Loma Linda sports courts get makeover
Volunteer students and teachers from Loma Linda Elementary, 2002 E. Clarendon Ave., were joined by volunteers from California Pizza Kitchen at the Biltmore, and Sport Authority at 16th Street and Camelback Road, for a one-day project on April 18 to transform the school’s basketball courts and soccer fields to give the students the ultimate playing experience.
The day of volunteering was organized by California Pizza Kitchen General Manager Dan Smederovac, who also brought sponsors Chick-fil-a, which donated lunch, Coca Cola & Red Bull, which donated beverages, Benjamin Moore Paint, Peddler’s Son Produce, and MBM Distribution.
“CPK is committed to doing acts of kindness in the communities they serve and is determined to make a real difference,” Smederovac said.
Volunteers spent hours taping off the faded lines of the basketball courts before repainting them, and also replaced tattered or missing basketball nets and installed brand-new soccer nets as well.
Sports Authority donated two new soccer nets plus two replacement nets, about a dozen new basketball nets, close to 80 new basketballs, and three buckets of baseballs and softballs, as well as scorecards. Erin Matunas led the team from Sport Authority and said she enjoyed doing volunteer projects that helped children get out and get active.
Monica Chiago, a first-grade teacher at Loma Linda, also is the girls basketball coach and was excited to hear that the two courts were to be fixed up.
“Sometimes I tell the girls to get into their positions and they say ‘Where?’ because they can’t see the lines,” she explains. “Or I’d say, ‘Nothing but net’ and they’d respond, ‘But coach, there is no net!’ Now they’ll be able to hear the swoosh as it drops through.”
At the end of the school year CPK will be giving 4 iPad Minis to outstanding Loma Linda students for their academic achievement.
Green receives a Silver Apple Award
Washington High School teacher Jill Green was recently honored with a 3TV Silver Apple award.
The Silver Apple Award was created to recognize outstanding teachers who have made a difference in the lives of their students. Each year, hundreds of teachers are nominated from across the state of Arizona by thousands of students. Each entry is read and considered by an expert judging panel comprised of educators and community leaders. The judging panel then awards eight Arizona teachers the Silver Apple award along with $500 for use in their classroom.
Green, who has been a teacher at WHS for 28 years and whose father was an English teacher, was nominated by senior student Anarosa, who wrote in her nomination letter that, “Her loving personality generates a positive atmosphere in the classroom, creating a family environment for everyone. With over a million things on her agenda, she always finds time to dedicate to her students; whether it is helping them on an assignment or whether it is writing letters of recommendation.”
Green said she would use the $500 to purchase cameras for the student newspaper.
Calkins places 5th in State Spelling Bee
Madison No. 1 fifth-grade REACH student Henry Calkins placed fifth at the Arizona State Spelling Bee on March 21. Among the competitors, Henry was the only fifth-grader to place.
To compete at the state level, Henry first had to win the Madison District Spelling Bee. He and the second-place competitor, Marcus Giorza, went on to compete in the Regional Spelling Bee where Henry placed second and Marcus came in third.
Henry possesses a keen intellect and an incredibly wide array of interests, including soccer, Tae Kwon Do (he’s earned his black belt), Legos, Irish Dance, playing the bagpipes, military history, the U.S. Navy, architecture, programming, and vintage cameras.
At the Madison District Spelling Bee, Henry’s incredible facility with spelling was surpassed only by his sportsmanlike conduct towards his peers.
Madison teams do well at competition
Several Madison School District teams had a strong showing at the Central Region Odyssey of the Mind (OM) Tournament on March 14, and one team will compete in the Odyssey of the Mind (OM) World Finals at Michigan State University May 22-23.
Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college. Team members apply their creativity to solve problems ranging from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics. They then bring their solutions, in the form of an eight-minute skit, to competitions on the local, state, and world level.
Carson Bilger’s third-grade Odyssey of the Mind team from Madison Simis will compete in the OM World Finals this month. Bilger’s team qualified based on a second-place tie for Problem 5: Silent Movie at the OM State Tournament in Tucson on March 28. After impressive placement in the March 14 regional tournament, five Simis Teams progressed to the OM State Tournament where they placed second third, fourth, fifth, and sixth for various problems.
In addition, three of the four Madison Meadows teams advanced to the state tournament as well. Two Meadows teams advanced in Division 2 (grades six-eight) and one team advanced in Division 3 (grades nine-12; one team member was a ninth grader).
The top award in Odyssey of the Mind is the Ranatra Fusca, which is named for the water strider insect, the Ranatra Fusca. It is given to teams or individuals who display tremendous creativity at competition, and serves as an incentive for risk-taking and out-of-the-box thinking for Odyssey participants. It was won by parent-coach Kathryn Peacock’s third-grade Simis team. This team won for “outstanding style elements in costumes and script that all supported the theme and solution.”
Students get a chance to view the stars
The Phoenix Astronomical Society (PAS) gave Encanto and Clarendon students and their families a close up look of the night sky. PAS volunteer astronomers brought five telescopes, including a 22-inch Canon, that allowed observers to see the bands around Jupiter.
Students also observed the surface of the moon including craters bigger than the city of Phoenix. A “meteor man” was on hand for students to hold meteor rocks and learn about different planet surfaces.
The evening was fun and educational with all participants asking when we could schedule another event.
Betanzos tops out on AP exam scores
North High School’s Fernando Cortes Betanzos is among only 285 students worldwide who earned every point possible on their Advanced Placement exam last spring. He answered every multiple-choice question correctly and earned full points on each of the essays in the free-response section of the AP Spanish exam.
Each year, approximately four million AP Exams are taken by nearly 1.5 million U.S. public high school students. According to the College Board, it is extremely rare for a high school student to earn every point possible on the exam.
His teacher, Heidi Garcia, is one of the district’s National Board Certified teachers and North’s World Languages Instructional Leader.
Betanzos came to Phoenix from Mexico City in 2011 with his father and younger sister. He has been at North all four years and will graduate with a 4.0 grade point average. He has already been accepted to Arizona State University with a scholarship, and his dream is to have a career in accounting.
Free summer school begins May 26
Free summer school is offered for both current Phoenix Union students and incoming ninth graders. Current students will have the opportunity to earn a half-credit or a full credit this year at 12 campuses.
The schools will run two sessions, a morning session (8-11:45 a.m.) and an afternoon session (12:15-4 p.m.) Students can attend one session for a half credit or both sessions for one full credit. Most of the schools will hold classes Monday through Thursday. Courses will vary by campus.
The Freshman Academy/ Introduction to High School is a half-credit session that integrates project-based MESA (math, engineering and science), AVID (a college-prep program emphasizing organization, note-taking, reading and writing) and Humanities. There will be other enrichment programs in art, band and academic decathlon at some locations.
Free transportation, breakfast and lunch are available for Freshman Academy and regular summer school. Registration deadline is May 15. For more information, visit www.phoenixunion.org/summerschool or call 602-764-1307.
PUHSD teams do well at robotics competitions
The Metro Tech Robotics team competed at the Arizona West Regional FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics competition at Grand Canyon University, April 2-4.
Kazandra Zelaya was selected as a Dean’s List Finalist at the event, and earned a trip to the FIRST International event in St. Louis, Mo., April 22-25. Students who earn FIRST Dean’s List Award status are student leaders who have led their teams and communities to increased awareness for FIRST and its mission, while achieving personal technical expertise and accomplishment. Students are nominated by their team mentors.
The North Cyborg Mustangs had the best showing of any Phoenix Union schools in the FIRST Robotics Arizona West Regionals, March 26-28 in Chandler. North ranked 18th in the 41-team field, and was picked to go into the playoff rounds, where their three-team alliance made it to the semi-finals.
Aguilera named to All-State Band
Camelback High trombonist Arturo Aguilera made the All-State Band for the second year in a row. The rehearsals and concert were held at the University of Arizona in April.
Aguilera joins another trombonist from Carl Hayden as the two Phoenix Union musicians on the All-State Band. Aguilera also auditioned for the Army Band on March 24, and passed the audition. According to his band teacher, Jamie Johnston, this is very uncommon for students still in high school and very difficult to do.
Aguilera is a senior and has been actively involved in music since he was in middle school. He plays in the Phoenix Youth Symphony on Wednesday evenings, and he plays in the Phoenix College jazz ensemble. He takes a private trombone lessons once a week through “Rosie’s House,” an organization that provides free lessons and instruments to Phoenix youth.
He hopes to attend Arizona State University or Northern Arizona University, with the goal of eventually becoming a high school band director.
Smith to play basketball for GCC
Central High senior Alexis Smith signed a letter of intent on April 8 to play basketball for Glendale Community College next year.
Smith earned Honorable Mention All-State in Division II Basketball and was selected to the All-Academic Division II First Team, with a 4.25 GPA. She made Section V All-Section 2nd team, and scored her 1,000 career point late in this season. Smith was also second in scoring among Division II players in the state, averaging 22 points a game.
Students lauded for Native art at show
Native American art students enrolled in Central High’s Digital Photography and Traditional Photography classes were the recipients of many awards during the recent Heard Museum American Indian Student Art Show and Sale, March 27-29.
Katlyn Bylas received a Red Ribbon award of $40 for her landscape photograph “Serenity on the Apache Reservation,” which also sold for $30. Siriah Scott was awarded a Green Ribbon and $10.
Rebecca Grayhat was Central’s top awardee, receiving three ribbons, including the coveted Judge’s Choice Award. She also sold two of her digital images. Combined, Grayhat earned $208.
Anthony Moreno sold his digital image and Tashawna Begay sold two photographs.
WESD surpasses food drive goal
The students, teachers and staff of the Washington Elementary School District banded together with local churches and businesses to complete one of the largest food drives of the year for St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance.
One of the most inventive, creative and successful student food drives in Arizona, WESD raised 56,000 pounds of food last year and set a goal of 75,000 pounds for this year’s drive. The district not only reached its lofty goal, it doubled it with more than 151,000 pounds of food and water collected by the 32 schools, surrounding churches and local businesses.
What made this drive extra special is that WESD has a large percentage of students who are eligible for the free school breakfast and lunch programs and families who rely on food banks at times. More than one in four of Arizona’s children—27 percent—do not know where their next meal will come from.
The timing of the drive is an important one for the food bank. The spring signals a meager time for food donations after the rush from holiday donations ends.
“Food drives, such as the Washington Elementary School Drive, go a long way toward helping us through the leaner months,” said Jerry Brown, St. Mary’s director of Public Relations. “So many of the families in this district know what it’s like to be hungry and are part of families that know the challenges of providing nutritious food each day. For them to come together and work to ensure that other children in Arizona have enough to eat is an extremely inspiring effort.”
SFX students earn money for charities
Each year, the seventh and eighth grade students at St. Francis Xavier School participate in the Arrupe Project. Faculty members of St. Francis Xavier School developed the project five years ago to give students a hands-on opportunity to help others.
This project challenges the seventh and eighth grade students to research issues that affect their community. Through this project, students “Pay It Forward” by becoming personally engaged in their response to social justice. Each student selects an organization to be the recipient of the funds raised. They have to speak to an individual at the organization, and find out what their needs are. The students then purchase the items needed with the funds raised.
Students begin their project by earning $10, which is then matched by the school through grants. These start-up funds are used by the students in their fundraising efforts. The 7th grade hosts the Arrupe Marketplace where students sell small homemade items, such as superhero capes, stress balls, magnets, jewelry and hair ribbons, to the school community.
The eighth-grade has creative student-organized fundraisers that raise funds for their organization. Fundraisers this year involved taco nights, hockey clinics, lacrosse clinics, ice cream socials, and babysitting events.
For the 2015 project, 153 seventh and eighth grade students raised more than $32,000. From the money raised they purchased and delivered items to 68 different organizations.
CCS students enjoy science activities
Christ Church School students and their families were treated to an evening of Science activities on March 10. Wacky staff scientists ran classroom “laboratories” where students experimented with slime and magnets, made “elephant toothpaste,” built impossibly tall towers, and even held newly-hatched baby chicks.
Students examined birds of prey brought in by Liberty Wildlife, and the Daedalus Astronautics at Arizona State University assisted students as they launched water pressure rockets on the CCS playground.
During the evening, CCS students were encouraged to use the scientific method process (hypothesize, test and analyze) while participating in each of the hands-on research opportunities.
Students lauded for accomplishments
Two Xavier College Preparatory sophomores from North Central Phoenix— Caitlin Blomo and Katie Hobaica—have been chosen to represent Team Arizona in the Women’s National Lacrosse Tournament in May. Seven students total were selected from Xavier, comprising the largest representation from a single high school on this year’s tournament team.
Xavier College Preparatory senior Kaitlin Coltin of North Central Phoenix became the first student in school history to qualify for the upcoming National Speech and Debate Tournament in the “debate” category. She will compete in the Lincoln-Douglas Debate event at the national competition to be held in Dallas in June. Coltin was part of the Xavier group that competed for the Brophy-Xavier Speech and Debate Team at the National Qualifier tournament at Thunderbird High School. Their team won first place honors in debate and placed second in speech.
North Central resident and Xavier senior Molly Scheel recently signed a letter of intent to play sand volleyball for Texas Christian University.
Xavier senior Mary Caitlin Martin of North Central Phoenix was recognized for achieving the highest possible honors in the International Thespian Society (ITS). A member of the Honor Society of the ITS, Martin also earned a special seal on her diploma that she will receive at Xavier’s commencement in May.
ASA hosts inaugural fundraising event
More than 400 guests gathered on March 28 for a good cause at Phoenix’s Bentley Projects for OVATION, the inaugural annual fundraising event benefiting Arizona School for the Arts.
Guests mingled in the contemporary spacious art gallery while enjoying a variety of musical and dance performances from ASA’s talented students, including Willetta Winds, Jazz Band, percussion and choral groups organized by Arts Director Laura Apperson.
Guests also enjoyed a wine pull, silent auction and grand prize drawing while dining on delicious fare catered by Arizona Taste. The dance floor came alive as attendees grooved to upbeat Classic Rock hits.
“The evening provided a wonderful opportunity for the community to join together and support Arizona School for the Arts in furthering our mission of providing students with an academically rigorous college preparatory education through immersion in the performing arts,” said Head of School/CEO Leah Fregulia Roberts. “We would like to thank everyone who attended, donated and volunteered at our inaugural fundraising event, as it was truly a success and provided a valuable platform to showcase our school’s dedication to its students and our community at large.”
MHP competes in robotics competition
Six Madison Highland Prep students competed at the April 11 SeaPerch regional qualifier at Grossmont College in El Cajon, Calif.
Two MHP teams, coached by chemistry teacher Alexander Mutsaers, presented their underwater robotics vehicles and put them to the test against an obstacle course and skills challenge.
Although the teams did not qualify for the national competition, they will have a chance to qualify for the regional qualifier at Chandler High School on May 9. The following students competed in the SeaPerch regional qualifier: Tommy Najor, Kevin Liden, Marissa Luna, James Silva, Matthew Soto and Jesus Rabago.
Xavier receive nod for ‘innovation’
Xavier College Preparatory is one of only two high schools in the United States to be honored with an “Innovations In Catholic Education” award by Today’s Catholic Teacher.
The award annually honors Catholic elementary and secondary schools that have led the way by implementing exemplary, innovative programs to improve the teaching and learning of their students, faculty, and staffs.
A total of 14 schools across the nation, 12 of which are elementary schools, were selected as 2015 award winners. Xavier and Mount Carmel Academy in New Orleans, La., were the only two high schools to win the prestigious award.
MHP students take 2nd in ASU language contest
Madison Highland Prep foreign language students placed second in the ASU Language Fair competition on March 4.
The four ninth-grade students—Michaela Martin, Evan Hallquist, Asif Razack and Aiden Poelns—were given a scenario and presented a conversation in Spanish to judges. More than 1,000 students from more than 20 high schools participated in the annual competition at ASU in Tempe. Nallely Morales, a Spanish teacher at MHP, helped prepare students for the competition months in advance.
SS. Simon & Jude wins Aerospace Challenge
Under the direction of their Science teacher, Maureen Hill, a group of seventh-grade students from SS. Simon & Jude were the winning team in the Honeywell Fiesta Bowl Aerospace Challenge presented by American Airlines.
The annual competition stands as the largest extracurricular STEM program for grade school and junior high students in the state. The contest allows fifth- through eighth-grade students the opportunity to enhance their knowledge of space technology, through the development of an International Lunar Base complete with a physical scale model.
Approximately 300 teams and 1,300 students participate in this contest, in which they work in groups to achieve critical problem-solving, communication, team-building and decision-making skills. As a result, they expand their knowledge in subject areas such as math, science, social studies, language and fine arts.
The preliminary round of competition took place over a three-day period, with the final competition being held on Feb. 28.
The winning team from SS. Simon & Jude earned an all-expense paid VIP trip of a lifetime to the Houston Space Center last month and a special on-field experience at the Annual Fiesta Bowl.
SS. Simon & Jude is the only school to have won this competition more than once, and now have a record four victories in 2001, 2004 and 2011 an