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Holladay Journal

Holladay has three charter schools—is one of them right for your student?

Nov 30, 2020 02:33PM ● By Heather Lawrence

In a pre-COVID world, Wasatch Charter School hosted their annual Harvest Festival 2019. (Heather Lawrence/City Journals)

By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]

Charter schools are free public schools. They fulfill the requirements of the core curriculum, but can incorporate different teaching philosophies and emphasize certain subjects. Class sizes are similar to public schools, and teachers are licensed or working toward licensure. 

Charter schools are attractive, but their enrollment is limited, and their cultures aren’t the right fit for everyone. Here is information on three Holladay area charter schools.    

Wasatch Waldorf Charter School, 1458 E. Murray-Holladay Road

Wasatch Charter School is a K-8 school based on the Waldorf education method. The school’s executive director, Emily Merchant, wanted her three daughters to attend a Waldorf school. When she couldn’t find one, she worked to create one, with the caveat that it be public. It opened in 2016. 

Students at Wasatch spend a lot of time outdoors. The school describes the Waldorf teaching modality as “holistic,” with a “deep spiritual and philosophical basis, [and] attention to the whole, developing child.” 

Gardening (their produce ends up in the lunchroom), bee keeping, music and handiwork are all part of the curriculum. The school recently installed solar panels.

The Wasatch lottery happens in February. To enter, go to their website,, and click “enroll.” Choose the school year and fill out the form with basic information for each student you want included in the lottery. Applicants who aren’t chosen are placed on a waiting list, and called if spots open during the year. 

Wasatch’s dress code steers students away from clothing with graphics and logos. It’s described in their online handbook.   

Canyon Rim Academy, 3005 S. 2900 East 

Canyon Rim Academy is a K-6 charter school with about 500 students. CRA opened in 2007 in the old Canyon Rim Elementary School building. Parents who lived nearby were distraught when Granite School District announced the elementary school would close. They applied for a charter to create a new school using the same space. 

CRA emphasizes core curriculum, liberal arts and service learning. They provide music, art and drama. Principal Kent Fuller and social worker Suzy Tidwell both have experience in Granite School District. CRA also has a special ed team. 

CRA’s lottery can only be done in person in the office. The school hosts an open house in October, and after that, it takes lottery applications on a rolling basis. New placements are made monthly as spots become available. 

The dress code at CRA is similar to most private schools, with specifics on their website The purpose of the dress code is “to ensure that the learning environment is free of distractions.” 

Academy for Math Engineering and Science, 5715 S. 1300 East (inside Cottonwood High School)

AMES is a charter high school created in 2003 for students in grades 9-12. The attraction of AMES is getting early college credit. 

The website clarifies that aim. “One of the principles of [our] early college program is that students may earn an associate degree or up to two years of transferable college credit. Students may earn up to 43 semester hours of University of Utah credit while attending AMES, which is the equivalent of two years of college.” 

AMES has a relationship with the U of U, and also with Cottonwood High School, which houses their campus. Students enrolled at AMES can participate in Cottonwood’s sports and extracurricular activities. They can take classes offered through Cottonwood to “round out the total AMES experience.” The dress code is the same as Cottonwood’s. 

Students can apply for the AMES lottery between the beginning of January and the middle of February. The lottery is conducted at the end of February. Incoming freshman and upperclassmen are invited to apply. For information, call their office at 801-278-9460. 

By state law, the lottery process at any charter school is intended to be a random selection. However, most schools give preference for the following circumstances: siblings of students currently enrolled, children of employees and proximity to school. Unsuccessful lottery applications need to be resubmitted each year. 

Students who enroll in a charter school need to provide these documents when registering: registration forms, original birth certificate, current immunization records, special education information if applicable and proof of custody/guardianship if applicable.