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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
VVHS Pom exceeds at UDA camp
VVHS Pom exceeds at UDA campThe Valley Vista High School Pom Line recently attended the Universal Dance Association (UDA) Home Pom Camp on July 24-26. The UDA Home Camp provides teams with a one-on-one opportunity for developing new skills, working on techniques, and team building, all at their home campuses. Home Camp also offers a competitive aspect where individuals have the opportunity to be named All-American and qualify for nationals. 

The team has been working hard, despite the current circumstances, to overcome challenges and rise to the occasion in an effort to make this camp a possibility. As a result, the team received 45 Superior Ribbons for routine evaluations, and a Superior Trophy for their performance routine, which earned them a bid to UDA Nationals taking place in Florida next year. Additionally, several students received individual recognition including Brooke Coykendall being named a Drill Down Queen, and seniors Ashtyn Frye, Amanda Goroail, Gabriella Lugo, Madelyn Pritchard, Katelynn Novak, and Karen Lelo de Larrea Gonzalez being named UDA All-American. As an All-American, the athletes are invited to perform at special events across the country, and world. 

The Valley Vista Pom Line’s final performance at the camp was also the first Dysart live streamed performance as part of the new Dysart Student Broadcasting Live program. Dysart Student Broadcasting Live is a student run and produced broadcasting program where students work to livestream various events comprising Dysart’s “3 A’s” ...Academics, Arts, and Athletics. The program is open to 9-12 grade students at each of Dysart’s four high schools.
Posted : 8/3 | Direct Link
Parent Portal and Website Maintenance
Parent Portal and Web MaintenanceThe Dysart Unified School District Information Technology Department will be performing scheduled maintenance on Infinite Campus and the Parent Portal on Thursday July, 30, 2020 beginning at 9:00 p.m. Infinite Campus and the Parent Portal will remain unavailable on Friday, July 31, 2020 and will resume normal operations by Saturday, August 1. 

Additionally, scheduled network maintenance will begin this Saturday, August 1, 2020 from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm.  Access to the district website will be unavailable during this time. The website is scheduled to be back operating normally at noon on Saturday, August 1.
Posted : 7/30 | Direct Link
District staff recognized by ACTEAZ
District staff recognized by ACTEAZValley Vista High School Guidance Counselor, Heather Webb, and Dysart Unified School District Career and Technical Education Director, Jim Grieshaber, have recently been selected as award recipients by The Association for Career and Technical Education of Arizona (ACTEAZ). The ACTEAZ Awards recognize individuals for their accomplishments and dedication to students and to Career and Technical Education (CTE) in the State of Arizona. 

Ms. Webb was honored with the ACTEAZ Career Guidance Award for her commitment to connecting students with opportunities for success, utilizing innovation in career exploration and development, as well as being an advocate for CTE as a viable option for all students. 

Mr. Grieshaber was recognized as the Outstanding ACTEAZ Affiliate of the Year for his commitment and continuous service and support of ACTEAZ and CTE throughout the year. Mr. Grieshaber received the award in his current role as Executive Committee President of ACOVA. ACOVA is a non-profit professional association, whose mission is to build community, advocacy, and leadership for Arizona CTE Administrators, and provide them with the skills needed to successfully lead the CTE enterprise within school districts. 

The ACTEAZ seeks to grow and promote CTE at local, state and national levels by bringing together CTE Educators, Administrators and Counselors across the state of Arizona and providing them with professional and leadership growth opportunities, creative ideas and statewide networking, and access to local and national companies for products, career applications and community outreach.
Posted : 7/20 | Direct Link
MCDPH to Host free Immunization Clinic July 22
Immunization ClinicIn order to prevent outbreaks of vaccine preventable disease, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends continuing to vaccinate, while following social distancing and cleaning measures. We wanted to share an opportunity that is being provided locally by the Maricopa County Department of Public Health to ensure our students are protected from vaccine preventable diseases and ready to start school when school resumes. Vaccinations are FREE, and all children from preschool through 12th grade are invited. Families with or without insurance and those on AHCCCS are welcome to attend.

The Maricopa County Department of Public Health Immunization Clinic will be held on  Wednesday, July 22, 2020 from 8 a.m. - 3 p.m. at Freedom Traditional Academy, which is located at 16066 N Parkview Place, Surprise, AZ 85374.

Families attending will be asked to:
  • Bring their own pen;
  • Wear a mask, if possible;
  • Bring the immunization record for the person being vaccinated;
  • Bring the insurance card, if available; and 
  • Complete the consent form prior to visit, if possible.

In order to ensure safety at the clinic, the following practices will be in place:
  • Will practice social distancing and monitoring the amount of people in the building
  • at one time
  • Are asking only the person/s needing vaccine and or only one parent or guardian
  • to accompany children. Everyone else is asked to remain outside of the building
  • while practicing social distancing.
  • Ask families to maintain social distancing while waiting
  • Will clean the area and items between families
  • Are asking families to avoid coming to the immunization clinic when you or your
  • child is sick with COVID-19 symptoms, which may include fever, cough, and
  • difficulty breathing.

Questions should be directed to Maricopa County Public Health at 602-506-6767.

Posted : 7/13 | Direct Link
DHS student selected as National Officer 
DHS student selected as National Officer Dysart High School student, Andrea Soliz, was recently named to the SkillsUSA National Officer Team as the Region 5 Vice President. Previously, Andrea served as the SkillsUSA Region 5 President for the State of Arizona. As a National Officer, Andrea is provided the opportunity to represent SkillsUSA and its members. National Officers serve as communicators, advocates and facilitators in a variety of leadership roles, helping instill skills and career-readiness to fellow members.

The newly elected officers were announced at a virtual recognition ceremony on June 26, 2020.  Before being selected, candidates went through a rigorous application process including written exams, essays, interviews, and a speech. Andrea is one of ten high school students from across the country selected to serve on the 2020-21 SkillsUSA National Officer Team. Being a national officer is one of the highest honors a student can achieve within the SkillsUSA organization.

Andrea is entering her senior year at Dysart High School, and is a dedicated leader on campus. She has worked tirelessly to be an advocate, role model, and mentor to fellow classmates, as well as the community. Through SkillsUSA, she has been provided with many opportunities and experiences that continue to prepare her for her future.  

SkillsUSA is a Career and Technical Education partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. SkillsUSA provides quality education experiences for students in leadership, teamwork, citizenship and character development by building and reinforcing self-confidence, work attitudes and communications skills. A nonprofit national education association, SkillsUSA serves middle-school, high-school and college/postsecondary students preparing for careers in trade, technical, and skilled service (including health) occupations.
Posted : 7/8 | Direct Link
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