Elementary school wins $1,000 in photo challenge with appeal to importance of arts in education

Students at Three Peaks Elementary perform in Iron County, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Principal Paula Burgoyne, Three Peaks Elementary, Cedar City News

SALT LAKE CITY — Three Peaks Elementary in Iron County was selected as one of two winners in this year’s “#SITLAfunds19 Photo Challenge” and earned an extra $1,000 in School LAND Trust funds.

Cosponsored by the School Children’s Trust Office at the Utah State Office of Education and School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, the photo challenge invites all K-12 students, parents, teachers and administrators to show how School LAND Trust funds are used in their schools.

Three Peaks Principal Paula Burgoyne submitted a winning photo showing students participating in a production of Disney’s “The Jungle Book for Kids,” with an accompanying statement that participation in the arts improves academic performance, self-confidence and self-esteem.

“We like to pay a teacher to come in and do some drama activities with our students,” Burgoyne told Cedar City News. “This was an afterschool drama club. … They met Tuesdays and Thursdays and practiced their lines.”

The photo shows the cast in their costumes at a dress rehearsal on the night prior to the school production.

School LAND Trust funds are interest income from Utah’s $2.5 billion permanent school fund endowment, which are distributed annually to every K-12 school in Utah.

Iron County School District received approximately $1.1 million in School LAND Trust funds for the current school year and more than $7.4 million since 2002.

“We are so thankful for the funds that the state trust lands provide the schools each year,” Burgoyne said.

Individual schools use their School LAND Trust funds on projects determined by its school Community Council. This council, which includes parents, teachers and the principal, identifies and discusses its school’s particular needs and administers the funds accordingly.

Burgoyne said they are planning on pushing the $1,000 grant forward to the next year’s drama club production, which she said has yet to be determined.

Annual distributions from the permanent school fund have grown tremendously, from just $8.3 million in fiscal year 2004 to $74 million this year. This growth is due to the support of state policymakers, investment returns generated by the School and Institutional Trust Funds Office and $1.8 billion in revenue from development of trust lands, which are managed by SITLA.

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