Glendale Union High School District

Choirs bring home trophies after fest
Over spring break, 73 members of Sunnyslope High School’s choirs traveled to California to perform at the Worldstrides Anaheim Heritage Festival. Three choirs performed and all three groups received gold ratings, with the Concert Choir taking second place and Vocal Ensemble taking first place in their respective divisions.

Sunnyslope also received the Sweepstakes Trophy as the choir program with two or more choirs competing with the highest overall average score.

There are 135 students in Sunnyslope’s four choirs: Women’s Choir, Men’s Choir, Concert Choir and Vocal Ensemble. Directed by Tamara Krause, the focus is to develop excellent vocal technique, musical literacy, discipline and a vibrant musical community. The choirs have performed locally, throughout the state and at festivals in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Alexander receives Coronat scholarship
Thunderbird High School senior Sophie Alexander has been named a Coronat Scholar at Syracuse University. The Coronat Scholars Program is a highly competitive award offered by invitation to incoming freshman in The College of Arts and Sciences.

There were more than 10,000 undergrad applicants to the college of arts and science. First, her undergrad application was chosen from that pool to be invited to apply. She made it to the final round and then interviewed her way into the 2022 class of Coronat Scholars.

The award offers a fully paid scholarship to attend Syracuse University, along with full funding for studying abroad, organized trips, funding for one summer of study, research or volunteer work and admission to the Renee Crown University Honors Program. Sophie is one of only 25 students to be selected.

Madison Elementary School District

Madison student wins AZ State Spelling Bee
Marcus Giorza, 13, a seventh grader from Madison No. 1, was the winner of this year’s Arizona State Spelling Bee, held March 24 in the Arizona PBS studios on the downtown Phoenix campus of Arizona State University. He won by correctly spelling the word “anthophilous” in the 14th round.

This is his first time competing as a finalist in the state spelling bee. In his spare time, Marcus enjoys math, spelling, and science. Outside of school, he plays the piano and mobile games with friends. His favorite dessert is ice cream.
Marcus was one of 27 finalists, and one of two finalists from Madison schools (Pragya Prasad, third grade, Madison Traditional Academy).

This is the 20th year the event is being sponsored by the Arizona Educational Foundation (AEF), a statewide non-profit organization based in Scottsdale. 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. Private, public, charter, and homeschool students were eligible to compete.

Marcus will represent Arizona in the 91st Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee, May 27-June 2 in National Harbor, Md. In addition to an all-expenses paid trip for two, he won $800 cash and a Webster’s Third New International Dictionary. For more details about the AEF Spelling Bee program, visit

Osborn Elementary School District

DeBatty receives AAA award
Longview sixth-grade teacher Jane DeBatty has been selected as Patrol Advisor of the Year on behalf of AAA.
DeBatty introduced the AAA Safety Patrol Program to Longview, which currently has about 22 students participating. The program encourages students to be leaders by setting a positive example at the school. Students participating in the program have enjoyed—among other “duties”—assisting younger students when they arrive or depart from school, and notifying teachers of problems that arise on the playground.

This award is shared only by a select number of Patrol Advisors each year from across several states. As a recipient of the Patrol Advisor of the Year, DeBatty and Longview Elementary will receive a plaque, and a $2,000 dollar grant to be used for the continuation of your school’s Safety Patrol efforts through the purchase of equipment, recognition materials, etc.

Father, son speak before Latino caucus
Encanto third-grade teacher Luis Valencia and his son, Leonardo, recently presented at the State Capitol to the Latino caucus on behalf of UnidosUS on the benefits of dual language instruction.

UnidosUS, formerly National Council of La Raza, is the United States’ largest Latino nonprofit advocacy organization. It has an office in downtown Phoenix near 11th and Jefferson streets. By 2023, Latinos will represent nearly 30 percent of all students enrolled in U.S. schools. UnidosUS is working to ensure equitable outcomes for Latino students and English language learners.

For more information, call 602-507-6190.

Phoenix Union High School District

Summer school begins in May
Free Summer School will be offered again at Phoenix Union schools for both continuing students, and incoming 9th graders. Most summer school schedules run May 29-June 28, Monday through Thursday, at 11 campuses, and June 4-June 28, Monday through Friday for two schools.

Each day will have a morning session and an afternoon session. Because of building maintenance projects, North students will go to Linda Abril Education Academy. Freshman Academy students will earn a one-half credit towards graduation.

To enroll and for more information, go to

Mock food-truck challenge a hit
Camelback High’s Culinary 3-4 students had their first “Food Truck Wars,” April 6. Each team had to come up with a theme, create a menu, make a flier, cook food from their menu to present, and design their table to present to the judges.

The winning selection was “Cycle of the Day”—a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich served with home fries and fresh lemonade, crated by students Charlyz Chavez, Fabian Bautista Vazquez, Nayeli Renteria, and Ubaldo Barron.

A proud legacy for Coach Smithers
Four North High School swimmers were named Academic All-Americans by the National Interscholastic Swim coaches Association. Seniors Anna Whitley, Darianne Sanchez, Joshua Jacobson and Kyle Haines qualified by having a minimum non-weighted grade point average of 3.75 through seven semesters and lettered in swimming or diving. With these four, coach David Smithers, who is retiring this year, has had 81 Academic All-Americans in his 22-year career.
Smithers is one of 10 statewide individuals who were named 2016-17 Sectional Coach of the Year by the National Federation of State Association (NFHS) Coaches Association. The AIA is part of Section 7, which includes Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California and Hawaii. The NFHS recognizes coaches in the top 10 girls sports and top 10 boys sports by participation numbers, and in two “other” sports-one for boys and one for girls not including in the top 10 listings.

Smithers has been named Division II State Coach of the Year four times.

New graduation seal recognizes biliteracy
For the first time, graduating seniors could earn the Seal of Biliteracy on their diplomas, recognizing that they are proficient in English and another language.

The seal, which is also reflected on transcripts, is based upon performance on a state board-approved assessment. Of the 316 seals issued in the 2017-18 school year, 109 went to Phoenix Union seniors. Only six districts and a charter school had students who earned the seal in four languages.

Phoenix Union students had 99 for Spanish, three for Spanish Literature and seven for French. German and Mandarin were the other languages.

Despite challenges, North captures third
North High School was the only Arizona high school team to compete in the 15th Annual Arizona Dragon Boat Festival at Tempe Towne Lake, March 24. Sixteen students from North’s Future Business Leaders of America, and the Mustang Track team made up the crew.

North competed against three year-round teams from other states, finishing third in the 2,250-meter race, despite only practicing twice before the festival. The boats, lifejackets and paddles are provided by the Arizona Dragon Boat Association for all teams.

North is coached by Lana and Jeff Walther, who also are team captains for AZ Dragon Riders. North has been dragon boat racing since 2011, when FBLA advisor Rita Lopez met the ASU Dragon Boat coach, and she convinced her to put a team together.

Washington Elementary School District

Second graders win regional competition
Orangewood School second graders Hannah Kuzmic and Elsie Thompson in March were selected as the regional winners in the 26th Annual Toshiba ExploraVision Science Competition. The competition asks students to research a current problem, envision how this could be solved in 20 years and determine what type of technological breakthroughs need to happen for their solution to become a reality.

Students must include five webpages in addition to the required written components. Elsie and Hannah’s project, Robo-Police, envisioned an automated police force that “will be able to take bad guys and keep them from hurting anyone.” Their project was one of six winners in the United States out of 5,000 entries. As regional winners, they received external hard drives and a laptop for their classroom.

As part of the final round of competition, Hannah and Elsie, under the guidance of Orangewood teacher and coach Dianna Bonney, created a video, website and prototype of Robo-Police. Check out Hannah and Elsie’s project and video at

The two girls were recognized by Arizona State Representatives Ken Clark and Lela Alston (District 24), who had an official Proclamation read in their honor on the House floor.

Volunteers, staff honored at event
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.

Bestowing this award allows the district the opportunity to thank community and staff members for the extras that they do to support the education of students. This year, WESD honors 32 people at the Lamp of Learning Awards Dinner, set for Friday, May 4.

Among those being honored are: Carlos Martinez, Social Studies teacher at Royal Palm Middle School; Julissa Puzzo, a volunteer at Richard E. Miller Elementary School; Alice Reule, a volunteer at Desert View Elementary; and Lynn Smith, Music teacher at Mountain View School.

Private and Charter Schools

Carson awarded Silver Key
Madison Highland Prep junior Noah Carson was awarded the Silver Key in Sculpture at the 2018 Arizona Scholastic Art Competition, sponsored by the Young Authors of Arizona (YAA) organization.

The annual competition recognizes top student artists from schools around the state. This year, 181 students out of several thousand entries were recognized for the prestigious awards.

Carson received his Silver Key at the 2018 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards ceremony in late April at Desert Mountain High School. His sculpture entitled “Serpent de Chien” was also awarded the Best in Show at the MHP Fall Art Showcase in October.

McClelland heads to Boston College
Xavier College Preparatory senior Caroline McClelland signed a national collegiate letter of intent on April 11 to be a part of the Cross Country program at Boston College.

To date, 20 Xavier seniors have signed national collegiate letters of intent during the 2017-2018 school year, committing to 20 different colleges and universities. For more information about the school, visit

Honoring Parkland students with a walk
On March 14, while other schools nationwide participated in a “walkout,” St. Francis Xavier upper grade students choose to “walk with.” March 14 was the one-month anniversary of the Parkland shootings. Students throughout the nation organized events to commemorate the day.

St. Francis seventh and eighth grade students, under the leadership of eighth grade students Tazmin Smith and Kate Brink, along with the direction of teacher Carson Westerfield, held a Walk for Solidarity for the Parkland victims. The students displayed photos of the victims, recited the victim’s names and biographies during the 17 minutes of recognition—one minute for each Parkland victim.

Arizona State Rep. Lela Alston invited the students who participated in the Walk for Solidarity to the House of Representatives. She read the students mission statement on the House floor and the students received a letter of recognition of service from House Speaker J.D. Mesnard. Students meet with Rep. Alston, got to assemble on the House floor and watch the proceedings unfold as they watched from the gallery.

A strong finish for Xavier Gators
The Xavier College Prep sports teams wrap up the school year with several titles and accolades under their belts.
Four Xavier archers finished in the top quarter of the high school girls who competed at the State Archery Championship in March. Sophomore Maddie Tribolet placed 11th, junior Ava Koehler De Celaya finished 16th, senior Kira Dean placed 18th, and freshwoman Alexandra Scott finished 25th. In addition, Xavier senior Kira Dean was honored with a Courage Award by the National Archery in the Schools Program.

Xavier’s crew team captured first place in three races at the Desert Sprints Regatta on Tempe Town Lake in March: the Women’s Junior 1x (sophomore Makenzie Ashton Borrego); the Women’s Junior Varsity 8+ (junior Maddie Wickers, sophomores Grace Driscoll, Tayler Killoren, Gia Magnoni, Lizzie Paddison, Becca Rainney, Maddy Schwartz, Zoe Wasson; and the Women’s Junior Varsity 4+ (Maddie Wickers, Makenzie Ashton Borrego, Tayler Killoren, and Lizzie Paddison). Rachel Chung served as coxswain on the two varsity teams.

Students write, perform opera
Students in grades four through six at Franklin Phonetic Primary School are creating an original opera that will be performed at the school at 9317 N. 2nd St.

The school’s founders, Cindy Franklin and her husband, Tom Franklin, have a passion for performing arts. This small charter school engages children in choir, band, dance and drama throughout the year. The Franklins participated in the Education at the Met Program, offered by the Metropolitan Opera Guild in New York City. They brought the program to their schools in Prescott Valley and now in Sunnyslope.

The goal is not just about the final product, but focuses on the journey the students take—one of learning to work together, sharing ideas, learning new skills in writing, music, acting, and even carpentry. Students take charge in all areas of the production including set design and construction, lighting, costumes, makeup, and production and stage management.

Students at the Sunnyslope campus wrote this year’s opera around a theme of using bad language—“cussing”—and how it affects kids at school. The students decided to use sound effects for cuss words so kids won’t hear real cuss words.

Students named their company Mayhem Opera Company and call their opera “Mayhem at Fisch Academy.” There will be two performances on Tuesday, May 15: the first at 1 p.m. and another at 7 p.m., inside the school’s auditorium. The school is located on the grounds of Sunnyslope Presbyterian Church.

For more information, call 602-944-1371 or visit

A hopping good time at Midtown
Friends of Midtown Primary School, including Fraser from Change Your Stars Foundation, and Fouad the Hummus King, provided an all-school Egg Hunt to celebrate the Easter holiday. The special activity was complete with Easter Bunnies to help with the hunt; Crystal Koel-Rivera and her 3-year-old daughter, Emelia, dressed up as bunnies.

With the help of Target Tempe Marketplace and Bashas, Change Your Stars filled the eggs with candy and gifts. The Hummus King brought small plates for each of the children, who thought the exotic food was delicious.

MHP dual enrollment math program grows
The Dual Enrollment College Mathematics Program at Madison Highland Prep offers students both high school and college credit in mathematics courses taught over a period of one semester.

During this school year, MHP juniors and seniors were accepted through placement testing into MAT 187 Pre-Calculus. MHP will expand the dual enrollment college mathematics course offerings for next school year. Additional courses will be offered the following school year.

For information, call the school at 602-745-3800.


Hello, North Central neighbor — thank you for visiting!

Sign up to receive our digital issue in your inbox each month.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.