Glendale Union High School District

Margaret Desmond

Margaret Desmond

Sunnyslope High student recognized for leadership

School Connect AZ, which helps youths reach their full potential, recently honored Sunnyslope High School student Margaret Desmond, a junior, with the Student Champion of the Year Award. Students chosen for this award demonstrate “great-hearted leadership,” including cheering on others and inspiring their peers to be generous, according to the School Connect AZ website.

Margaret recently organized the collection of more than 960 items that were given to the Phoenix Rescue Mission to help those in need during this COVID-19 pandemic. She also is involved in the National Charity League, Inc., a philanthropic organization of mothers and daughters who volunteer to help charities around the country.


Gabriella Venegas

Gabriella Venegas

Washington High grad earns Dorrance Scholarship

Gabriella Venegas, who graduated from Washington High School last month, is the recipient of the prestigious Dorrance Scholarship, which provides $12,000 per year that she can use at any of Arizona’s public universities. She is planning to attend the University of Arizona in the fall. The scholarship also provides tutoring and mentoring, a Summer Bridge program in Flagstaff, access to a personal advisor, international travel and other benefits.

The Dorrance Scholarship is awarded based on need and is renewed based on students’ academic standing, participation in program events, activities and community service projects. To be eligible, high school seniors must have a minimum cumulative grade-point average of 3.0, reach certain scores on college entrance exams, demonstrate leadership and volunteer service, be the first in their family to attend college and meet other criteria.


District schools score high in national report

Glendale Union High School District has garnered national attention through a recently released U.S. News & World Report “2021 Best High Schools” list, ranking more than 17,800 public high schools around the country. The report evaluated how well schools serve students from different social and economic backgrounds based on college readiness, reading and math proficiency, underserved student achievement, college curriculum breadth and graduation rates.

Sunnyslope High ranked 25th best of Arizona high schools, number 17 for Valley high schools and 1,852 out of public high schools around the country.

Washington High School also fared well in the national report. It was ranked 44th among all Arizona public high schools, 34th among Valley high schools and 2,679 out of all the schools around the country.

Thunderbird High School was ranked 36th best of the Arizona high schools, 27th among Valley high schools and 2,353 out of the schools around the nation.

For details, visit


Madison Elementary School District

Madison Rose Lane Elementary School received a grant that honors the memory of the author of the popular Junie B. Jones children’s books, shown here by Jahnvieve Buseman, a library associate at the school (photo courtesy of the Madison School District).

Madison Rose Lane Elementary School received a grant that honors the memory of the author of the popular Junie B. Jones children’s books, shown here by Jahnvieve Buseman, a library associate at the school (photo courtesy of the Madison School District).

Rose Lane receives grant to purchase books

Madison Rose Lane Elementary School now can help more students read, thanks to a grant inspired by the late author of the Junie B. Jones children’s book series.

Jahnvieve Buseman, a library associate at Madison Rose Lane, said the school was chosen to receive a 2021 Barbara Park Memorial Literacy Grant. This $500 grant is possible due to the generosity of Richard Park in memory of his late wife, Barbara Park, who wrote the popular children’s book series. The school will use the grant to buy books that will be available to all students through circulation in the library.


Park teacher honored at legislature, district event

Tyler Vargas, a seventh- and eighth-grade Madison Park Middle School science teacher, recently received Madison’s Truly Extraordinary Award.

At a district event where he was honored, he was praised for embracing all of Park Middle School’s signature program, which is science technology, engineering, arts, math (STEAM), as well as for collaborating with other teachers and offering students hands-on, real-world experiences to learn content. Vargas has taught at Madison Park for seven years.

Arizona state Rep. Aaron Lieberman also touted Vargas’ success and contributions to the school and community during an Arizona House of Representatives session last month during Teacher Appreciation Week. Lieberman described Vargas as a “go-to teacher” for collaborating with colleagues and he has built “a community of respect and learning” in the classroom.


Free meals being offered at two schools this summer

While the academic year is over, families can still access free meals in the Madison School District this summer.

Madison Camelview Elementary School at 2002 E. Campbell Ave. will be open from 9:30 to 10 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday from June 22 to July 22 to provide meal bundles to any parents, not just those with children in the district. It will be closed July 6 and 8.

Breakfast foods will be provided Tuesdays and on Thursdays there will be breakfast, lunch and a weekend meal bundled, with enough food to last a child for that Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. No one needs to pre-register for these meal bundles. Those picking up the bundles must wear masks and maintain social distancing during this COVID-19 pandemic. Non-perishable foods are provided.

A free bulk bag program will available for anyone to pick up from 4 to 5:30 p.m. every Wednesday at Madison No. 1 Middle School at 5515 N. 16th St. The bulk food bags contain seven days worth of breakfasts and lunches for one child and will be distributed  through a drive-thru pick-up service.

You must pre-order the bags by visiting This program is free for all children ages 18 and younger. The deadline to submit bulk bag pre-orders for the following week’s distribution day is at 1 p.m. every Friday.

For more information, visit


Osborn Elementary School District

Osborn Elementary School District governing board member Luis Peralta and Longview Elementary School Principal Karen Grose work on enhancing the school’s garden. Adult volunteers also helped add raised garden beds and bird feeders (photo by Ryland Tuttle).

Osborn Elementary School District governing board member Luis Peralta and Longview Elementary School Principal Karen Grose work on enhancing the school’s garden. Adult volunteers also helped add raised garden beds and bird feeders (photo by Ryland Tuttle).

Seeds are planted for learning in Longview garden

The seeds are planted for new learning opportunities at Longview Elementary School, where the community recently spruced up its garden.

Staff members, Principal Karen Grose, governing board member Luis Peralta and adult volunteers participated in a project to beautify the school, enhance the community and take part in activities of healing the Earth. They added raised garden beds and bird feeders to boost biodiversity and offer students better opportunities to observe the greenery growing. Indoor windowsill gardens were installed for special education classrooms and sets of 20 garden seats and kneeling pads were added to the garden. They aimed to increase social-emotional and sensory activation by providing more seats, as well as wind chimes and a fountain.

Spearheading the garden project was Alex Menendez, an instructional assistant at Longview, who came to the school through the Food Corps program in Child Nutrition. Menendez also runs the school’s 21st Century Afterschool Learning Program. Pacific Lutheran and The Sprouts Foundation gave grants to the school to make this event possible.


Phoenix Union High School District

Isaac Ajayi

Isaac Ajayi

North High grad  receives Gates Scholarship

Isaac Ajayi is one of three students from the Phoenix Union High School District to be chosen for The Gates Scholarship. The selective scholarship is given to outstanding, minority, high school seniors from low-income homes. Every year the scholarship, which provides $49,000 a year for university studies, is awarded to 300 graduating seniors who are student leaders.

Ajayi, who also was offered several other scholarships, plans to attend the University of Portland. He is interested in possible future careers in meteorology and mechanical engineering.

Ajayi participated in North High’s rigorous International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program, played on the varsity boys volleyball team from 2018 to 2020, as well as robotics and the National Art Honor Society.

The other Phoenix Union High School district students who received The Gates Scholarship were Steven Le and Jesus Cebreros, Trevor G. Browne High School graduates.


Chief of Staff receives ‘Hot Shot Award’

The Arizona Partnership for Immunization recently honored Phoenix Union High School District Chief of Staff Isela Rivas with the Arizona COVID Hot Shot Award. Rivas was nominated for this distinction by the Maricopa County Department of Public Health. She received it for her ongoing efforts to provide access to the COVID-19 vaccines to the community. Rivas dedicates her work and the award to her late son, Sergio Armando Reyes.

The Arizona Partnership for Immunization’s mission is to cultivate a comprehensive, sustained community program for the immunization of state residents against diseases that vaccines can prevent. To learn more, visit


Washington Elementary School District

Mountain View principal finalist for state award

Mountain View School Principal Jill Sarraino was selected as a finalist for the School Connect Catalyst for Education Award. This honor recognizes outstanding principals who have sparked collaboration towards making positive changes, as well as inspired and led others to support their school community.

The winner of the Catalyst for Education Award was Lillian Linn from the Avondale Elementary School District, as announced during a virtual awards ceremony recently.


Private And Charter Schools

Benjamin Aguilar

Benjamin Aguilar

Brophy graduate earns Flinn Foundation award

Brophy College Preparatory graduate Benjamin Aguilar, is among the 2021 recipients of the Flinn Foundation scholarships. This scholarship, one of the most prestigious awards given to high school seniors, is valued at about $120,000, including full tuition at an Arizona university, along with room and board, study-abroad opportunities, mentoring and other support. Out of the more than 950 applicants for the scholarship from this year’s graduating class, only 2 percent were chosen.

Aguilar was active in the National Honor Society and robotics while at Brophy. Outside of school he is an Eagle Scout and leader in his church’s youth group. Aguilar also volunteers on a regular basis at his church’s food bank. Aguilar plans to study English at Arizona State University.

The Flinn Scholar program was established in 1986. As a 2021 scholarship recipient, Aguilar becomes the 14th Flinn Scholar from Brophy.


Jaden Campbell

Jaden Campbell

Xavier Prep grad snares dual honors

A Xavier College Preparatory senior was tapped this spring for two different honors.

Jaden Campbell, who graduated last month, was named to The Arizona Republic’s All Arizona Girls Soccer Team and also as a Player of the Year nominee. She was Xavier’s goalie and helped the team advance to the state championship. The Arizona Republic said Campbell was “like a human wall at the net for the Gators,” adding she allowed only four goals all season and led Xavier (10-2-1) defense with her 0.340 goals allowed average (GAA), including one in the recent state tournament. It added that Campbell’s “96 saves drove the team’s remarkable run to win the 6A state title as a fifth seed.”

Campbell, who has been playing soccer since she was 4 years old, said that the “last two minutes of the state championship game were the longest” of her life.

While at Xavier, Campbell also was a member of the presidents’ council and in the photo club. She signed a Letter of Intent to play soccer for Benedictine University in the fall, when she also will study psychology.


Xavier College Preparatory’s varsity softball team recently won the school’s first state championship (photo by Sister Lynn Winsor, BVM, CMAA).

Xavier College Preparatory’s varsity softball team recently won the school’s first state championship (photo by Sister Lynn Winsor, BVM, CMAA).

Xavier softball team wins first state title

During a difficult year for sports,  Xavier College Preparatory’s women’s softball team rose to the occasion by winning the school’s first state softball championship title.

Xavier’s softball team beat Red Mountain High School in a 10-0 game in Tucson. The seniors advanced from a four-win season as freshmen to state champions this past season.

Bradley Bledsoe Downes, Xavier head varsity softball coach, said the players “took control over the season.”

Xavier’s golf, soccer, spiritline and beach volleyball teams also won state championships in the 2020/21 school year.


Madison Highland Prep offers summer camps

Madison Highland Prep will hold football, cheer, men’s soccer and women’s volleyball camps for incoming and current students from July 19 to 22.

The Football Summer Camp will focus on conditioning, as well as offensive and defensive skills and teamwork drills. This camp costs $125 and will take place from 8 to 11 a.m.

The Women’s Volleyball Summer Camp participants will work on conditioning, volleyball skills and teamwork drills. No equipment is required for the camp. It will also be held from 8 to 11 a.m. The cost is $75.

The Soccer Summer Camp will offer conditioning activities and will work on defensive skills and teamwork drills. No equipment is required. This camp will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. July 19-29 and it costs $75.

The Cheer Summer Camp, from 8 to 11 a.m. July 26-29, will include conditioning, cheer and dance skills and teamwork drills. The camp cost is $75.

A VEX Robotics Summer Camp will be offered from 8 to 11 a.m. July 19-29. Students will engage in design and programming and expand their skills to prepare for the 2021-2022 VEX competition game. This camp costs $125. A Zero Robotics Summer Camp will run from 1 to 4 p.m. July 26-29. Students will do coding and programming as they get ready for the 2021 Zero Robotics competition. The camp costs $75.

Budding musicians can express themselves during the Pep Band Summer Camp, which will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. July 26-29. Students are required to have an instrument for the camp. It costs $75.

To register your child for one of the camps, visit


Midtown Primary goes ‘green’ for Earth, Arbor days

Midtown Primary School students recently decorated reusable bags to celebrate Earth and Arbor days. They also talked about the importance of taking care of the environment and how reusing bags keeps plastics out of landfills. Some of the classes brainstormed other ways to take care of the planet and did crafts and projects to accompany this activity.

Buttons from student Jack Blanchette’s late great-grandmother’s sewing room more than a decade ago were used to decorate the bags. Jack’s grandfather, a retired teacher, provided the reusable bags for students to decorate.