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Governing Board recognized by ASBA
ASBA AwardThe Dysart Unified School District Governing Board has been recognized for earning the Arizona School Boards Association (ASBA) Total Board Boardsmanship Award. The award is granted to a board when at least a quorum of members has attained the level of a Certificate of Boardsmanship, with the remainder of the board having earned the Certificate of Orientation to Boardsmanship following the attendance of ASBA’s New Board Member Orientation. The following Governing Board members were recognized: Dawn Densmore, Jay Leonard, Christine A.K. Pritchard, Traci Sawyer-Sinkbeil, and Jennifer Tanner.
Posted : 1/10 | Direct Link
WCHS students excel on Cambridge exams
WCHS Cambridge awardsFour students from Willow Canyon High School received Outstanding Cambridge Learner Awards from the Cambridge Program for their performance on the exams. Orion Evans earned the Top in Country award for earning the highest score in the United States for Literature. Tristan Alvarado, Orion Evans, Augusto Palo, and Emily Poling received the Cambridge Scholar Award with Merit for earning high marks on exams from June 2019.  The Merit award recognizes the extraordinary performance of students who excelled on the international examinations by earning a “B” or higher in at least three separate subjects. 

The Outstanding Cambridge Learner Awards are a group of awards issued by Cambridge Assessment International Education who recognize exceptional learner achievement in Cambridge examinations around the world. “These awards also recognize the exceptional commitment your larger school community and parents place on quality education,” said Mark Cavone, North America Regional Director at Cambridge Assessment International. 

“We are very proud of the hard work that our students and our teachers have put forth to earn such recognition,” said Dr. Adam Schwartz, principal at Willow Canyon High School.
The Cambridge program encourages student-centered learning and hands-on application of skills. Students who complete the lower division, 9th-10th grade, Cambridge Curriculum are set for success in a dual enrollment, Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) or Career and Technical Education pathways for college and career advancements. 

By passing the Cambridge Board Examinations, students are eligible for the Grand Canyon Diploma that allows students early entry into college courses and can be used for admission to select colleges and universities. The Cambridge program is offered at Dysart and Willow Canyon High Schools and at Marley Park Elementary School
Posted : 12/18/2019 | Direct Link
Canyon Ridge student hosts blanket drive
Canyon Ridge student hosts blanket driveFor the past four years, Canyon Ridge School student Ollie McNeil has coordinated Buddy Blankets, an effort to collect blankets for those in need.  This school year, with support from both the Canyon Ridge and Kingswood Elementary School communities, Ollie collected more than 550 blankets and exceeded the initial goal of 500.
Ollie was struck by the idea when his mom was tucking him into bed at night. “I was originally inspired to start Buddy Blankets after talking to my mom and learning that some people don’t have a home to sleep in at night, or even one blanket to keep them warm.”   He thought he could provide a gift of comfort and warmth to those in need.  The inaugural drive provided 150 blankets and the effort has grown each and every year. “To see how it’s grown with the support and encouragement of the adults Ollie has reached out to is just amazing,” said Ollie’s mom and Canyon Ridge teacher, Brooke McNeil.
To drum up support, a friendly competition was proposed this year. The school that collected the most blankets provided school spirit gear to the losing principal to wear on spirit Friday. Kingswood collected 358 blankets and Canyon Ridge came in at 297 total. Jill Hoppe, Canyon Ridge principal, and Ollie had to represent the Kingswood Knights donned in purple at morning drop off on December 13.  
Ollie was recognized for his selfless efforts with a Dysart Extraordinary pin presented by Dr. Quinn Kellis, Dysart Unified School District superintendent on Friday, December 13. Superintendent Kellis honors individuals who demonstrate extraordinary acts of kindness to others by passing out the pins. “Hundreds of people will be warmer this holiday season because of Ollie’s work,” said Kellis. 
With additional community support through donations bins at the City of Surprise Police Department and AZ Ice Peoria, where Ollie plays hockey, a total of 875 blankets were collected this year. The blankets were distributed among local charities that work with the Surprise Police Department.  “Each year, I am inspired to start another blanket drive knowing that each blanket we collect keeps one more person warm at night,” said Ollie.
Posted : 12/17/2019 | Direct Link
SRHS DECA visit Washington, D.C. 
SRHS DECA visit Washington, D.C. Shadow Ridge High School Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) students recently traveled to Washington, D.C. for the DECA Ultimate Power Trip Conference. This conference gives students across the country the opportunity to expand their leadership skills, network, gain knowledge in college and career readiness, and compete in events. Cole Callister, finished in first place in his role-play event with a score of 99%.

Along with attending the conference, students had the chance to visit and tour Washington, D.C. historical landmarks such as the White House, the Washington Monument, the United States Capitol, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. 

In addition to attending the DECA Power Trip Conference, students also recently participated in the DECA 2019-2020 Virtual Business Challenge (VBC). This competitive event tasks students with completing rigorous online simulations in an effort to challenge their skills in the areas of accounting, fashion, hotel management, personal finance, restaurant management, retail management, and sports marketing. Shadow Ridge students Brody Fussell, Shane Rath, and Ryan McDaniel, ranked in the top two in the Western Region for the team VBC Restaurant event, and have qualified for the International Career Development Conference (ICDC) taking place in the Spring, in Nashville, Tennessee. 

DECA is one of many Career and Technical Education opportunities at Shadow Ridge and is a premier student organization that supports the development of marketing and management skills. DECA provides recognition and leadership activities directly related to attainment of specific occupational and leadership skills.
Posted : 12/11/2019 | Direct Link
Dysart recognizes All District Football Team
Dysart recognizes All District Football TeamThe Dysart Unified School District held their annual All District Football Team Award presentation to recognize and celebrate the extraordinary student athletes who displayed excellence in the 2019 season. 

First Team, Second Team, and All Academic Team athletes were selected from Valley Vista, Shadow Ridge, Dysart, and Willow Canyon High Schools.

First Team 
Offensive Line 
Isaiah Mercado, Shadow Ridge; Kindric Picklesimer, Willow Canyon; Jaden Lay, Valley Vista; Jack Chappelle, Shadow Ridge; Abel Aguirre, Dysart

Tight End 
Andrew Shahan, Shadow Ridge

Kaiden Lansford, Shadow Ridge

Running Back 
Michael Clark, Shadow Ridge; Aiden Cunningham, Valley Vista

Darvon Hubbard, Willow Canyon

Wide Receiver
Liam Kelleher, Valley Vista; Makai Obregon, Valley Vista; Zachary Sutton, Shadow Ridge

Defensive Line 
DaryOn Lee, Valley Vista; Jaelin McCullen, Valley Vista; Joseph Semien, Willow Canyon

Casey Lowe, Shadow Ridge; Trevor Kinnee, Willow Canyon; Trenton Foster, Valley Vista; Joseph Schindewolf, Dysart

Defensive Back 
Makai Obregon, Valley Vista; Jonathan HagEstad, Willow Canyon; Houston Mitton, Shadow Ridge; Ruben Falcon, Dysart

Jeremiah Ruiz, Valley Vista

Special Teams
Josh Hubbs, Willow Canyon
Josh Hubbs, Willow Canyon
Henry Brown, Valley Vista

Second Team 
Offensive Line 
Michael Lyon, Shadow Ridge; Garrett Sutliffe, Valley Vista; Christopher Stoica, Shadow Ridge; Kevin Urbina, Dysart; Greg Gregory-Bey, Dysart

Tight End 
Carson Allcock, Valley Vista

Burt DeLay, Valley Vista

Running Back 
Jacob Thurman, Shadow Ridge; Henry Brown, Valley Vista

Ezekiel Alfonso, Valley Vista

Wide Receiver 
Prince Zombo, Dysart; Daunte Williams, Willow Canyon; Isaac Yates, Shadow Ridge

Defensive Line
Israel Nolasco, Dysart; Carson McNutt, Shadow Ridge; Austin Mather, Dysart; Dylan Jones, Shadow Ridge

Vernon Thompson, Valley Vista; Hayden Ortiz, Shadow Ridge; Josiah Meek, Willow Canyon; Anthony Salamanca, Shadow Ridge

Defensive Back 
Trenton Givens, Valley Vista; Tommy Thompson, Valley Vista; Isaac Yates, Shadow Ridge; Zachary Sutton, Shadow Ridge

Josiah Gardner, Willow Canyon

Special Teams
Angel Balderrama, Valley Vista
Gabriel Silvas, Dysart 
Jonathan HagEstad, Willow Canyon

All Academic 
Makai Obregon, Valley Vista; Christopher Stoica, Shadow Ridge; Jesus Izaguirre, Dysart; Jonathan HagEstad, Willow Canyon; Hugo Soto, Willow Canyon; Joseph Schindewolf, Dysart; Jayden Jackson, Shadow Ridge; Aiden Cunningham, Valley Vista

Honorable Mention
Justin Hernandez, Shadow Ridge; Andrew Sullivan, Valley Vista

Players of the Year
Andrew Rumary, Valley Vista; Josh Cano, Shadow Ridge

Photo Gallery

Posted : 12/6/2019 | Direct Link
Dysart Recognizes All District Girls Volleyball Team
Dysart Recognizes All District Girls Volleyball TeamThe Dysart Unified School District held their annual All District Girls Volleyball Team Award presentation to recognize and celebrate the extraordinary student athletes who displayed excellence in the 2019 season. 

First Team, Second Team, and All Academic Team athletes were selected from Valley Vista, Shadow Ridge, Dysart, and Willow Canyon High Schools.

First Team 
Aliyah Moore, Valley Vista; Alina Nunez, Valley Vista; Abby Allen, Shadow Ridge; Elana Vargas, Willow Canyon; Neeley Eves, Shadow Ridge; Kailin Katena, Valley Vista; Anabelle Gregory, Shadow Ridge; Charlize Ziehmer, Shadow Ridge.

Second Team
Maliyah Spencer, Willow Canyon; Madeline Davis, Shadow Ridge; Rylee Brown, Valley Vista; Kirstane Lopez-Draeger, Dysart; Gloria Moye, Shadow Ridge; Hailey Neumann, Dysart; Madilyn Heinle, Valley Vista; Maddox Richtmyre, Willow Canyon.

All Academic 
Hailey Neumann, Dysart; Aliyah Moore, Valley Vista; Kristy Salazar, Shadow Ridge; Tristen Turlington, Willow Canyon; Madeline Stein, Willow Canyon; Mikayla Cook, Shadow Ridge; Jordan Deal, Valley Vista; Hope Sumner, Dysart.

The All District Teams showcase the continued growth of athletics in the Dysart District, as teams exceed expectations. In the 2019 season, Valley Vista won the 6A Southwest Region, and Shadow Ridge followed in second place, qualifying both teams for the state playoffs.
Posted : 12/4/2019 | Direct Link
High School students honored at Thespian Festival
Valley Vista Theater TroupeThespian groups from all four high schools in the Dysart Unified School District attended the Arizona State Thespian Festival held at the Phoenix Convention Center on November 15th and 16th.  The event featured numerous productions presented by high schools throughout the state. Students also participated in a variety of workshops led by theater professionals from around the country.  

Dysart High School brought 15 students to the festival who learned valuable skills through workshops and collaborated with other Thespians from around the Valley. The Demons competed in the One Act competition with the production, “Acme Studios,” a comedy involving a radio studio from the 1940’s. Dysart earned three Superior recognitions and were in the top ten of all of the One Act productions. 

Shadow Ridge High School theater students were among 47 schools competing in the Thespian Festival. The Stallions received a Straight Superior recognition and the highest score of the festival.  Additionally, the group was named Chapter Select and are invited to take their One Act, “Anatomy of Gray,” to the International Thespian Festival in Bloomington, Indiana this summer. Along with the Superior One Act, the Stallions were recognized as a Gold Honor Troupe for the third year in a row and ranked as a State Superior rated program. These accolades are based off of school involvement, community engagement and service, and scores received through One Act and Individual Event competitions throughout the year.

Valley Vista students from the Intermediate/Advanced acting class traveled to the Thespian Festival and competed in the One Act competition, attended workshops, and participated in the interview and scholarship portion of the event.  The Monsoon received an Excellent recognition in the One Act competition and were ranked a Silver Honor Troupe for the amount of productions, events, competitions, and activities the students participated in last year. Additionally, Sofia Rios, was able to present her Technical Theater portfolio to potential colleges and universities, and was called back for interviews at several post- secondary schools. 

Willow Canyon thespians presented their One Act entitled, “I Don’t Want to Talk About It,” and received a Superior rating from all three judges.  Additionally, the Wildcats took third place in the state.

Arizona Thespians is a group of teachers, students, and professionals who are dedicated to promoting theater education in our schools and community through teamwork, diversity, gratitude, and accountability. Arizona Thespians are affiliated with the International Thespian Society and the Educational Theater Association. Over the last three and a half decades, Arizona Thespians have provided services to over 70,000 adolescents and thousands of educators.
Posted : 11/26/2019 | Direct Link
VVHS students redefine football for women
Football players Sara Lowry, Mackenzie Goodrich, and Vanezza Valdez
It was a warm, late August evening in Surprise and the first game of the season for the Valley Vista Monsoon.  They were battling the Warriors from Westwood in the first game of the 2019 season. The Monsoon started out fast with a 24-6 lead at halftime.  They didn’t let up in the 3rd quarter, adding two touchdowns and safety to stretch their lead to 40-12. With under a minute left in the 3rd quarter, the Monsoon tacked on another rushing touchdown.  With a commanding 46-12 lead, the second string kicker was put into the game to attempt the extra point. That might not seem like much of an occasion on any other night, but for this game it was groundbreaking.  The kicker’s name was Sara Lowry. She jogged onto the field sporting the number 99 jersey her older brother wore when he was on the team.    

“When Coach Sekoch put me in, I was really excited,” Sara said.  “I didn’t feel like I was going to miss. It was nice and high, a little to the right.  Everyone went crazy.”

With that extra point kick, soccer star Sara Lowry became the first girl in Valley Vista Monsoon history to score a point on the varsity football team. 

“It’s pretty cool,” she said with a slight grin on her face.  “I feel accomplished doing it, but I didn’t do anything impossible.  It’s cool to be the first though.”

The story of how Sara made the varsity football team is one that is all too common in high school.  Head Varsity Coach Joshua Sekoch went to the soccer coach looking for a kicker. That position is hard to fill at the high school level.  The Monsoon’s previous kicker graduated, and they needed someone with a good leg.  

“Like two weeks later the soccer coach sent me a video of Sara kicking,” said Sekoch.  “She was kicking 30 yard field goals. He asked if that was ok, and I said absolutely, the best kicker will make the team.”
Kicker Sarah Lowry kicks an extra point in practice.
“I never thought I would play football,” Sara exclaimed.  “Like if you asked me, even a few months before it all happened, I would have said no way!"

After settling in and realizing that she could kick a football, Sara tried out and made the team.  That isn’t uncommon anymore though. She might be the first to score a point for the Monsoon, but she isn’t the first girl to score a point in the district.  As far as an analysis of records can show, that honor goes to Desiree Justus, another soccer player who participated as a kicker from 2011-2013 at Willow Canyon High School.  Desiree once kicked seven extra points in one game, and has 37 points through extra points throughout her career. 

Sara isn’t even the only girl on the Monsoon team this year.  In fact there are three girls. Vanezza Valdez is a kickoff specialist and Mackenzie Goodrich isa wide receiver.  All three girls also play soccer.

“A lot of people say I have a good foot because of soccer,” said Valdez.  “They said I should be a football kicker. And I was like, sure!”  

“We always dress multi-sport athletes,” said Head Coach Joshua Sekoch.  “We just never thought we’d have girls from the soccer team on the football team.”

All three girls are seniors, but it’s Mackenzie who has been playing since she was a freshman.  

“I started playing my 7th and 8th grade year in flag football,” she said.  “And when it came to high school my dad told me, no. So I kind of took it on as a challenge, like, yes I can.”    

Mackenzie came into the high school spring weightlifting session as an 8th grader.  The coaches knew immediately that she was serious about it. She showed up all summer and went through everything in preseason just like all the other freshman did.  

“I remember the freshman coach telling me, she’s going to make it,” said Sekoch.  “She’s going to be out there and doesn’t want to be treated any different. Mackenzie didn’t back down, she’s never quit.  She doesn’t hesitate at all. She’s earned her spot on the team.”

Mackenzie began by playing defensive line.  During a big game against Willow Canyon High School that year, she started the game and forced two back-to-back fumble recoveries.  She converted to a wide receiver this year and caught a first down pass. While each of the girls are second or third string players, Sekoch takes offense with anyone who says they didn’t earn their spots on the team.

“They are three really good athletes,” said Sekoch.  “They’re not just here to be on the team. They are some of the top soccer girls in our school.  It’s different than someone just wanting to be part of it. They can do everything. They aren’t out of place.  The coaches say it all the time, those girls are athletic.” 
That mentality has permeated down to the male players, who all three girls say don’t treat them any different because of their gender.
“It’s not weird,” said Sara.  “It’s not like the boys treat us any different.  We’re the dudes now.”  

“When the guys see them come out and work and grind every day just like they do and commit to being here, then you’re accepted,” said Sekoch.
Despite wanting to be treated and looked at the same as the boys, all three girls realize that they’re a role model to younger girls, who even come up asking to take pictures with them.

“I’ve been told no for the last 6 years, and here I am,” said Mackenzie.

Lowry agrees.  

“I don’t think anyone should let their gender hold them back from doing what they want to do,” said Sara.  “It doesn’t really matter what other people are going to tell you, you know what you can do, so just do it.”  
Posted : 11/15/2019 | Direct Link
Kingswood earns 2019 PBISaz Achievement Award
Kingswood earns 2019 PBISaz Achievement AwardKingswood Elementary School has been awarded a Merit Achievement Award by the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports of Arizona (PBISaz). The PBISaz Achievement Award recognizes schools for successful implementation and outcomes with School-Wide Systems of Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS). Award criteria required high scores on national fidelity and integrity assessments, and measurable student outcome data. 

PBIS is a whole school three-tier approach to decreasing disruptive behaviors and increasing student success. This approach focuses on proactive strategies for defining, teaching, and supporting appropriate student behaviors through school-wide, classroom, and individual systems of support, in an effort to create a more positive school environment. 

Kingswood has been on the PBIS journey for the past four years, seeking to create a culture that is positive and focused on improvement and accountability for all students and staff. With the implementation of school-wide expectations, “The Knight’s Code”, the school seeks to accomplish this by encouraging students to be respectful, responsible, safe, and a learner. Through the PBIS journey, Kingswood continues to strive for a more positive, proactive, and supportive school culture for all students, so that they can be successful citizens and leaders of our nation. 

Kingswood Principal Mr. St. Germain, and Assistant Principal Ms. Romero, were joined by Dysart Superintendent Dr. Kellis to receive the award at the PBISaz Award Breakfast on November 7, 2019 in Phoenix. 

PBISaz is the official statewide PBIS organization of Arizona, and is an affiliate of the National PBIS center. PBIS is dedicated to improving the effectiveness, efficiency and equity of schools, while also improving social, emotional and academic outcomes for all students, including students with disabilities and students from underrepresented groups.
Posted : 11/12/2019 | Direct Link
Mountain View teacher honored with distinguished award
Mountain View teacher honored with distinguished awardChristina Brown, first grade teacher at Mountain View School, was recently selected as a recipient of the Spirit of Education Award by the National Safe Schools Convening. The Spirit of Education award recognizes and celebrates educators for their contributions in developing a positive learning culture for their students and colleagues. Ms. Brown received her award at the Phoenix School Climate and Culture Symposium held on Monday, October 28th, 2019. 

The National Safe Schools Convening is comprised of a diverse range of educational organizations and leaders, that seek to discuss research-based practices for improving school culture and climate. The Phoenix School Climate and Culture Symposium is an annual conference hosted by the National Safe Schools Convening, and is designed to help educators improve school climate and culture through professional development, skill building, and application of best practices and research. Through this conference, local educators are able to engage with leading experts, and gain knowledge on how a positive school climate and culture is key to student, school, and district improvements. 
Ms. Brown was nominated by fellow colleagues, and was selected as a recipient of the award for her positive interactions with students and her efforts to create the next generation of leaders, friends, and problem-solvers. Ms. Brown, along with fellow Mountain View staff, were present at the symposium where she was also asked to share her inspiring story, and strategies to support a positive classroom and school culture.
Posted : 11/1/2019 | Direct Link
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