Competition names Mueller Park nation's best junior high

School pride • Students, teachers, administrators celebrated their recognition at an assembly.
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Bountiful • From a pool of 3,000 schools in 545 districts spread across 39 states, one junior high was awarded the National Association of Middle School Principals/Lifetouch School of the Year: Bountiful's Mueller Park Junior High.

Students at Mueller Park received a crystal trophy, a huge banner for their foyer and a check for $1,500 at a Back to School Assembly on the morning of Sept. 6. The award made for a festive assembly where the student jazz band and cheerleaders performed and student-body officers introduced themselves and performed skits for their fellow students.

Principal Joyce Jones received the initial recognition at an awards ceremony in Nashville, Tenn. The school was selected based on its application demonstrating five years of sustainable academic excellence, interventions for highly accelerated students as well as at-risk students, and use of progressive programs. The five top-scoring schools were presented to a committee, which selected the winner.

Jones told students at the assembly how proud she was to be a part of Mueller Park Junior High and how proud she was of them. She said it was a privilege to go to Nashville and let others know how wonderful the school is.

"We talk about honesty and integrity, we communicate, we nurture one another. We are here as brothers and sisters to take care of one another," she said. "This award is just one more thing to remind us that we are doing our best, giving our best and trying to become all that we can be."

Bryan Bowles, Davis School District superintendent, compared the students to a painting he brought from his home.

"It takes individual brush strokes each in its place to make a painting. The artist took paint and brushes, and each piece of color is in the right place to create a masterpiece," he said.

He described the students as a masterpiece.

"Each of you [is] like the colors in this masterpiece, all working together to create something wonderful. Each of you represents pigments, colors and hues that make this the No. 1 junior high school in the nation," Bowles said.

Other attendees at the assembly included Bountiful Mayor Joe Johnson, who said that Bountiful, already a great city, got a little bit greater after hearing about Mueller Park's award.

Gil Lund, the territorial manager for Lifetouch photography, was on hand to award the trophy and document the event with photographs. Lund has been taking pictures at the school for more than 20 years, and he said seeing Mueller Park receive a top award was especially significant for him.

As the assembly closed, Principal Jones asked the students, "Who are you?"

"We are the Mueller Park Panthers! We are the National Junior High of the Year!" they shouted in unison.

Twitter: @sltribDavis