Glendale Union High School District

Sunnyslope coach earns national honor

Ray Portela

Ray Portela

Sunnyslope High School’s boys basketball coach Ray Portela is on top of his game after being chosen as the 2021 National Coach of the Year.

Ballislife, a basketball apparel, media and event management company that highlights basketball players and coaches, chose Portela for this honor. Under Portela’s guidance, Sunnyslope High’s Vikings basketball team won the program’s first 6A state crown when it beat Phoenix Mountain Pointe High School in a 63-62 win. The Vikings had challenges, including a quarantine period before the season started and losing some players to injuries and transfers. Portela had guided the team to two other state crowns after winning titles two years in a row in Class 5A seasons.

Portela played for former coach Dan Mannix when he was a student at Sunnyslope High School. He credits Mannix, as well as his college coach and football coach, for instilling in him a strong work ethic, humility and sense of discipline.


New scholarship honors Washington high teacher

Family members of a retired Washington High School teacher who passed away in April are keeping his legacy alive through The Craig Johnson Memorial Scholarship.

The award will go to students who have at least a 3.0 grade-point average and who will be first-generation college students. Eligible students must have been involved in community service. They also must submit a 500-word essay explaining why they want to attend college.

Johnson taught language arts and also coached swimming and girls basketball. He provided opportunities for students to participate in community service and supported English Language Learners and students who struggled in school.

To learn more about the scholarship, visit https://az-glendaleunion-lite.


Madison Elementary School District

Madison Virtual Academy offers online learning

The Madison Virtual Academy (MVA), which will provide a unique online experience with self-paced classes, will kick off on Tuesday, Aug. 10, for students in grades three through eight. MVA offers students the flexibility of online learning along with the chance to participate in school activities in person.

MVA uses the district’s adopted curriculum, which includes math, science, English Language Arts and social studies. Students can take elementary mathematics, middle school mathematics, pre-algebra, algebra I, algebra 2, geometry and pre-calculus. The math classes are self-paced with a Madison teacher monitoring students’ work. Students also will have the opportunity to earn high school credit by taking the classes.

Those enrolled in MVA also will take national and state exams to monitor their progress. Madison teachers guide all online live instruction and self-pacing courses, as well as provide additional help when needed, to ensure students stay on track.

To register your child for MVA or to learn more about it, visit


Podcast shares tips for parents

Parents can obtain tips to support their children’s academic success as well as their social, emotional and physical wellness in the Madison Elementary School District’s new podcast.

The Parenting Future-Focused Kids podcast will focus on a different topic in each episode. Topics will include early childhood education, social/emotional support and independent learning. The plan is to release a new podcast every month. Listen to the podcast at or on Spotify at show/0iiURaKpWLf58pkFmL8C3J.


Osborn Elementary School District

 Registration underway for diverse programs

Registration is underway for the 2021/22 academic year in the Osborn Elementary School District, with opportunities for students to enroll in a variety of programs.

Preschool is offered at Encanto, Longview and Solano elementary schools and Montecito Community School. The preschools have been Quality First rated. First Things First created Quality First to work with childcare and preschool providers across the state to improve the quality of their early learning settings. More than 1,000 early learning programs in communities around Arizona participate in Quality First. These programs go beyond regulatory requirements to help youths be ready for success in school and beyond.

The Osborn district also offers a Dual Language Program, through which students learn the whole grade-level curriculum in Spanish and English. Encanto, Clarendon, Longview and Solano elementary schools and Osborn Middle School provide this program.


Phoenix Union High School District

 Graduates prepare for life after high school

Members of the Phoenix Union High School District class of 2021 are embarking on promising futures at various universities and the military.

Among them is Karla Ramos Gonzalez, who was the valedictorian at North High School. She received the Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship, valued at $40,000, as well as the Elks Scholarship, which is worth $2,000, and the PXU Black Alliance Scholarship, valued at $2,000. Gonzalez will attend Yale University in the fall.

Many graduates from the district will enlist in the armed services. Among them are North High graduates Alexandria Goldman, who will serve in the Army; Jacob Kronlund, who will serve in the Marine Corps Reserve and Navy/Marine Corps JROTC at Arizona State University simultaneously; Alex Matalacuatzi, who joined the Marine Corps; and Daniel Calvillo, who will enlist in the Marine Corps.

Several Phoenix Union graduates have earned at least $1 million in scholarships for colleges. One of the $2 million scholars is Gabriel Santa Cruz, who graduated from North High School. The $1 million scholars include Jaquelin Cantu Balmaceda, a North High graduate; Zuniga Yesenia, who graduated from North High; and Metro Tech High School graduates Lorena Calderon, Ashley Luna and Ariana Panduro.


North High offers I.B. program

When classes begin for the 2021-22 academic year, Phoenix Union High School District will welcome students to successful programs including the International Baccalaureate (I.B.) one at North High School.

The I.B. program aims for schools to develop students who have excellent breadth and depth of knowledge, who flourish intellectually, physically, emotionally and ethically. Schools are able to develop students who study at least two languages and excel in traditional academic subjects. The program is for students ages 16 to 19.

Last school year, 39 students graduated from North High with I.B. diplomas.

To learn more, visit


Washington Elementary School District

 Masks are encouraged, but not required

Steps will be taken to protect students and staff members during the COVID-19 pandemic when classes begin on Monday, Aug. 9, in the Washington Elementary School District.

A recently approved state budget includes a provision that prohibits schools, school districts, counties, cities and towns from requiring students and employees to wear face coverings during school hours and while on school property. While students and employees will no longer be required to wear masks in the Washington district, it is recommended they keep wearing face coverings per guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC’s guidance reinforces those vaccinations are the leading strategy to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Vaccines are free and available to everyone 12 and older but most students in the Washington district were not eligible to receive them, as of press time.

For that reason the district will follow CDC recommendations to implement “layered prevention strategies,” including maintaining at least three feet of social distancing when feasible, washing hands frequently, improved ventilation and cleaning of high-touch point areas.


Schools to receive produce to promote healthy eating

Healthy eating will be easier for many students in the Washington Elementary School District, as several campuses were chosen to participate in a program focused on fruits and vegetables.

Nineteen schools in the district were selected to take part in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) for the 2021-22 school year, which starts on Monday, Aug. 9. The district schools in North Central that will participate are Desert View Elementary School, Maryland School, Moon Mountain Elementary School, Orangewood School, Richard E. Miller Elementary School, Royal Palm Middle School, Shaw Butte Elementary School and Sunnyslope School.

Under this federally assisted program, fresh fruits and vegetables are provided free of charge to children at eligible elementary schools during the academic day. The goal is to introduce youths to fresh vegetables and fruits and to boost overall acceptance and consumption of fresh, unprocessed produce among kids. The program also encourages healthier school environments by promoting nutritional education.

To be eligible for the program, schools must run the National School Lunch Program, with a priority placed on campuses with the highest percentage of children who qualify for free and reduced-price meals. To learn more, visit


Private And Charter Schools

 Brophy football team to play on new field

Brophy College Preparatory’s varsity football team is going to kick-off the new academic year playing in a new home venue – Central High School’s Ray Laing Field.

The private, all boys Catholic high school’s team will play all its home games at the Central High location while the freshman and junior varsity football teams will continue to play at the Brophy Sports Campus.

There has been a partnership between Brophy and the Phoenix Union High School District for many years. Brophy provides the Phoenix Union district with the use of Brophy’s Edward A. Reese, S.J. Aquatic Center for its swim teams at no charge. This new use of Central High’s football field is the latest addition to the partnership.

Laing Field is named after Coach Laing, who led the Central Bobcats to state championships in 1969 and 1972 and coached Brophy for seven seasons starting in 2009.

Brophy’s football season kicks off on Friday, Sept. 3, with a home game against St. Mary’s.


Grads receive National Merit honors

Two recent Brophy College Preparatory graduates, John Cole Lomax and Henry Palmer, are off to a strong start academically after having received 2021 National Merit $2,500 Scholarships.

Lomax, who had received the annual Academic Excellence Award from Brophy at graduation, will attend the University of California, Berkeley. He graduated in the top 5 percent of his class and also was active with the Brophy CubeSat project and in crew.

Palmer, a top scholar and athlete, swam with Brophy’s men’s team. Sports360AZ named him a 6A Premier Swim Academic All-Star. He was chosen as a United States Presidential Scholar candidate.


Xavier students help seniors, cancer survivors

Nina Rawal, a junior at Xavier College Preparatory, recently held a bake sale with the help of her classmates to raise money for local nursing homes. Nina and fellow students started a non-profit organization, Caring About Seniors, last school year, to help senior citizens feel more connected socially and receive other support (photo by Shelly Gandhok).

Nina Rawal, a junior at Xavier College Preparatory, recently held a bake sale with the help of her classmates to raise money for local nursing homes. Nina and fellow students started a non-profit organization, Caring About Seniors, last school year, to help senior citizens feel more connected socially and receive other support (photo by Shelly Gandhok).

Xavier College Preparatory students are on a roll helping bridge the gap between senior citizens and the community.

Nina Rawal, who is now a junior at Xavier, realized her grandparents were feeling lonely as they were isolated earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic. So she and a few classmates started a non-profit organization, Caring About Seniors, which raised more than $8,000 during a vendor fair for doctors recently, with the majority of the money going to Phoenix Cancer Support Network. That non-profit organization provides shelter, transportation, house cleaning, in-home caregiving and many other services for cancer survivors and their caregivers. The rest of the money raised will go to Sunshine Service, another non-profit organization, which provides new wheelchairs and walkers to residents of Sun City.

Caring About Seniors students also held a bake sale last month that raised $400 for nursing homes. More than 30 Xavier students baked goods for the event. The group also conducted a book and CD drive, collecting these items to give to residents in 10 nursing homes.

Another way Caring About Seniors helped the community was through a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to buy masks and other supplies. The students also sent hundreds of letters to seniors in the Valley through a penpal campaign.

Rawal said she wants to expand the outreach to help as many people as possible with larger events. To learn more, visit