Glendale Union High School District

Himenez receives prestigious award
Sunnyslope High’s teacher-librarian Patricia Jimenez was honored by being named the 2016 Follett School Librarian of the Year. This award is given by the Arizona Library Association (AzLA).

Each year the award is given to an individual who demonstrates notable or outstanding performance in a number of areas for school libraries. Many letters of support and recommendation were submitted, and with more nominations this year than the last, Jimenez was honored with this prestigious award. She currently is working on her Masters of Library Science at the University of Arizona and has been working tirelessly to keep Sunnyslope’s library up and running despite the many renovations currently underway.

Jimenez also is active in the AzLA as a member of the Professional Development and the Young Adult Summit committees. She has been a faculty member at Sunnyslope for 24 years, 13 as an English teacher, and the last 11 as Media Center director.

Madison Elementary School District

Foundation distributes first Teacher Grants
For the first time, the Madison Education Foundation (MEF), the nonprofit supporting additional arts and music education for the students of the Madison Elementary School District, distributed $5,000 in grants to teachers to help them supplement arts programming in their classrooms.

Funding was distributed on Dec. 6 to five teachers at Madison Camelview Elementary, Madison Meadows Middle School and Madison Park Middle School. “The Madison Education Foundation is pleased to be able to support our amazing teachers by allowing them to purchase additional books, equipment and technology so that all of our students are exposed to more art and music in school,” said MEF President Suzanne Treviño. “Our goal is to continue to grow the Teacher Grants program so that teachers can increase exposure to the arts which research tells us results in more student success.”

Teachers submitted their grant applications, which were reviewed by a panel of MEF Board Members, community members, and retired teachers using a metric-based evaluation system.

For more information about the program or to make a donation, visit or call 602-664-7964.

Osborn Elementary School District

Osborn congratulates Mini Grant recipients
Named for former Superintendent Wilma Basnett, the Osborn School District Educational Foundation provides mini-grants in support of innovative projects that improve students’ physical and mental health, literacy, math, science and the arts. For the past two years, this signature program has been funded through the generous support of the Rotary Club of Phoenix West.

This fall’s winners included nine teachers from Longview School. Among the winners (and their classroom projects) were: Maria Green – Classroom Library; Shannon DeCindis – Classroom Read Aloud; Tracy Smith – Flexible Seating; Daria Mason – Hand Bells Refurbished; Aimee Graefe – Listening Center; Jessica Bailey –Osborn Social Thinkers; Taylor Lange– 6th Grade Science Fair; Jane DeBatty – Reach Out and Read (ROAR); Erin Vaughn – Technology in Preschool; Rodi Vehr – Weekend Engagement Bags; and Debra Fields – Where Are Your Muscles?

Phoenix Union High School District

District honored for energy efficiency
Salt River Project (SRP) in October honored Valley school districts and businesses for their participation in SRP’s commercial energy efficiency rebate and ENERGY STAR Homes programs and for going “above and beyond” in their efforts to create a culture of conservation and stewardship within their organizations. Among the honorees was the Phoenix Union District.

By “being smart” and committed to educating staff and students about energy conservation and sustainability, PUHSD has saved close to $1.5 million. Students and staff are trained to know that leaving on a single computer monitor may only cost one penny per day, but multiplied by 30,000 monitors, the savings can be tremendous.

In addition to cutting off energy “vampires,” the PUHSD has installed LED lights, some with automation and implemented a comprehensive recycling program. Also, through SRP energy-efficiency rebate programs, PUHSD has been able to reinvest savings back into its classrooms.

Phoenix Union knew it couldn’t tackle the sustainability changes on its own, so it worked with strategic partners to reduce energy use and costs. These efforts have secured ENERGY STAR certification for all campuses in the district.

In related news, Phoenix Union is leading the effort in its recycling and sustainability endeavors and the mission of environmental stewardship. All of the district’s comprehensive campuses have solar compactors completely off the grid using biodegradable hydraulic fluid to collect recycled material. Students and staff collaborate to have recycling programs on their campuses.

Chief Williams speaks at Central High School
New Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams was the guest speaker at Central High’s “Bobcat Talks,” on Nov. 28. Hosted by the Central High Multicultural Committee, the monthly speakers series invite guests to address topics related to the promotion of respect for all cultures, dignity for all communities and justice for all people.

Williams shared her story with more than 700 students and talked about what it’s like to be a pioneer African American woman in law enforcement. She also gave advice to the students on how to be successful and self-empowered. Williams is a 1983 graduate of Phoenix Union’s Maryvale High School.

She was asked about discrimination and how she dealt with it, sanctuary cities, her opinion of Donald Trump, how she feels about police killing African Americans, and what was the worst thing her sons did, growing up.

Bobcat Talks is a monthly speakers’ series hosted by the Central High Multicultural Committee. Guest speakers address topics related to the promotion of respect for all cultures, dignity for all communities and justice for all people.

North high grad-now with Suns-visits game
Former North High basketball star Alan Williams, now with the Phoenix Suns, came to a Mustangs game on Dec. 1. Williams played on back-to-back state championship teams with North, before going to UC Santa Barbara.

The Mustangs were taking on second-place ranked Corona del Sol. Williams talked to the players during halftime. According to Coach Joe Bustos, he told the players to never stop playing their best effort, shoot the ball with confidence no matter what the score is and keep playing with intensity throughout the basketball season.

The team listened and made a comeback in the second half. After being down by 28 points, the Mustangs cut the lead to 12 points with three minutes to go in the game.

Washington Elementary School District

WESD hosts stellar fundraising campaign
The Washington Elementary School District continues to be a leader in giving, contributing $46,813 to the 2016 Valley of the Sun United Way campaign, a nearly 20 percent increase from the previous year and $6,813 more than its goal of $40,000.

WESD is one of the top three school district contributors to the annual campaign behind Chandler and Gilbert.

This year, the district office led the campaign in total giving with contributions of $5,253, but Sunburst Elementary raised the most per capita with a total of $3,964. As a result, Sunburst campaign coordinator Sally Cook and her principal, Rhonda Warren, were presented with a check for $500 courtesy of the Washington Education Foundation (WEF).

In addition, the WEF provided five $50 Westcor gift cards to the campaign. Winners were Esther Heath, John Jacobs Elementary; Mindy Whalen, Palo Verde Middle School; JoAnn Brass, Royal Palm Middle School; Nancy Miller, Sweetwater School and Peggy Pitts, Tumbleweed Elementary.

The top five contributors to this year’s campaign by school/location are:

District Office, $5,253; Sunburst, $3,964; Maryland, $2,547; Roadrunner, $2,302; and Manzanita, $2,090.

Of the total contributions collected, $18,027 will be donated to the Washington Education Foundation for its employee mini-grant program.

Private and Charter Schools

Xavier to host entrance exam
Xavier College Preparatory will host its High School Placement Test (HSPT) Entrance Exam for eighth grade applicants on two upcoming dates in January: Saturday, Jan. 7 at 7:30 a.m., and Saturday, Jan. 21 at 7:30 a.m.

Online registration for the entrance exam and more information about Xavier’s admissions process can be found at An exam fee of $50 will be collected at the beginning of the exam, and either cash or a check made payable to Xavier College Preparatory will be accepted. Approximate dismissal time will be 11:30 a.m.

Coaches, students lauded with various awards
Xavier College Preparatory varsity golf coaches Sister Lynn Winsor, BVM and Tui Selvaratnam have been named the 2016 Arizona Sports Awards Girls Golf Coaches of the Year. This year, Xavier’s Gators won their sixth-consecutive state championship and their 34th state title in school history.

Xavier senior Elizabeth Caldarelli, senior Emily Mahar and freshman Ashley Menne were all selected to the 2016 All-Arizona Girls Golf First Team. Menne also is one of three finalists for 2016 Arizona Sports Awards Girls Golf Athlete of the Year honors.

Xavier faculty member and varsity badminton coach Susan Contreras has been named this year’s “Arizona Sports Awards Badminton Coach of the Year.” Under her leadership, Xavier’s Gators recorded a perfect 17-0 season and captured the state championship. This season was Contreras’ first as a badminton coach.

Xavier seniors Tatum Clarke and Annie Kamps were selected to the All-Arizona Badminton First Team; seniors Kiana Valentova-Macdonald and Emily Woodrow were named to the Honorable Mention Team.

Cosden named an outstanding educator
Xavier College Preparatory faculty member John Cosden was awarded the 2016 William Hennessy Outstanding Educator Award by Empire Mock Trial for his leadership in mock trial education and competition.

“Watching you interact with your students over the past 10 years has been a blessing,” wrote Empire Mock Trial President Justin Matarrese in his congratulatory letter to Cosden, the longtime moderator and coach of the Elias M. Romley Xavier Mock Trial Team. “(Your) unwavering desire to mentor a young person—to value a student’s ability to honor another even more than their ability to win an objection—makes you not just a great teacher, but a model educator. It makes you someone who all educators, not just mock trial coaches, can aspire to be.”

An ocean of learning for students at CIMI
Seventh grade students from St. Francis Xavier School, 4517 N. Central Ave., spent two nights and three days at the Catalina Island Marine Institute (CIMI) off the coast of California in November.

CIMI is a unique outdoor science school providing an exciting outdoor educational experience for students from public and private schools grades 4 through 12. While attending CIMI, students snorkeled, many for the first time, and were introduced to organisms living in the bay—leopard sharks, garibaldis, giant kelp fish, and even California Sheephead.

Cindy Fernandez, seventh grade science teacher, said, “CIMI’s focus is a hands-on experiential science. CIMI has an area where students can touch, many for the first time, small sharks and rays. In the algae lab, students learned about the importance of algae in the production of oxygen and in use of everyday products.”

Fernandez added, “Students arrived back at St. Francis Xavier School not only tired and full of great experiences and knowledge, but with also the satisfaction that they can do things that they may be uncomfortable doing—snorkeling, dissecting a squid, touching “scary” organisms or even finding their way through a maze with no light.”

School to host VEX qualifying contest
The VEX Robotics state qualifier will take place at Madison Highland Prep, a STEM charter high school, this month. The event will host 25 teams with students from middle and high schools throughout the state.

The state qualifying competition is one of a series of VEX Robotics competitions taking place internationally throughout the year. VEX Robotics is the world’s fastest-growing competitive robotics program for elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and colleges with more than 12,000 teams from over 30 countries that participate in more than 1,000 competitions worldwide.

The competition season culminates each spring, with the highly-anticipated VEX Robotics World Championship presented by the Northrop Grumman Foundation and the REC Foundation, which unites top qualifying teams from local, state, and international VEX Robotics events.

The event takes place 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 7, at Madison Highland Prep, 1431 E. Campbell Ave. It is free and open to the public. For more information, call 602-745-3800.

In related news, MHP Heat Robotics Team B-MHP, “Twisted Axles,” claimed first place at the Pima Community College state qualifying event on Dec. 3. With the victory, MHP Twisted Axles earns a berth to the AIA state championships in March.

MHP athletes win All-State Honors
Ten Madison Highland Prep student athletes earned Division 1 All- State Honors for the Fall 2016 athletic season in women’s volleyball, football, and men’s soccer.

In women’s volleyball, junior Hillarie Campbell was named 2nd Team All-State Blocker. In football, sophomore Raul Gutierrez was named 1st Team All-State Receiver; sophomore Jakob Lynch was named 1st Team All-State Defensive End; senior Michael McCann was named 1st Team All-State Kicker; and junior Alex Kobs was named 2nd Team All-State Defensive End.

In men’s soccer, senior Christian Lopez was named 1st Team All-State Forward; sophomore Carlos Lopez was named 1st Team All-State Forward; sophomore Isaiah Mata was named 1st Team All-State Forward; senior Harrison Dagher was named 1st Team All-State Goalkeeper; and sophomore Hugo Lopez was named 2nd Team All-State Defender.

Christian Lopez also was selected as Division I Men’s Soccer Player of the Year. Lopez is the first student-athlete at MHP to receive this distinction.

Students enjoy living history at festival
Phoenix Hebrew Academy American History Students become part of the amazing 14th year of the American Heritage Festival.

On Nov. 17, 25 sixth and eighth grade Phoenix Hebrew Academy American History students and teachers set out on a field trip to The American Heritage Festival, produced by We Make History (an educational nonprofit group) at Schnepf Farms in Queen Creek.

The festival is the largest education focused living-history gathering in the western United States and features a large cast of men, women and children as actors portraying diverse roles and aspects of American history ranging from the Colonial era through the 20th century.

Battle reenactments of the American Revolution, craftsmen, colonists, encampments, soldiers, pioneers, historic merchants, musicians, and actors portraying famous persons from history awaited them. Armed with their assignment to have all the questions provided to them at the festival completed before returning back to school, the student talked to actors, took part in activities, observed, and absorbed all they could.

The American Heritage Festival was not only a fun and exciting time for the PHA students, it also directly relates to PHA’s American History curriculum for the sixth and eighth grades and the state of Arizona.


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