LDRS39 on the Bonneville Salt Flats

The Bonneville Salt Flats is a densely-packed salt pan in Tooele County in northwestern Utah. The property is public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Federally classified as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern and Special Recreation Management Area, the Bonneville Salt Flats is a 30,000-acre expanse of hard, white salt crust on the western edge of the Great Salt Lake basin in Utah. “Bonneville” is also on the National Register of Historic Landmarks because of its contribution to land speed racing. The salt flats are about 12 miles long and 5 miles wide with total area coverage of just over 46 square miles. Near the center of the salt, the crust is almost 5 feet thick in places, with the depth tapering off to less than 1 inch as you get to the edges. Total salt crust volume has been estimated at 147 million tons, or 99 million cubic yards of salt.


The Bonneville Salt Flats are comprised of approximately 90% common table salt.

Whatever you’ve heard about the Bonneville Salt Flats, it is probably true. The vastness will humble you. The Bonneville Salt Flats are one of the most unique natural features in the United States.

Attending the largest and last armature high power rocketry launch on the Bonneville Salt Flats was an historic opportunity for our students. This was the last time that the FAA will grant a waiver for a sport launch on the flats. The National Association of Rocketry (NAR) and Tripoli Rocketry Association, the two national sponsors of LDRS39, chose UROC (Utah Rocketry Club) to host the largest launch of the year. It is indeed a prestigious honor for UROC and for us to be able to attend.

The students were able to witness not only the natural splendor and uniqueness of the flats, but watch some really cool flights, and talk with the vendors and the fliers about their rockets, high power rocketry and the science behind this great hobby. We saw high altitude attempts, supersonic flights, scale models of military rockets and even a German V2, Mercury Redstone and a Saturn IV. Kind of like experiencing history.

Even saw some KATO flights (Catastrophic failures).

A fun and educational time was had by all.

Soaring High at Maple Lake Academy

May 7th gave us 8 mph winds; perfect for kite flying. Each student received their own kite kit with no strings attached! The kit contained materials to build a sled kite. Our kits included a plastic bag for the sail, two dowels of worked wood to make up the spines, cotton twine and a large popsicle stick for the line and handle, and lastly a bit of ribbon to make up the tail.

We helped the students take measurements to make sure the kites we properly balanced. After the kites were marked and measured, we cut them into the appropriate shape. We then cut the twine and wrapped it around the popsicle sticks to make our handles. Lastly the students decorated their creations with marker. Each kite was different and unique, just like our students! Everyday the students soar to new heights, only this time, they were using their new kites!

And I’ll Rise Up

Seth Building Kites with our Students

“You’re broken down and tired of living life on a Merry-Go-Round, and you can’t find the fighter, but I see it in you so we gonna walk it out.” In the words of Andra Day, there is a fighter in all of us. July marks my two year mark as the Academic Program Manager for Maple Lake Academy. I am amazed at the people I have met and the good work that happens here. Our school program values progress over perfection and process over product. We value the human spirit and the fight in our students.

For the last two weeks I have spent a large amount of time with our students, talking with them, observing them and feeling the strength and power they truly have. I am grateful for a place that fosters strength, accountability and the pursuit of mastering our own destiny. I sat on the stair steps at the boys campus as one of our students eloquently advocated for his academic needs. He was specific and detailed. As I was listening to him, I was thinking how far he had come and how much he has learned to rise up for himself.

Whether our students are learning about the hydrologic cycle, algebraic expressions or building kites, each one has a fighter in them. Each student rises up to meet the challenges of the day. Each student is supported by scaffolding in the form of teachers, mentors, staff and therapists. These are the people who “walk it out” with each and every student in our program.

The family is an integral part of this process and without the family, we would not be as successful. Thank you for rising up and working the program with us. Thank you for your trust and commitment. Thank you for being a fighter with us.

“And I’ll rise up,

I’ll rise like the day,

I’ll rise up,

I’ll rise unafraid.

I’ll rise up,

And I’ll do it a thousand times again.”

Andra Day 2015

Jolyn Mitchell

Academic Program Manager

4th Term Change to 4th Period

By Vicki Moesinger

This year, in my 4th Period classes, the Girls School loomed hats for a humanitarian organization and the Boys School had a content reading class.

We were going to start making blankets during 2nd Semester in our Humanitarian class, but the girls have loved looming so much that we decided to stick with making hats. So far, we have loomed over 40 hats and will have more by the time we take them to Lifting Hands International at the end of May. The girls have loved contributing to help the needy around the world.  A comment was made that there is so much need and we have only made just a few hats.  We then talked about how we are helping 40+ people stay a little warmer.  And how we can’t do it all but we can help one person at a time.  And each one of those individuals matter.

During 1st Semester at the Boys School, we worked on reading strategies that aid in understanding content while they read.  Third term, as a class we started reading Star Girl by Jerry Spinelli using the reading strategies we had learned during 1st Semester.  The boys have loved reading Star Girl, and each week they were excited to see what was coming up.  It has been a fun class.

Starting 4th Term, the Fine Arts Class has been moved into the 4th Period slot in the daytime curriculum.  The students love the Fine Arts Class with Holly Hill as their teacher.

We are able to continue the Humanitarian & Content Reading classes on occasional Fridays.  The students look forward to those days and we are still moving forward to serve and learn.

These classes have been a great experience that, I feel, have benefited the students. It is a good thing to be a part of in helping these students grow.

Trout Service Project

 Trout Service Project

The students of Maple Lake Academy for Boys have started a service project that involves them learning about the trout fisheries. There are two sides to this project. The first side is the recreation therapy side which has them learning more about the fish and how to take care of them, while the academic side under the direction of our science teacher McKay has them learning about the scientific method, data collection, analysis, ecosystems, and the evolution of trout. The goal of the academic side is for the students to gain a better understanding of what the scientific process is and how it plays a vital role in maintaining vital ecosystems through sustainable fisheries.  One of the boys said “It is interesting and fun to learn about how to take care of the fish and how to clean the tank.”

At the end of the Trout Service Project the girls will be analyzing the data that the boys gather. They will run the same statistical analysis to see if the experiment matches. The importance of the project will be to show the value in data analysis and why it is important in the sciences to compile and analyze datasets. 

The take away the students will gain from this project will be the better understanding of the scientific process, and a better understanding of how scientific studies are carried out by scientists. 

Understanding High School Math from Jeff Owens

Happy New year!  I would like to post about our approach to mathematics education at MLA.  My hope is that this information will help you understand how we are helping your student on their pathway through mathematics in high school.  MLA adopted the Integrated Mathematics approach over the more traditional approach of the past.

What is Integrated Math?

Many, if not most of us were taught math in High School through the traditional approach, by splitting up different disciplines of mathematics into different classes, such as Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, Statistics, Calculus, and so on. In the traditional approach, students for example would take a Geometry class, focus for one year on that subject never to truly use it again until it was time to study for the ACT or SAT.  

In an Integrated mathematics approach, many topics or disciplines of mathematics are studied each year.  Each math course our students take covers algebra, geometry, trigonometry, statistics, probability, and more.  Lesson topics, concepts, and dependencies build on each other and get more advanced year after year.

Is integrated math a better system?

According to this article by Madeline Will for EdWeek.org, students who have an integrated math curriculum have been proven in studies to outperform students who followed a traditional math curriculum.  This same article also stated: “Many countries—including those whose students outperform the United States in international assessments—use an integrated-mathematics sequence at the secondary level. And many American teachers and administrators who have transitioned to a combined-math pathway say they have seen benefits.”  Since the article’s publication in 2014, many of the questions and concerns expressed have been addressed.  It is a little outdated, but the info is accurate and informative.

How does it work?

Study the provided graphic to compare what classes students might take in each mathematics pathway. 

Hope this helps,

Jeff Owens

Humanitarian Class Project

It has been such a fun semester in our Humanitarian Class. We have 2 classes – a Monday class and a Wednesday class. The students are divided into 2 groups and each group meets one of these days. When we first started, we sat down and made a list of the projects we would like to accomplish this year. The ideas came totally from the students. Some of the most popular ideas were to make school kits, tie blankets/quilts and loom hats. So, this semester, we have been looming winter hats. We will deliver the hats to Lifting Hands International, the organization we work with, to share with refugees and others in need around the world. So far, we have completed/nearly completed 15 winter hats and 3 winter scarfs.

Each day when students come into class, they are handed a loom and they start working. Some have needed to be taught how to loom. Others knew a bit and needed a refresher. We work on these projects as a team. So, no one hat is “my hat” or “I made this hat”, but they are all “our” hats. We are a team making things to serve those who have needs we can help fill. The students are loving this experience. We socialize, listen to soft music and work in a fun, peaceful atmosphere where we are able to create for good.

Next semester, we want to work on blankets/quilts and school kits. To complete these projects we will be asking for donations. After the first of the year, I will be sending an email to the parents of students at the Girls School. It will contain a list of suggested materials to make school kits and blankets given to us by Lifting Hands International. Please watch for our email and consider any items you could possible donate to help us reach our goals.

Thank you so very much. It is a delight to work with your students.

Q&A With TA Regan Whimpey

We took a moment to sit down with our Teacher’s Aid to ask him a few questions about his duties. We felt this would be a useful exercise for your viewing pleasure.

Q: “What is the first thing that you do when you get to MLA at the start of your shift?”

A: “Well, the first thing that I do BEFORE I get to work is get my Diet Dr. Pepper. My day cannot start until I have done that! Once I get to work, I like to plan my day and then I check missing assignments to see who is struggling in school, to see who I need to work with.”

Q: “What would you consider your most important job duty?”

A: “I would say the most important aspect of my job is making sure each student keeps up in school, and that I am there when they need me.”

Q: “What is your number one goal when working one on one with a student?”

A: “It is different with each student. I work with some students more than others, but it usually has something to do with making sure that each student understands the material we work on, rather than just making sure they finish an assignment.”

Q: “What does working one on one with a student look like?”

A: “Usually the student is maybe one or two assignments behind in school. I will work with students who aren’t behind, but my main focus is making sure all students are caught up in school. I will sit down with the student and go over missing assignments. Then we will look at those assignments and see how much the student has finished. We’ll pick an assignment to work on and I will assist the student as they have need until the assignment is complete. We then turn the assignment in to the teacher and start working on the next assignment, until we are finished.”

Q: What is your favorite thing to do off campus?

A: “Spending time with my wife and my 14 year old son. Also, I love sports and I play simulation sports online.”

Q: “What do you do when you are not working with students one on one?”

A: “Really anything that the department needs. I am in charge of checking student computers in and out. I keep inventory and do the shopping when needed. I sub for teachers when they need a substitute teacher. I test students when they arrive, when they leave, and each year in between as well, among many other things.”

Q: “What are your long term goals?”

A: “I aspire to be a teacher. I am working on getting my teaching license. These students are helping me get the experience needed to become the best teacher I can be.”

Q: “Any other thoughts or other insights?”

A: “My motto is ‘no child left behind’. We have a great stewardship here at MLA. My ultimate goal is to make sure that your child is the best they can be academically. I love working here with these kids. They deserve my best and I attempt to give them my best every day.”

Parent Teacher Conferences Are Coming Oct. 23rd, 2020.

It’s that time again!!

Mark the date on your calendars! On October 23rd. we will be zooming our Parent Teacher Conferences. This time around, the girls parents will be meeting with Vicki & McKay, while the boys parents will be meeting with Jeff & Seth. Each meeting will be 20 minutes in length. Timeslots will be filled in a first come, first serve manner. To register for a time for the girls school, click here. To register for a time with the boys school, click here. We hope to see you there!

A Call to Help Others

Something new and exciting is happening at the girls school this year. A new class called Humanitarian Processes was instigated by the warming hearts of our students. The class is facilitated by our Social Studies teacher and promises to be a highlight of the year. The course is described as students participating in planning, gathering materials, creating and distributing Humanitarian supplies. It helps students to understand human relationships, career and workforce preparation, decision-making and communication skills, self-awareness and individual responsibility.

Vicki, the teacher states, “We continue to work with Lifting Hands International, a local organization that services refugees around the world in countries such as Greece, Jordan, the U.S. Southern borders and other places. The girls are happy and enjoying it.” Presently, the students are looming hats and scarfs for winter and would love any and all donations of yarn.

Vicki continues by saying, “This is truly a team effort as I have different girls in different classes and none of the projects are ‘mine’ meaning they all work on whatever loom is available that day. I am so grateful to be part of this with them,”

A letter will be forthcoming to request donations that will help carry the work forward. The girls truly get excited to create and give. As we evaluate the success of this program, we look to the future to include the boys campus as well.