Glendale Union High School District

Credit union donates to baseball team
Thunderbird High School’s baseball team recently received a $5,000 donation to the sports program from Desert Schools Federal Credit Union, which opened a new branch in March at 406 E. Thunderbird Road.

A grand opening for the new branch was held April 22, at which time the check was presented to the Thunderbird Chiefs.

“We intend to participate as a member in the community right from the get go and are proud to kick off our relationship with a donation to Thunderbird baseball,” said Lori Sevensky, SVP of retail sales and operations at Desert Schools.

GUHSD schools ranked among best in country
U.S. News & World Report announced in late April that Glendale Union High School District schools once again received recognition by the national publication. Of the schools, seven ranked among the top 100 for the state of Arizona and four were nationally recognized on the America’s Best High Schools list.

GUHSD schools have continuously made the U.S. News & World Report – America’s Best High Schools list since 2008, adding to its impressive resume of academic achievements. In 2013, GUHSD earned the National Advanced Placement District of the Year recognition by the College Board; and the Arizona Department of Education has rated GUHSD as an “A” district.

Madison Elementary School District

Ground broken on Center for the Arts
The Madison Elementary School District recently celebrated the groundbreaking of its 24,547-square-foot Madison Center for the Arts, which will include a 900-seat auditorium as well as a spacious lobby that can seat 200 for pre-function events.

The district’s more than 5,800 high achieving elementary and middle school students will be able to share talents and build confidence through artistic, musical and dramatic performances, as well as developing technical and operational skills with hands-on behind-the scenes learning.

Students from Madison Rose Lane, Madison Park Middle School and Madison No.1 Middle School demonstrated their talents at the groundbreaking event through dance, instrumental and singing performances. Madison Rose Lane and Madison No. 1 both offer Performing and Visual Arts Signature Programs.

The students, Superintendent Quinn Kellis and board members expressed gratitude to voters for recognizing the impact of arts education on a student’s overall growth and development. Funding for the new Center for the Arts, located adjacent to the district office, is through a recent bond override and demonstrates the commitment the community has for Madison and its student’s success.

CORE Construction serves as General Contractor and ADM Group is the Architect on the project. The Center will be complete Spring 2018 in time for 8th Grade Commencement. Madison Schools are now enrolling for the 2017-2018 School year. Visit to learn more.

Osborn Elementary School District

Two schools receive A+ designation from AEF
Two schools in the Osborn Elementary School District were among just 39 Arizona public schools receiving the coveted A+ School of Excellence™ award for the 2016-2017 academic year from the Arizona Educational Foundation (AEF).

AEF has identified and honored exemplary pre-kindergarten through 12th grade public schools in Arizona since 1983. The 2017 A+ School of Excellence winning schools and principals from the Osborn District included: Osborn Middle School and Principal Marty Makar; and Clarendon Elementary School and Principal Theresa Nickolich.

“The A+ School of Excellence program celebrates outstanding schools throughout Arizona and calls attention to the positive stories and successes occurring in public schools,” explained AEF Executive Director, Bobbie O’Boyle. “The application and evaluation process for this program is comprehensive and rigorous. We applaud these schools for going above and beyond the norm to meet their students’ needs and for achieving overall success despite the many challenges that face the education community statewide.”

Applicant schools are evaluated in the areas of student focus and support, school culture, active teaching and learning, curriculum, leadership, community and parent involvement and assessment data.

Schools receive $500 and a banner designating them as an A+ School of Excellence winner. All staff and faculty at the award-winning schools will be eligible for partial scholarships from Argosy University Phoenix. The award is valid for three and a half years.

OMS and Clarendon Elementary join Encanto Elementary, which was named an A+ school in 2016. The district now boasts three schools that have earned this label.

Phoenix Union High School District

Lopez honored by Phoenix Suns, NAU
Metro Tech Chemistry teacher Gerardo Lopez was the Phoenix Suns-Northern Arizona University Educator of the month for April. He attended the April 2 Suns-Houston game, receiving four tickets, and complementary food and beverages, and a $50 team shop gift card. The student who nominated him, Ailyn Melendrez, also was invited to the game. The two were introduced on the court prior to the game.

“I am definitely excited and humbled. Honestly, I am a little shocked,” Lopez said.

Lopez earned an undergraduate degree at NAU, a master’s degree from Arizona State University, and currently is in the Educational Leadership program at NAU. He also was able to see his former student, Alan Williams of North High, play in person. Lopez was his chemistry tutor.

Casillas named principal for North
Vanessa Casillas will be the new North High School principal, beginning in July of 2017.

Casillas returns to the district where she went to school, and where she began her educational career. A Carl Hayden graduate, she began her career at the school in 2003 as an English teacher.

Casillas most recently was an assistant principal at Mesa High School, a post she has held for four years. Her first administrative assignment was as an assistant principal at Pueblo Magnet High School in the Tucson Unified School District, from 2010-2012.

Casillas has a B.S. in Secondary Education, and two Masters- Bilingual Multicultural Education, and Educational Leadership, all from Northern Arizona University.

Empowering students to create change
This past school year, North High and Cesar Chavez High School piloted a new curriculum called SEED SPOT NEXT. After years of success working with adult entrepreneurs, SEED SPOT launched the NEXT program to empower students to create change through entrepreneurship, providing curriculum, training and resources to teach entrepreneurship.

The students’ objective was to create a social venture team solving a problem from topics related to home, school, local and state, or national and global.

As a continuation of the program, North High School had its first Demo Day on April 21. Thirty venture teams from Rita Lopez’ Business 1-2 classes pitched their venture to judges. Four teams were selected to continue to pitch their venture at SEED SPOT NEXT National Demo Day on May 6 at Camelback High School, with the winning team receiving $5,000 towards their venture.

North winning presenters were Ruryck Adame; Mercedes Devian; the team of Yessy Garcia, Ivan Loza Morales, and Josue Fabela Martinez; and the team of Marco Bustos and Chiara Castiglione, an exchange student from Italy. Student ventures ranged from solving domestic violence, health and environment, to academics.

Toastmasters support Camelback DECA Club
One of the ways in which Camelback High’s Marketing DECA Club can take field trips to Chicago and New York and go to DECA national competitions is through the generous support of the community, particularly the local Toastmasters Speak E’s Annual Auction.

For 31 years, this event, which was in the winter, has supported the DECA program at Camelback. The Toastmasters club also encourages its members to contribute through the Arizona Education Tax Credit program.

“They have continued to give opportunities to our students beyond their dreams,” Marketing teacher Julia Bourdo said. “Last year Speak E’s Toastmaster Club raised thousands of dollars for our DECA students. Every teacher would benefit so greatly with this kind of community support.”

This past school year, Camelback competed at the DECA State Competition and qualified 25 students to the DECA International Competition to Anaheim, Calif. in April. This was the school’s largest total ever. Camelback students joined 17,000 students throughout the world for the DECA International Career Development Conference.

There were 2,400 students from 72 schools that attended the DECA State Competition and Camelback had the second-largest number of students attending in the state. Among their wins, the students who won the Verizon Best in State App contest also won in the Innovation Competition, the second year in a row that Camelback has won with the Verizon challenge winners.

Washington Elementary School District

Anti-bullying program a success at Sunnyslope
Since its inception 20 years ago, North Star Youth Partnership has been providing positive, life-changing services to youth in the community. With the concern of bullying at the forefront, North Star created the Peer Assistance Leadership (PAL) program, aimed at combating bullying in schools.

Diane DeLong, Program Manager of North Star explains, “Bullying has escalated over the past 20 years and has now reached epidemic proportions due to social media. The bullying continues, long after the school day has ended.”

Christine Williams manages the PAL program at three local schools—including Sunnyslope Elementary. “Participants in the program use the peer helping model, which includes communication, group dynamics, active listening and problem-solving. It was through the participants in the program that we identified a major source of bullying: limitations in the ability to practice good hygiene,” explains Williams.

To eradicate this need, the program accepted donations of soaps and toiletry items throughout the school year. To coincide with North Star Youth Partnership’s 20th anniversary, these donations were distributed to local schools.

North Star also combats bullying by empowering youth through mentorship programs, linking younger students with older students. This encourages social support and builds confidence in teens.

For more information or to become involved in the North Star Youth Partnership program, contact Diane Delong at

Private and Charter Schools

Brophy grad accepted to Air Force Academy
North Central resident Stephen H. Scott III, who goes by “Trip,” was accepted into the U.S. Air Force Academy. He was nominated to the military university by Congressman Ruben Gallego, and reported to Colorado Springs on June 29.

Scott is a graduate of Brophy College Prep (2017) and All Saints’ Episcopal Day School (2013). He was in the top of his class at Brophy with a 3.945 weighted GPA and was a member of the National Honor Society.

In addition to excelling academically, Scott distinguished himself as an active member of his community. He was a volunteer member of Brophy’s Big Brothers and Best Buddies programs, helped burn victims at the Maricopa Medical Center, and tutored young children from underserved communities. He was also a three-year member of the Broncos varsity football team.

“As a congressman and a veteran, I wish Stephen much success as a military officer,” Gallego said. ““I hope that his hard work and willingness to serve inspires other young boys and girls to consider a rewarding career in military service.”

Charter high school holds inaugural commencement
Donning blue caps and gowns, the first graduating class at Madison Highland Prep accepted diplomas and turned tassels at the end of the school year.

Ten seniors were honored at the commencement held at Embassy Suites Biltmore on May 25.

MHP, a STEM charter school, opened in 2014 with the enrollment of ninth and 10th graders. Three years later, its first class of seniors graduated.

Principal Kerry Clark praised the seniors and their families for their commitment to the school and noted that all graduates are on track for higher education.

“MHP’s first families stayed the course and now here we all are, recognizing your children’s accomplishments and readiness to enter college and university– and ready they are,” Clark said. “Each of these graduates has been accepted to two or more 4-year colleges or universities.”

MHP is a STEM college-preparatory charter high school located at 1431 E. Campbell Ave. serving grades 9-12. For information, visit or call the school at 602-745-3800.

Celebrating a big win – and some new sand
Xavier College Preparatory’s beach volleyball team captured its sixth straight state title on May 2 by defeating Goodyear Millennium High School in this year’s Division I state championship match. The Gators have won all six title matches since sand/beach volleyball became an Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) varsity sport during the 2010-2011 school year.

In related news, Xavier officially dedicated its new Cavanaugh Family Beach Volleyball Courts in an April 25 ceremony. Construction of the four sand courts, named for the family whose generosity enabled the school to build them, began last August so that Xavier’s beach volleyball team could play this year’s season on its new home courts. Previously, the Gators had played at both the Phoenix Swim Club and at Grand Canyon University.

School receives check, Lunch from Überrito
Christ Lutheran School was named the winner of the “Überrito Burrito Battle,” receiving a $500 check and a specially catered lunch for teachers and staff. The fundraiser offered a friendly school spirit competition between area schools that included Arcadia High School, Camelback High School and Christ Lutheran School.

The battle was the culmination of the grand opening celebration for Überrito’s newest restaurant, located at 4325 E. Indian School Road. Over a two-week time period, customers were encouraged to visit the Arcadia Überrito and mention the school they would like to support at checkout. Überrito then donated 15 percent of sales from every school purchase and then matched that amount for the school with the most sales.

“We are so pleased to be able to give back to the community in such a fun and beneficial way that celebrates our exceptional Phoenix-area schools and teachers,” said Marcus Jundt, CEO of Überrito.

Bicycle Club a fun, healthy activity
At the conclusion of its seventh year, the AmeriSchools Bike Club broke many records and had many accomplishments, including completing a total of 2,543 total miles by 15 riders (combined), with five riders topping 200 miles each and 8 riders posting more than 100 miles apiece.

The Bike Club is intended to offer an opportunity for students in sixth through eighth grades to explore the world of bicycling and what bicycling has to offer as a lifetime hobby or sport. As an afterschool activity, the students engaged in a variety of educational presentations covering all aspects of safe bicycling and put these practices in play as they rode the streets throughout the Central Phoenix area.

The riding activities took place mostly during the week after school, but students also completed two Saturday morning rides, one ride to a local restaurant, and a year-end ride to Tempe Town Lake using companion transportation such as the Light Rail system.

AmeriSchools Academy, an “A” rated k-8 public charter school, is located at 1333 W. Camelback Road. For more information, call 602-532-0100 or visit

Phoenix Christian hosts Open House
Phoenix Christian Preparatory School, 1751 W. Indian School Road, hosts an Open House on Thursday, July 20, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Families preparing for fall enrollment, as well as those looking ahead to the 2018-2019 school year, are welcome to visit the school, which offers a K-13 Christian education experience. Visitors can learn more about the school’s new concentration programs coming this fall, which will allow students to dive deeper into specific areas of study such as STEM and fine arts.  The open house also will have information about current dual-enrollment, AP and honors opportunities at PCPS.

For more information, call 602-265-4707, ext. 270, or visit

Joyce honored for exemplary coaching
Ryan Joyce of Phoenix Country Day Middle School was selected as the 2017 Middle School Coach of the Year by The National Speech & Debate Association.

Joyce, the director of Advancement at Phoenix Country Day School, has been coaching middle school speech and debate for the past three years, leaving an impact on hundreds of young students.

“Ryan [has] played a huge role in bringing this incredible ‘sport of the mind’ to our middle school for the first time in its 50-year existence,” said middle school parent Deb Lambert.

Within just three years, Joyce has created a strong middle school speech and debate team with over 150 students.

Joyce was presented the Middle School Coach of the Year Award at the National Speech & Debate Tournament in Birmingham, Ala., last month. The Coach of the Year is selected through a committee comprised of members of the National Speech & Debate Association Board of Directors and the Executive Director, who review nominations submitted by member schools.