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Davis Journal

Mrs. Cavanaugh’s a ‘sweet’ treat for online school students

Jan 25, 2024 08:52AM ● By Becky Ginos
Gideon Thompson buys some chocolate during the field trip. Courtesy photo

Gideon Thompson buys some chocolate during the field trip. Courtesy photo

NORTH SALT—Kids from the Utah Connections Academy had a “sweet” day last week when they took a tour of Mrs. Cavanaugh’s chocolate factory in North Salt Lake. The online cooking club’s field trip gave students the opportunity to meet with other kids in person and learn about the process of making chocolates.

“It’s the second year for the cooking class,” said first grade teacher Lindsey Parr. “It’s really fun. We send out a recipe online and the kids buy all of the ingredients.”

On the first and third Wednesday of the month the club gets together in a Zoom class to make the recipe together, she said. “The parents are really involved, especially with the little ones. They are there helping with the recipe, making sure they have all the ingredients and following along. We use common ingredients so they don’t have to spend tons of money.”

Last year it was just first through third grade but this year it was opened up to K-6. The sixth graders are more independent than the younger grades, said Parr. “The little kids can watch the older kids cooking and give them something to work for.”

Parr said the school is big into field trips. “We get the money through grants. Last Wednesday it was a super snowy day but around 10 kids still came.”

The tour was fun and very interactive, she said. “Upstairs we saw a movie on the history of chocolate. We got to taste some and there were huge windows along the walls where we could look at the kitchen below and watch them making chocolate.”

Logan Romero and Kaitlyn Palmer watch them make chocolate from up above. Courtesy photos

Utah Connections Academy is a public charter school, said Assistant Principal K-6, Jandy Stelter. “We’re held to the same standards as public schools. We have K-12 and have more than 1,000 students statewide from corner to corner.”

The school supports families that cannot meet in person, she said. “It might be athletes who travel for sports, someone with a compromised immune system, etc. We’ve doubled in size. It’s nice to see how engaged kids can be in an online setting.”

Stelter said she wasn’t seeking a job in online education at first. “During the pandemic I had a family member undergoing chemo and we were trying to keep safe. I’d been an educator for 18 years. It chose me rather than me choosing it.”

It was an eye opening experience, she said. “I wondered how an online school could be functional. But I saw that kids can learn.”

Some families in rural areas spend hours and hours a day getting to school, said Stelter. “Now they can do it via computer and spend time doing what they want instead of commuting.”

The school hosts activities where statewide they’re all doing the same thing, she said. “It’s hard for kids from St. George to come here to go to a museum but it’s hard for kids here to go to St. George.”

They held “Skate across the State” in St. George, Central Valley and Ogden, said Stelter. “It brings events closer to kids because they’re everywhere. We don’t want them to miss out on the social piece. It can be alienating online. Kids can chat about what they like to do in their free time, etc.”

There are 13 clubs up and running, she said. “We have a coordinator for elementary and one for secondary. There are clubs such as: Anime, book clubs, cooking, drawing cartoons, dungeons and dragons, Minecraft, Lego club where they show and tell or build together. We’re really proud of our SheTech (women in technology) and the UC News.”

The school hosted a prom last year, Stelter said. “Before COVID they did have them.”

It’s a space for families who maybe can’t find something elsewhere, she said. “It gives them the social as well as the academics they deserve.”