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Willow Canyon student shares IB experience
Willow Canyon student shares IB experienceTrevor Tuttle graduated in 2019 from Willow Canyon High School with a standard high school diploma and the International Baccalaureate Diploma. The IB Diploma is a rigorous two-year diploma where students are required to test in six different classes, write an extended essay, complete a course in Theory of Knowledge, and complete 150 hours in creativity, action and service. “Trevor is the typical IB Diploma candidate,” says IB Coordinator, Dr. Jason Ward. “He is the rule, not the exception. Most of our IB Diploma earners enter the university of their choice with plenty of public and private scholarships packaged with up to 24 credits that save students and their parents considerably in tuition dollars.” Dr. Ward took the time during the 2021 graduation week to sit down with Trevor and interview him as to his perceptions of the IB education he received. This interview comes two years after he graduated from high school allowing him to give an accurate and thoughtful reflection of what the IB Diploma really meant to him. 

What is your greatest memory from your International Baccalaureate education at Willow Canyon High School?

In studying for our exams, some of our teachers would hold a group study during class or outside of school. In the event where they did not, students would instead hold something together in order to study. While we were studying, we also realized that we were a little stressed and so we would joke around and try our best to enjoy that time together. The IB Program is small so most everyone is pretty close and everyone knows each other, and this even applies a bit to the relationships with teachers.

What was your favorite aspect of the IB Program? 

Looking back, I believe that the college level courses were the greatest part of the program. I learned high level material that was almost repeated to me in some of my college courses, but I also got experience in writing and taking exams at a college level. For example, the Extended Essay seemed like a huge undertaking but all of my extensive research papers that I have had to write while in college used those same skills, and since I had the experience, this was something that I did with ease.

I think the CAS project was also a great aspect because it makes some of the active and social things that students want to do something that they need to do. While it is not on the same scale as a Capstone Project, it also prepares students for the Capstone Project that they will need to complete. A Capstone is a project that students complete in their junior or senior year which takes everything that they have learned in their courses, and they must apply it. For my Honors Capstone, I am in the middle of shooting a feature length documentary film using state-of-the-art equipment provided to me by the school.

What other activities did you participate in while in the IB Program?

While in the IB Program, I also participated in the National Honors Society, Willow Canyon’s Media Club, and the SkillsUSA chapter. In two of those clubs, I held an officer role. I also was involved in sports broadcasting for football and basketball.

Some may think that to participate in a program like IB, you have to give up everything else. How was your social life impacted as a result of your IB education?

IB feels like a lot of work and can be a little daunting, but while I was in the IB program, I was actually more social than before. I am not a social person but during this time, I hung out with friends a few times throughout the year, I attended both homecoming and prom, and many of the sports games. I had plenty of time to attend all the clubs I went to, and a lot of time to spend playing video games with my closest friends online after school.

Currently, I created and I am running the first SkillsUSA chapter at NAU, working for the NAU Engineering College in Marketing,  all while taking 19-23 credits a semester. I have had plenty of time to go out and hang out with friends or spend time alone playing video games. Through IB, I learned how to manage my own time and workload in high school. 

My grandmother used to say “proof is in the pudding.” How did the IB diploma impact you (whether positively or negative)? In other words, was it worth it? If so, how? If not, how not? 

The IB diploma was worth it both for the credits that you can receive from taking the tests, but also for the ability to do a lot of rigorous coursework. Going into college, I received 19 transfer credits. I received two credits for English, six credits for two film classes that I did not have to take later in college, three credits for psychology, and eight credits for Spanish. As a film student with a minor in psychology, this definitely helped speed up my college career, but I also received plenty of credit for transfer classes. For example, while many people may not be studying a foreign language in college, some colleges require you to take a certain amount of foreign language. In the NAU Honors College, you are required to take two foreign language courses, something that was fulfilled by my IB credit.

Another way in which IB impacted me was in regard to how much I could handle in my coursework. I know at the time, many of us were a little stressed in high school with IB, but once I got into college, my advisor told me that I was going to be taking 6 classes a week for a total of 16 credits. I told my advisor that I wanted to take 19 credits because after being in IB, taking less classes felt like I was getting it too easy. As of now, I have taken 18-19 credits a semester with ease and a 4.0 GPA in Honors. This last spring semester, I took a total of 21 credits, and this fall I will be ending my undergraduate career by taking 23 credits. Through my time in the IB Program, I learned how to manage my time, how to study effectively, and how to deal with stress, letting me take more credits than other college students around me.

At NAU, I did receive the Lumberjack Scholars Award, meaning that my tuition was paid for. However, I still had to pay for housing which costs about $3600 a semester, around $1,000 in fees, plus expenses like food and school supplies. I will be graduating a year and a half earlier than my expected graduation, meaning I am saving at least $14, 000. With that being said, I do not use the meal plans on campus, saving some of the cost as well. NAU offers an IB Scholarship, but since it only covers tuition, I was not eligible since I received the Lumberjack Scholars Award.

Overall, it was extremely worth it. Not only did I feel prepared for college level courses once I began my college classes, I also was told that my writing and other academic skills were a higher level than the level of classes I have taken so far. While writing research papers, I have been told that my writing reflects the 400 level or graduate level writing rather than the writing of a junior. I have also received an Honors Best Paper Award from the NAU Honors College for an essay that I had written in one of my Honors classes. In my film classes, I was with students who were touching cameras for the first time in their lives, while I was able to do everything the professor wanted without listening to the lecture. I was able to pick up important life and academic skills, skills related to specific courses like English and Film, and I was able to save thousands in the cost for my college education.

All things considered, would you do it again? Explain.

There is absolutely no part of me that could say no to this question. Knowing what I know now, I never would have doubted being in the IB Program. For a brief time, I figured that it was not going to help me as much as others talked about, but after entering college, I realized that I was instead helped more than I think most others expected. I do not think that I would have the grades, the social life, the work life, or the academic career that I currently have without that experience and time that I have spent in the IB Program.

What advice do you have for parents and students considering the IB program? 

IB feels like a lot of work and that the end-goal is hard to see at the moment, but it is worth it. You should definitely look at colleges and determine what credits you will get for passing the tests, as well as some of the liberal arts and elective courses that they may also require from students. IB prepares you for college classes in a way that puts you so ahead of the game that it is truly unbelievable. All of my teachers were extremely helpful and people who I respected and got to know a little more on a personal level. The cost can be a little intimidating but nothing compared to the cost of one semester in college. IB was definitely the greatest decision I probably made in high school and is one that has paid off so unbelievably for me.

The International Baccalaureate Program (IB) courses are offered exclusively at Willow Canyon High School and challenges academically talented students to reach high levels of achievement in a broad range of subjects and allow two different participation tracks: IB diploma and IB certificate. The International Baccalaureate Organizations Diploma Program is a demanding pre-university course of study that leads to examinations. IB schools have earned a reputation for rigorous assessment, giving IB diploma holders access to the world's leading universities. Students can apply for the IB program for their junior and senior years.  If any parent or student has questions regarding the IB Diploma, please reach out to Dr. Ward directly by emailing him at [email protected].
Posted : 7/19 | Direct Link
COVID Relief Funding Survey
We Want Your Feedback
The federal government has provided funding to support districts across Arizona and the nation during the COVID pandemic through the Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief Funds (ESSER). With the most recently approved funding, ESSER III, and a longer timeline for usage, we are seeking input from the Dysart Unified School District community on how the funds should be used. Please take a few moments to respond to this survey to provide valuable feedback and input, which will be used to finalize Dysart’s plan. Please provide your feedback by July 30, 2021.
Posted : 6/29 | Direct Link
Public Hearing, Truth in Taxation

district newsDYSART SCHOOLS — In compliance with §15-905.01, Arizona Revised Statutes, Dysart Unified School District is notifying its property taxpayers of Dysart Unified School District’s intention to raise its primary property taxes over the current level to pay for increased expenditures in those areas where the Governing Board has the authority to increase property taxes for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2021. The Dysart Unified School District is proposing an increase in its primary property tax levy of $780,000.

The amount proposed above will cause Dysart Unified School District’s primary property taxes on a $100,000 home to be $4.81. Without the tax increase, the total taxes that would be owed would have been $0.00.

These amounts proposed are above the qualifying tax levies as prescribed by state law, if applicable. The increase is also exclusive of any changes that may occur from property tax levies for voter approved bonded indebtedness or budget and tax overrides.

All interested citizens are invited to attend the public hearing on the proposed tax increase scheduled to be held July 7, 2021 at 6:00 PM at 15802 N. Parkview Place Surprise, AZ 85374.
Posted : 6/23 | Direct Link
Students learn the tools of the trade at Media Camp
DSB Live Media CampThe Dysart Student Broadcast (DSB) Summer Media Camp launched this year and opened to middle level students, completing grades sixth through eighth.  The one week camp hosted at Willow Canyon High School featured field trips to State Farm Stadium and Huntington University. Students created over 20 videos with the help of Willow Canyon High School TV Production and DSB Live instructor Ms. Alyson Titkemeyer and Mr. Brian Yoder, Coordinator of Student Broadcasting and Multimedia Productions. Sam Harris, a Willow Canyon High School junior in TV Production, was also on hand to assist students and share his experience with the program.
At State Farm Stadium students learned the technical aspects of live broadcasting. Students met with graphic designers, audio engineers and learned the gear that helps run live football broadcasts and other events at the stadium. Participants toured Huntington University to learn about the degrees offered in graphic design, animation, film, and TV broadcasting. Students were also treated with hands-on experiences creating short scenes with graduates from the school. At Willow Canyon High School, students learned how to use green screen technology, create stop-motion animations, and in-camera trick photography. 
The goal of the program is to introduce students to graphic design, animation, film, TV and broadcasting with the hope that they continue their education in those subjects in high school. 
“It was a great opportunity for middle level students to have fun and explore their interests,” said Titkemeyer.  

DSB Live is student-driven, student-produced and offers live stream broadcasts of school events free of charge to the community. Students in grades 9-12 at Dysart’s four high schools learn, develop and run every aspect of the show, including operating state-of-the-art cameras and TriCasters, creating commercials, being sound technicians, producers, graphic operators, on-field reporters, and color commentators during sports broadcasts. DSB Live’s network compliments the media pathways in Dysart’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) program, but is open to any student, regardless of if they are enrolled in CTE classes or not. Students interested in participating should contact their high school broadcasting instructor or email [email protected]  To view past broadcasts of school events including graduation, visit 
Posted : 6/21 | Direct Link
Dana Knoebel named Distinguished Administrator
Dana KnoebelDana Knoebel, Curriculum Instruction and Assessment Director for Prek-8, has recently been awarded the Arizona School Administrators (ASA) Distinguished Administrator Award. This award is presented to exceptional Arizona administrators who have exemplified dedication and leadership towards their students, staff, and colleagues. 

Ms. Knoebel was named by the ASA as a Distinguished Administrator for the Educational Services Division. She was honored for her exemplary leadership during the COVID pandemic to lead a team to write and plan lessons for teachers to facilitate online learning when our schools closed last Spring.  She implemented Dysart’s first online school for K-8 students and enrollment exceeded 3,000 students for the 2020-2021 School Year.  As one of the first districts to open for in-person instruction in September 2020, Ms. Knoebel worked with school administration and teachers to redefine what teaching and learning looked like during the pandemic. Finally, Mrs. Knoebel led teams to create a new summer school program for June and July to tackle learning loss and better prepare students for the next school year.  

Ms Knoebel has served in her current position for four years. She previously was the principal at Marley Park Elementary School for six years and the school earned an A+ Excellence in Education Award from the Arizona Educational Foundation and a 'A' label from Arizona Department of Education under her leadership.

Ms. Knoebel will be formally recognized during the ASA Summer Conference Awards Luncheon on Monday, June 14, 2021 in Tucson.

The mission of Arizona School Administrators is to promote and support educational excellence in school leadership. Arizona School Administrators seeks to honor outstanding Arizona administrators for their professionalism, dedication, leadership, and exemplary contributions to education in Arizona. 
Posted : 5/27 | Direct Link
Health team receives Hot Shot Award
Health team receives Hot Shot AwardThe Dysart Unified School District COVID-19 Vaccine Point of Dispensing (POD) Team was recently recognized by The Arizona Partnership for Immunization (TAPI) with a 2021 Hot Shot Award. The Hot Shot Award seeks to recognize individuals and organizations that have gone above and beyond the call of duty during the global COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Dysart POD Team was recognized for their efforts to organize and facilitate a drive-thru COVID-19 Vaccination POD for local educators, school employees, and daycare workers in the community. The Vaccination POD was held on two dates during the months of February and March, and resulted in nearly 800 local educators being vaccinated against COVID-19. The Dysart POD team partnered with Maricopa County Public Health, Fry’s Pharmacy, the Surprise Fire-Medical and Police Departments who assisted with safety measures, and the Be Kind People Project who provided music, fun, and smiles to those being vaccinated.

The Dysart Vaccine POD team consists of Jacqueline Hoeffler, Lead Nurse; Alan Van Horn, Maintenance Administrator; Cynthia Williams, Regional Nurse; Lauree Marino, Regional Nurse; Doug Curry, Director of Transportation; Renee Ryon, Director of Public Relations; and Corey Montano, Director of Exceptional Student Services. The team was recognized during The Arizona Partnership for Immunization Outstanding Practice Cloud Virtual Awards Presentation on April 28, 2021. 

In addition, Jacqueline Hoeffler, Dysart Unified School District Lead Nurse, was honored with an Individual Hot Shot Award for her extraordinary efforts in the organization of the event, and her dedication to the health and safety of the community. 

The Arizona Partnership for Immunization (TAPI) is a non-profit statewide coalition of over 400 members that seek to foster community wellness and advocate for good public policy and best immunization practices. 
Posted : 5/12 | Direct Link
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 : 5/10 | 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
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