SALEM, Utah — Salem Hills High School is now among elite company.
The school earned the 2021 National Performing Arts School of Excellence award given by the Federation of State High School Associations.
Only one school in the nation, out of more than 20,000 eligible, receives the recognition every year.
“We are so excited to be Skyhawks today,” said Justin Bills, the director of choirs at the school. “We came in and built this from the ground running.”
Bills is referring to the school’s arts program that is a relatively new kid on the block.
Salem Hills High opened its doors in 2008. Now in its 14th year of educating teens in Utah County, the arts program is being honored for the opportunities it provides students and the quality of work it produces.
“It has been a huge part of my life,” said Ben Wheeler, a senior who participates in choir and drama. “My teachers are constantly willing to help us which is the reason why I have grown so much.”
Wheeler and other students believe the award validates their hard work.
“We aren’t a fine arts school, but we have an amazing and inclusive fine arts program,” said Ellie Wride, a Salem Hills High senior.
While the award is a testament to the work done by faculty and students, administrators believe it solidifies the school’s foundation as an inclusive community where students with a wide range of talents can be themselves and thrive.
“Our mission talks about deep levels of learning for all kids and all students,” said Salem Hills High School principal Ryan McGuire. “That part is important for us -- that all is everything.”
Salem Hills High School is the first school in Utah to receive the award.
The award looks at the totality of a school's arts program including activities like drama, debate, choir and band.