scott-mcleodby Scott McLeod
VP of Collective Impact Partnerships 

The first six weeks of high school—that’s what matters most, that’s when incoming freshman either make it or break it. Such was the message of Canyons School District Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe during the graduation ceremony of the Hillcrest High Summer Boot Camp.

Canyons has taken a whatever it takes mentality in getting students graduated. This is unique. The question we all too often ask is, “what can I do to help kids?” On its surface, it sounds like a great question — helping kids, right? The much more profound question, and the one asked by Principal Greg Leavitt at Hillcrest High and principal Wendy Dau at Midvale Middle is, “what will it take for every kid to succeed?” Truly, what will it take?

Well, for starters, kids that are entering high school far behind need to catch up, and they need to do it before high school starts. Which means they need to come to summer school. But, what teenager would sign up for that? What would it take?

The answer, cash!

Well, as you know from our previous blog, though a partnership with United Way of Salt Lake, students were given $5 a day to come to summer school — but that was the tip of the ice berg. Now that Summer Boot Camp is over, we can see Canyons staff went above and beyond.


Canyons hosted a full-on graduation ceremony for these students! Principal Leavitt wore his cap and gown, there were student speakers (four of them!), they got to walk and shake hands, and they got even more cash rewards at the end — especially if they had perfect attendance. And, last but not least, all of the work they completed over the summer, all of those papers and math assignments, all of it counts as course work in their first few months at Hillcrest High! 


That is what it means to ask yourself, what will it take? That is what it means to make it in those first six weeks of high school. 

Way to go 9th grade students at Hillcrest! And, way to go Canyons District leadership, principals, and teachers!

Thanks for doing whatever it takes!