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South Valley Journal

Sunrise Salute tradition introduced at Hidden Valley Middle

Oct 04, 2021 03:00PM ● By Jet Burnham

Hidden Valley Middle School students raise a flag and sing songs in honor of Patriot’s Day. (Photo courtesy Jordan School District.)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

Hidden Valley Middle School Principal Shawn McLeod taught students a lesson on the power of unity with a Sunrise Salute, a tradition he started at South Jordan Middle 12 years ago to remember the events of 9/11.

“I want them to see that there are positive things that can come out of tragedy and difficult situations,” McLeod said. “I think that's important for our kids to realize that it was a very tragic event, but that event bonded our country together and united us through that tragedy. There's so much right now dividing us that we need to find things that can unite us. So events like the 9/11 tribute are ways that we can pull together and unite together positively.”

The event, which took place in front of Hidden Valley Middle School, began with the raising of the flag and the Pledge of Allegiance. McLeod gave a brief tribute in remembrance of the sacrifices, heroes, and suffering of that day with a focus on the rebuilding and healing that inspired people to want to be better.

In attendance were students, school staff members, families, school district representatives, city officials, firefighters, EMTs, police officers, Bluffdale’s fire chief and the head of the Bluffdale police department.

The advanced students in the Hidden Valley chamber choir performed the national anthem and “America the Beautiful” under the direction of choir director Ali Engebretsen.

“‘America the Beautiful’ is a favorite song of mine because the words paint vivid pictures of the many facets of the USA, from the physical mountains and oceans, to the unity we feel amongst each other,” Engebretsen said. “This seemed like a good song choice given the event, especially considering the patriotism and solidarity citizens of this country took part in immediately following 9/11.”

Engebretsen invited those in attendance to join in on the first verse of “Amazing Grace” which she said was a strong finish to the program.

She was excited to have the Sunrise Salute as the first choir performance of this year.

“It's tricky pulling together a performance so near the beginning of the year, but these kids rocked it,” she said.

For McLeod, it is important for his students to understand 9/11 because they were not alive when it occurred and the history classes taught in middle school don’t cover recent history. Some of the HVMS history teachers sent their students home with a questionnaire about 9/11.

“They’ve encouraged them to have discussions during this week leading up to Patriot's Day,” McLeod said. “They're allowing kids to just try and have more in-depth conversations with their parents.”

This was the first year the Sunrise Salute has been held at Hidden Valley Middle School because it wasn’t possible last year amid COVID-19 precautions. It won’t be the last.

“I really enjoy doing it each year,” McLeod said. “And I think more and more, as the community gets to know our school and we become part of this area, I think this event will just continue to grow larger and larger.”