Cottonwood Heights Residents, Business Honored with Apex Awards 

Cottonwood Heights Residents, Business Honored with Apex Awards 
Posted on 10/02/2017

They recognize and encourage greatness in children. They give of their free time to support teachers. They find resources for schools, forge creative paths around big problems, and have worked shoulder-to-shoulder to build Canyons into the school district it is today. They are the 2017 Apex Award winners, the highest honor given by Canyons District’s Board of Education and administration — and four of the 12 honorees this year hail from Cottonwood Heights. Celebrated at a by-invitation-only evening event on Tuesday, Sept. 12 were: 


Rep. Marie Poulson

Elected Official of the Year 

Rep. Marie Poulson has developed a knack for reaching across the aisle to build consensus around some of the thorniest issues in education, from year-end testing requirements to the state’s school grading system. Her secret? The Cottonwood Heights Democrat practices the civic-mindedness she once preached as a teacher by actively seeking out different viewpoints and striving to find common ground. Poulson’s in-the-trenches experience — 20-plus years of teaching every grade level from preschool to high school — brings unique perspective to her policy-making and makes her an invaluable member of Utah’s citizen Legislature. Colleagues trust Poulson to anticipate the unintended consequences of the bills they debate. Teachers, parents and students rely on her to give voice to their concerns. Education, she insists, is not a partisan issue, and public schools are worth fighting for.

Rayna Drago

Volunteer of the Year

Rayna Drago has worked as a police officer, and for five years portrayed one on television as an actress for the popular daytime drama “General Hospital.” But if you want to catch her in her most recent starring role, you’ll find her at Canyon View Elementary volunteering, fundraising, tutoring and mentoring — and you’ll have to sprint to keep up. “Runnin’ Rayna,” as she’s become known, redefined the role of PTA President without the benefit of prior experience and while juggling the demands of raising her kindergarten-age son. An avid marathoner, she started a Girls on the Run program. She helped launch family movie nights, book swaps, and other enrichment programs at Canyon View Elementary. When needed, she even fills in as an aide or substitute teacher. With her “I got it” attitude, there’s nothing she can’t or won’t do to strengthen her neighborhood school.


Business Partner of the Year

When Canyons District students wish they could study lasers and light or learn about colonizing Mars, one local company is ready to help make those dreams become a reality. Thanks to RizePoint, a local software company that’s dedicated to furthering the study of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) in schools, students have a chance to expand their world outside of the classroom. For two years, RizePoint has donated $5,000 to the Canyons Education Foundation to provide dozens of students with scholarships to attend STEM camps over the summer. The company’s employees also volunteer in CSD classrooms. Their commitment to long-term support and impact on Canyons District are reasons why RizePoint has been selected as the winner of the 2017 Apex award for Business Partner of the Year.

Cottonwood Heights Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore 

Legacy Award Recipient

In the years since the official launch of Canyons School District, there have been few stronger supporters than Cottonwood Heights Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore. He and Midvale Mayor JoAnn Seghini, a co-recipient of the 2017 Legacy Award, were among the very first to put their reputations and mayoral legacies on the line when they publicly backed the ballot proposal that would create a new school district for the southeastern part of the Salt Lake Valley. To be sure, the two longtime mayors saw — and embraced — a vision for public education in Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Midvale, Sandy and the town of Alta. They sought to help build an education system that worked hand-in-hand with municipalities; focused on increasing student-learning levels while also reducing the achievement gap; promoted community engagement, and built modern and welcoming campuses.  Today, one decade after the successful vote to create the District, Canyons is considered a success story in so many ways. But it’s a story that would not have been possible without the leadership, tenacity and foresight of Mayor Cullimore.