to adults, children, and families since 1999. She is certified to teach yoga through Yoga Works, City Yoga (Anusara) and Yoginos; Yoga for Youth.  She was voted one of the top yoga teachers in Park City for the past four years (The Park Record), 2013 Woman of the Year (PC Women’s Business Network) and a member of Park City Leadership (class 21).

Brenner is a mindfulness meditation teacher, speaker, and practitioner. Her studies have led her through a BFA and MA in movement and expression, trainings in somatic therapy, certifications in yoga through the Himalayan Institute and the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers, short stints at Yoga Ashrams and weekly sits with mindfulness teacher Lama Richard Glade. Brenner is the author of “The Kid’s User Guide to a Human Life.”



Navigating reading success is topic of Oct. 25 Barbara Wilson presentation

barbara-w-board-picBarbara A. Wilson, co-founder and president of Wilson Language Training in Oxford, Mass., will be speaking Oct. 25 at 6 p.m. at Park City High School’s Lecture Hall.

Her remarks, “Navigating Reading Success,” will describe key cognitive skills and environmental factors related to reading success. She will share the importance of early screening and explain the difference between screening and a more comprehensive evaluation for students with dyslexia. This event is being held in conjunction with National Dyslexia Awareness month.

Wilson will also provide an overview of structured literacy for all students with a focus on key instructional needs for students with dyslexia. Lastly, she will share how her 30  plus years of experience has shown her that ALL students CAN learn to read and write — and it is never too late.

This is a free presentation for parents, educators, community members, and anyone who has a struggling reader, and is hosted by PC READS and the Hall Family Fund.

Wilson is also the author of Wilson Fundations. Park City School District implemented the Fundations program this year. It is a recognized leader in multisensory, structured language programs. The program was piloted at McPolin Elementary last year and is being implemented in K-3 classrooms this year. Jeremy Ranch, Parley’s Park, and Trailside Elementary Schools are implementing the program this year in K-2 classrooms.  Fundations’ assessment, communication and funding are supported through the Park City Education Foundation courtesy of the Hall Family Fund.

While in Park City, Wilson will meet with the district’s Implementation Task Force comprised of teachers and interventionists from each elementary school. She will also visit McPolin and Trailside Elementary Schools to view implementation of the Fundations program.