Payson Junior High's Annual Fun Run

Curtis Burton
Pictured: Faculty and students running in the annual Fun Run.

Students at Payson Junior High had a great time participating in the school’s annual Fun Run on October 19.  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. This year 287 students and faculty participated which is up significantly from last year’s number of 184 students and faculty members who participated. The two-mile course annually begins and ends at the Payson High School track which makes it fun for the spectators and runners to cheer the racers as they begin and finish the race.

This year’s overall winner was Dakota Lange an eighth grader at PJHS. Top finishers for the girls in each grade were Maris Mortenson (seventh grade), Sydney Thomas (eighth grade), and Calli Jensen (ninth grade).  The boys top finishers were Dylan Armstrong (seventh grade), Dakota Lange (eighth grade and overall winner), and Dylan Wyberg (ninth grade).  The top faculty finisher was Mr. Bird (the cross country coach). The top ten finishers in each the seventh, eighth, and ninth grades qualified to run in the Principal’s Challenge which was held on November 2.

 “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.”

PJHS Principal's Reading Marathon Challenge

Curtis Burton
Winners of the Principal's Reading Marathon Challenge

Last month students at Payson Junior High enthusiastically took up their principal’s challenge to read at least 26 minutes a day for 26 days as part of Payson Junior High’s Second Annual Principal’s Reading Marathon Challenge.  Mr. Swenson, the principal at Payson Junior High and an avid runner and finisher of several marathons, challenged the students at PJHS to read 26 minutes a day for 26 days prior to this year’s St. George Marathon which he and Mr. Burton, an English teacher at PJHS, ran.  The students that took up the challenge by reading for 26 minutes a day and documenting their reading were entered into the Principal’s Reading Marathon Challenge drawing, and they were also allowed the opportunity to guess the finishing time for Mr. Swenson’s and Mr. Burton’s marathon.  

Said Mr. Swenson regarding the challenge, “It is always exciting to see so many students work hard on an academic goal and a healthy lifestyle goal.  Reading is a very important lifelong skill, and it is also important to learn good healthy lifestyle habits as well.” He went on to add, “The Principal's Reading Challenge goes hand in hand with the English department's encouragement to read every day.   Students will do better in school and increase their academic success if they read each day.”

Hundreds of students participated in the challenge, and over twenty students won prizes through the Principal’s Reading Marathon Challenge drawing.  Several students commented that reading 26 minutes a day was not too challenging because they read that much and more everyday for their reading requirements at the school.  Many students are also participating in the school’s 40-book Club, which is a challenge to read 40 books by the end of the school year, so they were eager to add to their page totals by participating.  Mr. Swenson and Mr. Burton were very pleased with the amount of enthusiasm and participation that came from the students, so to keep the tradition going for a third year, Mr. Swenson and Mr. Burton are contemplating running another marathon next year.   

Fall Fling is Fantastic

Curtis Burton
Seventh-grade Choir.JPG

The Payson Junior High Music Department presented its annual fall concert on October 13, 2009. The concert this fall was titled “Fall Fling: The Rhythm of Life” and it featured the school’s Perfect Harmony Choir, seventh-grade, eighth-grade, and ninth-grade choirs, as well as a number of soloists and duets.

Mrs. Bolz, the choir director at Payson Junior High, was very pleased with all the performances and she gave special recognition to those who performed solos; in her words they were, “Excellent!” The soloists included Chase Healey who sang “I’ve Got to Find Out Who I Am”, Austin Perry who sang “Waiting for the Light to Shine”, and Jessica Bastean who sang “Learn to be Lonely”, with Avery Daley and Angela Hickman singing a duet: “Our Song”.

In a night full of highlights, one highlight that certainly stood out was the performance of the seventh-grade choir’s performance of “Dance Revolution”. The number was choreographed and was definitely a crowd favorite as the seventh-grade choir not only sang but showed their dancing skills as well.

The night concluded with all the choirs combined singing “The Rhythm of Life” and “The National Anthem”. The audience got a great show and will definitely be looking forward to the music department’s future performances in November and December.

Reading Marathon a Success at Payson Junior High

Curtis Burton
Reading Marathon Winners.jpg

Students at Payson Junior High gladly took up their principal’s challenge to read at least 26 minutes a day as part of the Principal’s Reading Marathon Challenge. Mr. Swenson, an avid runner and finisher of several marathons, challenged the student body at PJHS to read 26 minutes a day for two weeks (the week prior to and after his Top of Utah Marathon). Each student that read for 26 minutes a day could then enter the Principal’s Reading Marathon Challenge drawing and guess the finishing time for Mr. Swenson in the Top of Utah Marathon; students could enter each day they read and had their drawing entry forms signed by a teacher or parent. Hundreds of students participated.

In all, 20 students won as a result of the drawing. First place was Caromen Turner who guessed the finishing time closest to Mr. Swenson’s actual finishing time. Other winners were Josh Evans, Cody Baldwin, Josh Brown, Jaden Grill, Kelci Johnson, Ryan Rollins, Jaden Bates, Kennedy Sorenson, Briana, Johnson, Jordyn Earl, Hannah Ford, Andrew Putt, Karissa Kinder, Corey Allred, Lindsey Putt, Bryce Thompson, Haylie Greenhalgh, and Chloe Holman. Prizes were donated by MVP Sports and Farwest Bank.

PJHS Loafer Hike

Curtis Burton
Students and faculty celebrate at the summit of Loafer Mountain.


Payson Junior High School Students Summit Loafer


In the early morning hours of September 4, 35 students and a few teachers, including this teacher—Mr. Burton, from Payson Junior High woke up earlier than usual to be at the school for a bus loading. The bus we loaded was bound for the Loafer Mountain trailhead in Payson Canyon. All in attendance seemed very excited to be a part of the school’s annual Loafer Mountain summit push led by Mr. Archer (a P.E. Teacher at Payson Junior High). Mr. Archer has led a group of students to the top of Loafer Mountain each fall for the last five years and this year he would do it again.

Mr. Archer, the founder of the annual hike, shared how the hike came to be: “The first time I hiked the mountain an experienced hiker of the mountain (Brad Warren) was teaching at Payson Junior High. After he took me to the summit, I was hooked. Being down in the valley and always looking up at the mountains, I thought it would be a neat experience for kids to get the other perspective by having the opportunity to be up at the top and looking down at the valley.” And so was born the Payson Junior High Loafer Mountain Hike.

This annual event includes 30-35 hikers and has been a great success. Mr. Archer requires all interested students to complete a battery of tests to be eligible. They must attend a hike procedure/back-country safety class and pass a written test prior to making the hike.  Students must also pass a physical test. The physical test 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 5:30 in the morning deters a lot of the kids from participating, but if we don’t leave that early, there’s not enough time to reach the summit and get back for the bus,” said Archer. 

The hike is a twelve-mile hike, six miles to the summit and six miles back to the trailhead. Most students made the summit, and with the exception of a few bumps and bruises, the climb went smoothly. Some students completed the summit of the peak for the third time (once a year for each year they’ve been a student at Payson Junior High); they became members of the ‘elite’ three-timer club.  In addition to Mr. Archer, I was joined by Mrs. Frandsen (an English teacher at Payson Junior High); we were all impressed with the teamwork and determination demonstrated by the students as they helped one another to the summit and back. Lander Crook, a member of the ‘elite’ three-timer club, may have put it best when he said, “It is an awesome enlightening experience.” I couldn’t agree more.

Principal’s Reading Marathon

On Saturday September 19, Mr. Swenson will be running the Top Of Utah Marathon located in Logan, Utah.  This race is 26.2 miles long. He would like to challenge the students of PJHS to read 26 minutes a day.

Students who read at least 26 minutes a day will be entered into a drawing for prizes.  The more days that students read 26 minutes, the more entries students will have in the drawing.  Also, all students who qualify for the drawing the week of Sept. 14 to Sept. 18 can guess Mr. Swenson’s finishing time.  There will be prizes for the students who guess the closest time.  The time spread for all of his marathons has been between 3 hours 40 minutes and 4 hours and 20 minutes.  Mr. Swenson’s time last year in the St. George Marathon was 3:43:42 (hours:minutes:seconds).  His 2007 time was 3:47:42.  Notice that they time in seconds.  Only entries entered this week will be allowed to guess the finishing time.  If he can finish the race under 3:35:59, he will qualify to run in the Boston Marathon.

The Principal’s Reading Marathon will end on September 31.  The drawing will be during GAP on Friday October 2.  Students start reading 26 minutes per day and get your daily entry turned in.  The GAP teachers will have entry forms.  Entry blanks will also be available in the office.  Students can turn entry forms in to the GAP teacher or at the office.  Parents or teachers must sign the entry form that students have completed their daily reading.

Some of the prizes will be iPods, movie passes, sport equipment and other awards.

See Mr. Swenson in the hall on Friday to wish him luck.  He will be wearing some running clothes to get ready for the race. He will appreciate your support.

Start reading today.