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March 21: Downtown Development, Value of 12th grade

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Sunday Edition tackles two topics this week: economic development in downtown Salt Lake City and the importance of the 12th grade. KSL's Bruce Lindsay talks with H. David Burton, Presiding Bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, about the City Creek Project and the future of Salt Lake City's downtown. He then discusses the necessity of the 12th grade with Margaret Wahlstrom, vice president of public relations with the Utah PTA, and high school senior Kate Richards.

Segment 1:

With spring arriving in Salt Lake City, a visitor to downtown cannot ignore the impressive buildings sprouting from the ground. The City Creek Project is scheduled to officially open during the first quarter of 2012, but Bishop Burton explains several parts of the project are already complete. For example, the new food court opened Feb. 9 and the first retail offering, Deseret Book, will be open by the Church's General Conference, set for the weekend of April 3.


In terms of retail, the City Creek Project will include Nordstrom, Macy's and 80 other stores, many of which will be new to the Salt Lake market. The City Creek Project includes several residential buildings with wonderful views of the city and the Wasatch Mountains.

"Anyone who wants to have a beautiful view of Temple Square certainly would be totally enamored with the kinds of views that are there," explains Bishop Burton. "There are some marvelous views of the Wasatch Range on the south side."

He says some 700 families could live downtown when all the condominiums in the new project are complete.

In terms of public access, the Main Street Plaza and the City Creek Project will be very different. "The Main Street Plaza is ecclesiastical in nature, the City Creek Project depends on the community," Bishop Burton explains.

He discusses why the LDS Church decided to take on this huge development project. Part of the motivation was to enhance the area around Temple Square. "The Church is interested in making sure that the environs around Temple Square are pleasing and safe, with a lot of vitality," Bishop Burton says. The other driving force is that the LDS Church wants to encourage further development on Main Street.

Segment 2:

Utah Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, set off a firestorm in January when he suggested, as a cost-saving measure, the state should look at eliminating the 12th grade. At first, the notion was widely panned. Then Buttars clarified he wasn't calling for outright elimination, but rather a flexible, more efficient way to complete high school.

PTA representative Margaret Wahlstrom explains there isn't a typical high school senior anymore. There are many options for high school students. And although the State Board of Education only requires 24 credits to graduate, many high school students have a hard time fitting in all experiences, like participating in the choir or orchestra.

She says we need to study the options. "We need to be careful about jumping over the cliff too fast until we know the unintended consequences," Wahlstrom warns.

Skyline High School senior Kate Richards says her senior year has given her a jump start on college. With her Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate test scores she can start college as a sophomore. Richards says she would not have felt ready for college at this time last year.

Segment 3:

The goal of "Sunday Edition" is to host civil discourse on meaningful topics. We invite you to join the conversation.

Please send us your comments, ideas and even write a whole essay. We encourage you to submit your thoughtful reflections on this week's discussions of the the future of downtown Salt Lake City and the importance of a high school senior year.

We will place those submissions deemed most insightful on the "Sunday Edition" section front page.

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