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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 : yesterday | 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
DAR Awards First Place to Canyon Ridge Student
Student holding certificate and medal for awardCongratulations to Christina Ubochi, seventh grade student at Canyon Ridge School, for winning first place in the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) 2020-2021 American History Essay Contest. Sponsored by multiple local groups of the Arizona DAR, including the Agua Fria and White Tanks chapters, the contest offers middle level students the opportunity to explore a historical topic related to the Revolutionary War; while promoting creativity with the inclusion of fictional elements. 

This year all contest entries highlighted the pivotal role of the Boston Massacre in the outbreak of hostilities between England and the thirteen colonies. Students were asked to imagine that they were living in Boston at the time and witnessed the protests and deadly response of March 5, 1770. The prompt required learners to include genuine historical details based on research; combined with creative elements and quotations. Learners formulated a family discussion that focused on the organization of the colonists for a coming push for independence. Each essay was required to be 600 words in length and was judged based on multiple criteria including: historical accuracy, originality, and writing conventions.

“The contest allows students to think creatively regarding social studies,” states Canyon Ridge School social studies teacher Christopher Raso. “By promoting elements of fact and fiction in each essay, our learners are combining curricular elements of both social studies and language arts in their work while personalizing their understanding of American history.”

Christina Ubochi received a first place certificate, a DAR medal, and a gift card for her accomplishment. Her essay will now advance to the state level DAR competition for further consideration. For the third consecutive year, Canyon Ridge School submitted more than 50 essays for the contest and continues to work closely with Arizona Daughter of the American Revolution on a variety of endeavors designed to promote patriotism, character development, and creativity in our young citizens.
Posted : 2/17 | Direct Link
Five Dysart Nominees in Governor’s Arts Awards
Five Dysart Nominees in Governor’s Arts AwardsDysart Unified School District has five teachers that have been nominated for the 2021 Governor’s Arts Awards in the Arts in Education category. A total of 27 Arts in Education nominees were submitted across the State of Arizona, and will be honored at the 40th Annual Governor's Arts Awards event on March 26, 2021, where the winners will be announced.  
Nominees from the Dysart Unified School District include:
Randall Badgard - music teacher, Sunset Hills Elementary School
Ashley Golden - art teacher, Surprise Elementary School
Preston MacDonald - choir teacher, Valley Vista High School
Laurel Ruff - music teacher, Marley Park Elementary (pictured)
Steve Wallgren - theatre teacher, Willow Canyon High School
A volunteer selection panel of community, business and arts leaders from across the state review the nominations. Criteria for selection includes the significance of the contributions and achievements of the nominee; the range of individuals or groups served by the contributions of the nominee; and the length and degree to which the nominee is dedicated to the arts. This year, over 100 nominations across all categories were submitted.
The Governor’s Arts Awards are hosted by Arizona Citizens for the Arts (AzCA). AzCA is a nonprofit organization that acts as the eyes, ears and voice of the nonprofit arts and culture sector in Arizona – at the State Legislature, in local city halls and in partnerships with business and community leaders involved in building and supporting quality of life in Arizona. It is composed of 100 members arts organizations across Arizona and more than 5,000 individual citizen arts supporters. Learn more at
Posted : 2/8 | Direct Link
Valley Vista students featured in art exhibit
Art AwardChristie Zhang and Eliseo Miguel from Valley Vista High School were selected for their original works of art featured in the Shemer Arts Center New Horizons High School Student Art Exhibition. Students from 28 schools across the state were chosen to have their work on display and several received scholarships for their exceptional artistic work. 

Christie Zhang received the Linton-Barnhill Award and the Shemer Art Center and Museum Association Award for her piece titled, “Eyes of a Cat”. Christie was inspired by a variety of different animal’s eyes and she utilized colored pencils to capture the vibrancy of the cat.  Christie has been drawing and painting since she was little and is currently enrolled in Advanced Placement Art and Design class at Valley Vista High School.

Eliseo Miguel was honored with the Phoenix Chapter of the Colored Pencil Society of America Award and the Ted Decker Award for his emotive piece titled, “Claustrophobia!”.  Eliseo created the piece as part of a recent project in his Drawing 3-4 art class at Valley Vista High School where they were given the task to create an expressive or phobia-themed composition. He combined the two options and wanted to demonstrate the difficult times we are currently living in.

The students were selected for their excellent skills and artistic styles.  The virtual art show can be viewed via YouTube at Additionally, the exhibition is open Tuesday through Saturday between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. through February 18, 2021 located at the Shemer Art Center, 5005 East Camelback Road in Phoenix, Arizona 85018.
Posted : 2/4 | Direct Link
Canyon Ridge School Student Recognized in National Contest
Canyon Ridge School Student Recognized in National ContestEmilia Escobar, an eighth-grade student at Canyon Ridge School was selected for an Honorable Mention in the national finals of the 2020 National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution Sergeant Moses Adams Middle School History Brochure Contest. Sponsored locally by the members of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) Saguaro Chapter, the brochure contest provides middle level learners with an opportunity to formulate a creative brochure regarding a seminal document from American history.

Learners perform research and formulate an artistic hand-drawn brochure that balances factual information, historical perspectives and colorful illustrations. Seventh and eighth grade social studies classes incorporate the contest into the parameters of their curriculum and lessons. Learners evaluate the meaning and significance of: the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, United States Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the Federalist Papers. Students then pick one of these foundational documents as the topic of their brochure. Class research is combined with many hours of effort spent outside of school on the layout design and decorating process.

For the third consecutive year, seventh and eighth grade teams generated over one hundred entries for the contest. Members of the Arizona SAR judged each brochure and three winners were selected by each participating SAR group; Saguaro, Prescott and Barry M. Goldwater chapters. 

Emilia Escobar’s brochure advanced from the state level and to the national level of the contest. Her Honorable Mention award was the result of being selected from a field of hundreds of entries in the combined local, state, and national contest. For all of her hard work on this patriotic endeavor, Emilia received a certificate of merit, cash prizes on the state and local levels, a gift card and a medal achievement from the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.

In preparation for the 2021 Arizona SAR brochure contest, the current middle level teams at Canyon Ridge School have prepared 120 entries for the competition. 
Posted : 1/26 | Direct Link
Growing Minds Adds New Toddler Class and Referral Discounts
Growing Minds PreschoolGrowing Minds Preschool is proud to offer a new toddler room beginning February 1, 2021 for one year old children. Half-day and full-day options are available with year-round hours of operation, including school breaks, from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday to accommodate working families. 

Additionally, Growing Minds is offering referral discounts for current and new families.  Each time a new child is enrolled, the currently enrolled referral family will receive a $75 tuition credit provided the student stays for at least 90 days. All new enrollments, as a result of a family referral, will have their application fee of $50 credited back after remaining in the program for 90 days.

Available for children ages 1-5, Growing Minds Preschool guides cognitive development in an environment that is fun and exciting. Creative expression and physical play is embedded in all activities, with a hands-on learning experience that ensures children will love to learn and grow.  The preschool experience advances cognitive development and cultivates social and emotional development, building respect, resilience, teamwork, optimism, innovation, and self-esteem through positive interaction with classmates and teachers.  The Creative Curriculum follows the Arizona Early Learning State Standards, allowing a child to initiate his or her own learning experience.

Growing Minds Preschool’s main campus is located at 17999 W Surprise Farms Loop S Surprise, AZ 85388. Satellite campuses are also available at Freedom Traditional Academy (16066 N Parkview Place, Surprise, AZ 85374), and Marley Park Elementary School (15042 W Sweetwater Ave., Surprise, AZ 85379). Hours of operation are 6:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., with academic time taking place from 8:15 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Visit or call 623-876-7350 to learn more, view rates, a student handbook, or to enroll.
Posted : 1/25 | Direct Link
Students excel on Cambridge exams
Students excel on Cambridge examsWillow Canyon High School recently held a ceremony to recognize students in the Cambridge Program for their outstanding performance on the June 2020 international examinations.
Jenelle McCoy, Emelie McFeely, Emily Poling, Andrea Popescu, Paul Baquilod, Laurel Chapman, Karim Jayyusi, Allison Kotzbauer, Chloe Lobmeyer, and Isabel Martinez demonstrated college readiness by excelling in all core subject areas of the examinations. Their extraordinary performance has earned them the opportunity to pursue the Grand Canyon Diploma, which allows students early entry into college courses and can be used for admission to select colleges and universities. 

Emily Poling received the Certificate of Distinction, which recognizes students' extraordinary performance by earning an “A” or higher in at least three courses during the examination series. 

In addition, 14 students received the Certificate of Merit by earning a “B” or higher in at least three courses; 37 students received the Cambridge Scholar Award for receiving a “C” or higher in at least three courses; and 24 students received recognition for demonstrating college and career readiness in at least one subject area. 

Cambridge courses are offered in over 100 countries and recognized by higher education institutions worldwide. The program encourages student-centered learning and hands-on application of skills. The Cambridge Program is currently offered at Willow Canyon High School and Dysart High School. 

For those interested in learning more about the Cambridge Program, Willow Canyon will be holding a Virtual Information Night on January 28, 2021 at 6pm via Zoom. Anyone interested can access the meeting through the link below during the scheduled time of the event. 

Willow Canyon Cambridge Information Night  
Join Zoom Meeting:
Meeting ID: 874 3180 6990"  
Posted : 1/19 | Direct Link
Thompson Ranch Tree Planting
Thompson Ranch Tree PlantingThompson Ranch Elementary School was the recipient of 50 trees courtesy of the community planting opportunity provided by the Arizona Sustainability Alliance.  The Alliance identified the school as part of the urban forestry priority. 

The Arizona Sustainability Alliance is a local nonprofit that provides project-based sustainability solutions to communities in Arizona focused on five priority areas: urban forestry, sustainable food systems, renewable energy, conservation, and cities. Community tree plantings in low canopy areas of the Phoenix Metro Area is a significant part of the urban forestry priority for the Alliance.

The organization received funding to plant 50 trees in El Mirage in January 2021. Using the American Forests Tree Equity Map, Thompson Ranch Elementary School was identified as a great opportunity for tree planting. 

More than 32 volunteers including Superintendent Dr. Quinn Kellis, Fire Chief Michael Long and Assistant Fire Chief Chris Robinson from the City of El Mirage, Derek Castaneda, Ella Brambila, and Macy Walker from the City of El Mirage, Dr. Ashley Camhi and multiple volunteers from Arizona Sustainability Alliance, members from the Green Tree Hospitality Group, and Thompson Ranch staff planted the trees on campus January 9, 2021. A second planting will take place on Saturday, January 23, 2021 with 33 volunteers including City of El Mirage Mayor, Alexis Hermosillo.

The school staff worked extensively with the Alliance to identify the location of the trees, and species best suited for the campus. The tree species planted include Chinese Pistache, Chilean Mesquite, Desert Willow, and Evergreen Elm. The trees are drought resistant and native to the area to allow for sustainability.

Students and staff on campus will be able to enjoy the shade provided by the trees once they mature and the students will have the opportunity to study the trees as part of the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) signature program on campus. 

“The Arizona Sustainability Alliance has been a wonderful blessing to Thompson Ranch and there are truly not enough words to express just how much we appreciate their generosity,” said Dr. Rachel Saunders, Thompson Ranch Elementary School Principal.

The mission of the Arizona Sustainability Alliance is to create and support cutting edge, project-based sustainability solutions in Arizona. 

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Posted : 1/13 | Direct Link
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