Madison Elementary School District

MTA team wins championship
Madison Traditional Academy’s girls basketball team recently won its first-ever championship. On Feb. 8, the No. 1 ranked MTA Owls defeated the No. 2 ranked Kings Ridge Roadrunners in the Varsity Girls Basketball Finals to win the Valley Athletic Conference 4A Division.

The win concluded an undefeated season for the Owls (13 wins and 0 losses) and gave MTA its first ever Girls Basketball Championship. In the Finals, MTA jumped out to a quick 10 to 1 lead and never looked back on the way to a 36 to 14 victory.

Guard Katie McCarthy led the way with 11 points, followed by backcourt teammate Sam Klein, who had 9 points. Center Katie Blessington and forward Sofia Lovesy combined for 12 points and more than 20 rebounds; however, it was their defense on the Roadrunners front court that sparked the Owls to victory.

Osborn Elementary School District

Families receive free computers
One hundred families living in the Osborn School District received free, refurbished computers from Cox Communications in exchange for those families signing up for Cox’s Connect2Compete initiative, designed to bridge the digital divide between students who have Internet in their homes and those who can’t afford it.

Connect2Compete ensures that families with a child who qualifies for the National School Lunch Program can get Cox high speed Internet in their homes for just $9.95 per month.

Forty-five refurbished computers, keyboards and monitors complete with Windows 7 and Office 2007 were given to families on a first come, first served basis at Osborn Middle School on Jan. 28. At this event, volunteers from Good Tech America, which supplied the refurbished computers, gave out the computers/accessories while members from Cox signed families up for the Connect2Compete program.

The remaining computers were distributed at a second event on Feb. 23 to families from Solano, Longview and Clarendon Elementary Schools.

“We have seen studies that show that more than 80 percent of teachers in middle and high school assign homework that requires doing some kind of work online,” said Roxanne Wingate from Cox Communications. “This means students who do not have computers or the Internet at home have to go elsewhere, such as the library, multiple times a week just to get their work done. Cox is committed to helping close that digital divide for lower-income students.”

As of 2015, more than 15,000 families have enrolled in Cox’s Connect2Compete program.

Phoenix Union High School District

Camelback students win app contest
Four Camelback marketing students think they have an easier way to shop and they have an app for that. The students won a statewide Verizon Innovative App Challenge.

Juniors Sila Fraye, Olivia Higuera, Alejandra Alvarez and sophomore Maria Molina won Verizon tablets and a $5,000 donation to Camelback’s DECA Marketing and Entrepreneurship Club creating the SHOPEASY app that takes a shopping list, and works as an indoor GPS for grocery stores, finding product locations, coupons, and sales. The app inventors say your shopping time can be cut in half, and you’ll get the most value for your money.

“Once you enter your grocery list, according to your items, the app will recommend the best grocery store based on the sales and coupons that match the products on your grocery list,” Sila Fraye said. “Once you are at the store, the app will guide you through the store to find every item on your grocery list with coupons and managers specials available for scanning at checkout.”

There were more than 1,200 entrees nationwide for the 50 junior high and high school state winners. The experience has already been educational for the girls.

“The girls utilized a Design Thinking process to observe, brainstorm, identify a challenge and come up with solutions,” teacher Maria Abrams said. “After winning, they had to step up, create a video, develop a communications plan and make contacts.”

ASL students enjoy peer-to-peer activity
Second year American Sign Language (ASL) Honors Dual-Enrolled ASL students at Metro Tech High School organized and hosted the Peer-to-Peer Partnership kickoff activity on Jan. 20, with Phoenix Day School for the Deaf (PDSD) students who take Career and Technical Education classes at Metro Tech.

The only sound you could hear was the laughter of 50 teenagers. Thirty-four ASL students and 16 PSDS students signed all day, introducing one another, participating in teambuilding games and eating lunch together.

Not only is this partnership practical application for the ASL students, but a great way to help connect with the PDSD students who come to Metro Tech daily for the vocational block classes.

The Metro ASL students also visited the PDSD campus on Feb. 10 to set up presentation booths of Metro Tech CTE classes, promoting the courses and school.

“This service project for the ASL students is an effort to better communicate and encourage the Phoenix Day for the Deaf sophomores to choose one of Metro Tech’s CTE programs,” instructor Craig Visqueny said.

He teaches American Sign Language to 100 students at Metro Tech. ASL is considered a World Language, just like Spanish, French and other offerings at Phoenix Union.

DECA students earn 40-plus medals
Camelback High’s DECA Marketing and Entrepreneurship club took more than 90 students to the DECA Regional Competition on Jan. 20 and came home with a big win. The students won more than 42 medals in high test scores, role plays and overall winners in their area.

They competed with seven other area high schools with more than 600 students in attendance at the Downtown Convention Center. The regional is a warm-up to the state competition later this spring, where top winners qualify for nationals.

Students make All-Region bands
Thousands of Arizona students performed difficult audition music for judges across the state on Jan. 23 to compete for limited spots in their Region Band, Choir, or Orchestra.

North High had eight band and orchestra students selected for its Region Band or Orchestra. North had the most musicians of any Phoenix Union school. Jackson Carpenter, clarinet; Elizabeth Garcia, percussion; and Jacob Mota, percussion made West Region Band. Isaiah Herrera, bassoon; Jean Munoz, cello; and Samuel McTGier, string bass made West Region Orchestra.

Central High had a choir member and a band member earn Region placement following auditions. Josh Troyani, tenor, will be in the West Region Choir, and Clarissa Duran-clarinet, made the West Region Band.

After spending two days of rehearsals, the students performed a concert at Corona del Sol High School on Feb. 20. They will then compete one more time for the chance to become members of the Arizona All-State ensembles. Auditions for state take place in March.

Film projects impress ACTEAZ
The Metro Tech film program sent 10 entries to the 2016 Association of Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month PSA video contest and two of the entries were among the three top winners.

Jose Moreno took first place, and will win $500 and have his video publicized on ACTEAZ media outlets, and shown at the ACTE Summer Conference. Third place went to Savanna Gastelo and Evelyn Salto Carvajal. The theme of the contest was “Opportunities for Career Success.” These students are part of Bob Marquis’ film program at Metro Tech.

Natalie Torres of the film department submitted a video for CTE teachers in the state to use to address the workplace and employability standards that all CTE teachers teach. She not only won the contest, but the CTE Arizona Curriculum Consortium hired her part-time.

Washington Elementary School District

Walk On! Day teaches healthy habits for kids
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey proclaimed Feb. 1 as Walk On! Day. To celebrate, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona hosted the first Walk On! Day special event at Desert View Elementary School, 8621 N. 3rd St.

The event involved nearly 200 fourth and fifth grade students, who participated in a pep rally and four different activity stations to learn the principles of the Walk On! Challenge’s 5-2-1-0 goal.

The goals include encouraging participants to eat 5 fruits and veggies a day, spend 2 hours a day or less of screen time, get 1 hour of physical activity every day, and consume 0 sugary drinks. The event took place outside on the main ballfield. Participants received Walk On! Day T-shirts and a take-home bag full of healthy and fresh produce.

The goal of the Walk On! Day was to get students and teachers excited about participating in Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona’s month-long health education program that is free to schools and takes place in February.
As the largest health care provider in the state of Arizona, the company’s goal is to educate and inspire fourth- and fifth-grade students, their teachers and their families to focus on healthy choices that can be made daily with the 5-2-1-0 goal.

Teachers who registered in October 2015 received a toolkit from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona with in-class materials, including curriculum developed by Mollen Foundation experts. The program is all-inclusive, making it seamless for teachers to incorporate into their regular school schedule.

Additionally teachers who complete the Challenge in February can apply to win one of five $5,000 grants. The application process is simple and grant monies can help teachers continue the Walk On! objectives all year long.

Herrera named to ASBA board
Washington Elementary School District Governing Board Member Larry Herrera has been elected a county director of the Arizona School Boards Association (ASBA). He will serve a two-year term on the ASBA Board of Directors, which is responsible for oversight of the association, including financial management, and meets at least four times a year.

Herrera was elected to the WESD Governing Board in 2014. He is an Arizona native and works as a traffic engineer for the City of Tempe. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration and is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering at Arizona State University.

Herrera is a member of the Valley Leadership Class 36, Phoenix Suns Charities 88 and Valle del Sol Hispanic Leadership Institute Class of 2014, and a recipient of the Valle del Sol/Univision 40 Hispanic Leaders Under 40 Award. He mentors high school youth through the Be A Leader Foundation. He is an executive board member of the Lincoln Downtown Family YMCA and a member of the North Mountain Village Planning Committee. He has three children who attend WESD schools.

Private and Charter Schools

Students create board games
St. Francis Xavier School is the only Jesuit elementary school in Arizona. As part of the school’s religious education program, students learn about their Jesuit history. Sixth grade religious education teacher, Kelsey McKone says, “The Jesuit unit is one of my most favorite lessons I do with my sixth graders. It is so fun to see the student apply what they have learned and transform them into informative clever and creative board games.”

The students create board games that help the players learn and review information about the lives and ministries of St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Francis Xavier. Students also took a journey through the history and creation of Society of Jesus (Jesuits). After the students have created their board games, their parents and loved ones are invited to join them on campus to share in the fun and play the games.

For more information, call 602-266-5364 or visit

Student artists’ work appears in magazine
The artwork of Xavier College Preparatory senior Maddy Reeves and junior Carolyn Blake is featured in the winter edition of National Art Honor Societies News. Both young women are from North Central Phoenix. An update on the accolades and accomplishments of Xavier’s National Art Society Chapter also appears in the publication.

Lee makes Honor Band
Brophy College Prep senior Tyler Lee earned a tenor saxophone position at the Arizona Music Educators Association (AMEA) North Central Regional Honor Band auditions. Approximately 680 band students from 23 high schools auditioned in January.

Tyler, a North Central Phoenix resident, is one of six Broncos selected for the regional festival held at Camelback High School on Feb. 19, culminating with a concert performance on Feb. 20 at Corona del Sol High School in Tempe.

Bessesen visits All Saints’
Children’s author-illustrator Brooke Bessesen visited All Saints’ Episcopal Day School on Jan. 29 to speak to students in lower school and share her popular picture books, including “Look Who Lives in the Ocean.”

As part of the author visit, students spent one month researching a list of not-for-profit conservation organizations and voted for their favorite. The students chose the Humane Society of the United States and Bessesen then wrote the winning organization a check, donating her $800 speaking fee to the cause of the students’ choice. The donation was given in honor of All Saints’ Episcopal Day School.

As the founder and director of Authors for Earth Day, Bessesen joined participants in “supporting conservation through literacy.” Every year a team of award-winning authors and illustrators schedule special school visits uniquely designed to mentor young readers. To date, these participants have connected with tens of thousands of students around the world, allowing them to direct over $44,000 for conservation. For more information, visit

Great Hearts to construct campus
Great Hearts Academies has announced plans for its newest campus in Phoenix with a ground-up build at the northwest corner of 32nd Street and Hearn Road. The campus will serve as a new home to two of the network’s growing academies, Archway North Phoenix and North Phoenix Prep, which opened in 2011 and currently reside in space leased at a local church. The new campus will open in the 2017-18 school year.

The new campus will accommodate students in grades K-12 on the same property. It will include upgraded classrooms, science labs, student libraries, art studios, music and drama rooms and a full-size gymnasium.

Great Hearts provides a liberal arts curriculum incorporating advanced math and science, a focus on the arts and foreign language, and a range of extra-curricular activities and athletics. Parents interested in having their student attend a Great Hearts academy can apply online at

Xavier lauds its student athletes
Xavier College Preparatory seniors Kristen Largay and Callie Jones, both North Central Phoenix residents, were named First Team Volleyball All-Americans by the Dairy Council of Arizona and the Arizona Coaches Association for their academic and athletic achievements. Both young women have earned college scholarships—Kristen to American University and Callie to Santa Clara University—and will play volleyball for their new colleges next year.

In addition, North Central resident Amanda Grifol will play soccer for Scottsdale Community College.

Thus far, a total of 19 Xavier seniors have signed national collegiate letters of intent during the 2015-16 school year, committing to play their respective sports at 19 different U.S. colleges and universities that extend from Princeton University in the east to the University of Southern California in the west.

Brophy hosts Special Olympics athletes
The Brophy freshmen class hosted its 8th annual Special Olympics Game Day on Feb. 5. More than 175 Special Olympic athletes enjoyed partnering with a Brophy freshman while participating in relay races, board games, basketball, football and a dance party, all held on the Brophy campus. The morning began with a sing-a-long and mini cheer camp hosted by Student Council.

“The day is win-win for the athletes and Brophy students … so much joy and camaraderie everywhere you look,” said Paul Fisko, Brophy assistant principal for Ministry. “The freshmen class takes the lead that day and makes wonderful memories for all of us.”


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