Faculty Hike in Payson Canyon

On Monday, September 24, 2012, several members of the Payson Junior High faculty went on a hike in Payson Canyon. All teachers and staff were invited to go view the natural beauty of the fall colors, and get to know their colleagues a little better!

 When asked why he organized this event, Vice Principal, Jesse Sorensen explained, "Payson Canyon offers great views and excellent opportunities for fitness. As a faculty we decided we would take advantage of both and check out the autumn leaves.  It was also a great opportunity to get to know each other outside of the building and the regular work day."

Jim Howell, a teacher who attended the hike added, "The hike was great. Jesse's knowledge of Payson Canyon is amazing as he described happenings like a "Indigenous Historian". The leaves were brilliantly beautiful. The fresh air and hike were exhilarating and the company was pleasant."

We are very proud of those who took advantage of this opportunity and look forward to more chances to be fit and friendly!

Payson Junior High Holds Third Annual Poetry Slam Competition

Curtis Burton Pictures by Savanna Gillies
Josie Horrocks and Hunter Penrod finished second in this year's Poetry Slam.
Mako Watkins finished third in this year's Poetry Slam.

On Thursday, May 3, seventh, eighth, and ninth-grade students participated in Payson Junior High’s Third Annual Poetry Slam. The event has become an eagerly anticipated event which allows students at Payson Junior High (PJHS) to showcase their poetic prowess and talents. This year 83 students participated in the Slam.  Many contestants wrote and recited original poems for the contest while others chose to participate by reciting poems written by their favorite poets. The performance of the poems was excellent, and the entertainment value for those in attendance was high.

The Poetry Slam was organized by the Payson Junior High English Department with Leanne Hoffman and Susan Frandsen (both English teachers at PJHS) taking care of most of the preparation for the event. The Poetry Slam was judged by Wanda Jones, the school’s media specialist, Kay Smith, a UVU professor who has worked closely with the English department, and Ann Laemmlen Lewis, a local author and editor. Ten finalists were selected and awarded with Poetry Slam T-shirts, a current popular novel, and reading pillow. First, second, and third place finishers also received awards for their performances; the first place finisher received a Nook electronic reader, with second and third place receiving ipod shuffles. The finalists were certainly excited about their awards.

The following students were the Poetry Slam winners: Ammon Warnick (1st place) who presented and original poem titled, “People”; Jorie Horrocks and Hunter Penrod (2nd place) who presented and original poem titled, “Change”; Mako Watkins (3rd place) who presented and original poem titled, “I Hate Poetry”. The remainder of the top ten consisted of Brian Hedilious (4th), Jenna Wright (5th), Talyr Mortensen (6th), Michael Wood (7th), Korbin Quinn (8th), Natalie Schulse (9th), and Jacob Broadhead (10th).  

Said Wanda Jones, one of the judges of the event, “I was very impressed with the quality of the performances, the number of poems written by the students themselves and how organized the whole event was.  Sometimes I would get so caught up in the performance and almost forget to rate it.  I only regret that we weren't able to recognize more of the students for their excellent work.”


PJHS Students Honored at the 2012 Great Kid Awards

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Pictured: Brett Nielsen, winner of the Great Kid Award.
Pictured: Kaitlin Oberg, winner of the Great Kid Award.

Payson Junior High seventh graders Brett Nielsen and Kaitlin Oberg were honored at the 18th Annual 2012 Great Kid Awards on April 25 at the Tahitian Noni building in Provo, Utah. The event was presented by the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce and honored student achievements from around the valley. In addition to receiving their Great Kid Awards, honorees were treated to an inspirational message from Clint Pulver.

Brett was recognized and awarded for being an exceptional student. Some of the things he was nominated for include his willingness to help in class whenever needed, submitting excellent work, and for being a student that uplifts his classmates and helps them achieve their best. Another thing that qualified Brett for the award was his love of and drive for success, whether in school or sports (basketball).

Kaitlin Oberg was nominated for the award because of her willingness to help her teachers (her English teacher in particular). Other qualities that warranted her nomination include being a friend to those who need a friend, helping others be successful in class, and her overall compassion for others. Kaitlin’s English teacher used one word to describe her, “fabulous!”

Congratulations to Brett and Kaitlin!

Dakota Lange Performs Well in Foot Locker West Regional Race

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Pictured: Dakota Lange displays his finishing medal after running in the Foot Locker West Regional 5K.

Dakota Lange, a ninth-grade student at Payson Junior High, finished 14 out of 75 elite freshman and sophomore cross country runners in the Foot Locker West Regional Cross Country Championship. The event was held at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, California on December 3 and featured elite runners from all over the western United States. Dakota completed the 5 kilometer course with a time of 17:25, averaging 5-minute and 36-second miles.

Commenting about the day, Dakota said, “I did a lot better than I thought I would especially since this course has some major hills. I ran this course last year and started off way too fast, so this year I kind of hung back and moved up on the hills; I think this strategy worked very well. I was really pleased with the way the race went.”

Dakota also commented on how well fellow runners from Utah performed in the race. “My favorite part of the day was seeing all the Utah runners doing so well. It was awesome!” said Dakota.




Pictured: Dakota Lange displays his finishing medal after running in the Foot Locker West Regional 5K.


Roah Kelly Wins Power Lifting Competition

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Pictured: Roah Kelly, the winner of the Mt. Nebo Power Lifting Invitational.

On December 6, Roah Kelly, a ninth-grade student from Payson Junior High, won the local junior high power lifting competition. The event was held at Mt. Nebo Junior High, and students from Diamond Fork Junior High, Mt. Nebo Junior High, Payson Junior High, and Spanish Fork Junior High participated in the competition. Students competed by completing requirements in bench press, military press, pull-ups, push-ups, and the shuttle run. Preston Little, also a student from Payson Junior High, placed second in the competition.

Said Kelly about the competition, “The weights I lifted were what I normally do when I lift, so I was ready for the competition.”


Payson Junior High Students Pledge to be Buddies, not Bullies

Curtis Burton
Pictured: Mr. Curtis Burton’s third period class’s anti-bully themed door.

Payson Junior High students, under the direction of the school’s counselors, committed and entire week in November to focusing on being buddies and not bullies in their school. The counselors, with help from the school’s Peer Leaders, visited the school’s classes to kickoff the anti-bully week, delivering a powerful anti-bullying message to classmates. Homeroom classes participated in a door decorating contest, with classes focusing on anti-bullying themed doors; the competition was won by Lynette Ethridge’s third-period Biology class. The school’s counselors sponsored a Mix-it-up Lunch, which rewarded students with various prizes for getting to know classmates they didn’t know so well. And the week culminated with an assembly which featured Miss Utah, Danika Olsen, who provided an uplifting message for students about peer acceptance and other issues relevant to the lives of teens. 

Karanda Heimuli, a ninth-grade student at Payson Junior High, said of the week, “It’s good to point out how damaging bullying can be so we can focus on stopping it.” 

Savanah Gillies, also a ninth-grade student stated, “Bullying is an abomination that needs to stop!”

The students at Payson Junior high, collectively, seem to share these students sentiments as many committed to be bully-free into the future.



Payson Junior High School Performs The Hobbit

Curtis Burton
Pictured: Kathleen Morgan, a ninth-grade student and the assistant director of Payson Junior School’s production of The Hobbit.
Pictured: Payson Junior eighth-grade student, Maris Mortenson (Bilbo Baggins) and ninth-grade student, Brian Hoschouer (Smaug the Dragon) perform a scene from the school’s production of The Hobbit.

On November 18 AND 21, Payson Junior High students entertained audiences with three shows of The Hobbit. Students, under the direction of Melanie McKinlay, brought the J. R. R. Tolkein classic to life through theatrical performance and song. Students from each of the school’s grades (seventh, eighth, and ninth) were represented in the performance. Notable performances were provided by Marris Mortenson (Bilbo Baggins), Dallin Johnson (Gandalf), and Brian Hoschouer (Smaug the Dragon).

Melanie McKinlay, who works at Payson Junior High as the school’s drama teacher, had nothing but praise for all the students involved. She especially acknowledged Kathleen Morgan, the assistant director, who put so much time and effort into the rehearsals and production of the show. Regarding Morgan’s work as the assistant director McKinlay stated, “She was a tremendous help; I couldn’t have done it without her.” McKinlay also wished to thank all the members of the school’s faculty and community for their patience and help in making the production a success.   


Payson Junior High’s Annual Fun Run

Curtis Burton
Pictured: Sam Boardman races to the finish line of Payson Junior High’s annual Fun Run followed by Isac Ramirez and others.

On October 14, Payson Junior High Held its annual Fun Run as part of the school’s Red Ribbon Week. The Fun Run, which has been organized annually by Jennifer Braithwaite, helps promote fitness and living a healthy lifestyle.  True to tradition, this year’s run had a huge number of student and faculty participants. 273 students and faculty participated in the run. Both runners and spectators of the two-mile event, which began and ended at the Payson High School track, cheered raucously for the finishers from spots lining the course and the track stands.

This year’s overall winner again was Dakota Lange a ninth grader at PJHS who finished with a lightning-fast 10:13. Top finishers for the girls in each grade were Allison Pray (seventh grade), Lakyn Adams (eighth grade), and Jamie Siggard (ninth grade).  The boys top finishers were Kellis Johnson (seventh grade), Matt Makin (eighth grade), and Dakota Lange (ninth grade and overall winner), The top faculty finisher was Mr. Hoops (a seventh-grade English teacher). The top ten finishers, for both boys and girls, in each the seventh, eighth, and ninth grades won Fun Run T-shirts.

“This is one of the best activities we do all year,” said Jesse Sorenson, an administrative assistant at Payson Junior High. Sorenson went on to say, “There aren’t many other activities that get as many of our students involved like the Fun Run does.”

Jennifer Braithwaite added, “The students ran a great race. The weather was great, the conditions were great, and the race went smoothly. We’d like to see even more students out next year.”


Payson Junior High Holds Annual Talent Show

Curtis Burton
Pictured: Kate McClellan performing during Payson Junior High’s talent show on October 11.

Payson Junior High recently held its annual talent show, and the participating students showed how truly talented they are. Judging by the thunderous applause and cheers that came from the students, faculty, and parents in the audience, the performers gave the audience a great show. Seventh-, eighth-, and ninth-grade students all performed well. The talents performed included singing, dancing, piano playing, guitar strumming, cheering, and tumbling. 

Student performances began with the school’s Perfect Harmony group singing. They were followed by Marely Lee who performed a traditional Mexican dance. Allison Elder followed her with a piano performance. Next, Danielle Gubler sang accompanied by Megan Ringger on the piano, The program then featured a cheer team consisting of junior high students. Kate McClellan followed them with a guitar/singing performance. Cierra Davis, Angela Hickman, Kamrie White, Nikki Bray, and Dakota Davis next performed a dance routine. They were followed by Marley Alexander performing a piano solo. Dakota Lange, Matthew Hales, Dallin Rowley, and Ryan Lindquist performed next and entertained the crowd with a glow stick dance routine. They were followed by Emily Garret who performed a vocal number. The school’s Latinos in Action group next performed a dance. Nate Rowley followed their performance with a piano solo. Next, Bryttney Rosser performed a vocal number. The final number of the program was a performance by the school’s guitar club.     

Adam Gardner, a ninth-grade student at PJHS, commented on the show saying, “PJHS has some crazy talent.”

Alex Ford, also a ninth-grade student and member of the student council that helped organize the show, said, “The show went really smoothly, and all the performers did a really good job.”

“It was flippin’ awesome! The crowd was going crazy!” stated Dakota Lange, a student who performed, with his group, a crowd-pleasing glow stick routine.

Most students seemed to agree with Dakota’s sentiments as the school was buzzing about the shows performances for the remainder of the day. Mr. Tyler Higa, Payson Junior High School’s student council advisor along with the school’s student council, certainly put together an entertaining show that featured the best of Payson Junior High’s talent.  


Payson Junior High School Students Climb to the Summit of Mt. Loafer

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PJHS students and staff on the summit of Loafer.JPG

In the early morning hours of September 15, 21 students, two teachers, one administrator, and one alumnus from Payson Junior High departed from the Loafer Mountain trailhead in Payson Canyon with their sights set on the summit of the mountain. Eric Archer (a P.E. Teacher at Payson Junior High) has led a group of students to the top of Loafer Mountain each fall since 2006, and the annual hike has become a highlight to many adventurous students at Payson Junior High School from year to year.

To ensure that the hikers are hearty enough for the challenge, Eric requires all interested students to complete a physical and written safety test to be eligible. They must attend a hike procedure/back-country safety class and pass its corresponding written test prior to making the hike. Students must also pass a physical test that is administered at 5:30 AM, and students are required to go three miles in 39 minutes, or less, and then complete 30 bleachers at the Payson High School Football Field, all with their packs on.

The students made the 12-mile (six miles up and six miles down) hike in seven hours. They placed a Payson Junior High Planner at the top of the mountain for future hikers to sign when they make it to the summit in years to come. Regarding this year’s group of hikers, Eric said, "This was the most energetic group at 5:30 in the morning that I've seen." Eric also pointed out that first-time hikers Megan Hazlet, Tylee Lieter, Heather Skousen, and Ivan Webber all out-hiked their upperclassmen and set a great pace to the summit.