Super Monday Week 29


A motivational and informational morning message from Superintendent Willis

Week 29 ~ March 4th, 2024

Super Monday Message

My wife’s family have been ranchers in the Parowan valley for many generations. They have chased sheep and cows over thousands of acres since the founding of Parowan. As they have done so, they have always had at least two or three Border Collie dogs with them. 

The Border Collie dog breed is known for being highly intelligent and very helpful in herding livestock. In 2004 a professor at Wofford College named, John Pilley, was given a Border Collie puppy as a gift. He had heard of their intelligence and decided he would scientifically test his new dog he named Chaser.

Each day Profesor Pilley would introduce a new object or toy to Chaser. He would repeat the name of the object or toy and show Chaser where it was. He would then go to a different room and ask Chaser to retrieve the object by name. He would then have Chaser retrieve objects he had introduced on previous days or weeks. 

At just 5 months old, the puppy Chaser knew the names of 50 different objects. Professor Pilley could call out the name of these 50 different objects in his house and Chaser could retrieve them. Over the next 75 days, the professor started introducing multiple objects each day. In that time Chaser learned another 150 objects. He continued introducing new objects at this pace until Chaser was a year and a half old. At that point Chaser knew the names of 700 different objects.

Professor Pilley was interested in testing a Border Collie’s intelligence because the local ranchers were convinced their dogs were smarter than his previous research had suggested they were. The ranchers insisted they could tell their Border Collie to go and fetch a specific sheep from the herd of thousands of sheep and their dogs could do it.

From my experience herding sheep with my in-laws I learned that ranchers do not give a name to every sheep, but some sheep do earn a name. If a sheep has unique behavior or unique markings the family would occasionally give it a name. The ranchers Professor Pilley worked with explained that the dogs picked up on the names of people, things, and places.

Professor Pilley began teaching Chaser to categorize the objects and to understand different adjectives. He would ask Chaser to retrieve a specific ball, when she had done so, he would ask her to retrieve a different unspecified ball. Chaser could recognize the category of “balls” and would simply retrieve any of the other balls. Professor Pilley would tell Chaser to retrieve a specific object, then he would ask her to retrieve a bigger or smaller object. She learned to recognize some of these descriptions of objects.

On the last test of her long-term memory, Chaser could identify over one thousand objects. As Professor Pilley showed Chaser's knowledge to others, she earned the nickname of “The Smartest Dog In The World”. Is it likely that a professor who studies animal behavior happened to be gifted the smartest dog in the world? Probably not, but Professor Pilley was able to test Chaser’s potential and help her maximize it.

Each day we strive to improve ourselves, to maximize our potential. In education we try to direct students on the best possible path to maximizing their potential. We introduce new concepts, we refresh old concepts, we connect concepts to each other, and we lay a foundation for higher levels of learning. If you’re feeling like an old dog that can’t learn new tricks, test yourself. I’ll bet you’ll be surprised by what you already know and what you can still learn. Have a great week 29.

Super High Fives

Just a couple of the awesome recent accomplishments that need a big thank you. 

  • A super high five to the girls and boys basketball teams. The boys finished the season with a region championship over the state champions and the second best record in the state. The girls won three of their four games at the state tournament and once again finished in the top 5.
  • An additional super high five to the basketball coaches and staff. Coaches Tim and Holly Westwood have placed at the state tournament every year. Coach Jessen is recognized everywhere he goes, he has coached basketball for 20+ years, and has rarely left the state tournament early. We have great people doing great work.

Other Super Information

Super Weekly Schedule 

Mar. 4th
Mar. 5th
Mar. 6th
Mar. 7th
Mar. 8th
Mar. 9th
PHS Day "A" Day “B” Day "A" Day "B" Day No School No School
Other   Utah Political Caucus Night

School Speech Competition

School Musical

School Musical     
 🥎 Softball         Piute @ Water Canyon   
 ⛳Golf No events this week           
 👟Track No events this week           

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Piute County School District
500 North Main - P.O. Box 69
Junction, Utah 84740-0069
Phone: (435)-577-2912 - Fax: (435)-577-2561
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Piute School District does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age in its programs. Please contact your school principal for further information.