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South Valley Riverton Journal

Mountain Ridge begins to fill trophy cases

Nov 04, 2019 04:18PM ● By Jet Burnham

An empty trophy case stands ready to begin Mountain Ridge performing arts departments’ inevitable trophy collection. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

In the performing arts hallway of the new Mountain Ridge High School, two glass cases stand empty. When asked when they would be filled, choir director Kelly DeHaan responded, “We start now!”

Principal Mike Kochevar said Mountain Ridge has had a promising start to the competition season in athletics and the arts. He is confident the shelves will start filling up.

“We're starting from scratch,” he said. “But every trophy we earn develops the culture of excellence. If you can start the year off great and be successful in some of your programs, whether that's in the arts or athletics, that gets the ball rolling, everybody's excited, and it generates a great year.”

Earning awards, plaques and trophies—or “hardware” as it is casually called—helps students feel ownership of their school, Kochevar said.

“We know winning is not the only thing, but it sure does help generate school spirit,” he said. 

In athletics, the cross country team took third place at a recent invitational.

 At the Rocky Mountain Invitational Marching Band Competition in early October, MRHS’s marching band swept its division, winning overall First Place and all Caption Awards, which were awarded for Outstanding Musical Performance, Color Guard, Percussion and Visual Performance.

“There was a lot of excitement there,” Kochevar said of the band competition. “We had tears of joy from some of the students. They were so excited. When you're working hard and things work out and you have success, it’s a huge reward for those kids.”

Band director James Densley was shocked but thrilled by the win.

“This first year, I never expected to chase after trophies or awards,” he said. “I said, ‘Let’s just have a band, let’s just do that.’”

Densley wanted to focus the year on developing a culture to unite students who were coming from four different schools.

“The first challenge was just really getting everybody on the same page culturally—what we want our band to look like and how we want things to go,” Densley said. “I think we’re starting to figure that out, and I think the trophies and awards and scoring well has been a product of figuring ourselves out as a band and of the kids working hard.”

Mountain Ridge marching band sweeps its division at the Rocky Mountain Invitational. (James Densley/Mountain Ridge High School)


Only halfway through the competition season, Mountain Ridge’s marching band had earned two first-place and one third-place award. Their next opportunity for “hardware” for the display case is at the Nov. 8 marching band state championship in St. George.

Theater students began the year stretching their theatrical muscles at the High School Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City. Most students received superior ratings in their individual events.

“We showed really well,” said theater teacher Bradley Moss. “I think we were successful in what we wanted to do. We had a smaller team, just because we don't have as many seniors involved this year.”

Dance Company’s dance ensemble took third place in their division at Shakespeare Festival, which was a great way to introduce the community to the level of performance they can expect from Mountain Ridge dance company director Zoey White and her team.

“Obviously, that helps her program,” Kochevar said. “Kids will want to come and be part of our programs.”

Choir competitions occur later in the school year, but director Kelly DeHaan is already preparing students for their spring tour next April. Mountain Ridge choir, band and orchestra students will travel to Los Angeles to compete in music festivals, perform in Disneyland and participate in clinics at the University of Southern California.

Orchestra students are also preparing to compete in regionals this spring and hope to advance to state.

“I've always had my groups go to state every year, so I assume this year will be the same,” said orchestra director Meagan Thorup. “I have no doubt they will go to state, and we will get plaques and trophies.”

To prepare for the spring tour, orchestra students have been fundraising. They sold coupon books in September and held a Fall Festival for the community Oct. 18.

“I wanted to do a fundraiser where we would get a larger percent of the profit, as well as something that's fun that people would really enjoy,” Thorup said. “It brings the kids together and gets them involved and gets the community involved—it is to raise awareness that we're here.”

Kochevar said community support for the school has been amazing.

Community members donated to the orchestra fund at the Fall Festival by purchasing of tickets for games, face painting, pumpkin bowling, eating doughnuts off a string and pumpkin decorating. 

“We would like to make Fall Festival a tradition that we do every year that people look forward to,” Thorup said. “The students are excited about it, and the community gets excited about it—that's my vision.”

Mountain Ridge orchestra’s next fundraiser will be a spirit night at the Cafe Zupas in Mountain View Village Nov. 26.