What a way for City Academy students to start a school year!  On Monday, Aug. 21, at approximately 11:30 a.m., City Academy staff and students, along with neighbors and others, gathered outside the school to experience the first total solar eclipse visible in the continental U.S. in 38 years.

Everyone at City Academy was given a pair of special solar eclipse glasses to watch the event.  In addition, TVs throughout campus were tuned into NASA streaming live for another perspective.  Refreshments for the day included MoonPies, Sunny Delight and Moon Cheese Pizza.

City Academy executive director, Dr. Sonia Woodbury, said, “Some of the best learning happens during real-world events like the eclipse.  The timing could not have been better.  I’m so happy that many of the people who work and live around City Academy joined us for this incredible natural event.  It was remarkable how quiet our school was during the eclipse.”

Here are some graphics and examples of writing City Academy used to inspire students to express themselves after the eclipse:


Salt Lake City—As part of City Academy charter school’s annual Spring Art Share Program on April 5, students paid tribute to longtime Utah dance teacher, Rowland Butler. Butler passed away Feb. 14.  Toward the end of his life, Butler taught dance at City Academy.

The event was held at City Academy, located at 555 E. 200 S. from 6:15 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Butler was one of the founding dancers at Ballet West.  He also helped launch the University of Utah’s musical theater program, where he taught ballet and theater classes (he also served as resident choreographer of Pioneer Theatre Company for 18 years).

City Academy’s Spring Art Share Program was free and open to the public.  The evening began with a visual art gallery stroll at 6:15 p.m.  At 6:45 p.m., doors to City Academy’s multi-purpose room opened for the 7 p.m.  These performances included choir, theater, guitar and design students.  The dance tribute to Butler was among these performances.

For more information about City Academy’s Art Share Program, call (801)596-8489.

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Salt Lake City—City Academy Charter School art teacher/artist, Jo Bradbury, is now offering oil painting classes to individuals who are 14 years old or older.  Aspiring artists of all skill levels are invited to attend the class for introduction to, or continuation of painting in oils.

The art class will meet every Wednesday from 3 to 4 p.m. in Room 2 at City Academy.  City Academy is located at 555 E. 200 S. in Salt Lake City.  Cost is $40 for each one hour class.  The classes will run until May 17.

According to Bradbury, “Students will get focused one-on-one instruction on how to create an underpainting, mix and apply colors, and the process of glazing.  Tuition includes in-depth demonstrations and instructions, as well as a process-based experience that will stay with you for the rest of your life!  You will leave the class with at least one finished painting.”

Students will receive a supply list via email when they sign up.  To reserve a spot in the class, email or text (801)800-1237.  Cost is $40 per one-hour class.

Bradbury holds a bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree from the University of Utah in painting and drawing.  She has been teaching secondary art at City Academy since 2014, and has a total of nine years’ experience in teaching secondary art education (she also taught art at Viewmont High School in Bountiful from 2006 to 2012).

In 2013, she was the Pratt Institute Masters of Fine Arts scholarship recipient.  She has been the first-place winner at the Statewide Art Show at Eccles Art Center in 2010, and won Best in Show at the North Ogden Art Festival in 2007.  She also participated in the Utah Watercolor Society Spring Show in 2008.


Salt Lake City— Utah Opera Company provided City Academy students with an introduction to opera on March 9.  At that time, five Utah Opera resident artists demonstrated the elements of opera and drama beginning with an aria and building to full scenes from popular operas.  The artists performed snippets and full scenes from such operas as “Carmen,” “The Barber of Seville,” “The Magic Flute,” Die Fledermaus” and “La Boheme.”

The Utah Opera resident artists included Abby Rethwisch (soprano), Sarah Coit (mezzo-soprano), Christian Sanders (tenor), Markel Reed (baritone) and Tim Accurso (pianist).



Salt Lake City—The Academy of Creativity and City Academy Charter School will present scenes and monologues from some of Shakespeare’s best-known works Feb. 23 through 25 at 7 p.m.  Tickets for “Passion in Play: The 2017 Shakespeare Project” are $5 for students and $8 for adults, and may be purchased at the door at City Academy.  City Academy is located at 555 E. 200 S. in Salt Lake City.

The production will include excerpts from “Hamlet,” “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” “Twelfth Night,” “As You Like It,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Cymbeline,” “Richard III,” “Macbeth,” “Taming of the Shrew,” “Henry IV,” “The Tempest,” “Sonnets” and “Words, Sayings and Insults.”

Thirteen cast members have been drawn from City Academy’s student body and the community at large.  Cast members range in age from 13 to 22.

According to Director Gaby Saxton, “The performance will take place in a black box setting and we’re modernizing the scenes.  Actors will be performing in blue jeans, Converse and their production shirts.”

In addition to the public performances, the Academy of Creativity and City Academy will be presenting a school-only matinee of the first act on Feb. 23 at 11 a.m.  Representatives from the media are welcome to attend this matinee.


Salt Lake City—City Academy, the tuition-free charter public school for grades 7 through 12, will host prospective student information nights Tuesday, Dec. 13, Thursday, Jan. 19 and Wednesday, Feb. 8 from 6 to 7 p.m.  City Academy is located at 555 E. 200 S. in Salt Lake City.  Prospective students and their parents are welcome to attend the hour-long presentations.

City Academy is accepting students for its second semester, which begins Jan. 18, 2017, and for fall 2017.

According to City Academy founder and executive director, Sonia Woodbury, “If you’re the parent of a middle school or high school student, and you want a good academic experience for your son or daughter in a safe and personalized environment, you should consider City Academy. Our school offers small classes with no more than 25 students per class, a dedicated faculty and staff, and programs designed to help students flourish in their education while becoming involved citizens of our communities.”

Woodbury said that City Academy students come from across the Salt Lake Valley to attend the school.  Since the school opened in 2000, it has had students from 33 ZIP codes attend City Academy.  The school provides UTA passes to students who aren’t within walking distance.

Woodbury, who has her Ph.D. in education, and some of her colleagues from the University of Utah founded the school.  In its 16-year history, the school’s students have consistently exceeded the state’s average on ACT scores (the ACT test is used by many colleges and universities across the country in determining student admissions.  Furthermore, in 2015 alone, $1 million worth of college scholarships were awarded to City Academy graduates.  (City Academy also offers $1,000 scholarships to all of its graduates who decide to attend any post-high school education programs.)

To learn more about City Academy’s prospective student nights, call the school at (801)596-8489.


Salt Lake City–City Academy students are pulling together to help families within their own school have a better Christmas. From Nov. 28 through Dec. 16, students from the tuition-free charter school will be gathering winter clothing (hats, gloves, scarves, coats and snow pants) for families in need.

City Academy is a Title I school with half of its families being low income.  In addition, the school has many refugee students.

Students and families can pick up winter clothing On Dec. 16 at the school’s front desk.  After Dec. 16, any remaining items will be donated to a local homeless shelter

The winter clothing drive is being spearheaded by the school’s student council.



Salt Lake City—Fourteen students at City Academy, a tuition-free charter school in Salt Lake City, are now completing novels as part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  National Novel Writing Month is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Berkeley, Calif.

This is the 18th year that NaNoWriMo has been held.  This year’s theme is “Your Novel, Your Universe.”  Last year, there were 431,626 participants in 633 different regions on six continents.  Over 40,000 of these met the goal of writing 50,000 words in a month.

According to City Academy English teacher, Hana Jabr, “The Young Writers Program is the section of NaNoWriMo that the kids use to tally their words.  This program recommends that students try for 30,000 words, but I encourage them to go for 50,000 because I know they can do it.  At the end of November, I grade based on the effort they put in as well as their word count.”

Jabr was initially introduced to NaNoWriMo by one of her college professors.  Last year, she decided to introduce it to her high school students.

She adds, “The process begins with dedication. Every student who joins the creative writing class must dedicate themselves to this challenge. That’s what makes this different from other classes and other projects. It’s about individual dedication and passion for your work. Students cannot succeed if they are writing the novel for a grade. It’s impossible unless there is a sincere desire to write a novel and to complete the challenge. What a lot of people may not realize is that we all have book ideas floating around in our minds, all we have to do is dig for them; find those stories that are begging to be told and write them down.”

Jabr said the class does a lot of prep work in the months prior to November using the Young Writers Program workbooks that help form and shape the ideas, characters, plots and stories.  Students outline and pre-write until Nov. 1 (the rules don’t allow students to start writing until this date).“NaNoWriMo is more than just writing. It challenges you to believe in yourself at your lowest moments. It forces you to overcome self-doubt. Even if you do absolutely nothing with your novel at the end of November, you’ve written a novel–a real, actual, full novel. It’s powerful and I think, no matter what, high school students who complete the challenge get a lot more out of it than just a novel.  NaNoWriMo is a community. The kids can bond over struggles or celebrations during the month of November. They find that they can do things they never thought possible,”

“NaNoWriMo is more than just writing. It challenges you to believe in yourself at your lowest moments. It forces you to overcome self-doubt. Even if you do absolutely nothing with your novel at the end of November, you’ve written a novel–a real, actual, full novel. It’s powerful and I think, no matter what, high school students who complete the challenge get a lot more out of it than just a novel.  NaNoWriMo is a community. The kids can bond over struggles or celebrations during the month of November. They find that they can do things they never thought possible,” Jabr concluded.


Salt Lake City—City Academy has continued its tradition of hosting a special Thanksgiving feast for students and parents.

This year’s feast was held at the school Nov. 18 during lunch.  The food was provided by many parents and students at the school.

According to City Academy Executive Director Sonia Woodbury, “As a Title I school with over half our families being low-income, we know that often this is the only Thanksgiving feast some students will have.  In addition, for some of our refugee students, this will be their first and possibly only exposure each year to this American holiday.  This is a special event we look forward to each year because it brings us together to celebrate or our community and enjoy each other.”

KTVX Channel 4 News visited the school and ran a story about the special feast on Nov. 18.


Now that Halloween has passed, what’s one to do with all those leftover pumpkins?  City Academy physics teacher Dennis Pedersen had students drop pumpkins off the school’s roof on Nov. 9 and 10.  But, there was a catch to this assignment.

According to Pedersen, “The students are designing catchers that should keep the pumpkin from breaking.  The pumpkin drop is intended to allow the students to apply the concepts from kinematics and force to a real-world situation.  The catchers will have been researched and designed using the kinematic equations and Newton’s second law to predict both the fall and the best-catching technique.  We are recording the drop in slow motion, and afterward, we’ll be using physics video analyses software to analyze the forces and motion in order for the students to learn from their successes and failures.  This is for the love of physics and the fun of smashing pumpkins.”

Ten teams (five each day) made up of City Academy high school juniors and seniors participated in the pumpkin drop.

Rules of the drop included:

-Pumpkin catchers must be large enough that it can catch a pumpkin from 20 feet.

-Students are responsible for bringing their own pumpkin.

-Students can bring up to four pumpkins, and each pumpkin must weigh at least 3 pounds (extra credit will be awarded for every extra 2 pounds if the pumpkin survives the drop).

-Pumpkins may be painted, but no other modifications are allowed.

-Pumpkin catchers must be able to be moved and set up within 3 minutes.

-Styrofoam peanuts are not allowed.


Salt Lake City–With help from City Academy history and civics teacher, Gareth Orr, the school’s students held a civic conversation about election issues Monday evening, Nov. 7.  Students shared their thoughts and then invited the public to join in this open discussion.

According to Orr, “For the past several weeks, our students have joined in study and debate on the issues of the election and the issues that animate them as they approach voting age.  They had a lot to share.”

Orr also noted that, “Whatever political persuasion people brought to the conversation, this was a meaningful opportunity to share with and to invest in the education of the voters of this and our future elections.  Our students led us in practicing a civic virtue cherished at City Academy but not always modeled during this election campaign:  we can disagree without being disagreeable.”


Salt Lake City—As part of the company’s community day of service, 10 employees from the Wells Fargo Bank Commercial Real Estate Division spent much of the day at City Academy on Sept. 14.  The group was led by Wells Fargo Vice President (and City Academy board member) Erik Bengtzen and Vice President, Relationship Manager Mark Lemon.

In addition to working on the building’s landscaping and doing office work, the Wells Fargo employees taught classes on financial literacy and computer science.  They also conducted a college and career awareness class for 7th graders.  Prior to Sept. 14, students and teachers were asked to submit questions and possible topics to the guest teachers.  (In the financial literacy class, students submitted questions about student loans, student debt, interest rates and the financial implications of marriage.)

According to City Academy Executive Director Sonia Woodbury, “All of us at City Academy are grateful to Erik, Mark and the rest of the Wells Fargo team for interacting with our students and staff all day and being such a great example of service.  By having professional people like these at our school, we’re able to provide our students with valuable insights into what’s available to them after high school.”


Salt Lake City—City Academy, the Salt Lake City college preparatory, tuition-free public charter school for grades 7 through 12, has named Kevin Livesey as its new principal.  City Academy is located at 555 East 200 South.

This marks the first time City Academy has had a principal.  Sonia Woodbury, Ph.D., has been overseeing the charter school as its executive director since it opened in 2000.  Woodbury and some University of Utah education colleagues founded the school.  City Academy was one of Utah’s first eight charter schools.  Woodbury will remain as City Academy’s executive director.  She said she plans on spending more time in pursuing fund-raising and development activities for the school.

Livesey was born and raised in Essex, England.  After graduating from high school, he earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and a P.G.C.E. degree (which is comparable to a master’s in education in the United States) from the University of London.  Livesey began his career in education by teaching biology from 1974 to 1976 at the Ramsden School for Boys in Kent, followed by 18 years of teaching (from 1976 to 1994) biology and mathematics at a British school, Kensington School, in Barcelona, Spain.

From 1994 to 1998, he served as founding principal for the start-up Escaan International School in Barcelona.  This position led to administrative/teaching positions at Montessori School of Madrid, British School of Vila-real in Valencia and Agora Masia Bach International School in Barcelona from 1999 to 2011.  From 2011 to 2015, Livesey was the academic vice principal at Bin Ham School in Abu Dhabi.

During his professional career, Livesey established high school programs that included the Cambridge International Examinations.  City Academy is a Cambridge University Cambridge International Centre—and it was the first school in Utah to achieve this accreditation status.  As a result, City Academy is able to offer Cambridge International Examinations courses.  When students pass Cambridge International exams, they may receive college credit (similar to that given for AP and IB exams) or advanced placement or scholarship opportunities.  The Cambridge International courses are geared specifically for 9th and 10th grade students, and cover mathematics and sciences, languages, and arts and humanities.

According to Woodbury, “City Academy offers small class sizes, a dedicated faculty and staff, and programs designed to help students flourish in their education while becoming involved citizens of our communities.  Every City Academy graduate can be eligible for a $1,000 scholarship to any post-secondary educational institution (colleges, universities, trade schools, etc.) upon completion of his or her senior year.   At City Academy, we’re building the future one student at a time.”

For more information about City Academy, visit


Salt Lake City–Motorists who drive by City Academy on 555 E. 200 S. in Salt Lake City may notice that the 200-foot-wall in front of the public charter school has undergone a dramatic transformation.  At first glance, they may think it’s a giant piece of graffiti, but upon closer inspection, they’ll discover that it’s a carefully designed art piece that’s meant to showcase City Academy and its official dragon mascot.

City Academy art teacher Josephine Bradbury worked on the design for the mural since last winter.  What’s more, the piece went through an approval process that involved numerous meetings with City Academy’s faculty and board.  Some of the paint for the project was donated by Tyler Huntzinger of Iconography Inc.  Beginning in early July, Bradbury has been sketching the basic outline and began painting the piece.

On July 7 and Aug. 3, City Academy students, parents, faculty, board members and friends helped with the painting of the piece.

Bradbury has a B.F.A. degree in painting and drawing with a teaching certificate from the University of Utah.  She has been teaching for eight years.  Prior to joining the faculty at City Academy, she taught at Viewmont High School in the Davis School District for six years.  In addition to working as an art teacher, she is practicing professional artist.  She also teaches adult classes in portraiture, still life, mixed media, drawing, oil and acrylic and watercolor painting.

Bradbury and the mural were featured in a news story on KSTU Fox 13 on July 7.


Salt Lake City—Open Community Theatre, part of a Utah-based nonprofit organization geared toward helping middle- and high-school students express their creativity, presented a musical production, “Hooray for Hollywood,” July 21 and 22 at 7 p.m. at City Academy Charter School. City Academy Charter School is located at 555 E. 200 S. in Salt Lake City.

The performances were open to the public.  Tickets prices were $6 for adults and $4 for students.

“Hooray for Hollywood” is a musical revue celebrating movies and their songs.  Some of the songs performed included “Hooray for Hollywood” from “Hollywood Hotel,” “I’m a Believer,” from “Shrek,” “Pretty Woman” from “Pretty Woman,” “I Believe I Can Fly” from “Space Jam,” “Blaze of Glory” from “Young Guns II” and “Eye of the Tiger” from “Rocky III.”

Open Community Theatre held a five-week theater camp for students in grades 7 through 12.  The camp began in June and the “Hooray for Hollywood” performance marked the culmination of the summer program.  Twenty-five students participated in programs about musical theater, improv comedy, Shakespeare and technical theater.

The scripted musical revue was written by Open Community Theatre’s resident playwright, Kirby Saxton, age 18.  Saxton also starred in the show as the film director, Gerald Irving.  Other leads were Cade Denton (age 16) as the movie star, Roger, and Maille Rollo (age 15) as Mary Rogers, an actor plucked out of the background to become a movie star.

Prior to “Hooray for Hollywood,” Open Community Theatre’s improv comedy campers performed short-form improv on July 21 and long-form improv on July 22.  After the improv, the Shakespeare campers performed a short scene from “Richard III.”

Open Community Theatre is part of a new, non-profit after-school community theater education center known as Academy of Creativity.  City Academy Charter School hosts Academy of Creativity.

The Open Community Theatre summer camp was run by Gaby Saxton, director of Academy of Creativity and coordinator of City Academy’s after school learning extension program, and Will Saxton, volunteer assistant director of Academy of Creativity.

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