Creighton School District

Clarendon a finalist for TAP Award
Clarendon Elementary has been nominated as a finalist for consideration for the TAP Founder’s Award to be presented at the 2016 National TAP Conference. This award recognizes exceptional efforts to implement and represent the principles of TAP by a school, the school leaders, and the district leaders that support the school.

It is a distinction that acknowledges the important work and accomplishments of the entire school community. The award comes with a $50,000 cash prize. An NIET media crew visited the school for filming in early February.

Madison School District

Student competes in state Spelling Bee
Amutha Rajasundaram, a student at Madison Heights Elementary, made it to the 2016 AEF Arizona Spelling Bee, held March 19 in the Arizona PBS studios on the downtown Phoenix campus of Arizona State University.

Amutha was one of the state’s top 27 spellers, having made it past a few earlier rounds of spelling challenges. The road leading up to the AEF Arizona Spelling Bee began in December when schools throughout the state held qualifying bees. Winners progressed to district bees in January and then county and regional bees in February.

Seventh grader Nicola Ferguson from Sunrise Middle School in Scottsdale correctly spelled the word “recumbent” in the 17th round to win the Bee. Nicola will head to Washington, D.C., to represent Arizona in the 89th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee May 25-26.

Phoenix Union High School District

Town hall focuses on teen dating violence
Central High School hosted a Teen Dating Violence Youth Town Hall on Feb. 18. The day included a morning assembly and resource fair during lunch for the students. Students, parents and community members were invited to attend the Town Hall, a discussion about teen dating violence and healthy relationships.

February is National Teen Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. Among the sobering facts, 1 in 5 teens in Arizona will experience domestic violence for dating violence in their lifetime; 1 in 10 high school students has been purposefully, hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend of girlfriend. Adolescents in controlling or violent relationships may carry these dangerous and unhealthy patterns into future relationships.

This event was held in partnership with the City of Phoenix’ Paint Phoenix Purple Domestic Violence Awareness program.

Signaled crosswalk adds safety for students
Metro Tech High School staff and students, along with officials from the city of Phoenix and community members, on March 3 celebrated the activation of two new High Intensity Activated Cross Walks, or HAWKs on West Thomas Road in front of the school, and on 19th Avenue and West Earll, at the northeast boundary of the school. That HAWK will also serve the students of the new Linda Abril Education Academy that opens next school year at 3000 N. 19th Ave.
The crosswalks include push-button activated flashing signal lights that have proven effective in stopping roadway traffic and reducing car-pedestrian accidents, particularly near heavy pedestrian traffic areas such as schools.
The pedestrian beacons are the 29th and 30th HAWKs installed by the city of Phoenix, and the first installed near a PUHSD school since 2010.

Testing physics on roller coasters
Phoenix Union Physics students had the chance to put their minds (and bodies) to the test when nine schools met for a day of competition and data collection at the annual Physics Day at Castles ’N Coasters, March 4.

Besides having data sensors strapped to them and using various pieces of equipment to gather information about the rides at the park, students were asked to put their problem-solving abilities to the test in a number of physics-based competitions. These competitions draw from a variety of talents, focusing on creative application of concepts in a stressful and time-limited manner, and after many grueling events, Metro Tech students won first place overall, edging Carl Hayden.

Metro Tech also won four events: Gum Drop Bridge, with students Esther Barrera-Zaragoza, Juan Saenz, Kazandra Zelaya; Egg Drop, with students Christian Bocardo-Feli, Alex Medina Jeniffer Rodriguez-Quintero; Vector Bowing, with students Marco Abasta and Williams Martinez-Hernandez; and Liquid Launchers, with students Joel Perez, Hector Nunez and Jose Camarena-Espinoza.

“Every single person on our district can take pride in this achievement, as our students consistently demonstrated advanced problem-solving abilities in novel situations, and above all, incredible sportsmanship and citizenship,” Metro Tech Science teacher Andrew Chapman said.

Tennis team captures first place in tourney
The Camelback High Spartans Tennis Team took first place in the METT Phoenix Union tournament, Feb. 25-26, bringing home the traveling trophy.

Camelback’s boys team won first place, and the girls team was narrowly edged out by Betty Fairfax by just three points, but the Spartans’ combined scores were enough to return the championship trophy back to Camelback. The finals were played at Camelback.

Central students compete in Japanese
Six students from Central High’s Japanese class participated in the 18th-annual Japanese Speech Contest at ASU’s Foreign Language Fair, Feb. 23. Jesus Achutegui won the Advanced level competition. This is the second year in a row he has won in the highest level.

Brenda Garcia placed second in Novice level completion (1st year level). Irma Lechuga, Marina Lopez Figueroa, Alexander Verazquez and Kiana Williams also performed well.

JROTC capture some top scores
Central High School JROTC competed in the Raider Tough Challenge on Feb. 27 in Tombstone, with 14 high school JROTC programs from Arizona and New Mexico.

The Central Cadets took first place in Knot Relay, second place in the Obstacle Course, second place in the Tire Flip and third place in the 5-K Endurance run in the eight-event competition.

Washington Elementary School District

Lamp of Learning recipients announced
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 school district’s highest honor.

Bestowing this award allows WEDS the opportunity to thank community members and staff members for their support of WESD students. The honorees below, who serve in the schools within the North Central News boundaries, are among 42 extraordinary people who will be celebrated on May 6 at the Lamp of Learning Awards Ceremony.

Honorees for 2016 include:
• Desert View Elementary—Joyce Brown, Paraprofessional–Instructional; Josie Van Vleet, Nutrition Services manager
• Orangewood School— John Vasey, sixth grade teacher; Ryan Clark, community member; Shannon McBride, volunteer/community member; Tonya Reynolds, volunteer
• Richard E. Miller Elementary—Cheryl Fisher, computer assistant; Katie Lewis, reading interventionist
• Maryland School—Jerry Frost, third grade teacher; Jackie Swigart, social worker
• Mountain View School—Ana Issa, social worker; Marty Manning, volunteer

Orangewood robotics team wins state award
The Robocougars of Orangewood School won the STEM Research Project Award at the VEX IQ State Finals Competition on Feb. 27. The research project centered on water sanitation and purification and covered what is being done worldwide to improve and develop safe drinking water.

The Robocougars, fifth and seventh grade students, built a model of the Omni Processor being developed by Bill Gates and, in their presentation to the judges, demonstrated how this model could improve life for people around the world. The judges were impressed with students’ depth of knowledge and polished presentation skills.

This is the third year in a row the Robocougars have won the STEM Research Award. The group’s coach, Dianna Bonney, was recently named Elementary School Science Teacher of the Year for 2015 by the Arizona Science Teachers Association.

Bonney, who has taught for more than 25 years in the Washington Elementary School District, is certified as highly qualified in middle school general science and holds a gifted endorsement with an emphasis on bilingual students. She earned a Doctor of Education degree in 2009 from Arizona State University.

Private and Charter Schools

MLB great Selig visits PCDS
Phoenix Country Day School welcomed Major League Baseball Commissioner Emeritus Bud Selig to campus on Feb. 12 as the inaugural guest of the PCDS Headmaster’s Speaker Series. Selig was the commissioner of Major League Baseball from 1992 through 2014, and oversaw massive commercial and economic success, the internationalization of America’s pastime, and an unprecedented 20-plus years of labor peace between the player’s union and league ownership.

Regarding the new annual program, PCDS Headmaster Andrew Rodin remarked, “At PCDS, we celebrate those who have found success by building bridges, by bringing together dissenting voices, and helping people find common ground.”

During his visit, Selig met with PCDS middle and high school students for a series of question and answer panels. After chatting with PCDS students during the day, Selig joined Headmaster Rodin for an evening “fireside chat” with hundreds of PCDS parents, alumni, and other community members.

Selig is the grandparent of PCDS senior Natalie Prieb (who will attend George Washington University in the fall) and father of PCDS Board of Trustees member Wendy Selig-Prieb.

Students raise funds for pet sanctuary
At Tesseract School, every grade level takes part in an annual service learning project. This year’s third grade students decided they wanted to do something related to animals and their care. After looking at numerous options, they decided on Forever Loved Pet Sanctuary in Scottsdale, whose mission is to promote the rescue, adoption, and well being of senior animals.

One of the founders of Forever Loved Pet Sanctuary visited the classroom and introduced Ranger, one of the dogs in their care. The third graders also learned more about the mission of the organization. After the visit, students brainstormed a variety of ways in which they could help raise money.

One of the ideas suggested was to collect spare change from families at the curb. The third graders made colorful posters and signs that they placed around campus to promote their cause. They also presented to grades K-4 during the Lower School’s weekly morning meeting.

The students took turns collecting change at the curb during the morning drop off and afternoon dismissals. After two weeks, they raised $1,112.86, which far exceeded their original goal of $300. The students now plans to visit and meet some of the dogs at Forever Loved Pet Sanctuary.

Middle school girls STEAM up Xavier
Nearly 1,000 female middle school students from around the Valley attended Xavier College Preparatory’s eighth-annual “Girls Have IT Day!” on March 4. Part of this year’s Arizona SciTech Festival, the event promoted young women’s involvement in science, information technology (IT), engineering, art, and math (STEAM).

Following a keynote lecture by Xavier alumna and marine scientist Erin Ryan, the middle school students participated in a hands-on, STEAM-focused activity fair hosted by about 400 Xavier student mentors representing many of the high school’s 75-plus student clubs.

Local girls lauded for volleyball skills
Four Xavier College Preparatory students have been recognized by for their excellence both on the court and in the classroom. Among them are three North Central residents.

Senior Callie Jones, who will attend Santa Clara University in the fall, was named to the 2015 High School Volleyball Academic All-American First Team. Jones and senior Kristen Largay, who will attend American University in the fall, were both named to the 2015 High School Volleyball All-American Special Mention Team. Earlier this year, the two teammates were also named First Team Volleyball All-Americans by the Dairy Council of Arizona and the Arizona Coaches Association.

Freshman Shannon Shields was named to the 2015 “FROSH 59” List, which highlights the top freshmen in the nation playing on varsity volleyball teams.

SS. Simon & Jude team wins aerospace contest
More than 200 teams converged upon ASU’s Polytechnic Campus Feb. 8-10 for the 17th Annual Fiesta Bowl Honeywell Aerospace Challenge sponsored by American Airlines.

Six teams advanced to the finals on Feb. 27 at Wells Fargo Center, and SS. Simon & Jude’s Cathedral School’s seventh-grade team, Team Genesis, emerged as the winner of this year’s challenge. This is the fifth win for the Cathedral school of the Diocese of Phoenix, which also won this competition last year.

The students will be featured at halftime of the Fiesta Bowl game and have also been awarded a trip to Space Camp in Atlanta, Ga.

This annual challenge is the largest extracurricular STEM program for grade school and junior high students in the state. This contest allows fifth through eighth grade students the opportunity to enhance their knowledge of space technology through the development of an International Lunar Base, complete with a physical scale model.

Student marketplace benefits charities
The Arrupe Project at St. Francis Xavier is in its sixth year, and has helped hundreds of graduates discern and help support causes that are most meaningful to them.

“This project starts in the seventh grade, when students sell handmade crafts in the Arrupe Marketplace. It’s out in our school courtyard and after a Sunday mass,” explained St. Francis Xavier Campus Minister Deborah Westerfield.
Then in the eighth grade, students must organize a fundraising event. The funds they make from the event are then used to purchase whatever the cause or organization is in need of. Students then “personally deliver it to them and more often than not, meet who is being benefited by their works,” Westerfield added.

Each student selects an organization to be the recipient of the funds raised. They speak to an individual at the organization, and determine what their needs are. After the marketplace and fundraisers are held, the students purchase the items needed with the funds raised.

Some of this year’s benefiting organizations included Phoenix Rescue Mission, Ryan House, The Smile Project, and Foundation for the Blind.

The Arrupe Project is now a diocesan model that could be implemented into other schools.

Brophy students volunteer in Nogales
PBS National Religion & Ethics News Weekly filmed a segment at the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) in Nogales, Ariz., while a group from Brophy College Preparatory, including senior Luis Torrez of North Central Phoenix, was there volunteering with the migrant group.

The Kino Border Initiative (KBI) is a binational organization that works in the area of migration and is located in Nogales, Ariz, and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. The KBI’s vision is to help make humane, just, workable migration between the U.S. and Mexico a reality.

Brophy Faculty member Christopher Agliano accompanied the students, who represent members of a Brophy Club, Anima Christi. Agliano said, “The Kino Border Initiative is on the front line of the intense human struggle for dignity. Jesus says in the gospels, ‘Come follow Me.’ Witnessing the suffering on the border is following Jesus to the foot of the cross. It changes you.”

Brophy sophomore Michael Grindey, Anima Christi club member, was interviewed by the PBS crew and offered, “Being on the border was uncomfortable at first. I didn’t know what to say or do … but once I started to meet and interact with migrants and hear about their journey I was able to connect with their story. I was able to form relationships with different people and encounter Jesus face-to-face.”

Brophy students Matthew Zacher, Noah Cloud, Brady O’Gara, Zach Beall, and Spencer Inglett also made the trip.

Students fill food bags for needy children
Christ Church School (CCS) students and chaperones visited Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) in Mesa on March 17. They worked together to assemble 22,032 meals to feed hungry children in Peru. These meals will provide 60 children with food for a year.

“I would recommend this (trip to FMSC) because it is fun to help other kids,” said CCS fourth grade student Jack Chait.

“It was really fun doing all the jobs, but I liked boxing up all the bags of food best,” added third grade student Gunnar Romley.

FMSC is a nonprofit Christian organization. The approach is simple: children and adults hand-pack meals specifically formulated for malnourished children, and they ship the meals to distribution partners in nearly 70 countries around the world.

The CCS volunteers labeled packages, scooped a mix of vitamins, dried vegetables, soy, and rice into bags, weighed and sealed each bag, and packed the bags into 102 boxes. At the end of the session Father Daniel Richards, rector of Christ Church of the Ascension, led a community prayer over the packed boxes of food and volunteers were treated to a sample of the nourishing product.

CCS families and staff members also collected quarters in candy tubes, donating more than $1,700 to FMSC, which will provide materials for 7,665 additional meals.


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