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They used their considerable talents to create a virtual reality game which is now receiving some amazing accolades.

On this episode of the Supercast, meet the Digital Media students at JATC North who designed a three-dimensional virtual reality game that’s garnering a lot of attention. Find out how their game transports people into a different world using the illusion of being there.


Audio Transcription [Music]

Anthony Godfrey:
Hello and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. They used their considerable talents to create a virtual reality game, which is now receiving some amazing accolades.

On this episode of the Supercast, meet the Digital Media students at JATC North who designed a three-dimensional virtual reality game that's garnering a lot of attention. Find out how their game transports people into a different world using the illusion of being there.

[Music]

We are at JATC North to learn more about the Digital Media program. We're here with the instructor and some students who have won State and are headed to Nationals. So first introduce yourself and tell me a little bit about the course you teach.

Lisa Wadzeck:
Hi, my name is Lisa Wadzeck. I teach Digital Media at the JATC. Basically, it's a place where you can come and be creative and research all the careers that revolve around being creative and working in technology, such as animation and video game production.

Anthony Godfrey:
And it's that combination, creativity and technology. There's a wide range of opportunity within that combination. We spoke briefly on a previous podcast and we've been wanting to come back for a while now. And this award-winning group is the best excuse ever to come back and talk with you more about what happens in the class. But for those who may not have heard before, tell me a little bit about the range of student interests that you meet in this class and the range of students who might be interested in taking a course like this.

Lisa Wadzeck:
We have everyone that just loves to draw and hasn't really thought about what careers might be related to that and can research where they can go with graphic design and illustration and magazine layout, those types of things, to students who've had programming but want to see how to apply that to making video games and creating their own assets to make the video games. We have several students interested in audio production and video production. We've got 2D and 3D animations. We have several students who are interested in making their own films, writing their own music and score for films or just music for bands in general, photography.

Anthony Godfrey:
So there are all kinds of outlets for creativity in the class.

Lisa Wadzeck:
Absolutely.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me a little bit about the competition and project that we're going to explore today.

Lisa Wadzeck:
So one thing that's really neat, and I am so proud of my students for, is because this is a new technology, I do not have any training in this. We've had to dive in together and when I say together, mostly the students have researched how to make this work. My program does have some game design background but making that work on a VR is a different approach with the types of code and things that you need to use. So they've had to go out and research what works best to make the mechanics and the activities that they want to experience.

But ultimately they took a theme from the Technology Student Association they gave that was encouraging students to be more healthy and physically active. They completely planned this original game of what is the experience going to be like. What is it going to look like? What do we need to model? What do we need to code? And then also come up with their own plan of deadlines and responsibilities and work together in a team of six to create a single project. Which in K-12 education most people think group projects are kind of hard because there are a lot of issues that kind of come with that. But in the creative industry that is absolutely what you're doing. You are working as a team. So we try to do as many things that encourage building those skills as a team and these guys just rocked it.

Anthony Godfrey:
Fantastic. So what's the name of the competition or the category in which they–

Lisa Wadzeck:
It's VR experience through the Technology Student Association and I believe the name of their game is Bouldering.

Anthony Godfrey:
Bouldering. Alright, let's find out about Bouldering. Introduce yourself, tell me your name, the school that you're from, and what it was that led you to take this class.

London Baker:
My name is London Baker, I'm from Copper Hills and I think what led me to take this class was probably the graphic design part of it. There was a, at my middle school they talked about JATC and the Digital Media program and all of the examples they gave was people working on the Cintiq tablets and drawing and I was like I want to do that. Sounds awesome.

Anthony Godfrey:
Good. That's helpful for me to know that because I always want as many students as possible to know about the amazing opportunities here, and you say Digital Media and I worry that they don't realize just how many opportunities are embedded in that. So I'm glad to know that those middle school visits really help and I'm glad you're here. How about for you, introduce yourself and tell me a little bit about why you're here.

Marissa Pierce:
I'm Marissa Pierce and I'm from the West Jordan High School. I heard about JATC somewhere along the lines of last year, I don't know where. But I figured that I wouldn't have anything to do since I did a lot of my classes already so I chose to go and try to be a part of JATC and it worked. I liked the Cintiqs and the pictures of the website so I would go into Digital Media two weeks after joining JATC like being there.

Anthony Godfrey:
And where are the Cintiqs? What is that exactly?

Marissa Pierce:
They are those fancy things. Oh, so that's the device, that's the computer that you're using to create on. I'm looking forward to seeing how that works. Okay, introduce yourself.

Josh Copp:
I'm Josh Copp, I'm from West Jordan High School. I came to JATC mostly for the animation stuff. I wanted to try it out, that was what I wanted to do and I've really been into it. I had some experience with the 3D modeling program Maya before and I've really expanded upon that, and I've also done some 2D animation. And I've just, I've really enjoyed my time just learning other things other than animation as well here.

Anthony Godfrey:
What was your exposure to Maya before being in this program?

Josh Copp:
I took a private class outside of school. That's how I was first introduced.

Anthony Godfrey:
Great. I don't have any idea what Maya is but I'm glad that it was a gateway to getting you here.

Josh Copp:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
How about you?

Noah Campbell:
I am Noah Campbell, I am a senior from Bingham High School and this is my second year at JATC. Last year I was able to do the programming portion and I was able to participate in the video game design and go to the competition that we took first in this year. And then I really enjoyed being able to work on video games last year and I was like, I kind of really like all this computer stuff so I decided to use my creativity side and join this class after doing the programming. I decided last year before doing the programming that I would do programming first, get all those skills down, and then I'd be able to come into this class, have a little bit more fun, and be creative about it and we've been able to work on this awesome project.

Anthony Godfrey:
Add creativity to the programming and technological side.

Noah Campbell:
Add the creativity side and combine them to make cool projects.

Anthony Godfrey:
Great. Well, tell me a little bit about the project, Bouldering.

Noah Campbell:
So what we have over here next to this computer, this is the main computer that I've been working on. We're using Unity to make the video game and kind of organize everything. We have a lot of different softwares like Maya that they've been using. Maya is a modeling software and that's where we make all these models. So if you see, this is one of our main maps right here and it's kind of like this mystical mushroom island that you can kind of see.

Anthony Godfrey:
So you use Maya, the modeling in Maya to create those mushrooms.

Noah Campbell;
To make these and then we transfer them over and we're able to upload them onto here and then I can go through here. I can work with lighting, I can work with making it look visually well and then more so putting in the game mechanics and the physical actual things of the VR right here.

Anthony Godfrey:
So when you're participating in this game or playing this game, is it educational at the same time that it is entertaining? What exactly is the point of the game?

Noah Campbell:
So like Ms. Wadzeck said earlier, the main point of the competition and the op-ed that they gave us was creating it for physical activity to encourage it for younger kids. So we talked as a team and we decided we need to make it so it's kid-friendly and then we need to make it so somehow physical activity gets in there. And the first thing, well one of the first things that came to our mind was climbing. We thought climbing, like rock climbing, playing on playgrounds, all sorts of stuff, that's a really good way to get in physical activity and using a VR, being able to climb in VR would be awesome. That's where we got our name Bouldering from, from the actual physical activity you would find outside jumping around on rocks and actually climbing.

Anthony Godfrey:
So it'll be virtual climbing. Is there any virtual falling involved?

Noah Campbell:
So in regards to falling, and this was actually something that was brought up, because you can actually fall in some areas on this. And we don't want to scare the kids that are playing. This is meant to encourage education. So we were able to come up with this really cool animation that we're working to implement. And basically, when the character falls, let's say you climb up to a really high height on one of the levels and you just fall, he's going to pull out this umbrella and then he's going to glide down on this umbrella and it's just going to kind of reset him at the beginning of the level.

Anthony Godfrey:
I like that.

Noah Campbell:
So it's not violent, it's not scary, it doesn't cause any problems with you wearing the VR and making you sick and stuff like that.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about what happens next. You took State, London tell me a little bit about the state competition and going to Nationals.

London Baker:
Well, the state competition was kind of stressful.

Anthony Godfrey:
And what did that involve, what did that look like that day?

London Baker:
So we just had to turn in all of our planning stuff. And it was like there were two rounds of competition where we would turn in our planning stuff and then we would go to a second round. Then they would actually play our games and talk to us about it and then they would do the final judging and see who won.

Anthony Godfrey:
So multiple people played your game and you were waiting for them to judge other people and all of that. So it's a little bit difficult. There's that anticipation that keeps building as you wait for them to come and work on your game in particular.

London Baker:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, things turned out. So now when is Nationals and where are you headed?

Josh Copp:
It's June 25th and it's taking place in Orlando, Florida. I'm also currently working on some new music for the game and sound effects just to add a little bit more polish to the game. For another level we're designing it's like a medieval castle-like level and I'm designing some houses for this village outside of the castle. I'll probably also put in some other items and help around by actually implementing things you can climb in the level and you know make it a game instead of just a pretty scene.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh, instead of just an environment that you enter. So there's the game component of it.

Stay with us. When we come back, I try out the award-winning game created by the Digital Media students at JATC North.

Break:
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Anthony Godfrey:
Can you give me the VR experience of Bouldering?

Noah Campbell:
Yes, I can.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. Do I sit here?

Noah Campbell:
You can actually, we can go stand right over here.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh yeah, that's right. It's VR. So I'm just going to hook up on the headset. See I was going to sit down at the computer that tells you how advanced my video game skills are.

Noah Campbell:
So this is an Oculus 3 and so this is one of the newer ones. I think it's the most recent one.

Anthony Godfey:
I did not use an Oculus 3 when I was in my high school computer class just, you know, to clarify.

Noah Campbell:
It's really cool that they added this competition because, well, last year was the first time they added it and so there was a lot of new stuff that was kind of made. I'm drawing the areas right now so you don't run into anybody.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah, you're turning around in a circle with the Switch controllers in your hand. Okay. Or the equivalent. Or the Wii. They're like Wii controllers. Yeah.

Josh Copp:
Yeah, you got it.

Anthony Godfrey:
At least I'm not referencing Pong in the Atari 2600, you know, which I still have at home by the way, if you want to see any antiques. I do have those.

Noah Campbell:
So it might be a little tight.

Anthony Godfrey:
Should I put these on?

Noah Campbell:
Yeah, you have to put them on.

Anthony Godfrey:
It is going to be tight. I have a little bit of a...

Noah Campbell:
You’ll hold on to these and those will go back and forth and this will go up and down.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh wow. You guys created all of this?

Noah Campbell:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's pretty amazing. It looks like a pretty fun play place. There's a sandbox. This is very soothing actually.

Noah Campbell:
So right now you're inside of the playground which is kind of our tutorial map and that's kind of the way, and that's our very, very, very small first level.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay.

Noah Campbell:
So that's what's going to kind of teach people like hey this is how you're supposed to like do this, this is how you're supposed to climb. And so you can use the joysticks on your controllers and those will help you look around and move around and stuff like that.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay, so I have a controller in my left and in my right hand and I'm just using the little joystick. Do you still call it a joystick?

Noah Campbell:
Yeah, you would call it a joystick. Or Joy-Con.

Anthony Godfrey:
Joy-Con. Okay, I'm walking up to the stairs. It's very colorful. I have to describe the scene so there's a big playset kind of like you'd find in a public playground except it's super huge. It's more awesome than any of the ones you'd see in reality. Pink clouds and green grass and a little sandbox and it's all fenced in with a nice white picket fence. I kind of want to go up the blue stairs into the playset. Can I do that?

Noah Campbell:
You can. So if you just walk up to the stairs you'll just automatically move up them.

Anthony Godfrey:
I walk up. Oh, I'm kind of tall. Do I need to duck down to get in?

Noah Campbell:
Yep. So this is one of our things—

Anthony Godfrey:
So I duck down. Alright.

Noah Campbell:
This is one of the things that have been added for the physical activity.

Anthony Godfrey:
Wow.

Noah Campbell:
So it actually requires you to do like actual movements and stuff like that. Like ducking and moving your hands to actually reach them.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. Very cool. So I'm going to grab and hold down this button. It's giving me, so I'm now inside the playset and it's giving me instructions on what to do. So let me just say right now that it actually feels like I'm going to walk off the edge of the earth because of the way you have designed this. I'm like, okay, don't fall into the big white nothingness. That's what I start my day with every day. “Don't fall into the big white nothingness.” How do I get back in? I feel like I'm going the wrong way.

Noah Campbell:
Actually, the only way to get back in is to fall off. Just kind of like you would fall in a role game. That will reset you at the beginning.

Anthony Godfrey:
So I have to learn how to fall like I was saying earlier. Okay. Do I just keep walking into the void?

Noah Campbell:
Just keep walking and then you'll drop down from the island and...

Anthony Godfrey:
Honestly, it feels really weird to drop down, to walk out into this void. It's telling me not to. Okay. I think I'm going to stop because otherwise, I'm going to hurt myself or someone near me.

Noah Campbell:
I can take those controllers.

Anthony Godfrey:
The music is really cool too. It's like it has a retro feel but kind of a reassuring feel also which I know is what you're going for. Wow. That is really cool. That is impressive stuff you guys. That was very immersive.

London Baker:
Once you get past the tutorial level, we have the Mushroom Mountain level which has a lot more different climbing things. In that level we have monkey bars and rope, but in the Mushroom Mountain level we also have things like ladders and you can climb into the mushrooms. And there's another level where there's a mountain but then you have to climb like upside down. It's really scary.

Anthony Godfrey:
Can you just get me into that general experience?

Noah Campbell:
I can run to that really quickly. Get to you there.

Anthony Godfrey:
Just run to it really quickly. If you wait for me to be able to find my way, it might take a minute. Talk about what led you to take this class. Now that you've experienced it and you've had this level of success, what do you want to do next?

Josh Copp:
I'm going to keep going to school, college and what not and I'm going to try to get a bachelor's degree in animation. I'm just hoping that I can keep on animating whether that be 2D or 3D.

Anthony Godfrey:
Fantastic. How about you London?

London Baker:
I signed up for Digital Media next year so I'm going to be doing it again. I wanted to do it again because I really like this class and I feel like I've learned a lot and doing it again I'll be able to learn a lot more.

Marissa Pierce:
I think I'm going to keep going to college and then figure things out from there. For sure after taking this class I have figured out what I like to do. So fortunately I'm not planning to be a doctor because I didn't want to. I'm just going to stick to 3D modeling assets, possibly animation, something to do with art, like drawing, but mostly just 3D modeling.

Anthony Godfrey:
So this is something you want to do as a career?

Marissa Pierce:
Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
Wonderful. How about you Noah?

Noah Campbell:
Sorry.

Anthony Godfrey:
I'm asking this question while Noah is getting me to the magic mushroom.

Noah Campbell:
I’m almost there, I'm on the zip line right now.

Anthony Godfrey:
You need to focus. I don't want you to fall.

Noah Campbell:
You're good. So the reason, what I plan to do after this, I've always been interested in video games. I would love to work in the video game design industry and create entertainment for people. One of the cool things about video games is when you're working in it you're not just working on one specific thing like drawing and stuff like that. You're working on all these different things. Music production, you're working with a team, you're making 3D models, you're making levels, you're designing everything, you got to write documents. And it's a lot of different skills all kind of combined into one. Lots of programming skills, so there's a lot of different stuff that's pretty cool with it.

Anthony Godfrey:
Awesome.

Noah Campbell:
That's kind of my plan after I graduate this year.

Anthony Godfrey:
Let me try it out here.

Noah Campbell:
This is the beginning of the mushroom level. You should be able to see it. And then there's your controller so you can move using the joysticks. Don't fall off the ledge. This one's way different than where you were.

Anthony Godfrey:
Wow, this is cool. Is that kind of a purple ocean beyond the mushrooms?

Noah Campbell:
Yes, it is.

Anthony Godfrey:
Wow. It's kind of an Alice in Wonderland feel. I'm walking up to the big mushroom. Oh, there we go. I got it over the hump. Now I want to climb up. So do I have to put my hands up to climb?

Noah Campbell:
Yep. And you'll just grab on it. You'll have the big mushroom probably right up there. And there's another like a little ladder. And that's just kind of a fun little one leading to a fairy house.

Anthony Godfrey:
I'm not going to make you all wait while I try to climb the ladder. But this looks fantastic. I like the lanterns hanging up throughout, you know? Kind of gives it a mystical feel. Well, this is super cool. I love this level. This looks really… Oh, and I love the prisms or the kind of geodes that are out there. It looks like this could go on forever. And I like the plants that are coming up with the little kind of tendrils. Reality is not going to be quite the same now that I've been in virtual reality.

Well, congratulations on your success. I wish you the best in June at the competition. And thanks for spending time with me. This is really awesome.

Noah Campbell:
Thank you. Our goal is to take 1st and represent Jordan and JATC.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, good luck to you. Thanks very much. I like your chances.

London Baker:
Thank you.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thanks for joining us on another episode of the Supercast. Remember, education is the most important thing you will do today. We'll see you out there.

[Music]

It is a beloved tradition at Bluffdale Elementary School now in its tenth year.

On this episode of the Supercast, we take you inside an educational celebration called Brasilandia. Hear how the event helps students use and develop new skills in the Portuguese language and how it enhances their love of the Portuguese DLI program at the school. It is a traditional taste of Brazilian culture and food that everyone has definitely grown to love over the past decade.


Audio Transcription [Music]

Anthony Godfrey:
Hello and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. It is a beloved tradition at Bluffdale Elementary School, now in its tenth year.

On this episode of the Supercast, we take you inside an educational celebration called Brasilandia. Hear how this event helps students use and develop new skills in Portuguese, and it provides a sample of Brazilian culture and food that everyone has grown to love over the past many years.

[Music]

We're here with Edson and Jessica at Bluffdale Elementary School. Edson was the teacher of the year for Bluffdale Elementary, and Jessica is the first teacher of the year for DLI District-wide. So congratulations to you both, and thank you for inviting us here today for the festival. Tell us a little bit about what the Portuguese Dual Language Immersion Festival is all about today.

Edson Rabelo:
Thank you so much for coming today. This Brasilandia started more than eight years ago with the former DLI teachers in our school. They had this whole idea to have the students engaged in activities that are usually played in Brazil and in some other Portuguese-speaking countries. After some years, we decided to have six graders managing and being the leaders in this group. So now they are the leaders engaging the leaders' students to speak even more Portuguese.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's fantastic. Tell me a little bit about the activities that are planned for today.

Jessica Bell’Aver:
So they have ten activities, ten stations all over here in the field, and then the DLI teachers organized the kids in ten groups. So they rotate in these ten activities. We have Peteca, we have Pular Córda, Bambolê, Futebol, the authentic soccer, the Brazilian soccer, and we have the Jogo do Balde and other activities that are typical from Brazil.

Then after they play here for about an hour or so, they go back to their classrooms to taste some of the authentic Brazilian food, to have a small taste of what it tastes like. And then they enjoy with their classmates in the classroom and dance to some songs from Brazil as well.

Anthony Godfrey:
So you're going to appeal to all of the senses today?

Jessica Bell’Aver:
Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tasting and listening and all kinds of things.

Jessica Bell’Aver:
Tasting, listening, dancing, speaking, yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
So tell me about some of the activities going on. Let's talk about probably the most traditional activity, one that listeners might be least familiar with.

Edson Rabelo:
So we have Peteca. It's something similar to badminton. But it's usually in Brazil, since it's connected to some indigenous culture origins, so they keep playing like in a group or in two people, and then they keep throwing that to one another. So usually when we see the Peteca, we can see some feathers on the top.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah, very colorful feathers. Is that a weight on the bottom of it?

Edson Rabelo:
Yeah, that is a weight on the bottom. Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
And so you're throwing it to someone while they are hula hooping?

Edson Rabelo:
Oh, that's the kids. They are like really creative. So they are like using the hula hoop to play in a different way.

Anthony Godfrey:
OK.

Edson Rabelo:
So we just hold one side and then we just...

Anthony Godfrey:
So you hold it just under the feathers. Am I doing this right, guys?

Students:
Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
All right. And then you hit it?

Students:
Yeah, you just can’t let it hit the ground.

Anthony Godfrey:
So you're hitting it to each other. Oh, it's like hacky– Hey!

Edson Rabelo:
There you go! Good job, good job.

Anthony Godfrey:
I got three in a row. That felt OK. So it's like hacky sack with your hand and it has feathers on top of it.

Edson Rabelo:
Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah, kind of like that?

Student:
Yeah, pretty much.

Anthony Godfrey:
And you guys were adding hula hoop to it as well?

Student:
So you can like hula hoop like this, and then you could try to like hit it into the hula hoop.

Anthony Godfrey:
OK.

Edson Rabelo:
They are creative.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh, yes. All right. I made it. I did not see this and think, you know what, I need to find a way to make this more challenging. But you did and somehow... OK, let's try this. Somehow it's a whole new game. Oh, hey, two in a row. All right. I'm stopping there because I'm ahead. All right. That was fun. Thank you, guys. This looks... Well, the kids are having a blast, that's for sure.

Edson Rabelo:
Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
And soccer, of course, is a very important sport in Brazil.

Edson Rabelo:
It is. It's huge in Brazil.

Jessica Bell’Aver:
Yeah, it's very traditional. We play here like in twos. So we have like this small set of goals so they can play and take turns. Like groups of five or six students can play easily in this setup. And of course, this is very popular. They love this station here.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah. These kids are good.

Jessica Bell’Aver:
I love the connections that they make, like the American football, the Brazilian soccer. So it's nice to play both.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah, that's wonderful.

Jessica Bell’Aver:
Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
Now you told me about the sixth graders running things. How did the event change once you put the sixth graders in charge?

Edson Rabelo:
So it changed because I could observe the students more engaged to participate. And they were like, “Oh, we are the leaders now”. We are like on the top of the elementary grades here.

So we are engaging these little kids to speak the Portuguese language that they have been studying since first grade. They are the ones organizing like the posters. They drew, they colored the posters. So they did everything like the games that we were organizing. They were like setting up yesterday in my classroom like, “Okay, teacher, we have enough games here. So we have we need some more here.” So today, this morning they were carrying everything outside. So they were leading everything.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's fantastic.

Edson Rabelo:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's another layer to the experience they're having and the opportunity for leadership.

Edson Rabelo:
Yes. You know, speaking in Portuguese. That's what we do. They know that when they talk to the teacher, it needs to be in Portuguese. So that's the situation like the talk and questions and everything needs to be in Portuguese.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's really cool.

Jessica Bell’Aver:
Yeah.

Edson Rabelo:
So important.

Anthony Godfrey:
Now you teach first graders.

Jessica Bell’Aver:
Right.

Anthony Godfrey:
So you teach them right from the start.

Jessica Bell’Aver:
Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
We were talking earlier about how they will listen and listen and then suddenly bam, the words start coming out of their mouths.

Jessica Bell’Aver:
Right.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about watching that evolution where someone comes in and doesn't speak any Portuguese perhaps and then by the end of the year. Talk to me about that transformation.

Jessica Bell’Aver:
Yeah. It's amazing to see the growth. And in settings like this where they are open, they are free to use and to put in practice everything that they learned. It's so amazing to see how they can create because in the classroom we see a lot of growth, but they are comfortable with the setting. They are comfortable with the materials. They know their routine.

But here is a completely new situation. It's a real-life situation for them. So they come with language. They have to come with everything that they learn and put in practice and solve their problems here. Communicate what they want to communicate in the games and talk to their friends here. So it's kind of a huge jump when you see what they are doing in class. They can do their math, they can do their science, they can use their sentences. But they also can communicate and solve problems here in a real-life situation.

Anthony Godfrey:
A real-world application for what they are learning.

Jessica Bell’Aver:
Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
It's really cool. And what I understand is that there is a high retention rate. Once someone comes into the program, students tend to stay in the dual language Portuguese program here at Bluffdale.

Jessica Bell’Aver:
That's correct. Yeah. They feel that they belong to this program, to this community, and they create strong connections with friends and with the teachers. And I like that as they go from grade to grade, they know that this event is coming up and they are getting ready. They are familiar with changing some of the games throughout the year so they can experience different games, not all the same. And the sixth graders, of course, they get ready for middle school. They can work on their leadership, on their protagonism to get ready for middle school.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me, how did we get so fortunate to have you in Bluffdale, Utah, teaching Portuguese in a dual language immersion program? What brought you to Bluffdale Elementary?

Edson Rabelo:
So Jessica and I, we are from the same state in Brazil, Paraná. So we were living in different cities, but we connected here. So that's where we are learning together. We had this agreement between Utah and the state of Paraná. So both the Utah Board of Education and the Board of Education from Paraná, they have this agreement where they can bring some teachers to teach here in Utah and have this experience. So we can come and stay for three years or we can stay longer. So that's what we decided, to stay longer because we love doing what we do here.

Anthony Godfrey:
I'm so glad you decided to stay longer. I'm so glad you decided to come here. It's no wonder you are both award-winning teachers. Thank you for providing these incredible experiences throughout the year for these students.

Jessica Bell’Aver:
Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here, to be able to do our job, like work as a teacher, as we were doing in Brazil, but in a different country. Being able to work with our own language, it means a lot to us. We feel very fortunate.

Anthony Godfrey:
It's a huge positive impact for these students. So thank you very much.

Edson Rabelo:
Thank you so much for coming.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thank you so much.

[Music]

Stay with us. When we come back more with Bluffdale Elementary School and their Dual Language Immersion Program.

[Music]

Break:
In Jordan School District, we like to support students in and outside the classroom along with their families. That's where the Jordan Family Education Center comes in, offering support services and a wide variety of classes for students and their families, free of charge. You can take a class called Blues Busters for children feeling sad or worried. Just Breathe is a class that helps students reduce stress. Or how about a class that supports parents in helping their children make and keep good friends. There are also support groups and free counseling, all provided by Jordan School District school psychologists, counselors, and school psychology interns. To find out how you can benefit from free family support services offered by the Jordan Family Education Center, call 801-565-7442 or visit guidance.jordandistrict.org.

[Music]

Anthony Godfrey:
We're talking now with a few students in the program here at Bluffdale Elementary. Tell me your name, what grade you're in, and what you love most about the DLI program.

Welling;
My name is Welling. I'm in third grade, and the thing that I like most about the DLI program is that I get to learn another language. Lots of my relatives went to Brazil for their mission and so I got to speak with them.

James:
My name is James. I'm in third grade, and my favorite thing about the DLI program is I can know lots of different things in different languages, including math and reading. So that I can talk when I go to Brazil if I go.

Frankie:
Hi, my name is Frankie, and I'm in third grade. My favorite thing about the DLI is that you can have your own secret language around your family if they don't know Portuguese. And you don't, like, whenever you're mad at somebody, you're like, "Ugh!" and you can only say it in Portuguese, and they won't understand it.

Anthony Godfrey:
Wow, okay.

Piper:
My name is Piper, and I'm in third grade, and I just love how I get to learn about the Brazil culture, and that's why I love the DLI a lot.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me, I don't speak any Portuguese at all. Tell me a favorite word, or tell me a sentence in Portuguese.

Welling:
“Olá”.

Anthony Godfrey:
What does that mean?

Welling:
“Hello”.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. How about you? Can you teach me a word or a phrase?

James:
“Eu amo matemática”.

Anthony Godfrey:
Is that "I love math"?

James:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh, very nice. Okay, say it again.

James:
“Eu amo matemática”.

Anthony Godfrey:
“Eu amo matemática”. Okay.

Frankie:
I like this word, and it's, I don't remember what it's called in English, but it's “paralelepípedo”.

Anthony Godfrey:
“Paralelepípedo”.

Frankie:
“Paralelepípedo”.

Anthony Godfrey:
I can't say it like you do. What does it mean?

Frankie:
It means cobblestone.

Anthony Godfrey;
Cobblestone.

Frankie:
I don't know why I like it.

Anthony Godfrey:
That is a cool word. That is a cool word.

Frankie:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
How about you?

Piper:
“Eu amo português” which is "I love Portuguese."

Anthony Godfrey:
"I love Portuguese." Fantastic. So, are you guys excited about learning Portuguese all the way through middle school and into high school?

Students:
Yeah.

Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
And do your friends speak Portuguese outside of school? Do you speak Portuguese with people who are in the program?

Frankie:
I speak it with my dad. That's it.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh, you speak with your dad? So your dad speaks it? Is there anyone at home or any friends you speak with?

Piper:
I could speak it with my brother that also goes here.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh, yeah? Oh, good.

James:
I speak it with my two brothers that do the DLI, my dad and most of my friends.

Anthony Godfrey:
And you said you talked to family members that have gone on missions that now speak Portuguese?

Welling:
Mm-hmm. And also I talk to my friends at soccer because they're in second grade in the DLI.

Anthony Godfrey:
What would you say about the teachers in DLI?

Welling:
Super nice, and they helped me a lot.

James:
They helped me learn the Portuguese language, and they were really nice when doing it. They didn't, like, yell at me if I got something wrong.

Frankie:
What I've noticed myself doing is that I've been improving on Portuguese and on math. And what I love about my teachers is that if I do something wrong, they'll help me through it. And even if I don't understand it, they'll still help me. And then eventually I'll start to understand and learn how to do it.

Piper:
What I loved about my teachers is how they helped me know that mistakes are proving that you're trying to do something.

Anthony Godfrey:
I love that. It sounds like you're all learning a ton. Tell me, how do you say goodbye and thank you?

James:
“Tchau, obrigado”

Anthony Godfrey:
“Tchau, obrigado”

Students:
“Tchau”.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thank you very much. Thanks for talking with me. “Tchau”.

Students:
“Tchau”.

Anthony Godfrey:
We're talking now with a couple of parents who have two students in the program. Introduce yourselves and tell me about your experience.

Andrew Bateman:
So, Andrew Bateman, my wife, Luci Bateman. I served my mission in Brazil, speak Portuguese. My wife's from Brazil. So, Portuguese has been a big part of our life.

Luci Bateman:
And it used to be our secret language at home.

Andrew Bateman:
It was.

Luci Bateman:
Where we could, you know, talk about what presents we were going to get them for Christmas and their birthdays until they became fluent because of this incredible program. So, our two oldest go to Bluffdale Elementary School. One's in third and one's in first grade. And we have our third daughter starting kindergarten. We want all of our kids to go through the program because the teachers are phenomenal. I love that each of them are from a different part of Brazil. So, my kids get all of the different accents. And that's how you know they're truly fluent.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh, the different accents.

Luci Bateman:
They understand all and they're so different from the northern part of Brazil, southern part of Brazil, central. The way they pronounce things is completely different. And my kids can understand them all. I still have grandmas that live in Brazil and my kids will FaceTime them and just fluently speak Portuguese to them.

Anthony Godfrey:
Wow.

Luci Bateman:
And what we love also about the program is not just the language exposure, but also the cultural exposure.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, to be able to understand different accents–

Andrew Bateman:
Yeah, it’s cool.

Anthony Godfrey:
Not just the language, but different variations of the language is pretty amazing. That is a deep level of understanding. And your grandmas must love talking with these kids.

Luci Bateman:
Oh, they love it. And then we had, we went to a Festa Junina, it's like this big party that happens all over the country in the month of June, on Friday at the high school in Riverton.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah.

Luci Bateman:
And my daughters were dancing, you know, dances from the northern part of Brazil that I never learned as a kid growing up because–

Andrew Bateman:
In Brazil.

Luci Bateman:
I’m from Rio. Yeah. And I graduated high school in Brazil, but it was like Rio and Sao Paulo. So they're learning about regions that I didn't even learn as a kid. And we sent videos to my family and they were so excited and so proud. Anyway, so we just got our passports because our kids- renewed their passports- because our kids are dying to go to Brazil now and order the food by themselves and talk to other kids in Portuguese. Because last time we went to a country, we went to Portugal, a country that speaks Portuguese, they didn't know the language yet. So now they're dying to go.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah. When they go to Brazil, it'll feel like it's a country built just for them.

Andrew Bateman:
Yeah, they will.

Luci Bateman:
Exactly, and they'll feel like they're part of it.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, thank you very much for talking with me.

Andrew Bateman:
You bet.

Anthony Godfrey:
And hopefully, lots of parents can hear this and sign up for the program as well. Even if you don't have a connection to Brazil or the Portuguese language, this is a deeply enriching program for students. And like you said, fantastic teachers top to bottom.

Andrew Bateman:
They're amazing. Just to be able to speak another language is huge.

Luci Bateman:
And there's a huge Brazilian community in Utah. There's lots of Brazilian restaurants and stores. And to be able to connect with more people and talk to more people that don't just speak English is already such a gift.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah, absolutely. Well, thanks very much for your time.

Andrew Bateman:
You bet.

Luci Bateman:
Thank you.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thanks for joining us on another episode of the Supercast. Remember, education is the most important thing you'll do today. We'll see you out there.

(upbeat music)

They walked and received a one-year college degree before stepping onto the stage to receive their high school diplomas.

On this episode of the Supercast, meet some incredibly smart and driven students in what is called the Jordan PREP program. Find out how dedicating their summers to a rigorous academic mathematics program starting in sixth-grade, propelled the students to college success, while they were still in high school.


Audio Transcription [Music]

Anthony Godfrey:
Hello and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. They walked and received a one-year college degree before stepping onto the stage to receive their high school diplomas.

On this episode of the Supercast, meet some incredibly smart and driven students in what is called the Jordan Prep Program. Find out how dedicating their summers to a rigorous academic STEM program starting in sixth grade propelled the students to college success while they were still in high school.

[Music]

We're talking today with Stacy Pierce, the specialist over Jordan Prep. This is a really big day for Jordan Prep. And for you and for a lot of students.

Stacy Pierce:
It is indeed. So my kids have been with us since they were 11 and 12, right out of sixth grade. They've been in the program for seven years and today they walked at Salt Lake Community College with a one-year engineering drafting manufacturing technology degree. I'm very proud of them.

Anthony Godfrey:
So tell us about that degree.

Stacy Pierce:
So for two years they've been taking classes at Salt Lake Community Campus with college professors. They were required to take seven engineering classes and three general education classes. And that's what's required to finish the one-year certificate that moves seamlessly into a four-year degree.

Anthony Godfrey:
So they are graduating with a one-year certificate before they graduate from high school later this month.

Stacy Pierce:
Three weeks from now is their high school graduation and they've already walked at a college graduation.

Anthony Godfrey:
That feels pretty awesome. That is fantastic.

Stacy Pierce;
It feels amazing.

Anthony Godfrey:
For those who don't know or are unfamiliar with the program, talk about Jordan Prep. What does it entail? What's it all about?

Stacy Pierce:
So the Prep program was started 40 years ago in Texas to help underrepresented students prepare themselves for careers in STEM. It's a very math intensive program. The students, I would say, invest four summers of their summer vacations to take very rigorous academic classes. And at the end of that, then they start the college portion of the program.
We have over 50% female students, over 50% minority students, 70% of the students are lower income, and about around 70% also are first-generation college. Their parents did not go to college and they'll be the first generation to go to college.

Anthony Godfrey:
What I love about the Prep program is that it starts students early. It's not, hey, ‘you're a junior, what are some things we can do before you leave to help launch you into a successful future?’ It starts in sixth grade.

Stacy Pierce:
It starts in sixth grade. I was an engineer for 30 years, and when I left to start a STEM program for underrepresented students, I knew we had to grab them then. If we didn't grab them then, it was too late. So luckily, I stumbled onto the Prep program and it was already in Utah at UVU, and we brought it. We're the only school district in the nation with a Prep program.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yes. That's a source of pride for me as well. It's pretty exciting. Tell me, so this is, you know, when you start in sixth grade, that's high motivation. That's longer-term goal setting than most sixth graders are focused on. Tell me about the growth you've seen in these students from sixth grade.

Stacy Pierce:
Oh my goodness. I can't believe it. There's a kid sitting right behind me. And boy, he was hyper. And now his ambition is to score 36 on the ACT and head to MIT. He's just rocking the world. The growth is amazing. I mean, I could tell you personal stories about every single one of these kids.

Anthony Godfrey:
I know you've been very personally involved with each student. During COVID you drove to their homes because when we look at six years, that covers a lot of ground. A lot of things have happened in these last six years. I remember pictures of you driving to their homes, delivering materials, just making sure that the momentum continued. Talk to me about some of the activities that have happened over time.

Stacy Pierce:
So before COVID hit, our retention was almost 100%. The only students we lost were students that moved. During COVID, it was difficult, but we had a very successful year. We did rewrite the curriculum completely so that we could do it online. And we had a very successful year. Then we had some attrition, but we're back up to 95% retention in the program. So I'm very, very proud of that.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me, what are some of the expectations you have for students? What do you hope they got out of the program beyond the degree?

Stacy Pierce:
Okay. So I'll just repeat the words of one of our professors this quarter. He said he's teaching four different classes, and the Jordan Prep students feel comfortable in the college classes. They articulate very well. They're a community. They're a family. They support each other extremely well. And they're very thoughtful in their contributions to the class and not scared to speak up in class. So I think they found their voice. They found a community, and they've raised their academic achievement to a level they can go on and be successful.

Anthony Godfrey:
And the name Jordan Prep, they're really living up to that because they are prepared for great things. This one-year degree really launches them into a lot of opportunities, and I assume they're all interested in continuing in the STEM area. 99% are interested in pursuing STEM. One is joining the Air Force, so his mother can gain citizenship, and then he'll become a mechanical engineer. He scored very high on the entrance exam, and he credits that to Jordan Prep.

Anthony Godfrey:
I think that's tremendous, absolutely tremendous. I know you've poured yourself into this program. How does that feel to see this today?

Stacy Pierce:
It's a dream come true. It's an absolute dream come true. What I wanted to do was help underrepresented students, and it's proven out that this is a program that can help underrepresented students.

Anthony Godfrey:
And has helped these students. We're talking about 11 students who graduated, is that right?

Stacy Pierce:
11 students out of my initial 25, 10 who moved.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, it's fantastic to be here today. I'm so excited to celebrate with you and with them and their families. We'll talk with some students and families and hear their reaction as well, but thank you for all the incredible work that you've done with these students and these families.

Stacy Pierce:
You're welcome. It's been my dream come true. It's a pleasure. Thank you.

Anthony Godfrey:
When we come back, find out more about the Jordan Prep program.

Break:
Does your student want to become a veterinarian, commercial pilot, programmer? Maybe they want to make a difference as a dental assistant. These are just some of the programs offered as part of Career and Technical Education, CTE in Jordan School District. CTE provides the technical skills needed to prepare students for future employment or a successful transition to post-secondary education. Career and Technical Education provides work-based learning opportunities. We partner with industry experts to offer apprenticeships and internships with students working in the real world at real jobs while going to school. The CTE experience starts in our elementary schools with the Kids' Marketplace and grows through middle and high school. To explore all CTE has to offer in Jordan School District visit cte.jordandistrict.org today and let's get your child started on the pathway to a profession.

Anthony Godfrey:
We're talking now with Natalia who just graduated. Tell me about how that experience went.

Natalia:
Well, when I first got there it was kind of weird. I was like, "Where do I go?" And so I kind of just followed everyone and then we were just waiting for everyone, like all our classmates to get there. Everyone kind of all just together and we waited a really long time because we just got there really early and then it was a moment to get in line to go get seated and we were kind of nervous, like me and my friends were kind of nervous and we were going inside the building and I was just like, "No, we're in here." And the vibes felt so cool. We felt really cool walking in there as high school students and not even graduating high school yet and we were already going to graduate college.

Anthony Godfrey:
What went through your mind as you walked across the stage?

Natalia:
It was just kind of surreal, like no way this is happening, like no way I'm graduating and as a first generation student too, it was just like my friends are watching me and it's like I'm doing this for them, you know?

Anthony Godfrey:
And have you felt that your friends were inspired by what you were doing in Jordan Prep?

Natalia:
Yes, my friends have actually told me that before where they're like, "Oh, I wish I did this with you. Like I wish I joined earlier so I could have done this," because some of them kind of don't know where they want to go yet. They're kind of just seeing me as like a role model and like, "Oh, like I'm proud of what you did and like that you were able to accomplish something before you even like everyone else."

Anthony Godfrey:
How have your family reacted to this accomplishment?

Natalia:
My friends are really proud. Like I said, I'm a first generation so my mom never graduated from high school, my dad did, but graduating college is crazy because I don't know, they just, they always like pushed me to work hard in school and like do what they couldn't do and doing it for them, like every time I wanted to give up it was just like, "No, like you should do it, keep going, like your parents never were able to do this so like you should do it for them," and I saw, they were crying and it made me sentimental and like almost crying and yeah, I'm just, I hope they're proud.

Anthony Godfrey:
I know they are, there's no question about that. Tell me what you have planned next after this, this is a great start to a lot of wonderful things in your life. What's next?

Natalia:
I plan on going on to Weber State University.

Anthony Godfrey:
I went to Weber State as well.

Natalia:
Really, did you enjoy it?

Anthony Godfrey:
Good choice, it was fantastic.

Natalia;
Yeah, okay.

Anthony Godfrey:
What do you want to study at Weber State?

Natalia:
I want to study interior design. I love like the AutoCAD drawing and like all that and like computer drawing. I know that's something similar that's going to go into that. I always enjoy like putting stuff together. Like even when I was little, I'll design little like rooms for my dolls and stuff. And yeah, I always make sure the colors look nice with each other or the fabrics or whatever and so I think going into that, it's just really fun.

Anthony Godfrey:
You've already had a lot of preparation for interior design starting with the doll houses.

Natalia:
Yes, ever since I was like eight.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's fantastic.

Natalia:
Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me what are some of the most memorable times during the Jordan Prep program?

Natalia:
I know this is kind of silly but the field trips, I feel like that's the way that everyone got closer because like obviously you're not doing work. I do remember my first year since like everyone was new, this program was new, no one knew what was going on. It was kind of like we were like testing out everything. I remember my our TAs were really fun and I loved my TA. Then throughout these past two years with like doing it at the college, I saw like it was just kind of fun going. We had a routine down where we go on the bus every day and like miss lunch. And I would complain like all the time like “Oh, I can't have lunch with my friends” but then I graduated from college and I'm really grateful for that.

Anthony Godfrey:
So there was sacrifice along the way but you're feeling all those rewards today.

Natalia:
Yes, I am. And yeah, like on the bus ride just me and my friends would just talk and the projects we ended up doing and yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
It sounds like the friendships and connections you made with other students were a very important part of the program.

Natalia:
Yeah, I'm a very sociable person once I get to know someone. And just like I got closer with my friends like throughout these two years because I was forced to. I couldn't change out of my class I was kind of like “Oh, I'll get to know them”. It was really good because I love them now. And I think, I'm not positive, but my friend might be going to Weber as well. So we might room together but we're not sure yet. We're not sure.

Anthony Godfrey:
Great! Fellow Wildcats possibly.

Natalia:
Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
Fingers crossed.

Natalia:
Hopefully.

Anthony Godfrey;
Obviously you’re going to take the things that you learned with you on the field trips, from your TAs, in your college classes, it sounds like you're taking friendships with you as well.

Natalia:
I want to keep in touch and see what everyone does like in like four years once we graduate from high school, or like six and ten. I just want to see where everyone's at. And then I don’t know, in the summer I am working with a couple of them as a TA here in this program.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh, really you're coming back as a TA?

Natalia:
Yeah, as a TA instead of a student.

Anthony Godfrey:
Wow.

Natalia:
So it's kind of full-circle moment.

Anthony Godfrey:
Not only do you get to have a positive impact on your friends as you work together and watch each other through the years to come, but you get to have a be a positive influence on those

sixth graders starting out. And hopefully, get them to a day just like today was for you.

Natalia:
Yeah, and I hope I can explain it to them. Like maybe at the program so they can keep going and like show them like that is just worth it. Just keep pushing through and it's actually going to be really fun at the end of the day.

Anthony Godfrey:
I love that. Well, congratulations.

Natalia:
Thank you.

Anthony Godfrey:
This is well earned, well deserved, and I can't wait to hear what you do from here.

Natalia:
Thank you.

Anthony Godfrey:
We're talking now with Arlen. You just walked into the Jordan Prep celebration and I recognized you right off. You were on the podcast just a few weeks ago for Mr. Jorgensen's class talking about the Beatles and other music and here you are celebrating graduation from college. I'm so excited for you. So many people were impressed when they heard your interview on the earlier episode. How are you feeling today graduating with your one-year degree?

Arlen:
Well, to be completely honest I'm very ecstatic. At first, kind of like a lot of kids, I was like I don't want to go to graduation. This was like a big waste of time. Like, I'm just going to go there sit down and then get a little piece of paper. At first you hold that mentality, but as soon as you walk in and you see everybody around you, you're like “alright maybe I kind of judged it a little too hard”, because I walked in and instantly my face started smiling. I was like “You know what Sarah, this is kind of cool. It's kind of exciting.”

Anthony Godfrey:
It's very exciting. We're thrilled for all of you. It's really awesome. How did it feel? How did it feel when you walked across that stage?

Arlen:
Oh, walking across the stage it was nerve-wracking but it felt so great. It was like a little part of you is nervous but the majority of you is like this is so sick. Like, I'm just like it's not that I'm just like everyone else right now, but we're all feeling the same level of excitement and it was just so satisfying to be able to do that. Especially because recently since the high school graduation isn't too far off from our SLCC graduation my mom sounded more excited for my high school graduation. I was like “Mom, I'm graduating from college that's pretty sick”. She's been like “Yeah, good job. Yeah, good job.” But as soon as I walked across that stage I was like okay yeah it's not that she wasn't excited for me too, it's just that it's two things to be excited for.

Anthony Godfrey:
There's so much going on in your life it's hard to pick what to be most excited about. And speaking of that, you have other things coming up very shortly in June. Tell us about that.

Arlen:
Oh yeah, so no one else knows this. I lied, a lot of people know this already. But I'm going to be going to the Air Force and I want to make a long career path out of it. I want to go actually be a pilot for the Air Force if that's possible and I know it's a lot of work. But in June I'm going to be finally heading out to boot camp. I've been enlisted since February so that's what that's about three months so far.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah.

Arlen:
I've been enlisted for about three months so far. So finally in boot camp all the training I've been doing so far is going to show. I'll go to boot camp until, let's see I'm going in– I'll finish in September, so I'll finish September 24th and I'll be going to tech school after that. I'll be back November 24th officially. So I'm really excited to be heading out to boot camp. My technical sergeant asks all the time he's like “Do you guys think you're ready? Do you guys think you're ready?” And it’s just like “Oh, I'm as ready as I’ll ever be.” like I'm ready to get out there.

Anthony Godfrey:
So you're ready. You're ready. What are some of the things that you've been doing to prepare?

Arlen:
I mean the big thing is studying. Like obviously in boot camp you're going to get broken down. They're going to be big on like you need to be able to do your push-ups, your shifts, your run time.

Anthony Godfrey;
Right.

Arlen:
You need to be able to, as they put it, you need to be in a high-stress situation with low risk and perform really, really well. So I've really been practicing with the studying aspect because that's kind of a little low key. A lot of people don't realize but boot camp has a lot of studying in it. You need to know your chain of command. You need to know the insignia for ranks. You need to know the ranks. You need to know your air force song and your air force creed. There's a lot of stuff you need to know about studying and you know you can obviously just focus on your physicality and be like “alright, well as long as it's easy physically everything else will be fine.” But like, I don't know if you all have ever experienced this, but when I was younger my mom would try to teach me math, or my older brothers, and I wouldn't understand it. So they'd get super frustrated at me and then that makes it hard on me to understand it.

Anthony Godfrey;
Right.

Arlen:
So I'm like alright, I'm just going to learn what I need to learn beforehand. I'll be solid physically and then once I get there all it is is just hear the screaming, hear what they say, not how they say it, and then internalize whatever I need to know.

Anthony Godfrey:
You are prepared. Hear what they say, not how they say it and you're focusing on the mental. I've always been impressed with you since we met on that interview and you've got a great future ahead of you. I have zero doubt of that. So I'm excited. You have another graduation coming up with boot camp. You'll graduate from boot camp before you know it.

Arlen:
I've said that like four times today. I told my older brother I'm like I mean this college graduation was pretty easy. I’ve got three more coming up. I graduate four times this year. Even though I just put it out there like as a little joke I'm actually excited about it. I'm like four graduations in one year. Who gets to say that.?

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah well, I'm glad I was here to celebrate number one with you. This is tremendous. Like I said, you have great things ahead of you and I'm really proud of what you've done. You've worked hard.

Arlen:
Thank you. I really appreciate it.

Anthony Godfrey:
And you have a lot of challenges ahead of you that you're preparing for and that will take you to great heights. So congratulations.

Arlen:
Thank you, sir.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thanks for joining us on another episode of the Supercast. Remember, education is the most important thing you will do today. We'll see you out there.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

You could say she has “a way with words.” We’re talking about Sophia Montana, a 6th grade student at Daybreak Elementary School.

On this episode of the Supercast, find out how Sophia managed to win the Utah Regional Spelling Bee in a tough five-hour competition propelling her to compete in the National Scripps Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. How is she preparing to go up against the best in the U.S.? Listen and find out.


Audio Transcription [Music]

Anthony Godfrey:
Hello and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. You could say she has a way with words. We're talking about Sophia Montana, a sixth-grade student at Daybreak Elementary School.

On this episode of the Supercast, find out how Sophia managed to win the Utah Regional Spelling Bee in a tough five-hour competition, qualifying her to compete in the National Scripps Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. How is she preparing to go up against the best in the U.S.? Listen and find out.

[Music]

We're here at Daybreak Elementary talking with Sophia, the champion of the Northern Utah Regional Scripps Spelling Bee. First of all, congratulations.

Sophia:
Thank you.

Anthony Godfrey:
So you are a sixth grader. How many years have you been participating in the Spelling Bee?

Sophia:
Well, this is actually my first year ever participating.

Anthony Godfrey:
Your rookie year, you took state?

Sophia:
Yeah, I did.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's fantastic. Congratulations. What made you want to participate this year?

Sophia:
Well, we just had it as an assignment, and so I did the assignment, but like I've had an interest in words before. I got a dictionary for my birthday, and I like looking up words.

Anthony Godfrey:
You, okay, wait a minute. I have to pause here. You got a dictionary for your birthday, and you love looking up words. Tell me a little bit about that. When did you first discover that you really loved words? Is this a recent thing?

Sophia:
I guess it's a recent thing. I just wanted to know more words and, you know, just increase my vocabulary and use cool-sounding words instead of just boring basic words.

Anthony Godfrey:
I'm so impressed with that. Tell me what are some of your favorite words?

Sophia:
Um, Staphylococci is one of my favorite ones.

Anthony Godfrey:
Is that a bacteria of some kind?

Sophia:
Yes, it is.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh, is it? Okay. Can you tell me anything about it?

Sophia:
Um...

Anthony Godfrey:
It's gross, probably.

Sophia:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. What are some other favorite words of yours?

Sophia:
Hmm. Um… lagniappe sounds like a cool word.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh, yeah. Lagniappe. Okay.

Sophia:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
What else? And is that like a prize or a treasure, or what is it exactly? I’m trying to remember what that means.

Sophia:
Maybe some kind of treasure. I'm not sure. I'm not good at remembering all the definitions.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. It is a cool-sounding word, though.

Sophia:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
The definition doesn't really matter if it sounds cool.

Sophia:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
What are some of the other words that you like?

Sophia:
Hmm. Um… I like words like... I'm just thinking about other words. Xanthosis is like... means yellow, like... yellow something.

Anthony Godfrey:
Xanthosis?

Sophia:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey;
Does that start with an X?

Sophia:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. Any other words that are particular favorites?

Sophia:
I like...psit​tacine. Because it comes from the Greek root "cita" meaning parrot. And like... so "psit​tacine" would be like "oh, related to parrots" and I've been interested in that word lately.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. Cool. So do you just go through the dictionary from start to finish? Or do you just let it drop open to a particular page and discover words from there?

Sophia:
I just let it drop open to a page.

Anthony Godfrey:
Cool. Do you write in it and kind of circle some favorites?

Sophia:
No, I just remember them.

Anthony Godfrey:
You just remember them. That's even better.

Anthony Godfrey:
I have a few favorite words myself. I was an English teacher and I like tatterdemalion. And I also like dodecahedron, which is a 12-sided shape. You already knew that though. You're nodding your head. You knew what that was.

Sophia:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
And... yeah, there are some great words... and sclerotic. Sclerotic is like arteriosclerosis. But it means that it's-- an organization can be sclerotic. Meaning that things are kind of not moving very well. Anyway, so let's not talk about words. Let's talk about spelling. You started the spelling bee because it was an assignment.

Sophia:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
So let's talk with your teacher about that assignment. Introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what you've been doing in class.

Tawna Pippin:
My name is Tawna Pippin and I teach sixth grade at Daybreak Elementary. I told my class that when I was in elementary school, I'd won the spelling... our school's spelling bee too. And I don't know, spelling's really important. I just always try to implement it into stuff that we're doing, so we do spelling in class. They have their spelling words every week. And Sophia is an amazing speller. She always has been. So I was just really excited to watch her through this whole process.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's fantastic. Now, so you were a speller. You were a competitor. Tell me about your experience when you were a student.

Tawna Pippin:
Oh, I grew up in a little town in Washington.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. All right.

Tawna Pippin:
That's as far as I went though. Just the school bee.

Anthony Godfrey:
The school bee or the town bee?

Anthony Godfrey:
Did everyone gather in the town square and watch you...

Tawna Pippin:
Maybe not that small of a town.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay.

Tawna Pippin:
It was way back in the day.

Anthony Godfrey:
Do you remember some of your words?

Tawna Pippin:
Unfortunately, no. I know we wrote– I know I have it somewhere in a box, but I don't remember what they were.

Anthony Godfrey:
Do you remember any prizes or anything like that?

Tawna Pippin:
Well, I was just telling her that my English teacher when I was in eighth grade...It was my first year at that junior high. And she brought me like a little– She had run to her classroom. She was a foods teacher, and she taught one class of English. But she just came and surprised me with a little heart box with three pieces of chocolate in it. And I kept that little box for years. Mrs. Friswald was her name.

Anthony Godfrey:
Mrs. Friswald. Well, well done, Mrs. Friswald. Wherever you are. That's awesome. That's really cool. My brother was in the National Spelling Bee, actually, many years ago. The listeners will know just how long ago it was, one of the things he won was a Commodore 64 computer. With a cassette tape drive. So there were fewer words back then available to spell, even. But the one that he messed up on was fughetta. Fughetta has an H in it and he did not know it had an H.

[Music]

Stay with us. When we come back Sophia shares the winning word that made it possible for her to compete at a national level.

[Music]

Break:
Hello, I'm Sandy Riesgraf, Director of Communications for Jordan School District, and we want to invite you to connect with us. So many exciting things are happening in your child's school, your neighbor's school, in every school here, every day. Don't miss out on following the fun or simply staying informed when there's important information we need to share. Join us at jordandistrict.org, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @jordandistrict. We can't wait to connect.

[Music]

Anthony Godfrey:
So, how have your parents reacted to this?

Sophia:
Well, my parents thought I was some kind of a magician. They were like, "Wow, you just did that again. This is your first year. How did you win a regional spelling bee?" And now you're going to Washington, D.C.

Anthony Godfrey:
So let's go back to competition and what that was like for you. You obviously remember the winning word. Tell me about the word that you won with.

Sophia:
That was– the winning word, pneumatocyst.

Anthony Godfrey:
Pneumatocyst.

Sophia:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
My license plate has that word on it. I'm just kidding. What does the word actually mean? What can you tell me about the word?

Sophia:
Some kind of thing to do with seaweed. I remembered it like some kind of algae.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh, okay.

Sophia:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
And is this a word that you had studied in advance or is this one that you just, that was just thrown out for you?

Sophia:
I studied it in advance. I was going through like flashcards and I found the word, luckily, because if I wasn't doing that, I wouldn't have known the word. Like it was just a few days before.

Anthony Godfrey:
Now sometimes they have a set list. Did they have a set list that they said they would be drawing from?

Sophia:
Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
But I understand that the competition went on so long that they had to maybe go– did they have to go off of that list and find some other words because you and your opponents were spelling things so well for so long?

Sophia:
Well, usually they do go off the list, but this year I don't think they said any, they didn't have a spell any words that were off the list.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh, okay. So they were all on the list and tell me about your preparation. You said that you had flashcards and you were preparing that way.

Sophia:
Well, the flashcards were actually like, I guess you could call it digital. I used the Word Club app, which was like made for regional and school spelling bees.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh wow.

Sophia:
And you just had, like you have your phone and you have these little flashcards and you can just look at them as long as you want to and then you can get quizzed on them.

Anthony Godfrey:
I never thought about having an app that could help you with that. So you were able to– how many hours do you guess that you studied before the competition?

Sophia:
Well, some days I would study like an hour, two, three, five.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me what it sounded like since I wasn't there. Don't you have to say the word and then spell it and then say it again? Is that still the rule?

Sophia:
Yeah, I believe so.

Anthony Godfrey:
Will you do that with your winning word for me right now? Say it, spell it and say it again.

Sophia:
Okay. Pneumatocyst. P-N-E-U-M-A-T-O-C-Y-S-T. Pneumatocyst.

Anthony Godfrey:
Wow. Very nice. Very poised. I could hear every letter distinctly. You practice that too, I'll bet. You don't want to mumble through it and have someone mishear you. So did you ask for a sentence or a definition very frequently? Did you have some strategy that way?

Sophia:
Well, some words I had to ask about because it's really strange when you're on stage, when the people are talking into the microphone, it sounds like almost two people talking at the same time. So like I got a word, curio, and I thought there was a "cheerio" and so I had to ask for the definition so I knew which word it was.

Anthony Godfrey:
And that was quickly cleared up.

Sophia:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
And you got curio right, obviously. Did you get some words wrong but then someone else got a word wrong and then you were able to continue on or were you able to spell every word?

Sophia:
I was able to spell every word but we did have a written round in the beginning and I spelled one of the words wrong. Almost everyone spelled the word before that one, ascites, wrong.

Anthony Godfrey:
But you got ascites right?

Sophia:
Yeah, so I stayed in the game.

Anthony Godfrey:
You are incredibly impressive. I can't believe all the words that you know how to spell. And I love that you're so passionate about learning more words. So tell me what you're doing to prepare now for the national level.

Sophia:
Well, I just, I look around for any words that I can find. I have this book that has like stuff about etymology and like spelling rules like where to put a double consonant. And I sometimes study that. Then when I won the regional spelling bee, they gave me like this little gift card that was for this, I think, company called Hexco. And I got like 800 words that were really hard that were likely to come up on the national spelling bee to study. And I'm also doing that and it's online.

Anthony Godfrey:
Great. So do you have all 800 words down cold already?

Sophia:
No, I only have a few words but I will keep studying and I will eventually study all the words.

Anthony Godfrey:
When does the competition happen and where?

Sophia:
It happens in Washington, D.C. I think around the Gaylord National Resort. I think that's what it's called. And it is going to happen during the last week of May. Like they do it on two different days like preliminaries, finals, and so that's why we're going to be there for a week. And also we do a lot of fun stuff there. It's not only the spelling bee.

Anthony Godfrey:
So you can tour around and see some of the monuments and sites.

Sophia:
Yeah, that will be really fun.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's really cool. I love Washington, D.C. Have you been before?

Sophia:
No, I haven't.

Anthony Godfrey:
So no matter how well you do in the competition, this is going to be really exciting.

Sophia:
It is. It will be. And my cousin lives in Washington, D.C. so I'll get to see her too. I might stay like a few more days just to see her.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh, that's awesome. So you've got a cousin there. This is going to be fantastic regardless of the outcome.

Sophia:
I know.

Anthony Godfrey:
But I like your chances of doing very well at the national level. You've got the eye of the tiger. I can tell that you have that competitive spirit. So I've heard that it's not only words in the English language that you'll have to spell. Is that accurate?

Sophia:
Yes, there are many different words. There are German words, Spanish and Greek, and Latin words.

Anthony Godfrey:
That is pretty incredible that they're going to make you spell words from other languages. Very impressive. So I think it's really cool also that you're not just studying a list of words, but you're studying rules about how spelling works. Do you also study kind of roots to words? Does that help?

Sophia:
Yes, it definitely does. Like I was saying, the Greek "cyta" meaning parrot and just a basic one like pre-meaning before, post, after, and just tons of others.

Anthony Godfrey:
So it kind of helps you break words down into different elements that maybe help you spell things a little more easily.

Sophia:
Yes, it does.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's impressive. That's going to serve you well for a long time and that's something that you don't always think about first when you're thinking about the spelling bee is how much it helps your vocabulary and how much you understand words as a result of being a part of that.

Sophia:
Yeah, and they said I was going to have to listen to how people say words and then I'm going to have to correct how they pronounce the words for the rest of my life, because now I know how to pronounce almost every word.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh yeah, that's really cool. So spell it out for me. What does it feel like to be up on stage?

Sophia:
It feels strange. I mean, the lights are really bright and when I was sitting, I just wanted to close my eyes and when I got on stage the first time, I thought I was going to faint. Like I actually felt like I was just going to collapse, but well, I didn't. I just have to keep calm. My eyes just facing forward and just spell whatever word they give me.

Anthony Godfrey:
Just kind of stay focused. But the fact that you've been on stage in regions, that will really help you when you're at nationals.

Sophia:
Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
This is a huge trophy that we have here in the office. Tell me where this is going to go. It's actually a piece of furniture. It's so large.

Sophia:
Well, it's going to go in our, I guess it's called a display case and everyone's going to see this and it's going to be there forever.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay, fantastic. Well, I look forward to seeing it many years into the future. Well, I'm really proud of what you're doing. I love that you're passionate about words the way that you are. And I know you're going to have a great time regardless of the outcome and that you're going to work really hard to be at your best. So thanks for representing Daybreak, and Jordan District, and the state of Utah. So wow, that's awesome.

Sophia:
Thank you.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thanks for joining us on another episode of the Supercast. Remember, education is the most important thing you will do today. We'll see you out there.

[Music]

They are careful not to contaminate evidence or miss a clue to solve a complicated, but in this case, fictional crime. We are talking about students in the Criminal Justice Program at JATC South in Riverton.

On this episode of the Supercast, hear from some Criminal Justice students who are excelling as crime scene investigators, using their forensics skills to compete at the national level and hopefully one day land a job in law enforcement.


Audio Transcription [Music]

Anthony Godfrey:
Hello and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. They are careful not to contaminate evidence or miss a clue to solve a complicated, and in this case, fictional crime. We're talking about students in the Criminal Justice Program at JATC South in Riverton.

On this episode of the Supercast, hear from some criminal justice students who are excelling as crime scene investigators, using their forensic skills to compete at the national level and hopefully, one day land a job in law enforcement.

We're here at JATC South to learn more about the Criminal Justice Program, and we're talking with instructor Brandon Palmer. Brandon, tell us a little bit about this program and the competition we're here to learn more about.

Brandon Palmer:
Sure. The Criminal Justice Program here at the JATC is a concurrent enrollment program, which consists of four courses from the Salt Lake Community College. I combine these four courses so it seems like just one big program, but by the time they're done at the end of the year, they'll have 12 college credits along with their high school credit.

Anthony Godfrey:
Wow. That's a lot of credit.

Brandon Palmer:
It is. That's the huge benefit of this class. As we go through the class, I was in law enforcement for quite a while, and I kind of give them the truth about the careers that I was involved in throughout my career as a law enforcement officer. A lot of them come in thinking they want to be in law enforcement, forensics, or whatever. I direct them to get a good, educated idea of what their career is. I do have a lot at the end of the year telling me there's no way I'm going to do that. But I figure that's a win. That's a win.

Anthony Godfrey:
Those who've listened to the podcast before know that I've said it's as important to learn that this is not something you want to do as it is to find out that, hey, this is a career I'd like to pursue. Because this is a great time to explore that. You get some college credit in the process, and then you're not on a path that you find out most of the way through your degree that this might not be for me. But I'm sure you also find some students who really decide, hey, I love this even more than I thought I would.

Brandon Palmer:
They then have a better-educated background to make that decision.

Anthony Godfrey:
Sure. They can kind of chart their path from here to get to their career goal. Tell me about the competition.

Brandon Palmer:
The competition is through SkillsUSA. It's a national CTSO. These ladies just did the state competition. The three here on this side did the Criminal Investigation competition, and they won gold. And then this one here did the Criminal Justice competition, and she also won gold.

Anthony Godfrey:
Wow. That's awesome.

Brandon Palmer:
It is. It's great. They worked hard, and then they showed up, and they did what they needed to do. And now they're on their way to Georgia.

Anthony Godfrey:
So tell me about the two competitions and what's involved.

Brandon Palmer:
Okay, so the criminal investigation competition, they'll be able to get into more detail than I will. But there's several phases. There is a crime scene where they have to walk in together as a team, work together as a team to get a good idea of kind of what happened. Not so much the focus of who done it, but what exactly happened. Is there a crime related? So they have to look at the evidence that's available there to determine that. And then they split them up, and they each do a certain specialty. So for example, blood spatter analysis, fingerprint analysis, and they'll be able to tell you a lot better than I would on the other side.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. And for the other competition?

Brandon Palmer:
The criminal justice competition, there is not a crime scene, but there is a scenario that they have to walk through from start to beginning, so like a domestic. So they walk into a domestic, may have to handle that domestic, determine if there's a crime, make an arrest, and any digging that they may have to do.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's serious stuff.

Brandon Palmer:
It is.

Anthony Godfrey:
So let's talk to the team a little bit. Introduce yourselves and tell me a little bit about what you enjoy from this class.

Quinnley Starr:
I'm Quinnley Starr, and I love the forensic side, but through this competition I've been able to learn. I think I'm not as interested as being hands on in the crime, so that's been very helpful. But I really enjoyed this competition because I was able to figure out exactly what I like about crime scenes, and we were able to all work together, and I learned the stress of a crime scene. Like, these CSI have so much stress on them because if they mess anything up it greatly impacts investigation, and so they have to do everything as perfect as they can.

Anthony Godfrey:
And you're all from Bingham, I understand.

Quinnley Starr:
Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. So you don't like the hands on as much, but what aspects of it do you enjoy?

Quinnley Starr:
So I enjoy trying to figure out what happens. I don't want to spend all my day just packaging evidence, but I enjoy being like, okay, so we know all of this, so what happened? So I think it'd be more interesting to criminal profile who would be doing this. How did it happen?

Anthony Godfrey;
Great.

Alison Andereson:
I'm Alison Anderson, and I really love the hands-on experience that this class gives us. Every week we have a training day where we get to experience new jobs that we could go into and just how they would do it. So one time, every few weeks we do a self-defense class, and our teacher just teaches self-defense, and we get to go over all that. And it's just such a cool experience that we get to learn how everyone, different jobs, would go about doing their jobs. And it's just really cool to have our hands-on experience.

Anthony Godfrey:
So what did you enjoy about the competition?

Alison Anderson:
I love the hands-on experience because it's just so cool to be able to walk into a crime scene and have it be so live like. It's cool to see how it would actually be set up and be able to go through it and be like, this is how it would actually happen were I to become a CSI and see what I would actually have to do in a real-life situation.

Anthony Godfrey:
So you don't mind being boots on the ground, packaging things up, being the first to come in and tell the other police to step aside. You're here from CSI.

Alison Anderson:
Exactly.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay, and tell me about your experience.

Lucy Herold:
My name is Lucy Herold, and I really enjoy just learning about what happened. I love doing puzzles and putting things together. Packaging evidence was really fun. Learning how to do that was a blast. This cause really helped us prepare for that, especially with our training days, because we learned a lot about every single part of criminal justice, not just CSI or criminal justice. We learned about law and stuff, which is really helpful. So we know if there was an actual crime committed and things like that. So it was just a blast in general for me.

Anthony Godfrey:
So do you sometimes, I guess I hadn't thought of this, but until you mentioned it, the first thing you're doing is walking in to determine whether it's a crime in the first place. Because if you jump to conclusions, then you can end up down the wrong path. Now all I know about gathering evidence comes from pop culture. So do you ever take a pen out of your pocket and pick up the evidence that way?

Lucy Herold:
No.

Anthony Godfrey:
No, you're all laughing. Okay. All right. Well, I guess "Law and Order" and all the movies I've watched have not prepared me to be successful in a SkillsUSA competition. Tell me, what was the competition like? Tell me some of what was involved in that and some of the things you had to do well in order to earn the gold medal and go on to nationals.

Quinnley Starr:
Okay. So first of all, the first thing we had to do was go through the crime scene. And so we each have a role to play. Like I measure and sketch the crime scene. She photographs it and Lucy looks for all the evidence and marks it. And so we all have our role. So we go through it and we just photograph it, sketch it, find all the evidence and just record everything. And then we have to write a report on it. And then we each have a skill demonstration we have to do. I did presumptive blood testing. So they gave me a tray with a red substance on it and I had to determine if it was blood or not.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. Presumptive blood testing. That's a phrase I've never said before. What were some of your roles?

Alison Anderson:
So I photographed the scene. So I just made sure that I got and found every piece of evidence that there was so then we could make sure that we packaged everything and make sure that we didn't miss anything that could be vital to the investigation. It's a super important role because if we have to like recreate the crime scene, then we have to make sure that we have photographs of every single evidence. Then as we're looking at it again, we don't miss anything that could be vital. My individual skill was fingerprinting. So they gave me three mugs and I had to dust the mugs to find fingerprints. And this is also a super important skill because no one has the same fingerprint. So if you get a really good fingerprint from an object like my mug, then you could determine whose fingerprint that was and determine that they were there at the scene. And it's just super important to make sure that you get the right person. And so fingerprints, it's a really good way to find them.

Anthony Godfrey:
So you're preserving the scene through photographs.

Alison Anderson:
Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
Now tell me about your role.

Lucy Herold:
So I take notes and I help Allison and Quinnley either measure the crime scene or help her take pictures. And then I also help measure stuff too. And then my personal skill was trace evidence, which were you have to look at it like a piece of clothing item. And you have to see if there's any fibers, hair or any like things on it. Like there are certain lights you can use. You have to package the fibers or hairs and like a paper bindle and then label it correctly. You have to package the evidence correctly too.

Anthony Godfrey:
So you have to pull everything together so that you can then take the time to think it through and puzzle it out and try to get a profile and think it through. Now you were the solo gold medalist. Introduce yourself and tell me about your competition.

Meridian Darger:
My name is Meridian Darger. I just turned 18 a few days ago. I've known that I wanted to go in criminal justice in some shape or form ever since I was really young. And then I found out about this program at my old high school. Well, I go to Riverton, but that's just my home school. All of my classes are through Kings Peak online high school. So I found out about it in my early like sophomore year of high school. I found out about this program and I knew I just needed to go into it because I already know like what my calling is, but I just needed to make sure I can handle it because it's stressful. And my ultimate goal is to become a homicide detective. But you have to become a police officer for so many years to do that. So I was just making sure that I can do that.

Anthony Godfrey:
And what do you think after taking the class and being in the competition?

Meridian Darger:
Yes, yes. I love it. It's just, I just know like that's my calling out there. And sometimes I think about like, oh maybe I should do something else. This is going to be stressful. But then I think like there's probably a victim or a victim family out there that's going to need my help to bring them closure. Just help people.

Anthony Godfrey:
I love that you have felt that before being in the class and that this has confirmed it.

Meridian Darger:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about the competition that you were involved in.

Meridian Darger:
So my competition, I had several scenarios that I was just working on on my own. So we would take turns because there was 12 other people competing. We would just take turns going into different rooms and we couldn't talk about it after. So I did like a witness interview report to an armed robbery. I did take fingerprints off a bottle as well. I did a domestic dispute call that I went and responded to and ended in an arrest. And then I also did a, it was a traffic stop, but it turned out to be that the person that was driving had a warrant out for their arrest. So I had to take care of that during the crime scene. So it was a bit higher stakes, but it was like really stressful for me, but it was really fun.

Anthony Godfrey:
Now, how do you prepare for the next level of competition? You've qualified for national competition. Tell me when that is and what you're doing to get ready for that.

Meridian Darger:
Okay. So I took first place in regionals and state. So I think both of them will be kind of similar to the nationals one. I'm just preparing with them. We're going to be working together like once a week leading up and it's going to be June 24th and it's going to be in Atlanta, Georgia. So we're traveling together because we are in school, but they're still going to be competing in their Crime Scene Investigation while I compete in my Criminal Justice Competition.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's really exciting. So you knew this is what you wanted to do. The class has confirmed it and your path is that you want to be a detective.

Meridian Darger:
Yeah, that's my ultimate goal, but I still want to experience like being a police officer, doing smaller state crimes, just trying out different things because I just love what this does for people, what this does for victims, what that does for families, how it protects people. So I just want to experience it for areas, but yeah, my ultimate goal is homicide detective.

Anthony Godfrey:
Stay with us. When we come back, we'll analyze a crime scene with the students of the criminal justice program at JATC South.

Break:
Does your student want to become a veterinarian, commercial pilot, programmer? Maybe they want to make a difference as a dental assistant. These are just some of the programs offered as part of Career and Technical Education, CTE in Jordan School District. CTE provides the technical skills needed to prepare students for future employment or a successful transition to post-secondary education. Career and Technical Education provides work-based learning opportunities. We partner with industry experts to offer apprenticeships and internships with students working in the real world at real jobs while going to school. The CTE experience starts in our elementary schools with the Kids' Marketplace and grows through middle and high school. To explore all CTE has to offer in Jordan School District visit cte.jordandistrict.org today and let's get your child started on the pathway to a profession.

Quinnley Starr:
With going to nationals, it's pretty expensive so we're trying to raise money for it so we have a GoFundMe. If anyone is willing to donate or can, it would help tremendously.

Alison Anderson:
On the GoFundMe, it's under Criminal Justice Nationals Competition. If you go to GoFundMe and you search that up and donate even like $5, it'll be so helpful.

Anthony Godfrey:
Now I understand that I said blood splatter and that is not the correct term. Tell me.

Quinnley Starr:
It's blood spatter.

Anthony Godfrey:
Spatter.

Anthony Godfrey:
I think it's because when I like to buy vinyl, it's a splatter pattern when it's like kind of the, okay nevermind. So paint splatters, blood spatters.

Quinnley Starr:
Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay.

Alison Anderson:
Any CSI will correct you if you say splatter.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay.

Lucy Herold:
When we were at state, we got shirts that said it's not splatter, it's splatter.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. Alright.

Brandon Palmer:
Splatter is the sound the spatter makes.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. So it's splattered and left a spatter. Alright. I've learned a lot today. Alright, Meridian, we're going to walk into this scene. You haven't seen it yet?

Meridian Darger:
No.

Anthony Godfrey:
Talk me through your thought process and what you see and how you determine whether CSI needs to come in.

Meridian Darger:
Okay. Yeah. Before entering like any building, if I was just getting called here, dispatched here, I would get information from dispatch about the type of scenario that's happening. So if it's something that's more high stakes like a domestic call or violent or potential with a weapon, I would immediately call for a backup before I even entered the facility.

Anthony Godfrey:
Can I be your backup?

Meridian Darger:
Yes, you can be my backup.

Anthony Godfrey:
Can I point around the room and then yell clear?

Meridian Darger:
That's only in your show. It's your pop culture.

Anthony Godfrey:
I still want to do it.

Meridian Darger:
Okay. If you're clearing a building and there's a person with a gun, you'll look around. We've done that in the past before.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. I'll just be your backup. Here we go. Open the door. Let's see what we've got.

Meridian Darger:
So I would enter the building if they like let me in. So immediately there is a, immediately there is a body. But if I'm coming into a scenario, the first thing I do is to secure it because I know there's someone there. They could be bleeding out. They could be hurt. But I'm no good to them, if somebody shoots me from behind the bush or something like that. So I have to go through and I immediately clear the scene before. And then I would, I would probably also call for medical to come while I'm searching and then let them know that they can't enter until I let them know it's clear. So medical would come, they would, and I could also clear him to see if he is deceased and let's say he is deceased.

Anthony Godfrey:
And describe what you see here. He looks pretty deceased.

Meridian Darger:
So in the middle of the floor, he's laying down with his knees kind of buckled up. He's got immediate blood stain, a little blood pool by his head. There's a pot that has been knocked over and he is wearing gloves, like basic gardening stuff and there's also dirt near his face. So that's what I see.

Anthony Godfrey:
So what do we do next?

Meridian Darger:
So after that, I would just, if there's nobody here, I would just, I would be calling for–

Anthony Godfrey:
Clear, clear. There's nobody here.

Meridian Darger:
It's been clear. I would be calling for the CSI to come and then I would also have kept in mind a path I would have taken through this whole entire building and let them know how they're supposed to walk in. Like stay against back walls, stay against corners so you don't step on any evidence.

Anthony Godfrey:
And now CSI is on the scene.

Meridian Darger:
And now CSI, come on.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay CSI, you're here. Tell us about what you do from the start of this crime scene.

Quinnley Starr:
Okay, so the first thing we do is put on personal protective equipment. So we got shoe covers, gloves, goggles, face masks and masks. And then we each get our individual equipment out. For example, I get out my sketching equipment.

Alison Anderson:
I get out the camera so I can take photos of everything.

Lucy Herold:
And then I get out evidence markers and a notepad.

Anthony Godfrey:
Come around, take a look and tell me what you think happened.

Lucy Herold:
So we did find some red substance on the bottom of his shoe. We know that whoever's red substance that is was walking away.

Alison Anderson:
We can determine that by looking at the tails. So it goes because the tails are facing away from the body, we can determine that whoever or like wherever the blood was coming from, they were walking away from the body.

Lucy Herold:
Because the tails were pointing the direction they were leaving to.

Anthony Godfrey:
I did not notice the tails until you pointed them out. All right.

Alison Anderson:
We also noticed that on this corner, there is a red substance and it’s dripping down it.

Anthony Godfrey:
So that's the corner of a cart.

Alison Anderson:
So it looks like the head could have hit it.

Anthony Godfrey:
He bled out. That's the term, right? Bled out?

Brandon Palmer:
Possibly. There'd have to be a lot more blood than that, obviously.

Anthony Godfrey:
I just wanted to say the phrase bled out. You know? I just wanted to say that.

Brandon Palmer:
Also, it could have been a broken neck. So we determined that this may be connected to this, right? And then how did it get caused? But then you also see some more blood and that tells you what?

Alison Anderson:
That someone was walking away from the body.

Brandon Palmer:
You would obviously test the blood, but by looking at it, it would be hard for him to make that blood trail, right? So where did this blood come from?

Lucy Herold:
Possibly from someone else who might have been at the scene.

Brandon Palmer:
Then how was it caused?

Alison Anderson:
It was dripping from something and then the movement shows like walking.

Brandon Palmer:
Okay. That's great. So now you know it's walking out, right? But where did the blood come from? And this is where it takes discipline. So you're focused in this little area and then you branch out a little bit. Is there anything more? Right? So where is the first drop of blood possibly?

Lucy Herold:
The first drop of blood is right next to the pot.

Brandon Palmer:
Okay. So is there anything in the vicinity that could have caused it?

Lucy Herold:
Maybe if they picked up the pot and they cut themselves from it, it's a possibility.

Quinnley Starr:
Oh yeah. We can see a red substance is dripping down the bottom of the plastic pot.

Lucy Herold:
Yeah. So someone must have cut themselves on it. It's kind of hard for the deceased to make that blood trail walking away from it. So there is indication that there was a second person at the crime scene when this individual could have passed.

Brandon Palmer:
So we're going to try to find this person.

Anthony Godfrey:
You know what? We're going to leave the crime as a cliffhanger for those listening. But it is interesting how many assumptions I made and how many drops of blood I stepped in before I really started to pay attention to what could have happened and the evidence around. So bravo. Congratulations on the keyed skills you've developed in analyzing a potential crime scene. This is awesome.

Thanks for joining us on another episode of the Supercast. Remember, education is the most important thing you will do today. We'll see you out there.

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