South Jordan Middle School Teacher’s Research May Rewrite History Books

When you meet South Jordan Middle School social studies teacher Chris Voorhees, his passion for history is clear. And for him, studying some old pictures of land his family owns in central Utah launched this inquisitive teacher into an extensive personal research project that could alter the history about one notorious Utahn.

Legendary stories of Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang and the Wild Bunch are widely known. Butch’s real name was Robert Leroy Parker. He was born in Beaver, UT in 1866, the oldest of 13 children. Butch’s family came to Utah as pioneers and eventually settled near Circleville, UT. He turned to a life of crime in his late teens, eventually becoming a bank and train robber, horse thief and cattle rustler. An award-winning 1969 motion picture loosely details the story of Butch and Sundance.

The history about these criminals has been largely settled for years. However, Mr. Voorhees’ personal research, assisted by fellow SJMS social studies teacher Brett Freeman, may put a kink in the timeline and could potentially alter history books.

While researching some pictures found at BYU, of his family’s property near Indianola, UT, Chris ran across a photo that by all appearances is from the fall of 1901. The picture is of a railroad crew that was working on a rail line which cut through the property Chris’ family currently owns. Looking closer at the picture, and with the help of a forensic artist who specializes in facial recognition, he discovered that two of the individuals in the photo bear an uncanny resemblance to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, based on other known pictures of the outlaws.

At issue is that most historians believe Butch and Sundance left the United States for Argentina in February 1901, along with Sundance’s companion Etta Place. However, if the picture Mr. Voorhees discovered truly depicts the wanted criminals, the long-held belief of historians that they left the country in early 1901 comes into question. This could shake up some of the historical literature about the infamous Utahn and his sidekick.

Jordan School District truly appreciates teachers like Mr. Voorhees and Mr. Freeman who go above and beyond to be great role models to their students and follow their passions.

West Jordan Middle Students Using Yoga to Reduce Stress

West Jordan Middle School is taking a unique approach to helping students lower stress levels and be more productive in the classroom. Thanks to school psychologist, Olin Levitt, stressed out students now have a yoga class to calm them down, learn coping skills and in many cases, lift their spirits. Dr. Levitt offers the class during the school’s ‘Pride Time,’ a block of the day where students can get academic help or choose a special activity in which to participate. Because of yoga, there are now fewer students in detention. Yoga also has a health benefit for those who participate because the teens are doing something physical and Dr. Levitt uses some of the time to talk about good eating habits. Students who show gradual improvement in academics and attitudes throughout the year are treated to an end of the year yoga party where they are given their own yoga mats to continue practicing at home.

Keep up the good work thinking outside the box to benefit students at West Jordan Middle! Enjoy a photo gallery on our Facebook page.

Eastlake Elementary Students Host ‘Harvest Party’

It was a healthy food feeding-frenzy at Eastlake Elementary, as students had the opportunity to harvest and devour the produce they have been helping to tend in their classroom.

Back in November, we introduced you to Julie Feyereisen and David Berry and their Tower Garden. These educators have been teaching their students in third and fourth-grade about math, science, language arts and agriculture through the magic of vertical gardening using a Tower Garden. A Tower Garden is a pillar that stands approximately 6-feet tall that uses grow lights and hydroponic technology to grow plants indoors.

The day finally came recently to celebrate the efforts the students and teachers made to grow produce in the Tower Garden. Parents of students in both classes were invited to a ‘Harvest Party’ in Mrs. Feyereisen’s classroom.

For this harvest, students grew lettuce and other green veggies. Students were invited to share dressings, croutons and other produce to complement their salads, which they thoroughly enjoyed with their parents and classmates.

Enjoy a photo gallery on Facebook.

Columbia Family Learning Center’s Josefina Swensen is Changing Lives

Josefina Teaching Parents English

While English and computer classes are still the main focus for parents, the Family Learning Center now teaches other life skills like sewing, balanced nutrition and health awareness. It has become a home away from home for some and a pathway for parents to receive their High School Equivalency Degree (GED). Josefina says when parents learn the English language and find success, they become more involved in school and that helps their children. Columbia students are achieving at higher levels than ever before.

In addition to the education that goes on at the Family Learning Center, Mrs. Swensen takes it upon herself to collect food and clothing for those in need. We applaud the tireless work of this amazing employee who is making such a big difference in the Columbia school community and beyond. Thank you, Josefina! Enjoy a photo gallery on our Facebook page.