Madison Elementary School District

Daffe named a top art teacher
Madison Park Art Teacher Sara Daffe has been selected by the Arizona Art Teachers Education Association (AAEA) as the Outstanding Middle School Art Teacher for 2014. Daffe is in her second year at Madison Park.
In addition to being an outstanding art teacher, Daffe also is the school’s athletic director.

After a childhood in Wisconsin, Daffe attended college at Northern Illinois University where she studied art education. She moved to the Valley in 2006.

Daffe received her award at the AAEA banquet and awards ceremony set for the night of Friday, Nov. 7 at the Double Tree by Hilton located in Tempe.

Cross country teams repeat conference titles
The Madison Meadows girls Cross Country team won First Place at the Valley Athletic Conference Meet, and the boys team took Second Place—for the second year in a row. David Lederman has coached the team for the past eight years.

The top seven runners from each of 16 schools in the Valley Athletic Conference were able to compete at the Championship meet. The meet was held at Trevor Browne High School on Oct. 28.

Six of the seven girls on the Meadows team finished in the top 20 runners at the championship meet. In the final meet, the top runners were seventh grader Kristen Keeble who finished first overall; eighth graders Kayla Eldred, Sarah Jacobs, Adela Diaz, and Emma Friese; sixth grader Ainsley Orozco; and eighth grader Zoe Friese.

Four of the seven Meadows boys also finished in the top 20 runners at the championship meet. The top runners were: eighth grader Archie Garcia; seventh grader Spencer Cook; eighth grader John Schantz; sixth grader Zach Hamrich; and seventh graders Calvin Graef and Eli Schacher.

The team trains on the Murphy Bridle Path along Central Avenue on weekday mornings before school starting in mid-August. More than 40 students ran with the team and competed in seven cross-country meets leading up to the Championship Meet.

Student artist gets ribbon at state fair
Mallory Buisker, a seventh grade student at Madison Meadows, took a First Place blue ribbon at the Arizona State Fair for her charcoal drawing. Her charcoal of a squirrel is not her first win at the State Fair. Last year Mallory received a First Place blue ribbon in the sculpture category.

Osborn Elementary School District

Darius Rucker visits Longview School
While in Phoenix for a concert at the Arizona State Fair, Darius Rucker visited Longview School and brought partners who presented 204 Longview students with vouchers for free eyeglasses.

Former lead singer of the popular group Hootie and the Blowfish, Rucker is a successful country singer and ambassador for Transitions adaptive lenses. Each year Rucker and his publicist identify a high-needs school for free vision screening and vouchers for free glasses with Transitions lenses for every child in need.

Industry partner Visionworks conducted the screening and distributed vouchers. Rucker shared how vision has impacted his ability to read and play music and answered students’ questions about his career and college experience. He was so impressed by Longview’s college-bound commitment, he offered to buy college T-shirts for all fourth graders and outfit another classroom with shirts from his alma mater, South Carolina University.

Stephanie Kilgore from Changing Hands Bookstore connected Osborn with Rucker and his generous partners including Bess the Book Bus, who presented each Longview student with a brand-new book.

Osborn students get musical at museum
Encanto Elementary School Music teacher Emily Flathers worked hard to secure a $9,200 grant from the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. The grant, and Flathers’ extra work, enabled 800 Osborn students to visit MIM as part of the World of Musical Journeys School Tour Program.

Encanto’s third graders enjoyed the Musical Instrument Museum, and Luis Valencia’s Dual Language students applied what they learned to make instruments of their own.

Phoenix Union High School District

Scribner honored as a school ‘Champion’
PUHSD Superintendent Kent Scribner has been named the 2014 Out-of-School Time Champion by the Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence (AzCASE). He received the award at the annual Statewide Out-of-School Time Awards of Excellence Luncheon on Nov. 15 at the Phoenix Convention Center.

“During his career, Dr. Scribner has set the bar very high in terms of quality education both during the school day and in every out-of-school time situation and venue,” said AzCASE Executive Director Melanie McClintock. “His input and perspectives on many Arizona out-of-school time initiatives and outreach have been invaluable and have helped inform not only strategic direction but the success of those efforts.”

Scribner has been superintendent of the largest high school district in Arizona, serving more than 27,000 students in grades 9 through 12, since 2008. During his tenure, Scribner has led several successful educational initiatives. Among the most notable are Phoenix Union becoming the only district in Arizona to offer International Baccalaureate programs at two schools and the first-ever Montessori High School program in Arizona established at Camelback High School in 2012.

Before joining Phoenix Union, Scribner was the superintendent of the Isaac Elementary School District from 2003 to 2008. In 2008, he received the Excellence in Educational Leadership Award from the University Council of Educational Administration, and in 2011, President Barack Obama appointed Scribner to the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

Students fill school food bank on Halloween
Camelback High Marketing students once again conducted their annual Halloween Food Drive in the neighborhoods surrounding the school in an effort to stock the school’s food bank.

On the Tuesday before Halloween, 55 students delivered 5,000 bags to homes, and then 100 students picked them up Halloween night after having dinner at the school, 4612 N. 28th St.
The collection last year garnered $15,000 in food and other supplies, and filled the food bank, where it was able to serve over 70 families a week. This is the 23rd year of the drive, which is organized by marketing teacher Julia Bourdo.

“The generosity of our community year after year has been such a blessing,” Bourdo said.

North High hosts M.E.Ch.A. event
North High School hosted its fifth annual M.E.Ch.A. “Ixkalli” Youth Conference on Oct. 24, with 350 students and community guests attending.

M.E.Ch.A. (Movimiento Estudiantíl Chicano de Aztlan, or Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan) is a student organization with roots in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Part of the day’s highlights included an Aztec Opening Ceremony, a car show, cultural/historical workshops, and live Andean music during the lunch break.

Guest speakers included Superintendent Kent Scribner; Tupac Enrique Acosta (Nahuacalli), from the Embassy of Indigenous Peoples; Sean Arce, co-founder and former director of Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican American Studies Department; and José Maldonado, professor, Los Angeles Mission College.

The local conference is held annually in the fall and hosted on a rotating basis by PUHSD schools or a neighboring Valley school. With college and high school chapters nationwide, including most PUHSD schools, M.E.Ch.A. is celebrating its 45-year anniversary this year.

Metro Tech captures student Emmy award
Metro Tech students were winners at the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Rocky Mountain Southwest Emmy Awards, in the Student Production category.

Juan Olivas, Edwin Eliosa, Daniel Gomez, Mireya Ontiveros, Alex Avalos and Martin Lopez won the High School Public Affairs/Community Service category for their video entry in the Phoenix Police Department’s “Too Young to Drink” public service announcement contest, held last spring.

These awards are intended to be an incentive for the continued pursuit of excellence by those studying media and journalism and to focus public attention on outstanding cultural, educational, technological, entertainment, news and informational achievements by undergraduate college and/or high school students.

Washington Elementary School District

WESD receives environmental award
The Washington Elementary School District recently received Arizona Forward’s Crescordia Award for Environmental Education/ Communication (Public Sector) for its energy conservation efforts.

In 2008, WESD took on an ambitious energy conservation goal: reduce energy use by 40 percent over five years and save energy dollars. The district exceeded its goals, reducing electric energy use by 15 percent in the first 12 months and a total of 26 percent in 24 months.

Since that time, a number of energy-conscious and sustainability projects have been completed, including: geothermal projects at Desert View and Lookout Mountain Elementary Schools and solar installations at six schools: Desert Foothills, Moon Mountain, Mountain View, Roadrunner, Sunnyslope and Sunburst. WESD was the first school district in Arizona to be named an Energy Star Leader.

Two teachers honored in November
Elizabeth Gingerich, autism teacher at Royal Palm Middle School, and Tina Leon, Nutrition Services Unit leader at Orangewood School, were named Employees of the Month for November.

The WESD Employee of the Month recognition is bestowed upon employees who have exemplified the Vision, Mission and Values of the WESD. These employees serve as an inspiration to others by maintaining high customer service standards and a commitment to student achievement.

Honorees enjoyed breakfast with the superintendent and received a plaque commemorating their special recognition.

Private and Charter Schools

PCDS launches THRIVE campaign
Phoenix Country Day School on Oct. 17 held its 47th Annual Blue and Gold event—an evening highlighted by Middle and Upper School sporting events, an alumni homecoming, and a stunning fireworks display over our Paradise Valley campus.

The event also marked the public launch of the most ambitious comprehensive campaign in the School’s history, “THRIVE.” In their letter to the community, President of the PCDS Board of Trustees Jahm Najafi and Headmaster Andrew Rodin wrote, “We chose the name THRIVE because that’s the vision that our PCDS founders had more than a half-century ago when they were contemplating a new school … A thriving campus today provides each of our students with the most extraordinary resources—first-rate teachers and coaches, engaging course offerings, unique extra-curricular opportunities, and dynamic facilities.”

In its goal of helping all students THRIVE, the campaign has very specific goals, including a new Indoor Athletic Complex, a new Administration Building, expanded Endowment Funds, and continued renovations to Upper School science labs and arts studios. PCDS has set a $20 million goal for this campaign.

Since 1961, PCDS has been the Valley’s only nonprofit, private, independent day school for students in grades pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade on a single 40-acre campus. More information on the THRIVE campaign may be found at

Students complete service projects
Students from Phoenix Christian Preparatory School, 1751 W. Indian School Road, will again invite students from Maurice C. Cash, an elementary school on the west side, to a Christmas party.

The festivities will take place on Thursday, Dec. 11 on the P.C. Prep campus, where students plan a fun afternoon and evening of games, dinner, crafts, a visit by Santa and the reading of the Christmas story.
Students chosen by the staff of M.C. Cash School have previously written their gift requests on angels hung on a tree in the P.C. cafeteria. P.C. students go out of their way to fulfill the wish lists of the M.C. Cash Elementary School students.

Phoenix Christian students also spent Nov. 19 doing community service, sending teams to various locations such as St. Vincent de Paul, St. Mary’s Food Bank, Hospice of the Valley, Sojourners, the Dream Center, Phoenix Rescue Mission and other places to do various jobs. They packed food boxes, cleaned, sorted, moved furniture, served lunch and completed other chores.

For more information about the school, visit

Brophy students help build community garden
Students from Brophy College Preparatory teamed up with a local nonprofit to open a community garden at their housing facility for families impacted by homelessness and domestic violence.

The grand opening took place on Oct. 18 at Homeward Bound’s Thunderbird Family Village, located at Colter and 23rd Avenue.

Marsha Johnson-Phillips and Trisha Cornell, children’s services specialists for Homeward Bound, decided to turn a vacant plot of land in the agency’s apartment complex into a community garden to help educate residents on how they can grow their own produce.

During the groundbreaking, volunteers including Brophy Prep students assembled raised garden beds, filled them with soil, installed the irrigation system, and planted seeds. The garden launch with four plots, totaling 175 square feet of fresh fruit, vegetables, and herbs. All produce harvested from the garden will be provided to the Homeward Bound families transitioning from homelessness to independent living.

Other participating organizations included the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, the Maricopa County Cooperative Extension Service, and SmartRoots Global.

Student’s film screened at Film Festival in NYC
North Central resident and Brophy College Prep Junior, Jake Lee travelled to New York Oct. 24-26, where his documentary, “Fighters Move Forward”, was chosen for screening at the All-American High School Film Festival.

The AAHSFF is the premiere showcase for the top high school filmmakers worldwide, and this year it received more than 1,200 entries from 15 countries and 48 US states. Lee’s was among 51 documentaries chosen for screening, and was selected as one of the five finalists.

“Fighters Move Forward” chronicles the struggles and successes of Central Phoenix’s Chavez Boxing Foundation, founded by local boxer, Pete Chavez, to keep at-risk youth off the street through boxing and mentoring.

Xavier named a ‘Best STEM School’
Xavier College Preparatory was one of only three Valley finalists selected by the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee for “Best STEM School” honors in the 2014 STEM Superhero Awards. These awards highlight excellence and innovation in science, technology, engineering, and math teaching throughout the state.

Phoenix-based mining company Freeport-McMoRan, which invests more than $1.5 million annually in STEM education throughout the Southwest, sponsored a Nov. 12 awards ceremony at the Arizona Science Center that will honor the finalists and announce the winners. Prizes ranged from Super Bowl memorabilia to monetary donations. Xavier was not one of the winners selected at the Nov. 12 event.

CCS and CCA partner for outreach to Haiti
Christ Church School (CCS) students and families spent the month of October donating clothing, accessories, and toys to help the children at the Zanmi Beni orphanage in Cange, Haiti. This area of Haiti was devastated in the earthquake of January 2010, and many children were left without families.

Zanmi Beni, meaning “blessed friend” in Creole, is home to more than 50 children, many of whom have physical and emotional needs. These children are provided with a permanent home, nutritional and medical necessities, and ongoing emotional, educational, and psychosocial support so they can flourish and grow to have safe and happy lives.

The CCS collection for Zanmi Beni included church clothes, casual clothes, age-appropriate toys and even suitcases to transport the items to Haiti. The donations will travel to the orphanage in March with a team of ambassadors from Christ Church of the Ascension (CCA). This is the second year in a row the church and school have worked together to make a difference in the lives of the children of Zanmi Beni. Visit to learn more.

Tennis coach named to All-Star team
Xavier College Preparatory tennis coach Laurie Martin has been named to the United States Tennis Association’s 2014 No-Cut Coach All-Star Team.

One of only 14 high school coaches in the nation to receive this honor, Martin implements a “no-cut” policy which welcomes all interested Xavier students to join the school’s tennis team. Her fall roster currently totals 60 players.

In the spring, she will continue to coach a Xavier varsity team that has won three consecutive Division I state championship titles under her leadership.

UU Co-Op Preschool hosts Sing and Feast
Each year the UU Co-Op Preschool, 4027 E. Lincoln Drive, holds its Sing and Feast event, and this year for the first time members of the community are invited to join in the holiday fun.

The first half of the program features a big family sing-along where children get to share some of the fun seasonal songs they have learned with their families and friends. Once the singing is finished and everyone has worked up an appetite, the event moves onto the feasting part of the day. Families all bring a favorite dish to share.

This year, Sing and Feast will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 19. Singing will start in the sanctuary and the meal will follow in the Johnson Room. The event is free of charge.

For more information about the preschool, visit

SFX students compete in Spelling Bee
St. Francis Xavier School students participated in their school Spelling Bee on Nov. 6. There were 22 students that qualified to participate in the school-wide contest.

Fifth-grade student Kate Brink won the Spelling Bee, and eighth-grade student Bianca Dapon placed second.

The final word that Kate spelled to win was “quintessential.” Kate will compete in the Catholic School Diocesan Competition during Catholic Schools Week in January.

St. Francis Xavier School is a Jesuit Elementary School, serving preschool through eighth grade, located at 4715 N. Central Ave. For more information, call 602-266-5364 or visit

Midtown student wins poster contest
Annually, Valley Metro invites third graders from around the Valley to contribute to the yearly calendar. Abby Rojeski, a third grader from Midtown Primary School, was one of the winners of this year’s contest. Her art will be displayed in the upcoming 2015 Valley Metro’s Transit Education Calendar. The 2015 theme is “Valley Metro’s Cool Transit STUFF.”

It’s the not first time a Midtown student’s art has been featured in the annual calendar. Last year, Deidre Tsaipi won. Her “Do the Ride Thing with Valley Metro” artwork was on the May 2014 page.

Mandy Mitchell, third grade teacher at Midtown, offers her students the opportunity and the encouragement to enter the contest each year. Principal Judy White personally drove Abby’s submission to the Valley Metro offices to make the deadline.

Abby will be honored at an all-school assembly and presented with an award package from Valley Metro, including copies of the 2015 calendar for the school, on Dec. 18.

Xavier golfer gets nod from JGAA
The Junior Golf Association of Arizona has named Xavier College Preparatory junior Mikayla Fitzpatrick its 2014 Player of the Year. Mikayla is a North Central resident.

Earlier this month, Fitzpatrick and her teammates won Xavier’s fourth-consecutive Division 1 state title by shooting a record-breaking 567, finishing nine under par and winning the Division 1 state championship tournament by 35 strokes. In the individual state tournament, Fitzpatrick tied Xavier sophomore Emily Mahar for fourth place honors.

Xavier senior Madison Kerley won the individual state title, and junior Alisa Snyder finished third.


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