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.

Payson Junior High Holds Annual Talent Show

Curtis Burton
Skyler Rushton, a ninth-grade student at PJHS, performs at the school's annual talent show.

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 student, faculty, and parent audience in attendance, everyone was impressed with what the talent on display. Seventh-, eighth-, and ninth-grader students performed various talents. The talents performed included singing, dancing, piano playing, guitar strumming, drumming, bagpipe playing, and even tumbling. 

The show consisted of several great student performances: Brytney Rosser (vocal performance); Kris and Megan Anderson (sisters, vocal performance); Jamie Finch (vocal performance) accompanied by Preston Lange (piano); Danielle Gubler (vocal performance); Emily Garrett (piano performance); Natalia Dorado, Yazzmin Rosales, Jazzmin Flores, Jessica Redmond,, Carolina Redmond, Michelle Zamora, Ana Lopez, Guadalupe Gonzalez, Fabiola Figueroa, Gema Albor, and Maria Lara (dance number); Jalon Watts (vocal performance); Alex Thompson, April Jensen, Kalee Doyl, and Lexi Drummond (lip sync); Chase Healey and Damon Bean (vocal duet); Jenna Wright (piano performance); Amber Ringer, Becca Brown, Taelyr Bair, and Aubrey Nelson (dance number); Jessica Bastean (vocal performance); Ms. Ericksen, Josh Evans, Michael Sonderegger, McKay Savage, Chase Healey, Megan Snow, Austin Peck, Alex Peck, Kayla Hawkins, Nathan Heaps, Tyson Prince, Bailey Carter, and Kassidy Evans (drumming group); Maris Mortensen (vocal performance); Skyler Rushton (bagpipe performance); Karly Mecham, Talyr Mortensen, and Shaelyn Waters (dance performance); Sierra Steele, Haley Gonzalez, McKenzie Muniz, Sierra Monroe, Katelyn Boothe, and Emily Hallett (dance performance); Caitlin Oberg, Taylor Salazar, and Sierra Davis (tumbling); Megan Snow and David Green (guitar performance); Mr. Plaisted, Emily Petty, Jazz Vasquez, Tat Grinshaw, David Green, Junior Murillo, Allison Chapa, and Anna Fordiani (rock band performance).

Haylee Coombs, a ninth-grade student at PJHS, commented on the show saying, “PJHS has a lot of talented students.  It was great to see how talented our classmates are.”  Preston Lange a ninth-grade performer in the show said, “I was nervous, I felt like throwing up as I waited for my turn, but it was also fun and exciting.”  Alex Thompson, also a ninth-grade performer, said of the performance, “It took a lot of work to get ready for our song (a lip sync to Queen’s “New Bohemian Rhapsody”), but it was a lot of fun practicing with friends.  And we got the reaction we wanted.”  

            Mrs. Gifford, Payson Junior High School’s student council advisor, expressed her appreciation to all the students that participated in the show: "I was so impressed with the preparation and professionalism of each act. They did an OUTSTANDING job, and wowed all the students and staff!"

Fall Sports

Curtis Burton
Pictured: PJHS Cross-country Team
Pictured: PJHS Freshman Football Team

Those that participated in the fall sports at Payson Junior High this year had great seasons.  The cross-country team, freshman football team, tennis team, high school soccer team members, and high school volleyball team members all experienced team-specific measures of success.  PJHS athletes from each team conducted themselves very well on the tracks, fields, and courts of competition.     

The cross-country team began with small numbers this season; however, Dakota Lange, a team captain and mentor to many on the team, was able to bring many runners to the team through recruitment.  The team’s numbers reached the largest they’ve been in years with 30 athletes on the team.  With increased numbers, the team finished 2nd place in most their races for both the boys and the girls.  At the district championship meet though, Payson Junior High finished 1st.  Dakota Lange said about the race and team, "We believed and we did it!"

The team had some great performers.  Notable performers from the team were, for the boys, Dakota Lange (eighth grade) 1st in district, Dallin Wyberg (ninth grade) 4th in district, and Dillon Boulton (eighth grade) 10th in district.  For the girls, Ally Chapa (ninth grade) 8th place in district, Cierra Lundberg (ninth grade) 9th place in district,
Chloe Williams (eighth grade) 10th place in district, and Maris Mortensen (seventh grade) 12th place in district all had great seasons for the team.

Turning to football, this year’s PJHS freshman team was made up of 36 players coming from 4 different city league teams the previous year and included 10 players who had never played football before.  The season started off a bit rocky as the team started 0-3. This start was a disappointment to the coaches and players and left them with almost no shot at the playoffs because in order to make the playoffs, the team would have to win their final 3 games.  Remarkably, they did, beating Timpview and Salem towards the end of the season to get into the playoffs and finish the season with a 3-4 record.

Colten Allred (the leading tackler on defense) said of the team, “Stepping onto the field with this team was one of the best things I have ever done.  I love these guys like they are my brothers.”

Connor Mitchell (QB/LB) spoke of the team’s character also, “This year in football I think if we took or learned only one thing it would have to be that nobody is better than anybody, but anybody is as good as everybody.” 

Jake Corbett, the freshman football coach, wanted to voice his thanks for parent and community support the team received this year.  He would also like to thank Shane Bluth, Dylan Clark, Mike Cole, and Andrew Greenhaulgh who helped coach the team this year.  Coach Corbett stated, “It was a privilege to coach some amazing young men this year, and I felt honored to get to be a small part of their lives.”

On the tennis courts, the PJHS team had some great moments.  One of the team’s coaches, Travis Hatch, said, “We had a great season this year. We had a lot of fun learning some of the basics of tennis and improving our game. The girls had a lot of fun at practice where we worked to improve our ground strokes and serves and our overall play.  The girls had a lot of fun together getting to know each other and learning to work as a team.  They were cheerleaders for their team members when they needed them.  We had some wins and some losses, but overall, we had a great time.”

Hopefully the winter sports teams can have as much success at PJHS as the fall sports teams had.

Reb Ribbon Week and Be a Buddy not a Bully Week

Curtis Burton
Members of the Latinos in Action Club display the Red Ribbon Week Pledge Chain.

Red Ribbon Week and Anti-bully Week Help Students at PJHS Recommit to Social Integrity and Responsible Citizenship 

Payson Junior High’s Mission Statement states, “At Payson Junior High we are committed to academic excellence, social integrity, and responsible citizenship.” Students, faculty, and administrators at Payson Junior High certainly practiced what their mission statement states as they took the opportunity the last couple weeks to emphasize “social integrity” and “responsible citizenship” at the school.  Students recommitted themselves to being alcohol, tobacco, and drug free during the school’s annual Red Ribbon Week (10/25-29/10) and committed to put an end to bullying during their annual Be a Buddy not a Bully Week (11/8-12/10).

During Red Ribbon Week, the school’s students, faculty, and administration participated in a number of activities that promoted living a healthy lifestyle.  Students and faculty wore red wristbands showing their outward commitment to being alcohol, tobacco, and drug free with prizes given to those who were wearing their wristbands.  Members of Payson Junior High’s Latinos in Action Club created a red school chain that consisted of signed commitments to avoid alcohol, tobacco, and drugs which was displayed near the school’s counseling center.  The school’s counseling department and administrative team scheduled two assemblies that helped students appreciate the Red Ribbon Week message.  The first assembly was given by BYU athletes who shared how they are able to do what they do athletically and have an athletic advantage due to avoiding alcohol, tobacco, and drugs.  The second assembly was given by Butch Scott who shared with PJHS students and faculty his family’s tragic story of the loss of their son and brother to a drug addiction.  Students really seemed to appreciate the significance and warnings of the messages that were shared.

Kassandra Allsop, a ninth-grade student at PJHS said, “I liked the drug assembly because I have a family member that is struggling with drugs, and I can see how it is affecting him and how sad it is for the family.  I learned how one bad choice can ruin your whole life.  I know lots of students who thought the story of Butch Scott’s son was so sad.  It was very powerful.”

The Be a Buddy not a Bully Week was introduced by the counseling department a few years ago to make students at PJHS aware of the dangers of bullying.  Students made anti-bullying videos, the winner of which was Kris Anderson, a ninth-grade student at PJHS; they participated in a door decorating contest; students signed pledge notes to not bully; they sent buddy notes to classmates; and students participated in a Mix-It-Up Lunch where students sat with and got to know classmates that they didn’t know before the lunch, and prizes were given to the students who got to know as many new classmates as they could (Andrew Putt won the grand prize: an MP3 player).  Christina Lowe, Miss Utah, delivered an anti-bullying message focusing on compassion and respect in an assembly that the students participated in.  

Nicole Kearl, a ninth-grade student at PJHS, said about the week’s message, “We’ve got to rise above the influence of bullying.”

From all appearances, Payson Junior High is doing its best to do just that and really live with “social integrity” and “responsible citizenship.”

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.