Local Schools

Water Canyon Wild Cats, Looking Forward to the New Year - by Jamie Valenzuela

Running a school during a pandemic is not easy. Social distancing, face masks, poor attendance, clubs and sports being shut down, and just overall strange changes-- these have never been experienced before. But the Wild Cats have not let COVID stop them.  They are looking ahead to some great changes in 2021. 

If you have been down Utah Avenue lately, most likely you have seen the construction site for the newest facilities for Water Canyon High. What exactly are these changes? 
I had the opportunity to sit down with the school principal, Steve Showalter, to find out what’s new to come. This is Mr. Showalter's first year at Water Canyon. He was the assistant principal at Desert Hills High School and a former fifth grade teacher. Just like the students of Water Canyon, he is excited to be a part of the growth that is coming.
A new career technical (CTE) building is being built which will house multiple new classrooms. Both campuses will still be used. One of those classrooms will be home to the new wood and full welding shop.  Mr. Showalter met with students from sixth to twelfth grade and asked what their interests are. Shop classes came out as a popular vote. All art classes will be moved to the CTE building where a full ceramics with a sculpting lab and kiln will be. Students will be able to make pottery and sculptures.  
The second part of the building will have a graphics lab.   Along with classes, this will be used for various things including 3D printing, graphics art, photography, and coding.  
Water Canyon will also be adding E-sports. This is a gaming club that offers students the opportunity to compete at different levels with sports like football and other extracurricular activities. It opens the door to full digital sports.
One of the last and I believe most exciting classes to come will be Animal Science II. This class will be more detailed and offer a more in-depth understanding of concepts learned in Animal Science I.  The school will be adding a large greenhouse and moving the school animals on site.
Ben Klepper, the AG teacher at Water Canyon, says “We are the only school in Washington County that has animals on site. Other schools are only allowed to bring in animals for one day of instruction.” 
The school owes this to the administration, community support, and to a teacher that believes that working with animals is an essential part of learning not only animal science but also biology.  This has applications to plant and soil science, agronomy, and therefore landscape as well. Mr. Klepper is excited to add a 1,000-2,000 gallon Aquaponic system.
Having the new facility opens up much more resources for the FFA program. Having stalls available to house animals gives the students opportunities to work one on one. This is great for students who otherwise may not have that chance outside school. They will practice animal judging, learning structure, physiology, and different breeds.  Hands-on is the best way of learning, Klepper believes.

Now on to what many have been waiting for: the sports field. Yes, Water Canyon will see a new football and baseball field next fall.  Mr. Showalter is ready and on board with bringing more sports opportunities not only to the high school but the community. He wants kids of all grades to be able to enjoy the benefits of sports and believes that they play a huge role in education.  He says it gives the kids something to try for.
Showalter realizes there are some students who come to school for the love of being on the basketball team. To participate in sports and clubs he insists they will have to maintain a certain GPA. Sport and academics go hand in hand.  The goal is to have enough students in Water Canyon so they can have football, baseball, cheer, soccer, volleyball, track, and wrestling. 
Water Canyon is home to 306 students, 7th through 12th grade. The graduating class has 48 students. While there are benefits to having a small school it’s essential to have enough students to be able to bring in other resources and activities. 
Mr. Showalter is hoping to see more involvement within the community. Due to guidelines that must be followed, sports are offered to 9th-12th grade at this time.  However, this principal is ready to help out where he can to bring sports and clubs to the lower grades and community in general. He is anticipating lending out the high school facilities to the community with the hopes that parents and staff volunteer their time and make it possible to have after school activities for kids from around the valley.
Cody, a 12th grader,  says,  "I’m a little bummed that I won't see these new changes, but it’s exciting to know it’s coming. The E-sports team is cool, and the fact that our principal believes there is hard work that goes into not just gaming but designing of games is awesome.  It’s not all about just playing video games. It’s also about the competition, working with a team and watching your imagination come to life. My younger brothers and sisters will have all the new changes available to them, and it feels good knowing that we had a voice in making some of those changes. The principal asked us for our input and listened to us. That’s a good feeling.”

"The motto at Water Canyon is to make sure the students are heard, seen, and cared for. Sometimes in a large populated school, students get lost in the shuffle. That’s a benefit to smaller class sizes, and while we want the growth, we are going to do our very best to make sure that never happens," Showalter added. "For the most part, the teachers and students have a close relationship. They feel comfortable talking with their teachers not just about school life but home life as well.”
Mr. Showalter says “Come to our school. We have open boundaries. Children in Hildale, Colorado City, and Apple Valley are all welcome. We want them here. We want to have the opportunity to teach them and be a part of their success. Teachers, staff, and myself are here for our students. To see them, hear them and care for them. We just need them in class to do so.” 

Teacher Ben Klepper shares this quote by Paulo Freire: “There is no such thing as neutral education. Education either functions as an instrument to bring about conformity or freedom.”

While 2020 may have been a difficult year, the Wild Cats are charging forward. 2021 is going to be their best yet.  There are so many new, positive and exciting adventures to come. Growth is so important to a community, and what better way to take the lead then starting with our future.