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Sonoran Heights teacher selected to advisory team
Shannon FrazierShannon Frazier, a second grade teacher from Sonoran Heights Elementary School, has been selected for the 2021-2022 Maricopa County Superintendent Teacher Advisory Team (STAT).  STAT is an initiative created in 2018 with the purpose of increasing teacher voice and including classroom practitioners in discussions around education practice and policy. This team meets quarterly throughout the school year and provides valuable feedback and insight into current issues and challenges.
STAT members were chosen through an application and interview process and represent a diverse cross section of geographic locations, content specialties and experience levels. Numerous applications were received from across Maricopa districts and charters.  
“We are thrilled to have Ms. Frazier join this team and engage in important advocacy work on behalf of students and educators in Maricopa County, ” said Steve Watson, Maricopa County School Superintendent.
Posted : 24h | Direct Link
SRHS Javelin thrower nationally ranked
Jake Railey throws a javelin at practiceOn April 10, Shadow Ridge High School Junior Jake Railey did something extraordinary.  During the annual Nike Chandler Rotary Track and Field Invitational, he threw the javelin 190’11’, marking the third longest throw in the meet’s 80 year history.  Because competing against himself is something he’s used this year, being ranked first in the state of Arizona by a wide margin, Jake threw the javelin an astounding 194’11” in last weekend’s meet, earning him the ranking of 8th in the nation.     

“I try not to focus on it too much,” Jake says of the national ranking.  “I try not to let it get to my head.”

Javelin wasn’t a sport he ever thought we would compete at, and it wasn’t till high school that he even gave it a shot.  

“Ever since I was a kid I always had an arm,” he shared.  “I played baseball as a kid and always threw football with my Dad.  I’d make him go the way down to the end of the street and I would throw it to him.  He’d have to walk back to get close to me to get it back,” he says with a chuckle.

Jake tried out for football his freshman year, but it just wasn’t for him.  He was looking for something else to get involved in, and someone recommended track and field and javelin.

“I thought, I’ll try it. So I came out and threw javelin and broke the school record on my first throw.  So I decided to stick with it,” he said with a laugh.

He placed seven in the state championships that first year, and unfortunately because of COVID didn’t get to compete last year.  This year, Jake won every meet he’s competed in and has the competition beat by a wide margin so far.  He is instead setting personal goals to help keep himself motivated.  He wants to break the 200’ barrier this season.      

After learning about his surprise talent for javelin, Jake plans to take it as far as he can, and that includes college.  He hopes to compete while obtaining his degree in Business or Meteorology.  
Posted : 4/20 | Direct Link
Winter Guard wins state championships
Students pose with a Winter Guard Arizona state championship bannerThe Dysart Unified School District is proud to announce that Convergence Indoor Drumline and Colorguard are the Winter Guard Arizona (WGAZ) state champions in their respective divisions.   

These groups consist of students from all over the district, but call Willow Canyon High School home for the winter season. They meet after school every week hone their skills throughout the season. Under the direction of Michaela Rademacher, and their individual unit directors, these groups have been able to clench State Championships for the 2021 WGAZ Season. 

Convergence Percussion: Percussion Independent A Class
Coaches to be congratulated: 
  • Frank Angel - Music Composition
  • Justin Angel - Head Percussion Director/Show Designer
  • Stephen Goodman - Front Ensemble Tech
  • Anivia Torres - Front Ensemble Tech
  • Kalob Clouser - Audio Tech
  • Isaac Barrio - Marching Tech/Choreographer

Convergence Winterguard: Independent A Class
Coaches to be congratulated: 
  • Joe and Marissa Keating - Show Design
  • Don Morrison - Head Winterguard Director
  • Jose Vega - Asst. Winterguard Coach
  • Gabriel Gastilo - Winterguard Tech
  • Katie Hohn - Winterguard Tech
  • Emily Garcia - Winterguard Tech

WGAZ was founded to draw together the growing winter guard, percussion, wind activity, standardize rules, and provide leadership and guidance in a competitive venue.  The two-day championship event showcases more than 160 ensembles from across the state of Arizona. Member units prepare for this event by competing in at least three WGAZ sanctioned competitions through a competition season.
Posted : 4/19 | Direct Link
Education Professions students excel 
Education Professions students excel Students in the Education Professions program at Shadow Ridge High School recently competed in the Educators Rising State Leadership Conference, which was held virtually this year. The conference aims to bring together students with an interest in the education profession, and challenge them with individual and team events. 

Shadow Ridge student Alexis Moore received third place in the Lesson Plan Design and Delivery: STEM individual event. In addition, Alexis Moore, Samantha Kostiw, and Christian Franco received second place in the Researching Learning Challenges team event. 

Educators Rising is a national network that helps develop aspiring teachers by providing passionate young people with authentic opportunities to experience teaching, sustain their interest in the education profession, and help them cultivate the skills they need to be successful educators. 

The Education Professions program at Shadow Ridge High School is a Career and Technical Education (CTE) program that prepares students for employment or post secondary opportunities in the education field. The program provides instruction in education career choices, education structure and systems, theory, pedagogy, developmental stages, learning styles and methodology. The program also provides interactive experiences with students at different age levels, in a variety of content areas in educational environments. 

For more information about CTE programs in the district, please visit
Posted : 4/9 | Direct Link
Willow Canyon student selected as prestigious University of Arizona KEYS Intern
Lauren NolinLauren Nolin, a senior from Willow Canyon High School, was chosen to be a part of the University of Arizona KEYS Research Internship program. The KEYS program is a unique summer opportunity where 52 motivated Arizona high school students with a strong interest in bioscience, engineering, environmental health, data science, and biostatistics will work with the top University of Arizona faculty on professional research projects that address the world's greatest challenges. This seven week program allows students to network with established researchers and use state of the art research equipment. 
The application process included an essay demonstrating Lauren’s passion and experience with science and a thirty minute interview with the program donors to further specify her research interests. 
For the next two months, students will be matched with research laboratories based on their interests. Lauren is hoping to study neurogenetic research pertaining to the drug development in abnormal psychological disorder medications. 
Prior to engaging in research, KEYS interns are immersed in a one-week crash-course in a variety of bioscience and data science techniques, as well as the foundations of science literacy to ensure they have the base knowledge necessary to begin their assigned projects. KEYS interns are paired with leading University of Arizona researchers spearheading innovative projects that span multiple disciplines. Faculty, university students and other lab personnel mentor the students to provide an invaluable opportunity to these budding scholars. At the close of the program, KEYS interns present what they’ve learned and experienced to friends, family, and the academic community at a research showcase.

"Being accepted into this program has meant a great deal to me. It has taken me two years of hard work to get to this point. I had to take the reins of my own education to uncover my passion for research,” said Lauren.

“I hope to learn valuable skills that will assist me in my future career. I also hope to attain an accurate glimpse into how professional research is conducted. I can't wait to see where this journey will take me!".

The KEYS program is led by the BIO5 Institute and funded by BIO5 and generous supporters including individuals, families, companies, foundations and various UArizona faculty, colleges and departments. The Technology and Research Initiative Fund (TRIF) that helped launch BIO5 almost 20 years ago continues to be a catalyst in enabling effective, cross-disciplinary bioscience research, innovation and impact at the University
Posted : 3/31 | Direct Link
Leadership Council Covid Relief and Canned Food Drive
Leadership Council Covid Relief DriveThe Dysart Leadership Council hosted a Covid Relief and Canned Food Drive in February and  March of this year.  In conjunction with 13 district schools/sites, and community partners including Spencer’s Place, and West-MEC, 4,866 lbs of items were donated to the Valley View Community Food Bank.  These efforts will feed 4,800 families and about 20,000 people in the Northwest Valley. 

The Dysart Leadership Council consists of students from all four high schools that meet on a monthly basis to support and unify the students across the district. The council plans district-wide service projects and spirit events, presents updates to the Governing Board, and serves as an outlet and voice for their fellow students. 
Posted : 3/23 | Direct Link
Lifetime Achievement Award in School Social Work
Lifetime Achievement AwardMelanie Caron-Vlasak has been recognized with a 2021 Lifetime Achievement in School Social Work award by the School Social Work Association of Arizona (SSWAAZ). The honor recognizes her exemplary service to children and families and mentorship to other school social workers. Melanie is a Social Worker at Ashton Ranch Elementary School, and was recently recognized for the award at the virtual SWAAZ conference on March 5. Melanie was also honored by the Dysart Unified School District Governing Board at the March 10 meeting.  

The School Social Work Association of Arizona is a nonprofit, professional association founded in 1991. Formed to promote communication, collaboration, and cooperation among school social workers in the state of Arizona; the Association sponsors an annual conference that provides continuing education opportunities, mini-grants to fund projects undertaken by members, and publishes a bi-monthly newsletter.
Posted : 3/11 | Direct Link
DHS AVID Seniors Shatter Scholarship Goals
DHS AVIDCongratulations to Robert Blanco, Jennifer Olague Carranza and Jesus Izaguirre from the Dysart High School Class of 2021 who were named members of the Million Dollar Club for earning scholarships through the support of the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program.  

Each year, the AVID cohorts are challenged to earn a certain amount of scholarship and grant money.  In order to do this, they must apply to different colleges and universities as well as complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Their original goal was to earn 4.5 million dollars in scholarships and so far, the cohort led by Mr. Keegan Cook, has earned 6.2 million in scholarships. 

The AVID students have made Demon history this year by earning this high honor and each have decided on a major. Robert is planning to become a Physical Therapist (M.D), Jesus strives to become a Civil Engineer, and Jenny plans to become a Biomedical Engineer. Last year, Ren Dickson from the class of 2020, was the first AVID student at Dysart High School to earn over a million dollars in scholarship offers. 

The Dysart High School Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program has been a fixture at DHS since 2008 when it was first introduced to the district. AVID is a program that supports students in the academic middle who are motivated to attend post secondary education, but may not have all of the tools they need in order to be as successful as they can be in a college setting. A typical AVID student is one who has some motivation to be successful, is in the academic middle (2.5-3.5 GPA), possibly the first generation in the family to attend college, or has some other potential barrier to reaching post secondary education. Through the four year program, students are taught note taking skills, time management, test taking skills, collaboration and critical reading skills, and are supported as they tackle rigorous curriculum. 

“We are so proud of our AVID students and can’t wait to see what path they choose to pursue next year,” said Alesha Wisbey, Dysart High School AVID Teacher and Site Coordinator.  
Posted : 3/2 | Direct Link
DECA students earn top honors
DECA students earn top honorsThe Dysart Unified School District is proud to have many district high schools recognized for having outstanding school-based enterprises (SBEs) by the Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA). A school-based enterprise is an entrepreneurial operation in a school setting that provides goods and services to meet the needs of the market. SBEs are managed and operated by students as hands-on learning laboratories that integrate National Curriculum Standards in marketing, finance, hospitality and management. SBEs have been utilized by DECA advisors as an effective educational tool for over four decades to provide students with realistic and practical learning experiences that reinforce classroom instruction, enhance 21st century skill development, and prepare students for college and careers. 

The following school-based enterprises in the Dysart Unified School District achieved Gold Certification for the 2020-2021 school year:
The Stable at Shadow Ridge High School
The Wildcat Den at Willow Canyon High School
The Hot Spot at Dysart High School

These schools were among 246 other schools across the country to achieve this honor. DECA’s SBE certification program provides recognition for outstanding achievements by school-based enterprises and to motivate SBE’s to strive for excellence and growth. SBEs can be certified at three levels: bronze, silver, or gold. In order to be eligible for certification, schools must submit extensive documentation that explains how their SBE demonstrates the practice of various marketing and retail standards. 

Additionally, several district students received recognition in a variety of DECA competitions. Dysart High School had 15 teams rank in the top 25 in state for the Virtual Business Challenge with Hailey Erickson taking 1st place in the state in Accounting. Brody Fussell from Shadow Ridge qualified during round one of the Virtual Business Challenge Restaurant event, and has been invited to compete in the Virtual International Career Development Conference in April. 

Aiden Volkman and Caitlyn Walton from Shadow Ridge received 9th place in the Western region during the 2020-2021 DECA Stock Market Game. Students were challenged in this online competition with developing and managing a virtual investment portfolio of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, with the aim of increasing the value of their portfolio, while maintaining its diversity. Aiden and Caitlyn have been invited to present their portfolio during the 2021 DECA Virtual International Career Development Conference in April. 

DECA is a Career and Technical Student Organization specifically for students enrolled in CTE programs. To learn more about CTE programs in the district, head to

Posted : 2/25 | Direct Link
Kingswood Preschoolers explore mystery basket
Kingswood preschool students explore mystery basketPreschool students at Kingswood Elementary School got a very special treat and presentation from Dysart Nutrition Services Department.  Students participated in a mystery basket activity and explored unique fruits and vegetables and learned about the importance of eating a balanced diet.  

Exotic fruits and vegetables were presented including papaya, pomelos, coconut, Chinese long beans, and lemongrass.  Students explored the smell, texture and color of the various items and learned about the nutritional benefits of eating a varied diet.  The preschoolers were treated to a fresh and healthy smoothie and listened to the book “Sneaky Spinach” by Alexis Schultze.  

The Nutrition Services Department supports student education through fresh, wholesome food, a strong focus on nutrition and believes well-nourished students are better prepared to receive the instruction of the school day. The USDA has approved the extension of our Summer Meal Service through the end of the 2020-2021 school year. All children 18 and younger can receive free breakfast and lunch at any Dysart school. Menus and nutritional information can be found at and curbside meal pick up locations can be viewed at
Posted : 2/18 | Direct Link
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