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School Briefs

Glendale Union High School District

District lauds those who go ‘above and beyond’
Recipients of the Achievement Above All awards from Sunnyslope High School were honored at the Glendale Union High School District office on Oct. 19. The awards highlight the accomplishments and commitments of one teacher, student, support staff member, student group, and volunteer.

Sunnyslope’s Student of the Year award went to senior Jake Dean. Dean is currently in the running to be a National Merit Finalist and has aspirations of receiving a doctorate degree in an astronomy-related field such as astrophysics or astrobiology and work in scientific research. During his four years at Sunnyslope, Dean has taken a total of 12 advanced placement courses and he is in the top 1 percent of his class with a weighted GPA of 5.37. He has been a National Champion in Congressional Debate and the recipient of the National Student Congress House Leadership Bowl. He is a three-year varsity athlete in cross country and track and field and was a cross country state qualifier in 2014.

The Volunteer of the Year Award was given to Jamie Cunningham, who is also a graduate of Sunnyslope High School and has children who also attend. She began volunteering about 15 years ago when her oldest son, Josh, was a freshman on campus and involved in extra-curricular activities. She found herself supporting football, basketball, banquets, award ceremonies, teacher appreciation events and more. Her volunteering capacities now include feeding a healthy and hearty meal to the football team on Thursdays and helping out with summer registration, and graduation.

The Achievement Above All teacher recipient was awarded to Sarah Stahlbush, a Viking alumna herself and the school’s Foreign Language Department chair. She also teaches AP Spanish. Technology assistant Firas Werdy was awarded the support staff person of the year award.

The Air Force Junior ROTC program was named the Student Group recipient. The Academic Team has earned trips to the national competition in Washington, D.C., for two consecutive years and on both occasions finished second in the nation. The Air Rifle team consistently produces national qualifiers and the Color Guard is highly sought after on campus and throughout the Sunnyslope community.

Bowden to play softball for Ducks
The softball season may not have started yet in Phoenix, but Sunnyslope High School senior Shaye Bowden already knows where she will be this season and beyond. The Vikings catcher and shortstop will be heading to the University of Oregon after graduation next year to play for The Ducks.

Bowden signed her national letter of intent (NLI) in a small ceremony in Sunnyslope’s media center on Nov. 9, surrounded by her coaches, family and friends. This will be her fourth and final year on the team and she already has set numerous records, including most home runs in a season, highest batting average in a season, First Team All District and First Team All Section every year thus far, and she is on tap to receive several career records.

Her stats read like this: .559 career batting average, 133 hits, 109 runs batted in (RBIs), 33 doubles, 31 stolen bases, and 24 home runs. She has been in the top five in the state every year of her career so far, in any division and at any level.

“I saw her play at the middle school level and I knew I wanted to keep an eye on her,” says Head Coach Mike Fenton. When she came to Sunnyslope as a freshman, “I watched her to see how she would build into her leadership role. She had a lot of hustle and desire, but she needed to use her voice more. When she started to speak up, her teammates looked to her for direction, even as a freshman. Her actions and leadership helped build this into a better team. The things she did for this program are not just her stats, which are amazing, but people know that we can play and play competitively.”

Remarkably, Bowden has only struck out once in three years of play (259 plate appearances) for the Vikings, who current sit in Division 5A, which has replaced Division II. But Sunnyslope is not the only team she bats for.

Bowden, who carries a 3.9 GPA, also has played club softball for the Alabama-based Birmingham Thunderbolts for the last two years. The Bolts finished third at Nationals earlier this year. She was rated the 23rd recruit in the nation for her 2017 class by FloSofball. Bowden will try out for the National Junior Olympics Team this winter, with hopes of playing in the Olympics in 2020.

Osborn Elementary School District

Doherty named the Teacher of the Year
The Arizona Educational Foundation (AEF) last month announced that Michelle Doherty, a first-grade teacher at Encanto School, was the winner of its coveted 2017 AEF Arizona Teacher of the Year title. The announcement was made at the annual Teacher of the Year Awards Luncheon held on Nov. 17 at The Arizona Biltmore before more than 500 attendees, including Arizona educators, elected officials and business leaders.

Doherty, who was named one of five finalists in early October, is in her 22nd year of teaching at Encanto School. Much of her success as a teacher can be attributed to her belief that all students can learn. She believes that outstanding teaching can be measured by a teacher’s inclusivity and attention to the specific needs of all students.

As AEF Arizona Teacher of the Year, Doherty will compete for the title of National Teacher of the Year, the opportunity meet President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence, and attend international space camp in Huntsville, Ala. She will also receive a host of awards and recognition including a $15,000 cash award, professional speech training, and a full scholarship toward an advanced degree at Argosy University.

Doherty is no stranger to awards. She was also selected last month by the Osborn Education Foundation as a Teacher of the Year, and last year she was selected as an Esperanza Latina Teacher of the Year by Chicanos Por La Causa (CPLC).

OMS Wake Up! Club active in volunteering
The Phoenix Police Department’s Wake Up! Cease Violence program is a school-based violence prevention program serving middle school students in Phoenix. Thanks to Resource Officer Matt Long and club sponsor Anna Feria, Wake Up! is active at Osborn Middle School.

This program allows students to be involved in pro-social activities to help influence them to make better decisions in their lives. Recently Osborn’s Wake Up! members joined other clubs in Phoenix at the “Making Strides for Breast Cancer” walk in Tempe and put in more than 300 service hours creating table center sculptures for an awards luncheon.

In recognition of the student’s hard work, Officer Long and the Phoenix PD rewarded OMS Wake Up! participants with tickets to a Diamondbacks baseball game.

Phoenix Union High School District

Football field named after Coach Ray Laing
The Central High School Football field has been named after Ray Laing, who coached Central High School to its only football state championships. The PUHSD Governing Board approved the naming at its Oct. 13 meeting in front of friends, family and former players, who were part of the facility naming committee. The school officially commemorated the newly named field at the Oct. 28 home game, the final game of the season.

The halftime ceremony included the Central band, comments by speakers, and the revealing of a new sign on the scoreboard, designating the field after the only Central football coach to win state championships.

Laing led the Bobcats to undefeated 13-win seasons in 1969 and 1972. He coached at Central for 10 years as part of a 54-year coaching career that concluded last year at Brophy College Prep. He also coached at Phoenix College and Mesa Community College, and was a hockey referee and high school baseball umpire.

Laing, who was one of the first class inducted into the Phoenix Union High School District Sports Hall of Fame last December, died Jan. 26 at age 76.

Students participate in NFL clinic
Members of the Camelback football team and staff on Oct. 15 were invited to the Arizona Cardinals training facility for a USA Football Heads Up clinic put on by the NFL, ESPN and Dick’s Sporting Goods. The event was in conjunction with Monday Night Football, which was in town for the Cardinals-Jets game.

Three area teams went through three technique stations for tackling and blocking.  Jon Gruden, the Monday Night Football analyst, dropped by to give an inspirational talk and presented each of the schools with a $2,000 donation to their program. A video clip of the clinic was on the Monday Night Football game telecast.

“It went really well. The kids had a great time and the coaches were able to actually have conversations with Jon Gruden,” said Camelback Coach Joseph Brissette.

Anane-Wae named a finalist for award
North High Senior Rita Anane-Wae was one of 10 finalists for the Brilliant, Beautiful and Bold Role Model Awards, a program of the Girls Rule Foundation. The foundation offers empowerment, leadership and educational programs for girls 12-18, to help them become the next generation of leaders.

The final four award recipients were announced at the Shine Brightly Summit, held Oct. 29 at Arizona State University. While Anane-Wae was not one of the four winners, she enjoying attending the summit, designed for teen girls and the moms (or women/guardian/mentee/aunt) who support them. The girls heard from inspirational key-note speakers and participated in breakout sessions about building confidence, setting goals, STEM, getting to college and achieving their dreams.

Culinary students cook at charity dinner
Twenty-three culinary students from Central High School and teacher Erin Sullivan played a big role in the 4th Annual Phoenix Suns Slam Dunk Charity Dinner, held Nov. 5 at Talking Stick Arena. The students were given the opportunity to do a very large-plated dinner service.

They were put into groups of five and were each assigned a component of the dish. From the time the dinner service started to the end, all 800 plates were completed in 19 minutes. The dish for the night was Agave Roasted Chicken over a bed of quinoa with corn and black beans, an adobo sauce covered the chicken, topped with cotija cheese and pico de gallo.

“The kids worked hard to stay focused on just their dish while moving at a lightning speed. I am so proud of these kids and the way they represented Central and the Phoenix Suns,” Sullivan said.

New ‘store’ on campus sells student-made items
Students at Metro Tech High School celebrated the grand opening for “The Shop,” a new student-run retail space on campus, on Oct. 27.

Students applied and interviewed for positions within The Shop. The Shop will allow all groups and classes on campus to sell items in a gift shop environment. The store is run and operated by students in Jen Colvin’s Small Business Operations & Floral Design classes.

The Shop is selling balloons, stuffed animals, gift items, plants from the Horticulture Department, and the staff will start selling any other items from clubs/classes on campus. For example, Fashion students are making hair clips/bows. Welding and Construction is also excited about the opportunity to sell some student-made items.

Fundraiser aids AZ Make-A-Wish Foundation
Camelback High School Student Government hosted a month-long fundraising campaign for the Arizona chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation in October. The entire campus and many student groups (including DECA and over 30 Advisory classes) got involved with the fundraising through car washes, collecting donations, buying T-shirts, lunch activities, and more.

Through this team effort, the Spartans were able to raise almost $4,000 to benefit Arizona kids struggling with a life-threatening illness. The campaign efforts were headed by the Student Government Director of Service & Sustainability, Marissa Martinez.

Washington Elementary School District

Robotics teams win awards
Two WESD schools recently took top honors in a robotics competition. Orangewood School and the Arizona Cardinals Preparatory Academy (ACPA) won awards at the VEX IQ Tournament, presented by the Robotics Education & Competition Foundation.

Orangewood fielded four Robo-Cougars robotics teams, which all performed well in individual categories, but the overall Excellence Award went to the Robo-Cougars Team A, qualifying them for the state competition to be held in February 2017.

A second Robo-Cougars team won the Design Award, while two teams from the ACPA won first and second place in the Teamwork challenge, also qualifying them for state.

WESD interview fair for teachers
The Washington Elementary School District (WESD) will host a Teacher Interview Fair on Saturday, Dec. 10, to hire teachers for the 2017-18 school year. The fair will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the WESD Administrative Center, 4650 W. Sweetwater Ave., Glendale. Contracts for the 2017-18 school year will be offered to qualified candidates.

Interviews will be conducted for those interested in teaching: kindergarten, elementary education, special education, language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, general music, art and special needs preschool. Successful candidates may be recommended for a 2017-2018 teaching contract.

For more information, contact the WESD Recruitment Office at 602-347-3598 or e-mail angela.oransky@wesdschools.org.

Private and Charter Schools

Xavier teams keep coming in on top
Xavier College Preparatory’s badminton team captured its fourth consecutive state championship title by defeating Gilbert Perry High School in the final round of the state tournament, held Oct. 27 at Sunnyslope High School.

The match lasted more than two and a half hours, with the Gator team (seniors Tatum Clarke, Annie Kamps, Kiana Valentova Macdonald, and Emily Woodrow; juniors Maddie Reinhart and Alex Wolfson; and sophomores Misaal Irfan and Maeve Lee) ultimately emerging victorious by a 5-3 margin. The win was Xavier’s seventh state championship title since 2004.

Not to be outdone, Xavier’s golf team captured its sixth consecutive state title on Nov. 3, amidst wind, lightning, and rain at the Aguila Golf Course in Laveen. In tournament play that was halted twice due to inclement weather and ultimately declared an 18-hole event, the Gators defeated Chandler Hamilton to win the state championship.

The victory was Xavier’s 34th state title in school history. Xavier senior Elizabeth Caldarelli, Xavier freshwoman Ashley Menne, and Hamilton senior Hannah Li all shared individual medalist honors.

Students benefit from ‘Tech Trek’
A group of 24 Brophy College Prep and Xavier College Prep students participated in the first “Tek Trek,” a bus tour of three Valley tech companies, on Oct. 21. The goal of the tour was to give students a look at technology career options, as well as the types of technology companies they might find themselves working for, or perhaps running, in the future.

The tour started at WebPT in downtown Phoenix, continued to GoDaddy, and concluded at Phoenix Analysis & Design Technologies (PADT) in Tempe. Company representatives shared information on each company’s history, products, services, and goals, as well as what kind of potential career paths they offer.

Senior Jack Cody said the trip was excellent and he would go again in a heartbeat. He added, “I hope Brophy and Xavier see the value in it and support it, as it is one of the best experiences that I have had at Brophy.”

Tek Trek was proposed and organized by Tishin Donkersley, managing editor and television correspondent for national technology publication Tech.Co. Donkersley is also a Brophy and Xavier parent.

December full of hope, fun at Midtown
December is a magical Month at Midtown Primary School, 4735 N. 19th Ave. The school turns into a magical wonderland the evening of Dec. 2 for its Winter Fest. The school’s graduates return to run games, help with crafts and do face painting. Santa visits the kids that morning to talk about their wish lists and returns in the evening for family photos.

Dec. 9 is the traditional holiday performance, with each class performing a song; then the whole school sings two songs together. It is a fast and fun night of enthusiastic children singing their hearts out.

All of Midtown’s students have been “adopted” for the holidays. Families filled out Gingerbread men forms with their children’s sizes, favorite colors, and Christmas wishes earlier in the school year. Teachers, individual families, church groups, Choice Hotels, and Zelis have taken those Gingerbread men to be sure that each child has gifts this Christmas.

One of the church groups also will provide a Gingerbread Brunch, 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, followed by cookie decorating, crafts, and another visit with Santa.

Patterson named an All-American
Xavier College Preparatory senior Makena Patterson has been named to the 2016-2017 Under Armour Girls High School All-American First Team by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.

Patterson, a North Central resident who has already committed to play volleyball for Texas A&M University next fall, was the only Arizona player chosen to receive first team honors. She and twenty-three other players from across the nation will participate in the Under Armour All-America Volleyball Match and Skills Competition in Columbus, Ohio, on Dec. 16.

Children’s book author visits with students
Children’s author Bridget Heos on Nov. 2 came to visit the students at SS. Simon & Jude School, located at 6351 N. 27th Ave. Heos is the author of more than 80 children’s fiction and nonfiction books, including her 2016 Grand Canyon Award winning book, “The Mustache Baby!”

The students at SS. Simon & Jude loved this book, and voted for it last April, helping it win the award. They were excited to actually meet the author.

Heos shared information about how she became an author,  spoke about a couple of her books, and even read “The Mustache Baby!” Then she fielded questions from the students, such as “Where do you write your books?” Heos responded, “I usually write my books at home, but I get my ideas when I’m out at the zoo or someplace.”

Students were able to purchase autographed copies of her books.

Wray honored for commitment to PCDS
Phoenix Country Day School last month celebrated the leadership of Gay Firestone Wray. PCDS Head of School Andrew Rodin remarked, “For over 50 years, the Firestone family has been instrumental in shaping our image, shifting our culture, building our buildings, and establishing a philanthropic community at PCDS.”

Generations of Firestones have attended the school, and there has been one constant since the beginning: the family matriarch, Gay Firestone Wray. A former PCDS Parents’ Association president, former president of the PCDS Board of Trustees, and longtime advocate for the school, Wray was one of the early visionaries who set about creating a school in the Southwest that would rival the great private schools around the country. She continues to serve Phoenix Country Day School in the role of Advisory Trustee.

The school recently announced that the Head of School position at PCDS will permanently hold The Gay Firestone Wray Chair for Leadership.

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