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Canyon Ridge Spreads Kindness Through Music
Canyon Ridge Spreads Kindness through MusicThe fifth through eighth grade music students at Canyon Ridge School created a special YouTube mix of positive songs to express their gratitude for the commitment and support healthcare and emergency professionals provide to our communities during these difficult times. This gift of music was created with healthcare providers in mind as a thank you with the main goal of lifting their spirits. Students researched and assembled a collection of songs that have a positive, upbeat, or moving message. 

In addition to the compilation of songs, students created 100 cards to celebrate the Centennial year of Dysart with their notes of gratitude.  The cards and songs were shared with district school nurses and healthcare heroes around the Valley at locations including Banner Del E. Webb, Boswell, Destiny Springs, and Hospice. Newly graduating nurses at Chamberlain University will also be recipients of the music and cards. 

“We know that these students are studying hard and getting ready to step into the nursing field at an unusually challenging time, so we are hoping to provide them with some encouragement along the way, ” said Amanda Mutai, Canyon Ridge School Music Educator and Choral Director.

During the delivery of the gift, nurses were moved to tears when accepting the appreciation. 

“We really need to take this time to show our health care workers just how much they mean to us. They are tired, I'm seeing this first hand within my own family who work in healthcare. I was moved to make sure that they knew we are here to support them, too,” said Mutai.

Canyon Ridge Schools invites anyone in the community to join in and listen to the songs available on the link below.
Posted : 11/24 | Direct Link
Shadow Ridge Athlete Honored
Zach SuttonCongratulations to Shadow Ridge High School football athlete Zach Sutton. Zach was honored with the Ed Doherty Medallions award by the Grand Canyon State Gridiron Club (GCSGC).  Zach was one of six players recognized for outstanding play during their respective games on Friday, Nov. 13.

Sutton posted a key performance in the Stallions 18-13 win over Mountain Ridge High School in week seven. He caught seven passes for 147 yards,  scored three touchdowns, and tallied seven tackles and an interception on defense.  

"Zach's effort both on and off the field this year has been admirable to say the least,” said Sean Hegarty, Shadow Ridge High School Football coach.  He currently has a cumulative 4.079 grade point average and has been spectacular on the field.  Zach is currently ranked first in 6A with twelve receiving touchdowns, number two for receiving yards, and is among the leaders in all other receiving categories.  We are very proud of Zach and all of his accomplishments throughout his time at Shadow Ridge High School."

 “The performances during Week 7 prove Arizona high school football is extremely rich with talent, drive and commitment. The performances delivered by the individual athletes during region play showed everyone that you cannot have a meaningful conversation about high school football in America today without including Arizona in the conversation,” said Rob Yowell, Selection Committee Chair, in a release. “These six young men join the ranks of the 2020 Ed Doherty Award Nominees and show why football in Arizona is on the rise.”  
By earning Ed Doherty Award Nomination Medallions, students will be honored at the Ed Doherty Award event on January 9, 2021 where one athlete will become the recipient of the Ed Doherty Award. 
Posted : 11/19 | Direct Link
VFW Presents Flag to District Leader
VFW Presents Flag to District LeaderIn celebration of Veterans Day 2020, Canyon Ridge School, in conjunction with Veterans of Foreign War Post 10695 in Sun City West, offered a flag folding ceremony and presentation to honor a longtime supporter of Veterans programs in the Dysart Unified School District; Assistant Superintendent Jim Dean.

The event took place at the Dysart Unified School District office in Surprise, Arizona and was attended by community members, principals, teachers, superintendents and many members of the district office staff.  The ceremony was aired live on Facebook and the flag folding was conducted by Vietnam Veterans and heroes, Mr. Dennis Grau, United States Navy and Mr. Don Burnett, United States Army. The narration and symbolic meaning of each fold of the flag was presented by Mrs. Harriett Grau of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Auxiliary.

“This symbol of our country is presented to Assistant Superintendent Jim Dean for his many years of dedication to the Veterans program in this district,” states Mr. Grau.

Mr. Dean, current Assistant Superintendent of Support Services, operated for many years as a principal in the Dysart district and served at Sunset Hills Elementary School and Canyon Ridge School, during the formative years of both schools. His affiliation and support of VFW causes, such as Veterans in the Classroom, has been consistent for over a decade.

“The ceremony today is an extension of the annual Veterans Commemoration event that we have performed at Canyon Ridge School for over ten years,” said Christopher Raso, seventh grade Social Studies Teacher. “The current pandemic does not allow us to proceed with our school-wide assembly but we could not let the day pass without honoring our Veterans, presenting them with cards and letters of gratitude from students, and providing an opportunity for the presentation of  this well-deserved award to Mr. Dean.”

Mrs. Jill Hoppe, principal of Canyon Ridge School stated, “Our Veterans have given so much of themselves to our country and continue to foster patriotism in us all.”

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Facebook Livestream
Posted : 11/10 | Direct Link
Community Member Donates Masks
Mask DonationWe would like to take this opportunity to share our utmost gratitude with community member, Jane Malone.  Jane donated more than 300 masks to our schools.  Jane, an avid sewer, has spent countless hours sewing and donating masks to essential workers throughout the community.  She was inspired by her nieces who both work as nurses to begin sewing masks this past March.  Since then, she produced over 1,500 masks from her home in Sun City West and sent them to neighboring districts, food and clothing banks, hospitals, grocery stores and to the organization, Dress for Success to provide face coverings to those that work directly with the community. Jane summed up her inspiration to start this selfless act with her favorite quote,   “Character is how you treat those that can do nothing for you.”  We thank Jane for sharing her talents, hard work, and kindness to keep our students and staff safe. 
Posted : 10/30 | Direct Link
Dysart 's 100 Notable Achievements
Dysart High Basketball TeamThe Dysart Unified School District is celebrating 100 years of educating the community in the 2020-2021 school year. First established in 1920 as a one-room schoolhouse by Nathaniel Martin Dysart, the district has seen numerous achievements over the last 100 years. Although it is certainly not an exhaustive list, we narrowed down our top 100 Dysart Achievements below in honor of our Centennial.  
100 Dysart Achievements

Do you know of something that didn’t make the list, but want to make sure we have it recorded for history? Let us know here.
Posted : 10/26 | Direct Link
Canyon Ridge Veterans Heritage Project Partnership
Canyon Ridge Veterans Heritage ProjectOn September 9, 2020 middle level learners from Canyon Ridge School offered a presentation of patriotic challenge coins and newly published books during the September 9, 2020 governing board meeting. 

For nearly four years, students from Canyon Ridge School have actively participated as authors and members in the Veterans Heritage Project (VHP). This patriotic program, which brings young people and Veterans together to share the experiences of those who have served our nation, allows learners to interview Veterans, formulate essays and articles, and publish the results in an annual hardbound publication entitled, “Since You Asked.” Volumes are then purchased by community members and all stakeholders join for a book signing and patriotic celebration each spring. To immortalize the important work of Veterans and students, the volume becomes a part of the Library of Congress in Washington DC and recorded interviews are archived for the national Veterans History Project.

“The partnership between our school and the VHP has resulted in ten documented Veteran interviews and eight published accounts of combat experiences over a four year period,” states Canyon Ridge School VHP Chapter Advisor Christopher Raso.

 “As a Social Studies teacher, I have been deeply impressed by the dedication of the VHP organization and the loyalty our students have towards our Veterans and the archiving process. This program brings history alive for students and offers deeper insight into our civil liberties and those who defend them.”

Over fifty middle level learners have applied their talents, time and heart to the VHP effort at Canyon Ridge. Each year, they present challenge coins to the district governing board and copies of the latest VHP book to the leadership team.  The event also celebrates the contributions of various community based organizations that support the school with financial donations to cover the cost of publishing. Among these outstanding groups are the Arizona Sons of the American Revolution, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10695 in Sun City West, and the Arizona Daughters of the American Revolution.

“Our goal has been to remember how important American Veterans really are and all that they have done for us,” said Canyon Ridge alumni Grace Ferencik.

 “We owe them so much more than we could ever repay and the Veterans Heritage Project at Canyon Ridge has provided us a way to give something back to our heroes.”
Posted : 9/16 | Direct Link
Athlete Spotlight: Isabel Quintero-Soria
Isabel Quintero-Soria Many teenagers would balk at a 4:00 a.m. wake up time, but Isabel Quintero Soria, cross country athlete at Dysart High School, laced up early to beat the heat each day and was committed to staying in shape and focused on the sport during the closures. 

 “It was difficult because of everything going on, but I made it my goal to run early everyday as the sun rose to make sure I did not lose focus,” said Quintero-Soria.

Isabel has been a member of the varsity cross country team since her freshman year.  She started her journey with the team when Ivory Carson, Math teacher and cross country coach,  encouraged her to try out.

“Coach told me about the team, and I tried out and was surprised at how fast I was and how much I enjoyed it,” said Quintero-Soria.

Coach Carson recognized her natural talent right away. 

“At the Sectional Meet in 2017, Isabel told me the time she would run before the race, which was well beyond her personal best. She ran faster than the time she quoted,” stated Carson. “That day verified something I felt. Isabel is that quiet leader who does what she says and says what she does.”

Isabel has grown as an athlete and member of the team. She was chosen as senior captain this year to lead her close-knit team. 

“My team is a family to me,” she said.  “I have a different mindset when I am with them.  We motivate one another and we just really just love to run together.”

Isabel not only looks to her team for strength but also her coach. 

“Coach Carson is a father figure, he keeps us on track not only in sports but also in class he helps everyone out,'' she said.  “He’s definitely the one to go if you need motivation or just someone to talk about life.”

Speaking of family, Isabel is the youngest of nine children and has a ton of support from her large household and her own personal cheering section at competitions. 

“It’s crazy. I have five brothers and three sisters.  It is awesome to hear them encouraging me from the sidelines during meets.”

Isabel competed in the AIA Division II State Cross Country Meet for the past three years and  established herself as the number seven cross country runner all-time at Dysart High School.  Her desire for her senior season is to move up the all-time list breaking the school record of 19:53.2 held by Gabriel Gomez. With a successful senior season, she will be inducted into the prestigious 100 mile club, an honor bestowed upon four year letter winners in cross country at Dysart High School.

“She inspires others to excellence,” said Carson.

In addition to cross country, Isabel ran track for the first time last season but it was cut short because of COVID-19. Even in the brief season she established herself as the two-mile specialist on the team placing sixth at the Richard Thompson South Mountain Invitational and earning fourth place running the lead-off leg in the 4x800 relay.

Isabel is working arduously to attain a cross country scholarship at an in-state college to major in Criminal Justice with the hope of becoming a lawyer or a detective. 
Posted : 9/8 | Direct Link
Athlete Spotlight - Jordyn Kellick
Athlete Spotlight - Jordyn KellickMeet Jordyn Kellick, a senior at Willow Canyon High School, and a stand out volleyball player. Like many of her teammates, Jordyn is awaiting the opportunity to compete this season. She helped lead the Wildcats last season as one of the team captains, and is hoping for the opportunity to continue in that role this season. With many unknowns still in the air, one thing is certain, Jordyn is excited and optimistic for the chance to connect with her teammates again, whether on or off the court. 
“I’m just looking forward to spending time with everyone,” said Kellick. “We can’t really go and hang out with people like we used to. This team is like family, so I’m just looking forward to being able to spend as much time with them as I can.”
From a young age, Jordyn has always loved playing a variety of sports. However, she didn’t realize her full appreciation for them until the sudden loss of her father when she was in the 6th grade. Her father was always a crucial source of inspiration for her, and after his passing, instead of losing the motivation to play, she was able to gain new confidence in knowing that her father would want her to keep pushing and chasing her dreams. Rather than turning to more adverse means of coping, Jordyn wanted to make her father proud, and decided to keep playing and progressing in her sport. 
“Volleyball was a light in the darkness, and has helped me through a lot and helped me stay the course,” she said.
Looking back over the years, one thing Jordyn can be proud of is her resiliency and perseverance to keep going. No matter the setback, she has kept the focus and determination to continue pushing forward. Much of that she credits to the support of her family, friends, coaches, and teammates along the way. 
“I have come a long way since freshman year, and have gained the mental toughness I didn’t know I had,” she said. “I appreciate everyone who has supported me and helped me through.” 
Jordyn is looking forward with expectancy for what lies ahead. After graduating, she hopes to play collegiate volleyball while studying to become an athletic trainer. “It has always been a dream to play in college. This is my passion, and playing would be a plus to the goals I have set for myself,” she said. After college, Jordyn hopes to become an athletic trainer for a professional sports team. 
As for now, she is focused on finishing out her senior year strong, and believes in what her team can accomplish. The team came close to the postseason last year, but fell just short of a playoff spot. This year, however, Jordyn is motivated to lead her team to win the region and make it to the championships. 
“I want this to be a comeback year,” she states. “Being one of only two seniors on the team, I want to go out with a bang, and I think we can do that. Especially with the talent we have.” 
Posted : 8/28 | Direct Link
Canyon Ridge student recognized in National SAR Contest
Kevin Sykes receives a certifcateCongratulations to Canyon Ridge School student, Kevin Sykes for winning 5th place in the National Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) Poster Contest. Kevin completed his entry, regarding the Articles of Confederation, last year in  Mrs. Melissa Bennett’s fifth grade social studies class. Each student in the grade level generated a poster for the annual campus wide celebration of United States Constitution Day. These well researched, hand drawn examples of American history were displayed alongside the Gilder Lehrman Institute Freedom exhibit in the campus media center. After the event, all posters were submitted to the  local chapter of the SAR for contest consideration.

The rules of the competition allowed for the formulation of a poster that addressed an important event that took place during the American Revolution. Posters were judged based on historical accuracy, creativity, and overall presentation. Kevin Sykes won first place at the local level; in the SAR Saguaro Chapter contest and his teammates, Frida Santana and Ashley Meyer, secured second and third place. Students received special certificates of achievement and prizes from Arizona SAR; via a Canyon Ridge Zoom awards presentation.

Kevin Sykes then advanced to the state level contest and secured first place in Arizona, Kevin’s poster advanced for national consideration in the Spring. He won fifth place, an honorable mention, in the nationals; while competing against many other student posters from across the United States.

“We are very proud of Kevin Sykes,” states SAR Saguaro Chapter President, Mike Fisch, “He is the first student in the state of Arizona to ever win a place in a national SAR contest. His work was superb and he deserves this recognition.”

For all his efforts, Kevin Sykes received a certificate and personalized letter from representatives of the National Society of Sons of the American Revolution. He also was provided with a monetary award, a gift card, an SAR commemorative medal, and various SAR publications; including a pocket edition of the Declaration of Independence and a book regarding proper American flag etiquette.
Posted : 8/26 | Direct Link
Athlete Spotlight - Dion Hafner
Dion HafnerWhat happens when you have an offseason affected by a pandemic?  For Dion Hafner, a senior three-sport athlete at Willow Canyon High School, you organize 5:00 a.m. workouts with your teammates to get ready for the seasons.  Dion competes in football, basketball, and track and field, and is known as a leader in all three.  

“He works hard in football and track,” said coach Justin Stangler.  “He earned a starting position as a cornerback his first year in football and is one of our strongest 400m runners in track and field.  He leads by example in both sports.”

“He’s a great kid,” said Joseph Colletti, Hafner’s basketball coach.  “It’s been a pleasure getting to know him and see him grow the last few years.”

Coming into his senior year, Hafner has some lofty goals for his track and field season.  His junior year was canceled because of COVID-19 and he’s itching for a chance to prove himself.

“One of my goals this year is definitely going to state for track,” said Hafner.  “Last year I wasn’t able to get there because of COVID, but I was pretty close my sophomore year.”

As for football, Hafner only has one goal for this season - to prove everyone wrong.

“My only intention this year in football is to win,”  he said.

One of the main reasons his coaches value his presence on the court and field is his leadership and the example he sets for others.  

“I feel like it is a passion of mine to lead people, and help them out on the field,” said Hafner.

Not only does Hafner lead his teammates, but the community as well.  He volunteers at Christ Church of the Valley in his spare time and coaches junior high kids, letting them know they can make a difference on and off the field.  

He hopes to be able to run track or play football in college as he pursues a degree in Biblical Studies and one day fulfills his dream of being a pastor.  For right now though, he’s focused on what’s in front of him, no matter how the pandemic affects it.  

“I’m just glad we get a season right now,” said Hafner.  “Whether it’s five games, three games, a full season, I just want to play.”

Posted : 8/24 | Direct Link
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