Glendale Union High School District

Two young men named National Merit Scholars
The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) announced this year’s National Merit $2,500 Scholarship winners, and among them were Mark Morrissey of Thunderbird High School, and Sean Miller of Sunnyslope High School.

The $2,500 Merit Scholar designees were chosen from a talent pool of more than 15,000 outstanding Finalists in the 2016 National Merit Scholarship Program.

National Merit $2,500 Scholarship winners are the Finalists in each state judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills, and potential for success in rigorous college studies.

These Scholars were selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors, who appraised a substantial amount of information submitted by both the Finalists and their high schools: the academic record, including difficulty level of subjects studied and grades earned; scores from two standardized tests; contributions and leadership in school and community activities; an essay written by the Finalist; and a recommendation written by a high school official.

Sean Miller hopes to pursue a career in computer engineering. Mark Morrissey wants to study neuroscience.

Madison Elementary School District

Madison expands Spanish at No. 1
After collaborating with parents, teachers, and the community, the Madison School District has developed an expanded Spanish offering at Madison No. 1 Middle School. An expansion of Madison’s Spanish Immersion Signature Program, the Spanish Fluency Signature Program will begin in the 2016-17 school year.

At Madison Heights, the Spanish Immersion program was begun in first grade only, and with just the science curriculum, in the 2012-13 school year. Students quickly became proficient and parents asked for the program to be expanded. Eventually it grew to all four grades and included the subjects of science, social studies and language arts.

“The families at Heights had been waiting on the Spanish Immersion plan for fifth grade and when it was presented last fall, we were all taken aback that it had been cut so drastically without any warning,” said Hillary Frank, whose two daughters have been enrolled in the Spanish Immersion program at Heights. Her oldest, Jessica, is moving on to fifth grade this fall.

“To me, it would make more sense to have the immersion program at Madison Meadows which has an international focus, but No. 1 is a great school and the principal, Mrs. Warren, is very receptive to the Spanish program,” Frank added.

“We spent significant time reviewing the potential options for Spanish Fluency, and are extremely dedicated to this program,” said Casey George, director of Signature Programs for district. “Students will have the opportunity to obtain high school credit while still in middle school, and we are excited to watch these students advance in their bilingual education.”

“We are happy they heard our concerns and responded by implementing what we asked for,” said Karen Gresham, who up until the end of the school year had three kids at Madison Heights (one is now moving to No. 1) and is a member of the Heights PTO. Gresham was part of a large group of parents who spoke before the Madison School Board on April 5 to express their concerns about a lack of continuation in the Spanish Immersion program after students leave Heights.

The Spanish Fluency program at No. 1 will begin with fifth grade, and additional grades will be added each school year until all 5-8 grades carry the program.

Students feeding into Madison No. 1 from Madison Heights will be offered Spanish Social Studies and a Spanish Fluency class, to be taken along with their core classes of Math, Science, and English Language Arts and their choice of an additional Visual Performing Arts elective.

There will be an opportunity to test into the Spanish Fluency program for students who did not attend Madison Heights but have an intermediate Spanish proficiency.

Osborn Elementary School District

New dual-language preschool now open
The shuttered Montecito Community School, 715 E. Montecito Ave., reopened in February with a new dual-language preschool, thanks in part to a federal Community Preschool Grant.

Due to low enrollment and budget issues, the district was forced to close the campus beginning with the 2011-12 school year. “It was devastating to have to close that campus. It was one of our newest ones and it is beautiful,” says Virginia Shuss, director of Student Services for the district.

Superintendent Patty Tate put together a task force of parents, teachers, and other district stakeholders to come up with an idea of what to do with the school. The consensus was a community center with a focus on early childhood education.

Shuss applied for the federal grant and then the process to get licensed for preschool use began.

The preschool offers two-way immersion (English-Spanish/Spanish-English) early childhood education learning opportunities. Arizona State University will come in for research and observation of the efficacy of dual language immersion at a young age. Tempe-based children’s theater Childsplay will offer innovative classroom programs with the children.

The preschool opened on Feb. 1, and there are still plenty of spots available for families of 3 and 4 year olds who can pay on a reasonable sliding scale. For additional information, contact Osborn Community Education Coordinator Vanessa Asarisi at or 602-707-2510.

OMS Firedrums wow audiences
When Osborn Middle School Music Teacher Julia Georges started the Firedrums in 2013 as a 21st Century afterschool percussion ensemble, she couldn’t have imagined the group would be making a name for itself by entertaining throughout the Phoenix community.

Making their debut at the SOSaz Expo3 last fall, the members of the Firedrums got a standing “O” for their performance at the AZ School Board Assn Equity Conference and an invitation to headline the 2016 awards luncheon for the AZ School Public Relations Association.With more invitations on the books, these creative musicians are “catching fire” with their enthusiastic drumming on non-traditional percussion instruments.

Phoenix Union High School District

Tercero honored by White House
Phoenix Union’s Cyndi Tercero was recognized as one of 12 “School Support White House Champions of Change” for 2016. These individuals were selected by the White House for their leadership and tireless work to ensure that students in our nation’s schools receive the support and motivation they need to be succeed.

Tercero is the dropout programs developer for Phoenix Union where she has been a champion for public education and at-risk youth for more than 20 years. In her work and in her numerous volunteer efforts, Tercero has helped students stay engaged in school so they graduate with a high school diploma.

“I take advantage of every opportunity to connect the importance of educating the whole student and bringing together community partners to eliminate learning barriers,” Tercero said.

Tercero is a recent graduate of the Georgetown University School Justice Reform Certificate Program.

Miramontes wins first in art competition
Carlos Medrano Miramontes, a junior in North High’s Advanced Art 1 International Baccalaureate class, recently learned that his mixed media collage self-portrait, “Exodus” was awarded first place in the 2016 Congressional Art Competition for Arizona’s 7th District.

The piece was selected by Congressman Ruben Gallego and the Art Competition Committee. There was a reception on May 9 to recognize Miramontes. The piece will hang in Washington, D.C., for a full year. Miramontes and a parent were flown to Washington for the installation.

Academics no challenge for swim, dive teamers
North High’s swimming and diving program this school year had four Academic All-Americans: seniors Daniel Cardoza, Alexa Martinez, Alison Faller, and William Witmer. Witmer attends Bioscience but swims for the Mustangs.

The award is given by NISCA (National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association). All-Americans must be on varsity swim and/or dive for a minimum of two years with one being their senior year, have a 3.75 or above on the NISCA grade scale through seven semesters, recommendations from the coach and a verified application from school officials.

Student to speak in Colorado this summer
Anna Deogratias, a senior at North High School, was selected to be the student speaker at the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) Summer Institute in Denver, Colo. this summer. She will speak in front of approximately 3,500 educators from all around the country.

Deogratias was one of the three students selected to speak (out of thousands of applicants) at this national event. AVID pays for her flight and hotel and she will receive a college scholarship from AVID, as well.

She is the fourth ever from Arizona to be selected to speak at this conference and the first from Phoenix Union.

Chess Club defends state champion title
Metro Tech Chess closed out its season in winning fashion. Metro returned as region champs and defended its state champion title in the Canyon Athletic Association

Metro Tech fielded five full teams and two finished first and second in the CAA Chess State Championship on April 18. Team Rook was champion, and Team Paladin came in second.

In the Individual Championships April 25, Metro’s Jonny Lopez was second board champion, and Juan Pena took second in first board play.

Coach Ricardo Gardea had only four seniors this year, so Metro Tech will enter the AIA Chess competition next year with a great deal of depth and success.

Washington Elementary School District

Three staff named as Teachers of the Year
Three Royal Palm Middle School teachers were among those honored as Teachers of the Year by the Arizona Middle Level Association in early May. The association is dedicated to ensuring the success of middle-level students in Arizona. Congratulations to math teachers Kristen Pollard, Sam Lafon and Emily Wiersema for receiving this distinction.

Washington district hiring support staff
The Washington Elementary School District currently is hiring support staff members for the 2016-17 school year. Positions available include teacher assistants, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, bus assistants, custodians, nutrition service workers, before- and after-school childcare assistants, crossing guards and cafeteria and playground monitors.

Apply online at For more information, call the WESD Human Resources Department at 602-347-2668.

Private and Charter Schools

Xavier receives grant D-backs Foundation
Xavier College Preparatory was honored by the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation and the University of Phoenix on April 5 with a D-backs School Challenge grant award for the school’s making and robotics program.

Xavier’s longtime principal, Sister Joan Fitzgerald, BVM, making and robotics instructor Nathan Ward, and marketing director Erin Alaimo accepted the award on Xavier’s behalf during the pregame show at Chase Field, and a large Xavier contingency helped cheer the D-backs to an exciting come-from-behind victory over the Colorado Rockies.

An innovative component of Xavier’s approach to science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) learning, the school’s making and robotics program merges the intellectual with the experiential for its 1,200-plus young women in the ninth through twelfth grades.

“Through the graciousness of the D-backs grant, we will be able to give young women hands-on experience using tools that marry high-tech equipment with their creative ideas to explore areas that will help them achieve at the next level,” Ward said.

The grant funds will be used to purchase a full-spectrum laser cutter, CAD software, and soldering equipment.

Tesseract continues elementary program
Tesseract School, a not-for-profit private school located at 4800 E. Doubletree Ranch Road, has returned to its roots of working with early childhood to grade eight students. It has consolidated on one campus, with a new board of trustees.

The school was forced to make a major reorganization after discovering significant financial shortfalls, which meant that there were not enough funds to continue its popular high school program.

The elementary curriculum is designed to put equal importance on both academic and character development. Tesseract students experience an education that is student centered; students learn authentically by doing rather the traditional model of didactic lecture and rote memorization. Instruction is hands-on, collaborative and interdisciplinary, with a smaller student-to-teacher ratio.

For more information, contact the school at 480-991-1770, or visit

Xavier clubs, teams finish year strong
Xavier College Preparatory’s Xpress student publication captured First Place honors from the American Scholastic Press Association in its national 2015-2016 Scholastic Newspaper Awards competition.

In addition, Xavier’s sand volleyball team captured its fifth consecutive state title on May 4 by defeating Tucson Salpointe Catholic in the Division I state championship match at Mesquite High School in Gilbert.

The Xavier Lacrosse team captured third place accolades in the state lacrosse tournament, and the school’s program was honored by the Arizona Girls Lacrosse Association with the “Honor The Game” Award for the second consecutive year. Also, four Xavier students were selected to the 2016 All-State Lacrosse Team. Junior Caitlin Blomo was named the sport’s Attack Player of the Year; she and senior Kate Howard were selected to the All-State First Team. In addition, juniors Kayla Swanson and Katie Hobaica were named to the All-State Second Team. Blomo, Howard and Hobaica are all North Central Phoenix residents.

PCDS senior named scholar semifinalist
Phoenix Country Day School senior Anita Sheih has been named a semifinalist in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. She was one of 689 semifinalists in the United States, selected from nearly 4,700 candidates that applied.

Of the 689 semifinalists chosen, 12 students have graduated from high school in Arizona, and Sheih, who lives in Sunnyslope, is the only semifinalist in Arizona to attend a private school.

Sheih was selected on the basis of superior academic and artistic achievements, leadership qualities, strong character, and involvement in community and school activities.

Sheih had been a student at PCDS since fifth grade. She is an accomplished musician (playing cello with the Phoenix Youth Symphony and all-state musician), was a three-sport varsity athlete (swim, soccer, and softball), and was co-editor-in-chief for both the student newspaper and yearbook. She has committed to attend Brown University in the fall and hopes to study journalism.

Earlier this year, Sheih was named a National Merit $2,500 Scholarship winner.

Brophy president leaving school
Brophy College Preparatory President, The Rev. Edward Reese S.J., is stepping down at the end of the 2015-16 school year. Reese has accepted a position as President of Saint Ignatius College Preparatory in San Francisco, effective July 1.

“Father Reese has led Brophy, in collaboration with its students, faculty, administration and entire Brophy community to become a nationally recognized Jesuit high school,” said John Strittmatter, chairman of the Brophy Board of Trustees. “We will miss him greatly. However, we are happy that our sister school in San Francisco can benefit from his proven success as a leader, visionary and change agent.”

Reese has been president at Brophy since 1996. The Board of Trustees has appointed Brophy Vice President Adria Renke as the school’s acting president beginning June 2016 while a national search is conducted. Renke has been vice president at Brophy for 19 years.

Rivera wins first in Spanish exam
More than 170 Xavier College Preparatory students achieved gold, silver, bronze, and honorable mention recognition for their results in this year’s National French Contest and National Spanish Exam. Among them was North Central resident and freshman Gracie Rivera, who captured a state award for 1st Place–Spanish.

McIntyre scores 100 percent on ACT
Xavier College Preparatory junior Maeve McIntyre, who lives in North Central Phoenix, received a perfect score on the ACT national college admissions examination.

The ACT exam consists of tests in English, mathematics, reading and science. Each test is scored on a scale of 1-36, and a student’s composite score is the average of the four test scores. While the actual number of students earning the highest possible ACT composite score of 36 varies from year to year, less than one-tenth of one percent of all testers achieves this distinction.

In the high school graduating class of 2015, only 1,598 of 1.92 million students earned the top score.


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