Glendale Union High School District

Sunnyslope lauded for exchange program
U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry recently issued a communication to exceptional schools in the U.S. that support public diplomacy efforts by hosting high school exchange students sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. Sunnyslope High School was among those who received this commendation from Kerry.

“By opening their doors to host exchange students, Sunnyslope High School is providing all students with opportunities to increase their global awareness and cultural understanding as they continue on the path towards becoming global citizens and the kind of leaders this world needs,” said Jorge Castro, president of AFS Intercultural Programs-USA.

“We hope that more schools will follow the example Sunnyslope High has set by hosting young people from around the world and encouraging U.S. students to have a similar experience abroad.”

Nearly 30 years ago, Castro himself was welcomed into a U.S. high school as an exchange student from Argentina.

Phoenix Union High School District

Basketball squads receive donations
The Phoenix Suns and CenturyLink on May 12 awarded the Camelback High School boys and girls varsity basketball teams with a $5,000 donation during a school assembly. The check presentation was a result of the Suns’/CenturyLink “Team Assist” program.

Camelback’s varsity basketball programs were selected as this year’s CenturyLink “Team Assist” winner based on their dedication to the community and volunteer work. The donation will be distributed between both the boys and girls basketball programs.

Suns alumnus and color commentator, Tim Kempton, and Suns Community Relations Ambassador, Steven Hunter, hosted the fun-filled assembly for the students, including student-teacher competitions, games and giveaways. The Gorilla, Suns Dancers and Solar Squad also were on hand to interact with the students.

Zelaya receives summer scholarship
KazandraZelaya, a member of the Metro Tech Robotics club, received a scholarship to the Summer Computer Science Institute at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. The scholarship is worth $2,395 and will cover the July 20-Aug. 8 Summer Academic Program offered at the college. Zelaya was chosen from a highly qualified pool of applicants from across the United States.

Zelaya is going to have a busy summer. She has also been accepted into the Student Expedition Program (STEP) in which talented high-school students with limited financial resources discover the extent of their own abilities. Led by the National Outdoor Leadership School, STEP students go into the backcountry of Alaska to learn and lead in a remote wilderness setting during a three-week expedition.

Local students named Millennium Scholars
Six Phoenix Union High School District students from six different schools have been named Gates Millennium Scholars this spring, the most district students ever in one year to earn the prestigious scholarship from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Among the 2014 PUHSD Millennium Scholars are Job De La Cruz of Camelback High and Brian Shelby of Central High. De La Cruz is the second-ranked senior in his class with a 4.65 weighted GPA and the recipient of a number of grants and scholarships. He is a member of DECA and the president of the school’s Cereal Box Food Drive, where he volunteered 10 hours a week collecting cereal for the school’s food bank. He also is an active member of National Honor Society.

De La Cruz was accepted into the International Baccalaureate program at North, was offered a scholarship to attend Brophy Prep, but chose Camelback. He was offered a Presidential Scholarship to St. Mary’s in San Antonio, and received the Obama and Provost Scholarships from Arizona State University. He plans to attend ASU and major in Business, focusing on entrepreneurship or management.

Shelby is in the top 3 percent of the senior class. He has been in Honors Cambridge classes all four years. He has served as the president, vice-president, and treasurer of the Central Piano Club, and is a member of Asian Studies Club, Suns/Central Media crew, Christian Club, and historian for National Honor Society.

During his sophomore year, he served Central High as an unpaid auditorium technician and grew into a paid Phoenix Union employee. On occasion, he donates his services for school assemblies, awards receptions, and countless other events for the campus and local community. Shelby will be the first in his family to attend college. He has been accepted to Northern Arizona University where he will major in Tech Theatre and minor in Music, with an emphasis in Piano.

The scholarships, which can be applied toward undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees, are made possible by a $1 billion grant established by the Gates in 1999. Some 52,000 applied for the scholarship this year with 1,000 selected.

Scholarship recipients are assessed in the areas of academic achievement, community service and leadership. The value of the scholarship, according to the Gates Foundation’s average expenditure per student, is $250,000. The amount is determined by unmet need based on the financial aid package that is provided by the student’s college or university. It can help pay the cost of tuition, fees, books, and living expenses. The scholarship is renewable and can continue for up to 10 years.

North student wins STAND art contest
A Phoenix mural artist and co-founder of Calle 16, a mural art project that has transformed the 16th Street corridor near central Phoenix into an outdoor art museum, partnered with Students Taking a New Direction (STAND), Arizona’s anti-smoking youth coalition, to invite art students from schools across Arizona to submit an artistic depiction of the impact of tobacco use in our communities.

Hugo Medina visited a handful of high schools throughout April, including Julie Peters’ advanced art students at North High School on April 17, to discuss this unique opportunity.

The Art of Resistance Art Contest started the week of April 28 and the voting period ended May 30. Coming out on top was none other than Joseline Valenzuela of North High, who received $200 in art supplies and the possibility of her submission, “Make the Right Choice,” being transformed into a mural. Her work also is the new cover photo on the STAND Facebook page at

Washington Elementary School District

Vasey chosen as Teacher of Year
Orangewood Elementary sixth-grade teacher John Vasey was named the KNIX and Fulton Homes Teacher of the Year at a special luncheon celebration in May.

Vasey was first named a Teacher of the Week through the annual recognition program, and received the news during a surprise visit from KNIX morning personality Carolyn Coffey on Nov. 6, 2013.

Vasey was nominated by one of his students, Jennifer B. In her nomination letter Jennifer wrote, “My sixth grade teacher, John Vasey, is an amazing educator that makes school fun and exciting. He is very patient and kind. He has a way of making everybody understand the subjects and my classmates and I like to learn when we are with him.”

As part of his recognition as Teacher of the Year, Vasey received $1,000 from KNIX and Fulton Homes.

For his Teacher of the Week honor, Vasey received $300 from Fulton Homes, a clock and goody bag from the Dairy Council of Arizona. He was spotlighted during the Ben and Matt morning show on KNIX on Nov. 29.

It’s not the first time Vasey has been recognized with a community award. In October 2012, Vasey was given “A Day Made Better” award from OfficeMax. He received a certificate of appreciation and $1,000 in classroom supplies. Vasey was nominated by Orangewood Assistant Principal Candace Isherwood who said, “John is a much-loved member of the Orangewood staff. His innovative teaching style is a hit with students and parents alike.”

Student honored for perfect attendance
The WESD Truancy Prevention Unit (TPU) piloted a new incentive program at Richard E. Miller School and Tumbleweed Elementary School during the second semester with the goal of boosting attendance. The “Be Cool, Come to School … Every Day, On Time” campaign resulted in perfect attendance for more than 50 students. As a result, the TPU hosted a special pizza lunch for those students and raffled off four bicycles, as well as tickets to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Arizona Rattlers.

Fifty-three students had perfect attendance at Richard E. Miller. Bike winners were Katelynn Y., kindergarten; Omerion M., third grade; Angel N., fourth grade; and Azteca F., fifth grade.

The program will include six more schools next year and will measure attendance for the whole year. Financial supporters of the program included Peter Piper Pizza, Walmart, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Arizona Rattlers.

Private and Charter Schools

PCDS grads are all heading to college
The 52-student senior class at Phoenix Country Day School graduated June 5, ready to head off to college in the fall. The PCDS College Counseling Department has supported these students throughout their college search and application process, emphasizing a thoughtful approach to finding the right “fit” for students’ continued education.

More than 100 colleges and universities visited PCDS to recruit its students during the 2013-14 school year, and nearly 70 percent of this year’s seniors will attend college out of state in the fall. Forty percent of the class will attend college on the East Coast, 15 percent on the West Coast, 4 percent in the Midwest, 6 percent in the Southwest (not including Arizona), and one student will go to college internationally.

Fifteen percent of the graduating class will attend an Ivy League institution, while roughly another 40 percent will attend a college identified as a “Top 25” national university or national liberal arts and sciences college (according to US News and World Report).

As a whole, the class has been offered over $3.5 million in scholarships, and three students will matriculate to be college athletes at the Division I and Division III levels.

Loyola Academy grads move up to Brophy
In 2011, Brophy College Preparatory created a middle school for sixth- through eighth-grade boys with academic promise but limited resources.

On May 20, the Loyola Academy promoted the first class of scholars to the Brophy Prep Class of 2018 at a ceremony in the historic Brophy Chapel. Leading up to this day, the scholars engaged in a rigorous 11-month schedule of 10-hour days in study and formation to prepare them for Brophy academics in the ninth grade.

Eleven of the eighth-grade scholars took Honors Geometry with Brophy sophomores and nine took Honors Algebra. Every eighth-grade scholar took the National Latin Exam, with three receiving a cum laude designation and one receiving a magna cum laude designation.

Students study at marine institute
This year 16 middle-school students from AmeriSchools Academy participated in a special trip to Catalina Island Marine Institute (CIMI).

Preparation for this trip began several years ago as these students developed teamwork characteristics, maintained excellent attendance throughout their career at AmeriSchools, and had strong work ethics in the classroom. Preparation for the trip continued this year as these students raised $8,000 for transportation and Institute fees through having pancake breakfasts, car washes, developing a fundraising website, bake sales, and raffles.

These 16 students who earned the spot to go to CIMI had an unforgettable experience in California. Over the course of five days, saw marine life from sea urchins to moray eels while snorkeling and kayaking. They swam with a baby sea lion and swung on high ropes over the ocean.

When the students were not on an adventure around the island, they were in a classroom or lab learning more about what they were about to go see.

The 2014 CIMI Club students included: Lily Lanier, Bently Julian, Jeneane Torres, Christian Madrigal, John Cunanan, Kayla Suttles, Khayla Jones, ElyshaTun, Amos Ramirez, Fatima Carretto, Mason Pogany, Edith Reveles, Jonathen Torres, Edward Castillo, Michael Eaton, and Carlos Amarillas.

All Saints’ grads head to various high schools
All 56 graduates of the Class of 2014 at All Saints’ Episcopal Day School gained admission to their first-choice high schools across the Valley, including Brophy College Preparatory, Notre Dame Preparatory High School, Phoenix Country Day School, and Xavier College Preparatory.

Students also will attend several out-of-state schools including The Hockaday School in Dallas; Cate School in Carpinteria, Calif.; The Lawrenceville School in Lawrenceville, N.J.; and Loomis Chaffee in Windsor, Conn.

Alumni of All Saints’ continue to thrive in their academic pursuits. At a recent alumni event, members of the All Saints’ Class of 2010 shared their college selections, which spanned the United States. One alumna said of her time at All Saints’, “I am culturally aware, socially fulfilled, insatiably curious, and above all proud of my ASEDS experiences.”

Open enrollment at AmeriSchools
AmeriSchools Academy, 1333 W. Camelback Road, a tuition-free public charter school, currently is accepting applications for the 2014-15 school year. The academy, going into its 15th year, provides opportunities for students and families in Central Phoenix and the surrounding communities.

AmeriSchools has been designated an “A” or “B” rated educational center serving K-8 over the past two years. The AmeriSchools culture emphasizes child-centered learning in a personalized, safe environment. The children are exposed to a variety of learning opportunities in the classroom and in the “Community as Laboratory” philosophy that extends opportunities beyond the school doors.

AmeriSchools has before- and after-school programs, a lunch program, technology rich classrooms, tutoring and a variety of co-curricular activities including Yoga, Mandarin Chinese, Theater, Art, Spirit Line, National Junior Honor Society, Public Speaking, Typing, Microwave Cooking, and Life Skills.

The school also offers competitive sports in boy’s and girl’s basketball, girl’s volleyball, boy’s flag football and co-ed softball.

The AmeriSchools office is open from 7:45 a.m.-3:45 p.m. Monday through Friday. For additional information about the program or registration, call 602-532-0100 or visit

Student, teacher honored by Girl Scouts
North Central resident and Xavier College Prep senior Sierra Fullmer was honored with a Girl Scout Gold Award for leading an Engineering Projects In Community Service (EPICS) welding project team at the Rio Salado Habitat. This award represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouts and is the equivalent of the Eagle Scout Award in Boy Scouts.

In addition, Xavier faculty member Gabriele Reil was awarded the Girl Scout Thanks Badge—the highest honor possible for an adult—in recognition of the exceptional impact that her ongoing commitment, leadership and service have had on the goals and priorities of the Girl Scouts.

Clarke gets accolades for tennis ability
Xavier College Preparatory junior Madison Clarke has been named a 2014 All-American by the National High School Tennis All-American Foundation. Each year, All-American awards are presented to the top high school players in the United States. This year, only 36 young women received the honor.

Also in May, Clarke, a North Central resident, won the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Division 1 high school girls state singles title. She also played as the top-seeded player on the Xavier team that captured the state championship title for the third consecutive year.

Clarke was named The Arizona Republic’s “American Family Insurance All-USA Arizona High School Girls Tennis Player of the Year” for the second consecutive year. She also was named a 2014 All-American by the National High School Tennis All-American Foundation.

Ochoa named a finalist with NSDA
North Central resident and Brophy senior Carlos Ochoa was named one of six finalists for the National Speech & Debate Association (NSDA) William Woods Tate Jr. Memorial National Student of the Year Award.

This annual award recognizes one student out of the association’s more than 130,000 members who best embodies the organization’s code of honor: integrity, humility, respect, leadership, and service. Nominees also must demonstrate strong academic credentials and a commitment to the speech and debate community.

The 2014 National Student of the Year was set to be announced during the national awards assembly on June 20, in front of more than 3,000 tournament participants and audience members.

Ochoa received the Boys Hope/Girls Hope Academic Achievement Award, NSDA Arizona District Student of the Year and All-American Debater. He was named an AP Scholar and a member of the National Forensics League Honor Society. He will attend American University in the fall.


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