Lucas Hernandez received the City of Phoenix 2023 Outstanding Phoenix Youth Leader Award (submitted photo).

Glendale Union High School District

Sunnyslope student named ‘Outstanding’

Sunnyslope High School student Lucas Hernandez was chosen out of hundreds of students in the Metro-Phoenix area to receive a 2023 Outstanding Phoenix Youth Leader award from the City of Phoenix. The Outstanding Phoenix Youth Leader of the Year program recognizes and honors the outstanding achievements of young people, enhances the perception of youth, and raises community awareness of the positive contributions of youth.

Senior named National Merit Scholar

Sunnyslope High School senior Abby Wolf received the prestigious National Merit Scholar title. The 2,500 Merit Scholar designees were chosen from a talent pool of more than 15,000 finalists. National Merit $2,500 Scholarship winners are the finalist in each state and are judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills, and potential for success in rigorous college studies.

A new classroom building is nearing completion at Sunnyslope High School (submitted photo).

‘Topping out’ ceremony held

Thanks to the passage of the 2020 bond initiative, Sunnyslope High School is nearing completion of the phase II classroom plan. With the help of Orcutt Winslow and McCarthy, phase II will bring over 75,000 square feet of classroom space to the campus.

SHS and those who have been involved in the project celebrated a milestone May 15, where they placed the final steel beam on the structure.

The “topping out” ceremony is an tradition in which the last beam is signed and placed on a project signifying the completion of the building structure.

SHS quarterback commits to Oregon

Heavily recruited Sunnyslope football quarterback Luke Moga committed to the University of Oregon to play football. Moga has received more than 20 offers to play football at the Division 1 level, including the University of Miami, Texas Christian University, and both UArizona and Arizona State University. The University of Oregon’s football program ranked 15th in the nation last football season.

The Thunderbird Outdoors Club recently explored the Chiricahua National Monument (submitted photo).

Outdoors Club climbs Chiricahua

The Thunderbird High School Outdoors Club went on one of its greatest adventures to Chiricahua National Monument, located in southeastern Arizona. The club’s 11 most involved students and three sponsors explored unique rhyolite rock formations and participated in the Junior Ranger program.

Students receive GCU scholarships

Two Washington High School students received the Students Inspiring Students Scholarship from Grand Canyon University (GCU). To even be considered, Alexandra Martinez Varelas and Monica Juarez worked extremely hard, completing over 100 hours of community service and college-readiness tasks. This scholarship covers the full tuition and fees for their degrees.

Learn more about the Glendale Union High School District.

Camelview coding teacher Jessie McKinley was surprised by his colleagues with the news that he had been named an Amazon Future Engineer Teacher of the Year (submitted photo).

Madison School District

Camelview teacher wins national honor

Madison Camelview Elementary School coding teacher Jessie McKinley has been named an Amazon Future Engineer Teacher of the Year for his exemplary work with students.

As one of only 10 award recipients across the U.S., McKinley will receive a $5,000 teacher prize and Madison Camelview will receive $25,000, which the school plans to use to enhance its STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) signature program.

McKinley learned of the honor when his colleagues surprised him with an Amazon box filled with an award plaque and Amazon Future Engineer swag.

“It is a great honor to be selected for the Amazon Future Engineer Teacher of the Year award,” the teacher said. “I heard about the award program from the CSTA (Computer Science Teacher Association) national conference and was inspired to apply.

“This award is the result of the hard work I’ve put in to provide hands-on and engaging computer science and robotics lessons and activities, the support from the staff and administration at my school and district and my passion for life-long learning,” McKinley said. “With this award, we plan on adding technology resources and incorporating more robotics and building opportunities for the students at Madison Camelview.”

Cecelia Araiza was named “Manager of the Year” by the School Nutrition Association for her efforts to support the well-being of Madison Park students (submitted photo).

Araiza named ‘Manager of the Year’

Madison Park Middle School Cafeteria Manager Cecelia Araiza has been named “Manager of the Year” by the School Nutrition Association.

Araiza has worked for Madison School District for more than 20 years. During this time, the district said that she has developed programs and opportunities for students to continue learning beyond the classroom. In addition to managing and supporting the daily cafeteria meal services, she offers an after-school culinary club for middle school students where they learn about nutrition, locally grown produce, how to cook, understanding recipes, preparing meals and more.

Not only does Araiza support the well-being of Madison Park students, she also is a member of the school’s “Sunshine Committee,” which organizes programs and opportunities to support and show appreciation for both students and staff across the campus.

District offers free summer meals for children

Madison School District will be participating in the USDA’s summer meal program. This program is open to any child 18 years and younger. Children do not have to be enrolled in any summer program to participate and no application or paperwork is required. Parents who would like their child to participate should check in at the school site office during the meal service times and ask to be directed to the cafeteria. Meals must be consumed on site.

Available locations are Madison Simis Elementary (7302 N. 10th St., Phoenix) and Madison Meadows Middle School (225 W. Ocotillo Rd. Phoenix). Meals will be offered June 5 to July 28 (closed on June 19 and July 4), with breakfast served 7:40–8:25 a.m., and lunch served from 11:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Contact the district with any questions, 602-664-7900, or visit

Phoenix Union High School District

Thea Andrade

PXU names first woman as superintendent

The Phoenix Union Governing Board unanimously approved Thea Andrade to serve as Interim Superintendent on the evening of May 4. She will replace Dr. Chad Gestson, who in late March announced his departure from the district to serve as the founder and inaugural executive director of the Arizona Institute for Education and the Economy at Northern Arizona University.

Andrade is the first woman to serve as superintendent in Phoenix Union’s nearly 130-year history and will begin serving on June 2, 2023. She currently serves the district as chief achievement officer and brings 30 years of experience in education and over two decades of school administrator experience to the position.

A former mathematics teacher, Andrade taught high school and middle school algebra and holds degrees from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Northern Arizona University. A Boston native and mother of two, she has made Phoenix her home for the past three decades.

Jacob Lambert

Central High names new principal

The Phoenix Union High School District (PXU) has announced Jacob Lambert as the next Central High School principal, beginning with the 2023–24 school year. He replaces Leticia Avalos, who served as the school’s leader since 2018 and will transition to principal coach for the district next school year.

Lambert earned a degree in special education at Eastern Illinois University to become a third-generation teacher. He taught for two years in Illinois before moving to Arizona. Lambert taught in the Tolleson Union High School District for two years before joining PXU as an Exceptional Student Services teacher and coached cross country and track and field at Cesar Chavez High School.

PXU Class of 2023 students include, L-R: Parth Dinubhai, Phoenix Coding Academy; Monserrat Rosales Ibarra, North High School; Semaj Lofton, Camelback High School; and Heidi Seitz, Camelback High School

District celebrates class of 2023

The Phoenix Union High School District (PXU) class of 2023 is a group of resilient, driven, and ambitious students who have overcome challenges and achieved great success, the district says. This year, 13 students have earned at least $1 million in scholarships. Several students will attend Ivy League universities, many are entering the military, and numerous students will attend in-state colleges and universities

PXU is celebrating its graduates’ accomplishments and recognizing the hard work they have put in to get to where they are. Residents can join in the celebration by visiting to see features about students from all of the district’s high schools. These features showcase the diversity, talent and creativity of the graduating class and offer a glimpse into their individual journeys and achievements.

Washington Elementary School District

Teacher wins ‘Disney100’ contest

Michelle Watzig

Mountain View School kindergarten teacher Michelle Watzig was selected as a winner of the Disney100 Teachers contest, which was part of the Walt Disney Company’s 100th anniversary celebration. The Disney Imagination Campus recognized 100 exceptional teachers who reflect creativity and imagination to attend a one-of-a-kind teacher event.

Watzig was chosen for her essay out of thousands of submissions, and was one of two winners from Arizona — the contest honors two teachers from each state. She and the other 99 winners were treated to a four-day, three-night stay at the Disneyland Resort during Teacher Appreciation Week.

Teachers receive literacy grant

Eleven WESD teachers were recently awarded with the 2023 Barbara Park Memorial Literacy Grant. Winners will each receive $500 to select books from GBS Books for their school libraries.

Winners included Caitlyn Leslie of Orangewood School, Leslie Mills of Moon Mountain Elementary School, and Wendy Olmut of Sunnyslope School.

Enrollment open for 2023–24

WESD currently is enrolling kindergartners through eighth grade students for the 2023–24 school year. WESD also accepts open enrollment for students who live outside the district wishing to attend its schools.

To learn more and register online, visit


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