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Taylorsville Journal

THS recognized as a School of Excellence for its college application program

Jun 06, 2024 09:20AM ● By Peri Kinder

The Taylorsville High counseling staff and college access adviser are joined by representatives from Utah Higher Education and school and district officials to celebrate the THS School of Excellence award. (Photo courtesy THS

For the first time, Taylorsville High School has been named a School of Excellence by the 

ACT’s American College Application Campaign. Not only was THS the lone Utah school awarded this designation, but it was among only 27 high schools recognized nationwide.

“We are very honored,” Danie Natter said, head counselor at THS. “It seems like an incredible honor to be recognized at the national level. It’s nice to be seen for how the program has grown and evolved over the last 10 years. So to be recognized at the national level for the work, not just at Taylorsville High, but for what our state is doing to make this a sustainable and beneficial program for our students, was a big deal, and we’re very excited about it.”

The ACAC is a national effort to increase the number of first-generation college students and students from low-income families pursuing a college degree or other higher education credential. Natter worked at Kearns High School when the pilot program started in 2014. Over the years she’s seen it evolve to support college-bound seniors but also students pursuing trade careers, certifications or military service. 

This is the fifth year ACAC has recognized schools for their commitment to postsecondary success, and a record number of schools were given the School of Excellence award. 

“We are incredibly excited to recognize the 2023-24 School of Excellence winners and the communities of educators, volunteers and students who have helped drive this nationwide campaign forward, with the most applications ever submitted as part of the campaign,” ACT CEO Janet Godwin said. “It begins with demystifying the complex process of applying. By meeting students where they are, in school, during the school day, the winning schools are removing many of the common obstacles students face in applying to college.”

Natter said the process at THS doesn’t start with seniors but with ninth-grade students as they enter high school. Programming is in place to help students find a career path through one-on-one academic mentoring, apply for federal funding, scout potential schools and submit applications. Students can also take concurrent college courses to graduate with a general studies certificate.

Because the application process can be daunting, ACAC events help students navigate the complexity of secondary education throughout their high school experience. Nationwide, more than 9,000 schools hosted a college application event last year, an increase of nearly 80% over the previous year. More than 467,000 seniors submitted at least one college application during the events, totaling more than 1.3 million applications. 

“We have seen firsthand how communities can transform the lives of students and their entire trajectories as they navigate life after high school and into college,” said ACAC Director Lisa King. “I’m so proud for ACAC to recognize more School of Excellence winners this year than ever before. It’s a thrill to celebrate the exceptional work of these educators and communities who are supporting students to take the first steps beyond high school.”

King said School of Excellence awardees demonstrate commitment to student success and serve as models for their state’s college application campaign. For more information, visit

“We’re a lot more intentional about how we approach these students,” Natter said. “I would say that’s where we have seen changes with our students, we’re able to help them better identify exactly what it is they want to do.” λ

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