Glendale Union High School District

Bell-Zinn honored for dedication
Washington High School teacher Karen Bell-Zinn recently was recognized by Valley Honda Dealers for her outstanding hard work and dedication as an art teacher.

Bell-Zinn donates much of her own time and resources to keep the art program supplied and interesting for her students. She has collected and re-purposed city campaign posters to create a replica sculpture of the school’s mascot, created a topiary, and works with the local business community to receive donated supplies.

In appreciation of her efforts, Bell-Zinn received $5,000 worth of equipment and supplies for her classroom.

Lopez tapped for Navy summer seminar
The U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) invited a select group of approximately 2,550 young men and women from around the nation and abroad to attend the Naval Academy Summer Seminar program this year. Among them is James Lopez, a student at Washington High School.

Summer Seminar is a fast-paced leadership experience for rising seniors in high school. This program helps educate, motivate and prepare selected students who are considering applying for admission to USNA. Lopez will attend a six-day session and experience a glimpse of USNA life.

Students will have the opportunity to live in Bancroft Hall, eat in King Hall along with participating in academic and leadership workshops. They also will participate in daily physical training involving group runs and conditioning exercises.

Summer Seminar has an academic focus, with each student attending eight 90-minute workshops, covering subjects from information technology, naval architecture and mechanical engineering, to oceanography, mathematics, history and meteorology.

Students will also participate in seamanship and navigation classes and will take a cruise aboard a Navy Yard Patrol (YP) Craft to apply what they will learn in class.

For more information about the Naval Academy, visit: or the USNA Admissions Facebook page.

Madison Elementary School District

Donation aids two school libraries
Members of Girl Scouts Troop No. 2028 had a bittersweet ending to the school year. The girls from “Troop Meadow Lark” made $1,000 in this year’s cookie sales, but the decision was made to disband in part because many of the girls who started out at Madison Heights, where the troop was based, had moved on to the fifth grade at Madison No. 1 in the 2013-14 school year.

Still, the girls were left with the fruits of their labor and no real idea what to do with the cookie sale proceeds. After some discussion, is was decided to donate half the money to their former elementary school, Madison Heights, and the other half to their new middle school, Madison No. 1. The money would be used specifically to buy new books for both school libraries.

“These wonderful fifth grade girls wanted to do something special with the money they had leftover when their troop was no longer going to continue due to various circumstances,” explained Katie Hrabczuk, library associate for Madison No. 1. “They decided that, since they all shared a common love of reading, they would like to donate their money equally between both their elementary and their middle school libraries.”

The troop members included: Loren Brimage, Lily Cruz-Robles, Regan Gentry, Lauren Gross, Isabel Hiserodt, Rachel Itule, Macy Jackson, Samantha “Sam” Leight, Lila O’Dowd and Ava Nichols.

Along with the donation came a list of suggested titles for the libraries to purchase, including a couple of new book series that the girls themselves were eager to read. Hrabczuk and her fellow library associate at Madison Heights, Angela Robson, were happy to comply, and there was more than enough money to buy additional titles for other grade levels as well. In all, a total of about 75 books were purchased using the $1,000 donation.

“We could not be prouder of these girls,” Hrabczuk said.

Student earns prize for bright invention
On May 2, local youth Richard King won first place in the Madison No. 1 Invention Convention for his creative design of the H2Glow. The H2Glow is a glow-in-the-dark water bottle/nightlight, which helps thirsty kids to feel safe and find their way at night.

King is a student in Lisa Vaaler’s sixth-grade science class. The purpose of the Invention Convention was to showcase the students’ inventive talents and to motivate, encourage and inspire the desire for experimentation and discovery.

Osborn Elementary School District

Clarendon garden triples in size
The S.O.A.A.R. (Student Opportunity for Academic Achievement and Respect) program garden plot, originally born from the efforts of a Boy Scouts of America troop over 10 years ago, is tripling in size.

This project, located at Clarendon School, is being done by students one shovel at a time. Unlike traditional school gardens where adults do most of the labor and students just water and plant seeds, S.O.A.A.R. students are given full ownership, allowing them to take part in every process they are capable of doing. The learning experience for the students has been so significant that each one of them can share how every part of the garden was created.

They take great pride in showing how they participated in measuring the garden plot, drafting a design, cutting rebar, leveling planting beds or collecting animal manure for the compost bins. Every student in the program has played a unique and specific part in the birth of the garden.

Progress of the garden is a daily event and continues to unfold. Community participation includes seeds being donated by the Valley Permaculture Alliance’s Seed Bank, and all compost for planting beds being donated by Singh Farms. Free manure also came from Two Acres School of Riding.

The site will continue to expand with an urban fruit orchard, rainwater catchment system and micro-livestock installed and maintained by the students. Students would be happy to give visitors a tour. For more information or to find out how you can support the S.O.A.A.R. program garden project, visit

Phoenix Union High School District

Students lauded for poetry talents
Poetry Central 2014 took place at Camelback High School for 100 students from around the district. Guest artists Myrlin Hepworth and Fernando Perez, ASU instructors, conducted workshops on performance and creative writing.

Students recited their poetry at the event, and the District Poetry Contest winners were announced. First place winners were: 9th Grade—Ariel Belcher, Metro Tech, “Our Name”; 10th Grade, Sergio Garcia, Carl Hayden, “Thirteen ways to look at a trash bag”; 11th Grade, Natalie Aguilar, Camelback, “Turned Tables”; 12th Grade, Emily Molina, North, “The Looking Man”.

In the category of Foreign Language, Nan Qiu from North High was the overall winner with “Trivial About the Youth.”

Students head to national contest
Twenty-three PUHSD students medaled in events at the Arizona Skills USA Championships, April 15-16, and eight of them qualified for the National Championships in Kansas City, Mo., June 23-28.

Six Camelback High engineering students medaled in two events and two of the students—Alissa Rodriguez and Francisco Ochoa—won a gold medal in Mechatronics. They qualified for the national contest this month. In Humanoid Robotics, Camelback students Kayla Mendez and Adrian Munoz won silver medals, and the team of Dalton Duel and Christian Hernandez won bronze in the same category.

Seventeen students from Metro Tech also medaled at the Arizona Skills USA Championships, and six gold medal winners are eligible for the national championships. Gold medalists were: David Zamudio, Basic Automotive Service Technician; David Hernandez Haro, Computer Maintenance Technology; Du Vu and Nicholas Renteria, Human Robot Interaction; and Elizabeth Padilla, Culinary Arts.

Other medalists were Jose Romero Arias, with silver, and Jesus Orta with a bronze in Collision Repair Technology, and Byron Sanchez, a silver in Job Interview. In addition, the team of Karina Vargas, Jose Tanori, ArlyMelendrez, Jorge Barrera, Liliana Gutierrez, Orlando Garcia and Diana Martinez won a silver in Opening and Closing Ceremony.

Franklin school receives accolades
Franklin Police & Fire senior boys and girls teams won the 11th annual Fire Muster competition, April 5 at Glendale Community College. It was the second consecutive title for the girls, while the boys won the event for the first time.

The competition tests the students’ basic firefighting skills in five different events: protective clothing turn-out, donning a Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), connecting to and operating a fire hydrant, deploying a 150-foot fire attack hose-line, and dragging a 165-pound mannequin, named “Rescue Randy” for 100 feet.

The winning Franklin girls team was Anahi Ruiz, Karen Gayosso, Angelica Molina, DesiraiDixson and Yulma Lopez. The boys team was Luis Macias, Alex Arvizu, Alex Gutierrez, Ray Mireles and Andrew Gorslin.

The teams are coached by Fire Science Instructor Richard Verduzco and Gabe Medrano. The Thunderbirds fielded seven teams, including three all-female teams, the most girls teams ever fielded by a school in this competition. Franklin defeated teams from Peoria, Glendale, Moon Valley, Sunnyslope and Apollo High Schools.

Franklin also recently was named a “Beat the Odds” Silver School, by the initiative of the Center for the Future of Arizona that measures school improvement for schools that are at least 50 percent low income and minority, primarily Latino. Franklin has been an “A” school since the state implemented A-F letter grades.

Metro Tech captures chess championship
The Metro Tech Knights won the 2014 Canyon Athletic Association State Chess Championship on April 28. Actually, Metro Tech had two teams take first and second place. The Rooks placed first and the Bishops placed second.

The toughest match of the night had the Rook beating Bishop. The Rook also placed first in regionals, with Bishop right behind. Members of Team Rook are Du Vu, Christian Ramos, Jorge Avila, Miguel Solis and Juan Pina. Members of Team Bishop are Dinh Vu, Victor Perez, Edgar Rodriguez, Jesus Osuna and Ana Osuna.

North finishes well in National French Exam
In April, North High learned that junior Karla Garcia Torres had a perfect score in the National French Exam, ranking first in Arizona and first nationally in Level 3 (third year French).

The rest of the scores have come in, and North was well represented in both state and national rankings. Eleven other North students finished in the top 10 in the nation in the exam.

In the Second Year exam, Margaret Hinson was first in Arizona and third in the United States. Juan Catano was third in Arizona, sixth in the nation. Victor Vazquez placed fourth in Arizona and seventh in the United States, and Jose Granillo was seventh in the state and 10th nationally.

In Level 3, Guillermo Arenas and Maya Christian tied for fourth in state, sixth in the nation. Lina Quintero Segura and ArrenKimbel-Sannit tied for fifth in state and eighth in the nation, and Isabel Diggins was seventh in Arizona and 10th in the United States.

First year French student Hugo Crick-Furman was second in state and ninth in the nation. In the Level 4 (fourth year), Stacy Espinoza placed second in the state.

Washington Elementary School District

Salcido a Teacher of the Year finalist
Royal Palm Middle School PE teacher Jodi Salcido is one of five finalists for the KSLX Radio Teacher of the Year Award. Representatives from KSLX and Landings Credit Union surprised Salcido with the award during class on April 30.

KSLX invited listeners to tell them about a teacher who stands out in the classroom and makes a difference in their child’s world. One honored teacher is selected each month from January through May. Salcido was the March finalist. As part of her recognition, she received a new iPad.

At the end of May, one finalist will be chosen to be the KSLX Teacher of the Year and receive a Masters in Education scholarship to Grand Canyon University. The Masters in Education Scholarship is valued at $25,000.

Staff, community lauded for contributions
Once each year the Washington Elementary School District (WESD) celebrates the unique, exemplary contributions of special members of the WESD family by honoring them with the Lamp of Learning Award. The award, which recognizes community and staff members for the “extras” they do to support students, is the highest recognition given in the Washington Elementary School District. This year 42 extraordinary people were honored at a ceremony on May 2. Among the 2014 honorees were:
• Margaret Aragon, kindergarten teacher, and Stephanie Smart, library tech, Desert View Elementary School;
• TameriBayus, Student Services specialist, Royal Palm Middle School;
• Diane Distler, Jenna Mott and Stacey Smith, fourth grade teachers, Mountain View School;
• Josephine B. Corson, Title I instructional assistant/ELL testing specialist, and Ted Rexall-Scott, gifted teacher, Richard E. Miller Elementary School;
• Angie Scrom, first grade teacher, Maryland School; and
• the Valley Metro Northwest Light Rail Extension Team (Carla Kahn, Valley Metro; Mike Howard and Erik Yingling, Sundt/Stacy and Witbeck Joint Venture; Albert Santana, city of Phoenix).

Private and Charter Schools

GLAAZ grads off to colleges
GLAAZ gradsThe Girls Leadership Academy of Arizona ( recently held commencement exercises for its second-ever graduating class. Each of the five graduates plans to attend college, develop additional skills and create ongoing opportunities for their academic and personal futures. Several of the students are the first in their family to graduate and are now setting an example for younger classmates and siblings.

“My younger sister also goes to GLAAZ and looks to me,” Adileny Garcia, 2014 GLAAZ graduate, said. “We come from a single mom that is always working, she raised us herself … my hard work in high school and now going to college won’t just pay off for me, I feel like it helps to pay back my mom, too.”

Amanda Bassett is heading to Northern Arizona University and has earned the NAU President’s Scholarship, while her sister, Calla, will be studying engineering at Southern Arkansas University. Other graduates include: Emily Dethlefsen, Yavapai College, medical assistance; Adileny Garcia, Phoenix College, medical assistance; and Marieantoinette Moreno, Phoenix College, nursing.

Families interested in becoming part GLAAZ can call 602-288-4518 or visit Tours for prospective students and their parents are available.

SFX student projects benefit community
Each year, the seventh and eighth grade students at St. Francis Xavier School participate in the Arrupe Project, developed by SFX faculty members four years ago.

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 a response to social justice.

During their classes, students researched organizations that are actively engaged in ending inequality. 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 seventh grade hosts the Arrupe Marketplace where they sell small homemade items 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, babysitting services and many other creative ideas.

As the Arrupe Projects conclude, students used their funds to purchase items needed by the organization, then they personally deliver those items.

More than 140 students raised $34,759. From the money raised they purchased and delivered items to 42 different organizations. Since the Arrupe Project’s inception, more than $94,000 has been raised and money distributed to 211 Valley organizations.

Students get grant for summer camp
Xavier College Preparatory seniors Genevieve Valladao, Kate Welty and Roxana Wolfson of North Central Phoenix, along with fellow seniors Zoe Berk and KassandraHaro, received a grant of $1,500 from the National Center for Women and Information Technology’s “AspireIT” program.

The students will use the funds to further develop Xavier’s second-annual Girls Have “IT” Camp, a summer camp designed to inspire middle-school girls in computing and technology through hands-on activities and mentoring.

This year’s Girls Have “IT” Camp will feature two sessions: June 2-5 from 1:30-3:30 p.m. and June 9-12 from 1:30-3:30 p.m. AspireIT is a middle school outreach program that matches National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) Award for Aspirations in Computing recipients with participating Academic Alliance or K-12 Alliance members to create and run computing-related outreach programs for middle school girls—such as after-school programs, summer camps, clubs and weekend conferences.

Inspired by the desire of young women in computing to “pay it forward,” AspireIT aims to employ a “near-peer” approach that provides middle-school girls with a positive, sustained experience of learning and creating computing alongside their peers in high school and college.

Xavier ends year with more awards
Xavier College Preparatory’spom line captured the national championship by placing first in the large varsity song/pom division at the United Spirit Association Nationals in Anaheim, Calif., held in April. Xavier’s cheer team placed fourth at the same competition.

Xavier’s sand volleyball team captured its third straight state title on Wednesday, April 9 by defeating Scottsdale Prep in the Division I state championship match at Glendale’s Victory Lane Sports Complex.

The Honor Choir took the top score in “women’s chorus” at the WorldStrides Heritage Festival of Gold in Washington, D.C., on Monday, April 7. Directed by alumna Brittanie Fain, the Xavier Honor Choir was then invited to perform a special encore at the festival concert.

Student’s art captures interest
Xavier College Preparatory senior Christina Valenzuela was a big winner from District 9 in the 2014 Congressional Art Show. Valenzuela’s piece won “Best In Show.”

Valenzuela, a North Central resident, also was selected to contribute artwork to the Phoenix Art Museum’s annual student art show, hosted by the Arizona Art Education Association for Youth Art Month in March.

PCDS honors its alumni, founder
Phoenix Country Day School celebrated a Bridge-the-Gap weekend on April 11-12. The kick-off began on Friday night at Chelsea’s Kitchen with an alumni happy hour and continued on Saturday evening with an Alumni-Athletic Hall of Fame celebration, and finished with PCDS’ biggest party of the year—the annual Bridge-the-Gap.

Bridge-The-Gap brings together the entire PCDS community—family, faculty and alumni—to promote the school’s annual fund. A special guest to this year’s event was the school’s founder, May Sue Talley, who was honored as Distinguished Honorary Alumna.

Guests mingled while Valley restaurants showcased their foods. Live music, dancing, twinkling lights and unique silent auction items added to the elegance and to the evening’s enjoyment.

SFX basketball team wins championship
The Saint Francis Xavier Girls Basketball team won the CYAA (Catholic Youth Athletic Association) championship game on April 11. The team trailed at halftime 23-12, but had an incredible defensive effort in the second half.

Katie Hassett (’14) had an offensive rebound and basket with less than 2 seconds left in the game to win the championship 28-27 over St. Mary Basha. The team is coached by John Burns.


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