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

Curtis Burton
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.

Payson Junior High 4-H Happenings

Curtis Burton

This year Payson Junior High is again offering 4-H clubs after school. There are 10 clubs offered with about 75 total students regularly attending one of the 10 clubs. Most of the clubs are supervised by Payson Junior High School’s teachers; however, some are supervised by members of the community. The current schedule of clubs will run from September to the first of January. 4-H clubs offered at the school on Mondays include Guitar Club with Mr. Plaisted, Chess Club with Mr. Ward, and Edible Art with Ms. Ogden. On Tuesdays, Biking Club with Mr. Archer and Read’em and Weep Book Club with Mrs. Jones are offered. Wednesday’s clubs feature Latin dancing with Mrs. Redmond and Zumba Fitness with Ms. Adams. Students can attend Club Bling on Thursdays with Mrs. Grotegut. Space Camp with Mrs. Tanner and Hooked on Crocheting with Mrs. Gutierrez round out the week’s 4-H schedule on Fridays.  

Mrs. Ethridge, the supervisor and coordinator of the 4-H program at the school, is excited about the student and community involvement. “We have three club leaders who do not work at the school doing clubs for us,” said Ethridge. She also stated, “We still have room for more students and we are always looking for people in the community to come and help with the clubs.” Mrs. Ethridge would also like students, parents, and community members to know that information about the 4-H program and clubs can be found at the Google site that is linked to Payson Junior High’s website.


Payson Junior High School’s Latinos in Action Club Making a Difference

Curtis Burton
Payson Junior High's Latinos in Action club members


Payson Junior High’s Latinos in Action club has had a very positive impact on the local community this year.  The club organized with the purpose of getting students involved in the community through service oriented activities.  Members of the club volunteer their service in a number of ways.  This year, the club has done a lot of volunteer work at Park View Elementary.  Members of the club volunteer at the school each day helping students with guided reading and at times math practice. 

Members of the club also took part in the annual Latinos in Action Conference which takes place at Utah Valley University.  The purpose of the conference is to highlight student accomplishments and provide information that will help students make the transition into post high school education.  Members of Payson Junior High’s and Payson High’s Latinos in Action clubs played significant roles in the conference by delivering rousing speeches for making a difference in our communities.  Such a speech was delivered by Payson High, and former Payson Junior High student, Ramiro Salazar at this year’s conference.

Mr. Sorenson, an administrative assistant at Payson Junior high and mentor to the club, has seen firsthand the good things the club has accomplished.  “Latinos in Action has given our students a stage to share their talents.  LIA students have been able to use their bilingualism to help younger students gain valuable reading skills.  We love LIA at our school and we are very proud of all they have been able to do this year here at our school and for the students at Park View.”

Andres Salazar had this to say about the club, ”Latinos in Action is a great opportunity and it shows dedication to the school’s Latinos.”

There are 18 members in this year’s Latinos in Action Club: Cesar Valencia, Francisco Valencia, Roberto Cortez, Andres Salazar, Diana Quintano, Charlie Ortega, Griselda Martinez, Jonathan Vargas, Ana Lopez, Manuel Espinoza, Yazmin Rosales, Eluney Peve, Wendy Munoz, Michelle Zamora, Kelly Martinez, Dayan Solis, and Erik Garcia.         

Science Olympiad

Curtis Burton

Payson Junior High School Students Shine in Science Olympiad

Payson Junior High School Students made an excellent showing at the Utah Science Olympiad held on March 26 at Weber State University in Ogden.  The Science Olympiad gives students the opportunity to display their understanding of different scientific concepts through experiments and presentations.  The Payson Junior High team, which was coached by Mr. Golden Adams and was known as the B-21 team, took eighth place overall at the state competition, and many students on the team had notable performances.

Josh Evans and Dallin Johnson placed eighth for their Anatomy entry.  Jessica Staehli and Seth Stringham also took eighth for their “Can’t Judge a Powder” entry.  Erin Fuhriman and Dallin Johnson took sixth place for their “Dynamic Planet” entry.  Tasha Griffin and Jessica Staheli took fifth for their Ecology entry.  Tasha Griffin and Karanda Heimuli also took second and won a Weber State University scholarship for their Experimental Design entry.  Tasha Griffin also earned individual accolades for her “Microbe Mission” entry which earned a third place finish and another Weber State University scholarship.  Josh Evens and Jessica Staheli also took sixth place for their Fossils entry.  Josh Evans and Karanda Heimuli teamed up to take sixth place in the Junky Challenge category.  Zach Ethridge and Tasha Griffin teamed up to earn a sixth place finish for their “Mystery Architecture” entry.  Karanda Heimuli and Dallin Johnson placed fifth for their “Road Scholar” entry.  Dominic Hancock earned a seventh place finish in his category for his “Shock Value” entry.  Kassidy Evans took eighth for her Helicopter entry.  And Morgan Keller placed second with a Weber State University scholarship for his Astronomy entry.

Mr. Adams, the coach of this year’s Science Olympiad team, stated, “I’m really proud of these kids.  Eighth place is the best finish at state we’ve had, and next year we’re looking at improving on that.”

Grizzly Den A Success

Curtis Burton and John Plaisted

This year at Payson Junior High a new program called Grizzly Den has been implemented that has produced some amazing academic results.  Grizzly Den is a program that allows students to meet with their teachers, regularly, for additional subject help.  Under this program, students receive mini report cards four days out of the week (excluding Wednesday because it is an early out day). Those with passing grades may choose to attend a supervised activity or enrichment class, while students with deficient grades must go back to the class they earned a deficient grade in to work on improving the grade during the 23-minute period.

Over the course of this school year, Grizzly Den has helped the students at Payson Junior High improve markedly academically.  In the first full term of implementing Grizzly Den, the number of failing grades was reduced by 50%.  The number of A grades has steadily increased from where they were last year.  Deficient grades have steadily dropped throughout the year and based on statistics it appears that the entire distribution of grades has shifted towards higher grades.  The staff at Payson Junior High is encouraged by these excellent results and continues to look for ways to help students improve their academic standing through this new program created to help students succeed.

Payson Junior High’s Badminton Bonanza Still Burning Bright

Curtis Burton

Most students wouldn’t get up at 5:30 A.M. and drag themselves to school on a day that school is not even held, but such was the case with the students who participated in Payson Junior High School’s annual badminton tournament.  Over 60 students participated in this year’s tournament which was held on January 14; both the school’s gyms were filled to capacity with students vying for this year’s tournaments championship doubles team.   

You may be wondering why there is so much interest in badminton at Payson Junior High.  Well, the reason for the students’ high level of interest is largely attributable to Mr. Archer, the P.E, teacher at Payson Junior High.  Over the last ten years, Mr. Archer has generated a lot of interest for the sport by teaching it well, making it fun, and putting on regional tournaments.  He’s even had students from neighboring schools and communities and their parents participate in his tournaments.  Students at Payson Junior High know it is a big deal to win, or at least do well in, the annual tournament; seemingly everyone turns out: students, parents, and teachers.  It’s not uncommon to hear about the jockeying for preferred doubles partners that goes on in the weeks and days before the competition.  Mr. Archer has generated that kind of excitement for the sport.

“Badminton is the fastest growing racket sport in the world and was added as an Olympic event in 1992, and the kids love it,” said Archer.  Archer also stated, ”Badminton is a great sport.  It’s a fun game for beginners and top flight athletes as well.  As a P.E. teacher, I have always enjoyed physical challenges in team or individual sports and badminton delivers!” The large number of students that competed in this year’s tournament agree with Mr. Archer as demonstrated by their participation.

There were many tournament winners and great players this year.  There were two divisions with winners from each.  Division ‘A’ winners included Wyatt Vorhees and Jace Carter (first place), Kyle Moffat and Max Roberson (second place), Chance Brost and Cooper Ashton (third place), and Brody Adams and Preston Lange (fourth place).  Division ‘B’ winners consisted of Tyler Anderson and his brother (first place), a freshman team from Springville (names not available) (second place), Brody Jensen and Seth Colby (third place), and Adam Pullan and Nathan Hansen (fourth place).  Congratulations to all who competed and made this year’s tournament another badminton bonanza!


Payson Junior High Wrestlers Excel in Local Tournament

The Payson Junior High wrestling team recently took first place at the Bo Wilson Memorial Dual wrestling tournament held at Salem Hills High School.  The 12-team tournament featured many of the top junior high wrestling teams from around the state; teams were matched against other teams with each team wrestling 6 other teams.  The Payson Junior High team won all 6 of their matches beating Altamont, Juab, Pleasant Grove, Brighton, Mountain Crest, and Delta.

Riley Loveless, Aaron McNaughton, McCay Savage, McCoy Cary, Chazz Haveron, and Brian Hoschouer all went undefeated throughout the day and won first place medals.

Jesse Schromges, Josh Jensen, Heber Shepherd, and John Harmon, Seth Sorenson, and Colton Stulce won 5 of their six matches to earn second place honors.

Danny Vigil, Alex Vigil, and Garret Jackson won 4 of their matches to take third place.

Riley Loveless pinned all six of his opponents and received the most pins award for the tournament.  McCoy Cary was awarded one of the outstanding wrestler awards for his outstanding performance in the tournament.  Aaron McNaughton was given the Heart of a Champion award which is awarded to the Payson wrestler that exhibited the most heart, leadership, and camaraderie throughout the tournament.

A number of Payson Junior High Wrestlers also did well in the JV wrestling tournament: Cade Osborn. Colton Shepherd, and Brady Barker took home first place medals; Dane Draper and Gunner Mortensen both took second place and Brandon Cole third.