PCHS Debate Coach Named Speech Educator of the Year

timthumbSharon Ellsworth-Nielson, an English and debate teacher at Park City High School, has received the  2017 Distinguished Service Award as Speech Educator of the Year from the Utah High School Activities Association.

Ellsworth-Nielson began teaching at PCHS in August 2011, where she also serves as coach of the Debate Team. Last year the PCHS Debate Team won the 3A State championship.

Prior to that she was an English teacher at Grantsville Middle and High Schools in Tooele, Utah, for 19 years.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in secondary education from the University of Utah where she graduated Summa Cum Laude.


Elementary artwork to be featured at Saluting Our Heroes Luncheon in Salt Lake City


Student artwork from three Park City elementary schools will be featured this month at the Saluting Our Heroes Luncheon at the Grand America on Nov. 15.  The National Ability Center (NAC) and Kimball Art Center (KAC) partner each year for the event.

The Park City Education Foundation and KAC provide grants to three schools for visual arts education: Trailside, McPolin, and Parley’s Park Elementary Schools.  Each school has one art educator, and receives the same lesson plan. Even though instructions are similar, interpretations vary, which make it so dynamic.

The Elementary Visual Arts (EVA) lesson for October featured the art of Romero Britto. Each elementary school student created a Romero Britto inspired drawing for the luncheon.

The luncheon honors military men and women, while building awareness of the needs of returning service members. The event highlights opportunities and resources available in Utah to assist veterans as they transition back to civilian life. This year’s keynote speaker is Martin Frey,  the first person to successfully climb the world’s Seven Summits and sail the Seven Seas.

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.


PCHS athletic & activities director earns elite national certification

jamie_sheetzJamie Sheetz, Park City High School’s athletics and activities director, has been recognized by the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) as a Certified Master Athletic Administrator.

To earn this distinction, Sheetz demonstrated exemplary knowledge, contributions and on-going professional development in the field of interscholastic athletic administration. The voluntary certification process included a thorough evaluation of the candidate’s educational background, experience, NIAAA Leadership Courses and professional contributions. It is culminated with a practical written project.

“With fewer than 800 interscholastic athletic directors ever earning the CMAA certification designation from the NIAAA, it is certainly an honor and privilege to have achieved that mark,” Sheetz said.

The NIAAA is a national professional organization consisting of all 50 state athletic administrator associations and more than 10,000 individual members. It is dedicated to promoting the professional growth of high school athletic administrators and preserving the educational nature of interscholastic athletics and the place of these programs in the secondary school curriculum.

“The NIAAA offers over 45 professional development courses that promote best practices and continuing education for interscholastic athletic administrators,” Sheetz said. “Membership in, and certification through, the NIAAA demonstrates an interscholastic athletic administrators commitment to offering quality education-based athletic programs in the schools and communities in which they serve.”

Jeremy Ranch Elementary celebrates national award during school assembly



During a schoolwide assembly today, Superintendent Ember Conley, Board Vice President JJ Ehlers and members of PCSD’s Cabinet announced Jeremy Ranch Elementary has received the 2017 National Blue Ribbon School Award.  This is the first school in Park City School District to receive this national award.

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Jeremy Ranch Elementary Recognized as a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School

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Jeremy Ranch Elementary has been recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School for 2017, the first school in Park City School District to receive the award.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced the recognition this morning, Sept. 28, via a live-stream on the U.S. Department of Education’s website. The award signifies exemplary teaching and learning and affirms the hard work of students, educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging content.

Principal Shawn Kuennen, who has been principal at Jeremy Ranch Elementary since 2008, is proud to lead the high-performing school. “This is a tremendous honor for Jeremy Ranch Elementary to be recognized as a Blue Ribbon School. The credit for this distinction is wide-ranging, but can be summarized by high levels of collaboration,” said Kuennen. “Our teachers, of course, are masters of collaboration, as they strive to meet the needs of all students. But more than that, we have collaboration throughout the school and the neighborhood. Our PTO, our office staff, our kitchen staff, counselors, custodians, bus drivers, and district office staff all work together for the benefit of our students. And our students work hard every day.”

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, recognizes two outstanding public and non-public schools in each state. The program celebrates school excellence, turn around stories, and closing subgroup achievement gaps. The Chief State School Officer in each state nominates public schools.

Kuennen credits the faculty and staff for the honor because it has long functioned as a team that “lifts and supports each other while also providing unique and high-quality educational opportunities which benefit our students on a daily basis.”

The teaming structure is not new to the faculty. Three years ago the school formalized its teaming process by adopting and implementing the Professional Learning Community (PLC) model. “We continue to incorporate and refine our PLC practices into daily school operations.  As such, we identify ways to share the many responsibilities our teachers juggle, while also creating individualized learning opportunities that meet all students at their place of academic need,” Kuennen said. “The faculty strives to provide experiences with the whole child in mind.”

The school’s character education highlights the core traits of Honesty, Caring, Respect, and Responsibility, and endeavor to recognize students for what they do well. Students are also provided with opportunities in Music, Physical Education, Computational Thinking/Coding, Healthy Lifestyles, and Library Media on a schedule that rotates each day.

Jeremy Ranch Elementary is a French dual-immersion school, where students spend 50 percent of the day in a French-speaking classroom. Those not in immersion, are educated in a more traditional classroom model with the added component of STEM instruction twice weekly.

Another hallmark of the school is its Masterpieces In Art (MIA) program, which is a hands-on, self-sustaining, parent-run, monthly experience in art for all students. The PTO has also been the conduit to provide students with opportunities to participate in a massive Science Fair, made all the more authentic with the use of community scientists volunteering their time to judge student projects.

Kuennen shares the honor with the school’s engaged Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) has developed and nurtured a culture of support for our teachers and students in numerous ways over the years.

The school’s PTO runs the largest Scholastic book fair in the state of Utah, twice each year, and funnels the proceeds into each classroom. The PTO also provides grants to teachers who need funding for their innovative ideas.

The school will be honored at an awards ceremony Nov. 6-7 in Washington, D.C.