Here are a few samples of my work both while interning for Nebo School District and also while I was a reporter for the BYU Universe.

Students Enthusiastic for a New School Year
August 29, 2017
Fresh school supplies, a change of season, and fall colors emerging mean it’s time for a new school year. Over 32,000 students in Nebo School District returned to school this past week and while some may mourn the end of summer, many are excited at what a new year will bring. Across Nebo School District, teachers and staff welcomed the students back with enthusiasm.
“It’s been nice to have life back in the building,” Orchard Hills Elementary Principal Ryan Murray said. “You go all summer and it’s pretty quiet. I love feeling the excitement level come back.”
Walking through the halls of Orchard Hills and the other elementary schools, the energy from the students is tangible. Children are sharing their summer memories with friends, meeting with their new teachers, and admiring the fun decorations adorning the halls.
The teachers and staff have been adding to the excitement by putting on activities to welcome students back. For example, at East Meadows Elementary, the students participated in daily activities as part of “Mustang Week.”
“We had a field day, classroom activities, art projects, and we finished with a dance party at our back to school assembly,” said East Meadows Principal Celeste Gledhill. “We love having the kids back at school.”
Teachers have been busy over the 12-week summer break preparing for their new classrooms. Ms. Jaelle Judkins, third-grade teacher at East Meadows, said it feels great to be back and meet the students she’s been preparing for.
“I absolutely have loved meeting the kids,” she said. “We’ve been preparing all summer, we get our class lists but you don’t know who they are yet. And then at back-to-school night you get to meet them and know their personalities and put a face to a name. It just feels so good to be back.”
The students, too, are excited to meet their teachers. One second grader from Salem Elementary said that meeting his teacher and making new friends was his favorite part about coming back to school. Other students say they love coming back to their favorite subjects such as reading, math, or science.
Hobble Creek Principal Mike Johnson said that while most are excited, there are some who might be nervous about a new year.
“Emotions are high with a lot of firsts for people, and some students are kind of timid,” Johnson said.”But it’s been fun to feel the energy again. These buildings were made to have that kind of positive energy.”

Payson Teachers go to Hawaii
September 11, 2017
For this year’s Homecoming at Payson High School, the class of 1998 wanted to do more than just a fun assembly. The Class of 1998 chose to give back to the teachers who had been a longstanding influence at the school with the opportunity to take a free trip to Hawaii. 
Twelve teachers who had worked there for 20 years or more were awarded with a 5-day stay at a vacation home in Hawaii. Justin Haskell presented the award at the assembly and said the alumni wanted to do something to honor the teachers for all that they had done. 
“We remember these teachers,” Haskell said. “We had classes with them and we wanted to thank them for the 20 or more years of service to the high school.” 
Haskell said that it is a small way to show the teachers how much their time and sacrifice is appreciated.  
“I have had the chance to travel around the world since high school,” Haskell continued. “I have realized since then how much of a difference my education has made in my life. It’s only now that I am starting to glimpse how much teachers actually do for us. It just feels so good to be able to thank them.” 
At the assembly, the 12 teachers were presented with gifts to open containing Hawaiian leis. Tona Graff, Dean of Students at Payson High, was one of the teachers awarded. 
“We were all initially shocked and couldn’t believe that they were being so generous,” Graff said. “We kept waiting for a punch line. When we realized it was for real, I felt mostly humbled by the generosity being shown.” 
Principal RaShel Shepherd said that it was a neat experience and a fun surprise for their assembly for both the teachers and the students. She said the event has brought added enthusiasm to the students for the upcoming school year. 
“The students were so excited for their teachers,” Principal Shepherd said. “They all gave standing ovations for the teachers awarded and it has brought a lot of excitement to the school.” 
In addition to sending the teachers on a trip, the alumni wanted to honor their legacy permanently. Together with the nonprofit organization, Pencils of Promise, they are doing a fundraiser with the Payson community and Payson schools to help build a school in Guatemala. 
“We are going to have a placard that will honor the teachers and administrators from Payson High School there,” Haskell said. “[The Class of ‘98] are going to match dollar for dollar every donation that is made to make this a reality.” 
You can find more information about the fundraiser here(link is external).
We are so happy for the teachers at Payson High and for their hard work over these past 20 years!
The teachers who were awarded:
Chad Beck
Brenda Burdick
Tona Graff
Sherry Heaps
Kyle Hill
John Holden
Marilyn Miller
Ross Nelson
Stan Peck
Nyle Russell
Reed Thomson
Linda Walter

Nebo Special Education Extravaganza 2017
September 22, 2017
In the event’s eleventh year, the Nebo Special Education Extravaganza was another huge success. The seven junior high schools in the district came together with special needs students and peer mentors for a fun-filled day.
“The special ed kids just love it,” said Jo Edan Parker, special education teacher at Diamond Fork and one of the event’s organizers. “They’ve been talking about it for weeks and couldn’t wait to see their shirts and prizes.”
The students participated in fourteen different activities including bowling, ring toss, high jump, and face painting. The main gym and outside fields at Diamond Fork were filled with an excited energy as 102 special ed students and approximately 110 peer tutors joined in the fun.
Coach Linda Lewis, former P.E. teacher, organized and coordinated the event along with Ms. Parker. Coach Lewis said she is happy with how the event has grown over the years and how many people come and participate.
“It used to be just my P.E. students who served as peer tutors,” Coach Lewis said. “In the last few years we have included more peer tutors from participating schools and it’s made a big difference.”
Coach Lewis emphasized the profound impact this event has on those who serve as peer mentors.
“The special ed kids have a fun day, they get prizes and have a fun time,” she said. “But for the peer tutors, this is a day they will remember. It’s an everlasting experience. I’ve had students become Special Education teachers because of the experiences they’ve had with this activity.”
Coach Lewis further explained the impact it has on the school year. Now the peer tutors will see the special ed kids in the hallways and give a high five or offer to eat lunch with them.
“There’s 102 special education kids that will have a little more respect and love from their general education peers,” Coach Lewis said.
Following with Nebo District’s theme “Be a Nebo Hero” the students all received Hero T-shirts and bags with phrases like “Ka-pow!” on them to signify their work as heroes.
Pam Norton, District Level Specialist, said that many people help make this activity run smoothly.
“The teachers of these students are dedicated and work really hard for their kids,” Ms. Norton said. “The peer mentors involved are also so willing to help these students and create a positive experience for them.”

What is your Hope?
October 27, 2017

Art City Students Delight Nebo School Board
November 27, 2017
Principal Lisa Muirbrook along with the Art City Elementary student council and the student action team gave a wonderful presentation at the November Nebo Board Meeting. 
Student Council President Kooper Lewis addressed the Board first. He spoke about the activities of Student Council and Art City’s “Rad Kids” program. This program is lead by PE teachers Julia Murray and Kathy Anderton. He explained that this program is meant to teach kids safety out in public by discussing basic safety guidelines and role playing dangerous situations.
The Student Action Team then performed some skits to demonstrate what they have learned. Some of the situations in their skits included stranger danger, fire safety, dog safety, and other situations that might require self defense. 
The students practiced shouting “Stay back you’re not my mom! No! No! No!” and they emphasized that it’s never their fault if someone harms them in any way. 
“We are safe, respectful, and responsible,” Audrey Swank, a member of the Student Action Team said. “We are good examples.” 
The Student Action Team also looks out for bullying and presents skits to the school every month. These skits are meant to show students the right and wrong way to confront a dangerous situation. The student members of this team prepare these skits on their own time and often practice during recess.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be with these kids every day,” Principal Lisa Muirbrook said. “Art City is a very exciting place to be.”

I helped create this brochure for the Nebo Education Foundation

Springville Junior High Raises Close to $1,000
November 23, 2017
In just seven days, Springville Junior High students raised $923.68 that they donated to the Light Up Puerto Rico campaign.
“When the hurricane went through I talked with one of our teachers, Mrs. Emily Edman who is from Puerto Rico, about the devastation there,” Principal Ryan McGuire explained. “We felt like this was a good cause to support this year.”
Their fundraiser, “Penny Wars,” was accomplished by students bringing in their spare change to school for a week. Each of the grades competed against each other to see who could bring in more money and on the last day of the fundraiser, an assembly was held where they announced the winner and presented the check to Light Up Puerto Rico.
“We are so grateful for this effort,” said Ms. Cari Lu Alvarado of Light Up Puerto Rico at the assembly. “More than 3 million people are without power. Little by little with donations like this one, I know that Puerto Rico will shine again.”
The money donated will go towards generators, lights, tents, lanterns, water filters, and anything else needed for the power and sustainability of Puerto Rico.
Ms. Edman said it was a wonderful experience to see her school contribute to her home country.
“It was so heartwarming to see the students I teach and the people I work with raise money for something so dear to me,” Ms. Edman said. “It is truly devastating to see my home in this state and I know this money will make a difference. I will never forget this.”

All Nebo Articles:
Nebo Students Enthusiastic for a New Year
Be a Nebo Hero
Payson Teachers Go To Hawaii
Sage Creek Students Enchant Nebo Board with Chinese
Nebo Special Education Extravaganza
Nebo School District is Awarded Business of the Month
What Happens to Nebo Schools During the Summer?
Grants Awarded in October 2017
Spanish Oaks Delights Nebo Board
Nebo Hope
Spanish Fork Rotary Gives Dictionaries to Third Graders
School Transformed into Hogwarts for Halloween
Students have Amazing Opportunity to Prepare for College
Springville Junior High Raises Close to $1000
Art City Students Delight School Board
Salem Hills High School Raises Money for Make-a-Wish Foundation
Nebo Sports Captains Come Together for Sportsmanship

BYU Lacrosse Coach Matt Schneck: Three-time Lacrosse National ChampionMarch 15, 2016
The BYU lacrosse team won its first national championship in 1997. This began a legacy not only for the program, but also for then-player Matt Schneck.
However, when Schneck first came to BYU, it was to play football, not lacrosse. He played defensive back and wide receiver for four years under former coach LaVell Edwards. When he was on the gridiron, he never thought he’d go on to be the head lacrosse coach. 
“I was never a superstar football player, but I had a great experience being part of the team,” Schneck said. “It opened up a lot of opportunities and I made a lot of great relationships.”
Schneck said his family was sports-minded and he grew up playing multiple sports. He contrasted that with athletes  today who focus on one sport they stick with throughout high school and college.
“I was never just a lacrosse player — I always played multiple sports throughout my years of elementary school and high school,” Schneck said. “It was track. It was basketball. It was football. It was lacrosse. I just played every sport I could.” 
In 1997, what is now known as the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association hosted its first national lacrosse tournament. Prior to that point, there wasn’t a national championship the team could play for. Schneck said the opportunity to be involved for this “inaugural season” provided him with the incentive to join the team his senior year. 
BYU won the national championship that year, the first of four times BYU would hold the title. 
“Matt was a great teammate,” said Johnny Jackson, who also played on the 1997 championship team. “He was very well liked by everyone and a great player — especially for not having played for a few years.”
It wasn’t long before Schneck transitioned to coaching. His first coaching job brought him back to football at Timpview High School. 
“I always wanted to coach,” Schneck said. “At the time, I didn’t think I would be coaching lacrosse for BYU, but I was always drawn (there). I loved the students and so I began looking for opportunities to coach there.”
Schneck soon realized, however, that coaching college football would require a major career change from his occupation as a business owner. In 2002, there was an opportunity to volunteer with the BYU lacrosse team and he transitioned back to lacrosse once again. He was an assistant coach when the team won the national championship again in 2007.
“At the time it was purely volunteer,” Schneck said. “I was probably an anomaly as an assistant coach being able to volunteer for all those years thanks to my patient and understanding wife.”
In 2009, Schneck became the program’s head coach. Two years later the team became national champions for the fourth time, making Schneck the first person to win the national championship as a player, assistant coach and head coach. 
“That was pretty cool,” Schneck said. “The next year the Colorado State coach did the same thing, but it’s still neat to say I was the first.”
Schneck has now been with the lacrosse program for 14 years. During that time, he’s seen the program grow. When it began, there were no buses, no sanctioned fields and no funding. With greater support, the program has evolved into something much bigger.
Greg Saunders, who coached the team from 1986 to 1990, said he’s loved seeing the progress of the lacrosse program. 
“Matt Schneck has provided stability to the program,” Saunders said. “Back then we were always wondering if we were going to have a program year after year. He’s really got it on solid footing and taken it to the next level.” 
One of the first things Schneck did when he became head coach was switch to early morning practices. Schneck said this was important to have consistency for the team.
“It was hard for me to be home for my family (before),” Schneck said. “Now we always have access to everything and we can get done by 10 a.m. It means my coaching staff can have jobs and spend time with their families.”
Senior Matt Brandenburg has been playing under Coach Schneck since 2009. Brandenburg said he’s been impressed with the way Schneck has balanced his work with time spent with his family.
“He’s so good at supporting his players and has us high on his priority list,” Brandenburg said. “But it’s also really impressive how he balances his family life and his professional life. I really admire him for that.”
Schneck is married and has four children. Sports remain a big part of his family as his wife and kids have been involved with the team. He has also been an e-commerce entrepreneur for 20 years and said he has a “passion for business.” Schneck stays busy balancing lacrosse, family, work and his church calling.
“I only get sick when I take a break,” Schneck said.
Schneck’s current team is 6-1-1 and will face the University of New Hampshire at home on Saturday, March 19.

BYU women's rugby: no experience necessary
February 12, 2016
The BYU women’s rugby team plays with same dominance characterized by the majority of Cougar sports teams. But unlike tryouts in other sports, no previous playing experience is necessary for making of the team.
Returning rugby players stood in the Wilkinson Student Center and around campus energetically advertising the team prior to tryouts. They emphasized that most of the team had joined without ever playing before; despite that, the team has attended nationals the last four years in a row, placing second last year.
“Five years ago, I saw a flyer for rugby in the freshman dorms and it intrigued me,” said senior captain Jessie Beck. “I knew that I was athletic, so I came to practice and tried out. I fell in love with it.”
Freshman Noelle King had no experience before trying out this season. Her dad, however, loved rugby and suggested she try out.
“I had played soccer and tennis, but I had never played rugby before,” King said. “I was so scared in the tryouts, but it was very new-girl friendly and they approached it as though we knew nothing. We built off what we learned each day and that helped me feel comfortable.”
The coaches anticipate inexperienced players to try out and they gear the trials toward beginners. Head coach Tom Waqa said they emphasized the basics by teaching passing and running simple drills.
“I love the enthusiasm that comes from the new girls coming to learn a new sport,” Waqa said. “There’s a different vibe with our girls trying the sport for the first time so you can feel the excitement and the enthusiasm.”
Beck said the team is used to the turnover and the learning curve of the new players.
“Sometimes lack of experience has hindered us,” Beck said. “But it’s been good. We recruit people, we teach them how to hit, how to pass and I learn something new every semester.”
Beck noted that this is common for women’s rugby across the country. However, as women’s rugby continues to grow in popularity, the experience necessary to play on the collegiate level will inevitably increase.
Jordan Gray, also a team captain for the Cougars, has been playing rugby since high school. She said she anticipates more girls will start playing at a younger age and that this will increase the competition in college.
Gray also said there are still many BYU students who are unaware there is a women’s rugby team.
“When people find out I play rugby they ask, ‘Oh, is that like football?'” Gray said. “But it’s nothing like football. I think they’re surprised I play too because they perceive it as a men’s sport.”
The team hopes that, with rugby being recognized in October as an official extramural sport on campus, awareness and popularity will increase for the sport will increase.
“We will be such a better team come April because we can practice in the IPF now instead of making it work at Kiwanis Park,” Beck said. “I’m grateful that we’re sanctioned now. I feel like a lot more people will become more aware of our team and will come out and support us. We’re really fun to watch.”

Women's Lacrosse Opens Season as an Official Extramural Sport
February 8, 2016
BYU women’s lacrosse defeated Utah State 16-6 in their first home game as an official BYU extramural sport.
“We had this extra energy because this is the first,” said BYU head coach Nikki Dabrowski. “And firsts are always so exciting.”
A large crowd gathered to support the women’s team on Saturday. Fans lined the walls of the indoor practice field  to cheer on friends and family members. Whitney Sieverts, who led the Cougars tonight with 4 goals, said the fans made a big difference in their play.
“We’ve never had a crowd like this because we have never had a home field before,” Sieverts said. “The fans definitely brought a new element to the game it was really fun to be here and play.”
The Cougars shut out the Aggies in the first half outscoring them 8-0. Sophomore Rachel Gilmore scored twice in the first half abd five other contributed goals.
“We played a great game and it really came together tonight,” Gilmore said. “We could hear people cheering for us and that really helped.”
The second half was much more balanced as the Aggies answered back with 6 goals. Both teams continued to apply pressure and exchanged goals throughout the half. However, the Cougars maintained their lead to finish the game 16-6.
“We focused on settling on offense and taking time to put the ball in motion instead of rushing towards the goal,” Sieverts said. “Defensively we applied more pressure on ball and transitioned from the midfield well. Everything came together.”
Coach Dabrowski said that she was nervous for this game, but knew that the team was prepared well. Since becoming official, the team now has access to BYU facilities such as the Indoor Practice Fields. Dabrowski said this has enabled the Cougars to better prepare for the season.
“We used to practice at Seven Peaks Arena,” Dabrowski said. “And we were never really prepared for the season since we could only practice a few times a week when the weather was bad. Now that we’re here we can focus every day.”
The Cougars only have four home games this season. Dabrowski said that they’re still a growing team and this will change in a few years.
“Since this is our first year, it’s still an issue getting teams to come out and play us,” Dabrowski said. “We’ve never hosted before. But it’s a good year to get our feet wet and see how it works. It’s the perfect start for the next season.”
The Cougars will travel next week to play in Santa Barbara and then Colorado the next week. Their next home game will be March 5 against University of Utah.

BYU hockey provides special day for special kids
January 25, 2016
It is not unusual for the BYU hockey team to play on a Saturday at Peaks Ice Arena, and at first glance this game looked no different than any other. However, upon closer examination, this game was far from ordinary.
The Cougars took the ice against the Utah Junior Grizzlies special needs hockey team Saturday Jan. 16. The Junior Grizzlies are a local team that features players ages 7–36 with varying disabilities.
“It’s good for my players to be grateful for what they’ve got,” BYU hockey head coach Ed Gantt said. “Over time my players get to know some of the kids and it’s amazing to see the changes. I can’t describe how much fun and how satisfying it is to play with them.”
Hockey mom Natalie Wright has two children on the Junior Grizzlies team. Her 15-year-old son Matthew has autism and her 10-year-old daughter Evie is hearing-impaired. When she and her husband, Dallin, heard about the team, they weren’t sure it would be a real possibility for their children.
“We put Evie on the ice with her blonde pigtails hanging out of her helmet and all of her padding on and we just thought ‘They’re going to take her down: there’s no way,’” Wright said. “But she’s done great. Our kids have never gotten hurt and they play very gently.”
Regardless of disability, participating on the team has helped its members develop essential motor and social skills, things that may be hard to develop otherwise.
“It’s helped with muscle strength, it’s helped with balance,” Wright said. “It’s been great socially, too. My kids really feel like they fit in. They’ve made a lot of great friendships.”
Deann Torsak, one of the managers for the Junior Grizzlies, said he loves seeing the progress of the children over the years.
“For one boy, the first year he would not keep anything on,” Torsak said. “It would take two people to get him out on the ice. Slowly but surely over the years, he’s gotten to the point where he can skate on the ice himself and he keeps his gear on. A lot of these kids have come a long way.”
Torsak also noted that these kids do more than just skate around cones and do drills. The coaches push them and help them learn the hockey rules and lingo. They participate in real games to help teach them discipline.
“My favorite saying is ‘Don’t diss ability,'” Torsak said. “They can do it. They just need to be pushed a little sometimes.”
The team practices every Saturday and looks forward to opportunities to play games with local high school teams. Eileen Wood, whose children Toby and Darius play on the team, said it was a treat for the kids to play BYU.
“My husband is a big BYU fan and my kids were really excited,” Wood said. “They just wanted to crush BYU.”
It’s also a great experience for the BYU team to provide such a special day for the team. BYU players Chase Christensen and Teagan Pitcher remember scrimmaging with the Junior Grizzlies when they were in high school.
“When we used to practice with them all the time it was fun to see them develop and become better players,” Pitcher said. “I can remember when I was that age and everything was exciting about hockey. It’s just fun to be out on the ice with them and watch them have fun.”
The BYU team played an hour-long match with the Junior Grizzlies. Every player left the rink with a smile. The excitement generated on the ice was hard to ignore. Christensen said that the team was just happy to provide the Junior Grizzlies with the opportunity.
“It’s just fun,” Christensen said. “They don’t have the same abilities as us but they’re out there trying their hardest and it’s fun to see them get excited when they score. Before the game some of them were saying, ‘We love BYU but it’s gonna be bad, we’re gonna beat them today!’ We’re happy we could provide this experience today.”

All Universe articles:

BYU rugby defeats rival Utah
BYU rugby shuts down SDSU 71-0
BYU lacrosse loses to Grand Canyon University
BYU women's rugby falls to Central Washington
BYU women's lacrosse loses to Westminster
BYU lacrosse comes out on top against New Hampshire
BYU women's rugby prevails over Lethbridge
BYU rugby shuts down Army 71-10
BYU lacrosse coach Matt Schneck: Three-time lacrosse national champion
BYU lacrosse beats Idaho
BYU lacrosse wins in close game against Arizona State
No. 1 BYU men's rugby takes down No. 3 St. Mary's
BYU women's rugby defeats Salt Lake City Vipers
BYU women's lacrosse beats University of Utah
BYU rugby defeats Central Washington, increases winning streak to 11
BYU men's rugby demolishes Air Force by 72 points
Past and present women's rugby players gather for alumni game
BYU hockey builds confidence from improved season
BYU men's lacrosse beats UNLV
BYU women's rugby: no experience necessary
Women's lacrosse opens season as an official extramural sport
BYU lacrosse blows out Utah State 31-3
BYU lacrosse hopes to reclaim national title
BYU hockey provides special day for special kids
BYU hockey loses to Montana Tech
BYU hockey celebrates tradition at alumni game

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