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Maricopa High School

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Kenny Oliver, Sam Aviles and Nic Carbajal, all Maricopa High School seniors, were named First Team All-Section. Photos by William Lange

In 5A Metro All-Section voting, Maricopa High School had six football players and three volleyball players receive honors.

Senior Kenny Oliver was named First Team on defense and Second Team on offense. When not messing up other team’s passing games defensively, he averaged more than 56 receiving yards per game for the Rams’ offense and 18 yards per kickoff return.

Sam Aviles, who moved to Maricopa from Missouri for his senior year, was named First Team on special teams for his outstanding kicking. Senior Nickolas Carbajal, in an effective if unsung role on the offensive line, joins Oliver on the offensive First Team.

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Jathan Washington, Claytin Valenzuela and Daveon Harris were named to the All-Section Second Team. Photos by William Lange

Seniors Daveon Harris and Claytin Valenzuela were named Second Team on defense. Sophomore running back and sometime quarterback Jathan Washington was named Second Team on offense.

The football team was 5-5 overall and 2-3 in the section.

The volleyball team also played .500 ball with a 9-9 record. The Rams were 4-6 in the section.

In the Metro voting, sophomore powerhouse Carli Rieman was named First Team.

Senior Morgan Peters made the Second Team, and senior Aki Buckmister received honorable mention.

Photos by William Lange
Photos by William Lange

This year's Rams include (from left) Kassidy Hamlett, Sydni Callis, Natausha Hall, Chalisse Bell, head coach Melvin Mitchell, Tyra Williams, Alyssa Lebron, Clara Morris, Destinee Chavis and Jayla Johnson. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The Maricopa High School girls’ basketball team gets its first public outing of the season with a scrimmage Wednesday at 5 p.m. on the home court.

Second-year head coach Melvin Mitchell has 11 girls at the varsity level – if he moves up two sophomores from junior varsity.

“I think our strengths continue to be what they’ve always been – getting out in transition, fast breaks, pressure defense,” said Mitchell, who also teaches at Santa Cruz Elementary.

Last season, the Rams were 23-7, losing to rival Seton Catholic in the state quarterfinals. With the reconfigured divisions, Seton Catholic is off MHS’s schedule, having been moved to 4A. Maricopa now plays in 5A Metro with Apollo (11-12 last season), Ironwood (16-12), McClintock (9-15), Kellis (4-19) and Sunnyslope (4-17).

Two seasons ago, Maricopa won the state title in erstwhile Division II.

“I like our schedule,” Mitchell said. “We have a pretty good mix of teams, and we’ll play some [former] Division I teams in tournament play.”

 

Senior Tyra Williams
Senior Tyra Williams

Three of last season’s starters graduated. Returning starters are senior forward Tyra Williams and junior guard Sydni Callis.

Besides Williams, the Rams have not been a tall team, though Mitchell said he will have a couple sophomores with a little altitude to bring in. What Maricopa has been known for is its quickness and aggressiveness.

Challenges for the team? “Rebounding, for sure,” Mitchell said.

Offensively and defensively, he has called it the team’s Achilles’ heel.

Joining Williams and Callis, he expects this season’s starters to be junior Chalisse Bell, sophomore Jayla Johnson and senior Clara Morris, a transfer from Chicago.

Also on varsity are senior Alyssa Lebron, junior Natausha Hall, and sophomores Destinee Chavis and Kassidy Hamlett.

 

Schedule
Nov. 16         home    5 p.m.    Scrimmage (Apache Junction, Glendale Prep, Coolidge)
Nov. 25-26    Scorpion Shootout at Desert Edge
Nov. 29        away    7 p.m.    Visa Grande
Dec. 1        away    7 p.m.    Queen Creek
Dec. 2        home    7 p.m.    Campo Verde
Dec. 6        home    7 p.m.    Poston Butte
Dec. 9        home    7 p.m.    Mtn. View (Marana)
Dec. 13        home    7 p.m.    Willow Canyon
Dec. 15        away    7 p.m.    Casa Grande
Dec. 16        home    7 p.m.    Ironwood
Jan. 10        home    7 p.m.    Sunnyslope
Jan. 13        home    7 p.m.    Kellis
Jan. 17        away    7 p.m.    McClintock
Jan. 19        away    7 p.m.    Ironwood
Jan. 20        home    7 p.m.    Apollo
Jan. 24        away    7 p.m.    Sunnyslope
Jan. 27        away    7 p.m.    Kellis
Jan. 31        home    7 p.m.    McClintock (senior night)
Feb. 2        away    7 p.m.    Williams Field
Feb. 7        away    7 p.m.    Apollo

 

The MHS production of "Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" in the Performing Arts Center. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa High School Theatre Company is taking a trip to “Narnia” this week with its interpretation of C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”

The show opened Thursday night in the Performing Arts Center. It is appropriate for families, and the opening-night crowd included several youngsters.

Similar to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” the set and costuming of this well-known story are as important to the staging as the actors. The MHS crew comes through admirably on that score, and good light management enhances the other-worldliness for a fun theater experience.

The plot follows the Pevensie children, sent out to the English countryside during World War II for safekeeping, who discover an unlikely passage to the magical world of Narnia. There, a White Witch is trying to usurp the throne of the rightful king, the lion Aslan. The Pevensies must quickly judge which side they are on.

The youngest brother Edmund ultimately has the most soul-searching to do as his self-centered actions endanger not just his siblings but the entire land. Played perfectly by Brandon Korritky, his defiance of his older brother Peter, prevarications and craving for special treatment by the White Witch are clearly portrayed without completely stripping him of sympathy.

The question becomes whether he can be salvaged by Aslan, voiced by Nikolas Mase, who also plays the Professor and Santa. Mase’s voice has just the gravity needed for the royal role. The giant lion is completed by puppetry created by Todd and Dylan Stradling and operated by Christian Patten and Isabella Garza.

Also delivering as the other Pevensies are that same Dylan Stradling as noble if officious Peter, Setera Miller as good-natured Susan and Sarah Ledbetter as young Lucy, who instigates the entire family adventure by hiding in a wardrobe.

Tyler Curtis as the White Witch in "Narnia." Photo by Raquel Hendrickson
Tyler Curtis as the White Witch in “Narnia.” Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Tyler Curtis clearly relishes her part as the evil White Witch. Whether manipulating Edmund, torturing a faun or bossing around wolves, she commands the stage whenever she appears.

That faun, Mr. Tumnus, is played with great vulnerability and nervous energy by Porter Jones. Tumnus’ friendship with Lucy is sweetly played.

The Pevensies also befriend Mr. and Mrs. Beaver (Derek Blakely and Hannah Panter). They are all hunted by the witch’s army of wolves, led by Carlos O. Venegas and Ivie Keene.

The cast is filled out with dozens of students playing woodland animals and mystical creatures in fun bits of costuming.

The story was adapted by teacher Cynthia Calhoun, who also directs.  The technical crew is led by teacher Kevin Piquette, who designed the set created by his students. Amid the staged forest, important elements like the witch’s sleigh and the wardrobe function as they should to tell the story.

The show runs through Saturday. Performances are at 7 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday. Cost is $5.

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Maricopa junior Jesse Gaines (front center) leads the Rams in a rapid start at the Division II State Cross Country Championship. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa High School’s boys’ cross country team finished 24th in the state championships Saturday.

Amid 31 Division II teams on a hot day at Cave Creek Golf Course in Phoenix, the Rams were swallowed up in a shockingly fast start. Maricopa ran seven runners in the 5-kilometer race, with the top five scoring points for the team.

Junior Jesse Gaines led the Rams by finishing 50th in a field of 228 runners on a difficult course.

It was not a day for personal best times. Gaines clocked in at 17:36, his fourth fastest result of the season.

Sophomore Alec Kramarczyk was again the No. 2 runner for Maricopa, finished 114th in 18:26. Senior John Blodgett ran 131st in 18:36.

Junior Sam Coles ran 153rd in 18:59. Senior Mark Mwangi, like Blodgett finishing his high school cross country career, was 161st in 19:06.

Also running were Brady Hunsaker, a junior who finished 218th in 21:15, and junior Giovanni Hernandez, who was 224th in 21:36.

Three teams were packed tight at the top of the leader board. Flagstaff High School won Division II, with a combined time of 1:24.10. Campo Verde was second and Buena third.

The individual champion was Buena senior Manuel Olivo-Quinones, who won easily in a blistering 15:41.

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Jack Renkens will talk to students and their parents about college athletic recruitment. Submitted photo

Award-winning former high school and college coach and athletic director Jack Renkens of Recruiting Realities will discuss the college recruiting process, including financial aid, at Maricopa High School for student-athletes and families on Nov. 7 at 7 p.m.

Renkens will give a free presentation, which is open to the public.

“This is a no-nonsense presentation that serves as a reality check for student-athletes and their families seeking a college degree while playing sports at the college level,” Renkens said. “I’m going to tell Maricopa what they need to hear. It’s a game – know the rules.

“This isn’t about scholarships. It’s about funding,” Renkens said, regarding his talk focusing on merit money, grants, endowments and academic achievements.

Renkens has been a keynote speaker at the Arizona High School Athletic Directors Conference, as well as in 35 other states across America. He has written 16 books on the recruiting process.

“It’s about finding the right match academically, while realizing the opportunities to play college sports,” Renkens said.  “Families need to be realistic about the opportunities that are available, and there are many opportunities out there, whether in NCAA Division I, II or III, NAIA and NJCAA.”

Renkens added, “Less than 1 percent of student-athletes are going to be fully funded at a Division I school.  But 99 percent of the student-athletes can play at the collegiate level in other divisions. The key is finding the right school and financial aid package.”

Renkens will talk about the critical fact that student-athletes don’t pick the school, but rather the school picks them.  He delves into the ways to continue their passion to play sports at the collegiate level – how to get noticed. Renkens has been a college and junior college coach, having recruited athletes for 30 years.

For more information on Jack Renkens presentation, see www.recruitingrealities.com

 

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MHS Marching Rams perform at the SkyDome at NAU. Submitted photo

The Maricopa High School Marching Rams took their 2016 field show “Postcards” up to beautiful Flagstaff for Northern Arizona University (NAU) Band Day on Saturday.

The Marching Rams performed in the Walkup Skydome at NAU, were adjudicated by a great panel of judges and got to get a glimpse of a college band with a great performance of the NAU Lumberjack Marching Band.

The Marching Rams gave their best performance to date, improving on last week’s state qualifying score and earning the second-highest rating of Excellent. The band earned praise for improvement over last week in several areas, including timing and articulation clarity, but most noticeable was a big improvement in color guard performance.

The Marching Rams have a couple field performances left including:

Nov. 5 – ABODA State Marching Band Festival at Dobson High School (performance schedules posted at ABODA.org).

Nov. 19 – AzMBA Championships at Chandler Perry High School. Times are TBD for this event but should be released shortly.

The Marching Rams will also reprise their field show music at the “Pass in Review” Music Concert on Dec. 6 in the Performing Arts Center at MHS.

 

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MHS seniors pose for a final photo in uniform at the end of the victory at McClintock. Photo by William Lange

Maricopa High School’s football team wrapped up its season Friday night with a conference win at McClintock.

It was Homecoming and Senior Night for the Chargers, but the Rams’ seniors lingered longest on the field after the 17-14 victory.

“The season has been a season of adversity, a lot of adversity,” head coach Chris McDonald said. He credited the seniors with finishing strong and having a “bond of brotherhood” as an example for the underclassmen.

The win gave Maricopa a 5-5 record in a season that introduced the Rams to a tough new conference in a tough new division. McClintock had an even more difficult time with the re-alignment, winning just three games and getting swept in conference competition.

Friday night, Maricopa scored first on Zach Bachelder’s quarterback keeper from just outside the goal line midway through the first quarter. McClintock took advantage of a long punt return to set up a quick goal line series that tied the game 7-7 at the end of the period.

At the beginning of the second quarter, McClintock recovered a Ram fumble and ran the ball to the Rams’ 13 yard line. The Chargers soon went up 14-7.

Quarterback Zach Bachelder scores the first touchdown of the night. Photo by William Lange
Quarterback Zach Bachelder scores the first touchdown of the night. Photo by William Lange

Maricopa tied the score before halftime on a short-yardage run by sophomore running back Jacob Cowing.

The Rams’ defense locked down for the rest of the game. So when senior kicker Sam Aviles nailed a 24-yard field goal with 5:06 left in the third quarter, it was all Maricopa needed for the win.

Maricopa rushed for 115 yards, led by senior Daveon Harris’ 56 yards on 18 carries. Junior Kemo Akins carried the ball nine times for 44 yards.

Bachelder completed four of 10 pass attempts for 46 yards. His longest connection was a 13 yarder to senior Kenny Oliver.

Bachelder injured his shoulder in the first game of the season and missed four games. Despite not being completely healed, he returned to give the Rams a consistent presence behind center. McDonald said most young players would have quit after that first game.

“That just speaks to the level of toughness he has,” McDonald said. Bachelder has surgery scheduled.

Maricopa’s starting 11 this season included four sophomores. While that demanded a large learning curve, McDonald said it gives the Rams a lot of returning experience next year.

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MHS junior Jesse Gaines led the team by finishing fourth in the sectional. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

With one of their top runners sidelined and a team leader ailing, the Maricopa Rams’ goal of returning to the state cross country championships looked bleak Friday afternoon.

Boys’ State Qualifiers Division II Section IV
Campo Verde 25
Mesquite 102
Queen Creek 111
McClintock 124
Maricopa 142
Chaparral 152
Arcadia 185

But a sophomore stepped up in a big way to help Maricopa to a fifth-place finish in the Division II Section IV competition. The boys will run in the state meet on Saturday.

The Maricopa boys’ team has been very competitive all season. Friday, however, senior Sam Coles was absent and senior John Blodgett was under the weather.

Coming into the meet, sophomore Alec Kramarczyk’s best time in the 3.1-mile race was 18 minutes flat at the Nike Desert Twilight on Sept. 30, when he finished 71st. Friday, Kramarczyk made himself Maricopa’s No. 2 runner by placing 13th and posting a personal-best time of 17:47.

Kramarczyk, whose father Jeff owns Crate Coffee, smiled wide when he said it was the coffee that gave him the surprise boost. He was the only Maricopa runner to set a personal record (PR) Friday. Now he wants to “have fun” at the state meet.

“I want to get my time down to the 16s,” he said.

At sectionals, the top seven teams and the top 25 individuals qualified for the state championship. Fourteen boys’ teams competed.

Sophomore Alec Kramarczyk ran a personal record in Friday's 5K to finish 13th overall and second on the team. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson
Sophomore Alec Kramarczyk ran a personal record in Friday’s 5K to finish 13th overall and second on the team. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa junior Jesse Gaines again was the team’s top runner. He finished fourth in 17:23. His best time in the 5K is 17:15.

Blodgett also qualified individually despite not having his best race. He finished 20th in 18:14, nearly a minute off his personal best time set last season. He has been a vocal team leader, however, in setting high goals for the Rams.

“I’m pretty stoked,” Blodgett said, “especially after we did it last year and tried to do it again this year. I’m going to try to PR in my last race ever in cross country.”

Senior Mark Mwangi scored points for the Rams by finishing 37th in 17:51. Junior Giovanni Hernandez was the No. 5 runner in 68th place in 20:36.

Also in the field, junior Brady Hunsaker finished 76th (20:46) and Caleb Wilson 88th (22:27).

Coach Heather Abel said Coles will return to the team this week and compete in the state meet. He previously set a qualifying time of 17:46.3 at the Nike Desert Twilight.

Campo Verde easily won the boys’ meet with 25 points. It had five runners in the top 10, led by the outstanding sophomore Rylan Stubbs (he has run under 16 minutes three times this season).

The Maricopa girls finished last in their team competition. Junior Megan Carr was the Rams’ top runner. She finished in 57st place. Senior Aisawan Chanproprah was 68th.

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MHS chamber orchestra in performance at ABODA. Submitted photo

The Maricopa High School Chamber Orchestra performed in the ABODA Fall Orchestra Festival on Oct. 21 at Campo Verde High School in Gilbert.

The orchestra performed admirably earning a rating of “Excellent,” the second highest available. The students earned praise for creating a good sound and balance. The orchestra also had a wonderful clinic with Brian Murphy, orchestra director at Mesa Community College. The clinic covered matching playing styles across the ensemble and playing in contrasting styles.

“We are very proud of our orchestra students and we are looking forward to another great year of performances,” Director of Instrumental Music and Fine Arts Department Chair Ivan Pour said.

The orchestra will perform again at the Fall Music “Pass in Review” concert in the MHS Performing Arts Center on Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. Admission is free.

MHS-concert-band-ABODA2

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Seniors Dillon Cunningham, Eanis Olmos, Grady Akers, zander Benitez, Nickolas Carbajal, Cody Decenzi, Dakota Halverson, Cole Trimmer, Kenny Oliver, Sam Aviles, Johnny Smith, Claytin Valenzuela, Zach Bachelder and Daveon Harris celebrate Senior Night with coach Chris McDonald. Photo by William Lange

The Maricopa High School football team has fully felt the impact of redistricting in the last half of the season as it faced off with new conference rivals in 5A Metro.

The result, as the Rams head into their final game, is a 4-5 record overall and a 1-3 record in the conference. Maricopa’s 55-28 loss Friday to 5A Metro leader Raymond S. Kellis High School may have been foretold but still stung on Senior Night.

Yet, celebration played a major role in the proceedings as the crowd honored senior football players, cheerleaders and marching band and corps members in the final home game.

Kellis scored four consecutive touchdowns in the first half, including a 39-yard punt return. Maricopa committed turnovers that had the Rams’ defense on the field frequently.

Maricopa got on the board before halftime as senior Kenny Oliver grabbed a 52-yard pass from sophomore Jathan Washington. The Rams trailed 27-7 after senior Sam Aviles’ point-after kick.

Photo by William Lange
Photo by William Lange

The Rams came back out of the locker room rejuvenated. Junior Cameron Sanders scored in the first minute. With a boot from Aviles, Maricopa was down just 27-14.

But Kellis got back those points almost immediately to go up 34-14. The Rams came right back, with Sanders scoring on a 19-yard run.

The Cougars scored twice in the fourth quarter to build the lead to 48-21. A spectacular 40-yard-rush by Daveon Harris took the Rams to the 3-yard line. He ran the ball in from there for Maricopa’s final touchdown. Kellis wasn’t done and scored once more before time ran out.

Cougar senior Damien Campbell rushed for 213 yards and scored six of Kellis’s seven touchdowns.

To end the season, the Rams hit the road to play McClintock (3-6, 0-4) Oct. 28 at 7 p.m.

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Longman Pyne tries to avoid defenders in Friday's home loss. Photo by William Lange

The Maricopa High School Rams chalked up their fourth loss Friday, leveling their record to 4-4 and dropping to 1-2 in 5A Metro.

Section rival Sunnyslope visited, scored early and ran off with the 27-10 win.

The Rams’ only touchdown came in the first quarter on a pass from Zach Bachelder to wide receiver Kenny Oliver. Sam Aviles kicked a field goal in the second quarter, and the Rams went into halftime trailing by just seven points.

But the Vikings put up 10 more points while holding Maricopa scoreless for the rest of the game.

Bachelder was 15-for-29 in the game for 146 yards. The Rams were held to just 73 yards rushing, 55 of that coming on one run by Jacob Cowing. Oliver had five catches for 98 yards. Longman Pyne caught three for 30 yards.

Next up for the Maricopa is a home game against 5A Metro leader Raymond S. Kellis High School, which is 7-1 (3-0). The Rams play the Cougars Friday at 7 p.m.

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The Maricopa boys cross country meet did not have to travel far for Wednesday's meet.

It’s been a while since Maricopa High School has been able to host a cross country meet. Three years, in fact. So a three-team dual meet at Copper Sky Regional Park on Wednesday was a small victory by itself.

It was a bit of a warm-up for Friday night’s scheduled Nike Desert Twilight meet in Casa Grande. It also allowed them to go nearly one-on-one with a very good Mesquite High School team. Coronado High School also sent runners but not enough for a team score.

With most of the Rams runners well off their best times of the season, Maricopa finished second in both the boys’ and the girls’ competition at Copper Sky.

Junior Jesse Gaines finished the 5K course fifth behind four Mesquite runners in 18:47. Senior John Blodgett was right behind him in 18:49. Junior Sam Coles was seventh in 19:03.

Sophomore Alec Kramarczyk and senior Mark Mwangi filled the top five spots for Maricopa in ninth and 10th place.

In the much smaller field of girls, junior Megan Carr led the Rams with a fifth place finish in 24.21. Senior Aisawan Chanpropah was seventh in 28:17, followed by senior Tori Martin, Evelyn Young, freshman Juni Hall and Alexandra Mask in order.

Coach Heather Abel said the boys’ team has had a strong season, winning their dual meets and posting personal best times in the big invitationals as they try to return to the state championship meet.

Senior John Blodgett said the team is on track to return to state. His best time of the season so far was 17:28, posted at the Ojo Rojo Invitational Sept. 17. He said he wants to get his time under 17 minutes.

Four of the boys are already on Maricopa’s all-time list of top 20 times. That includes Blodgett and Coles as well as Gaines and Mwangi.

“My goal is to make it to state and for the team to make it to state as well,” Gaines said. “My personal goal is to get into the 16s.”

Gaines’ personal best, posted last year, is 17:22.

Chanpropah was the first runner of the season to post a personal record, running 28:31 at the Chandler Invite on Sept. 3. But she knocked that down much further to 26:48 in the Ojo Rojo. The girls have struggled to field a consistent team of six (by contrast there were 17 boys running at Copper Sky), but those who show up are coming into form just as the boys are improving with every big invitational.

The Ojo Rojo meet was good to a lot of Maricopa runners. Fourteen registered season bests or personal bests.

After the Nike Desert Twilight, the Rams are scheduled for the Rio Rico Rattler Invitational on Oct. 15.

Members of the Maricopa High School JrROTC at a ceremony at Legacy Traditional School. Photo by Cadet Andrew Bounsone

Oct. 6 from 6 to 7:30 p.m., the Maricopa High School AFJROTC Department will host its Bi-Annual Promotion Ceremony in the Performing Arts Center.JROTC-logo

The Promotion Ceremony is an event that takes place in the early fall and late spring where cadets are recognized for their growth and achievements in the Maricopa High School Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFJROTC) program.

Promotions are based on the cadet’s potential abilities to successfully accomplish a job and tasks with increased duties and responsibilities. The AFJROTC instructors place a great amount of trust and confidence in these select cadets to help lead the Cadet Corps.

The current Corps leadership presides over the ceremony, with the instructors providing comments to family and staff highlighting the customs and traditions of military promotion ceremonies. The ceremony is open to parents, faculty and staff in order to make this a memorable event for the cadets.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, the cadets can be congratulated by all in attendance and family and friends can take photos of the newly promoted cadets on stage.  The AFJROTC Department would like to encourage everyone to attend to thank all of the cadets for their hard work in planning and executing this event.

Photo by Cadet Andrew Bounsone
Photo by Cadet Andrew Bounsone
Photo by Cadet Andrew Bounsone
Photo by Cadet Andrew Bounsone

MPD set up a perimeter at Maricopa High School after being informed of a bomb threat. Photo by R. Mason Callejas

A bomb threat led to the shutdown of Maricopa High School this morning before classes started.

 

“The school received a fax referencing multiple threats to the school, one of them being a bomb threat,” Maricopa Police Department spokesman Ricardo Alvarado said. “The school went into lockdown before students arrived on scene. There were very few students here, mostly staff and faculty members.”

 

After being contacted by the school, MPD set up a perimeter.

 

“We had to wait for other agencies’ bomb dogs to come in to check the area to make sure that it’s clear,” Alvarado said.

 

Department of Public Safety escorted its dog to start sniffing around the campus.

 

Classes have been canceled for the day. Alvarado said the threat did not specify a reason but did specify an individual. He did not release more information.

 

Meanwhile, Santa Rosa Elementary has also gone into lockdown, but has not specified a reason.

 

Photo by R. Mason Callejas
Photo by R. Mason Callejas

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Photo by Anita McLeod

The Maricopa High School volleyball team defeated Vista Grande in three games,  25-12, 25-20, 25-12, to start the season, but lost to Paradise Valley in three straight games on Thursday. The Rams will host Mesquite on Sept. 6. Varsity games starts at approximately 6 p.m.

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Submitted photo

Growth changes many things. Along with the Maricopa High School football team and athletic programs, the Maricopa High School Marching Rams will move to a new, larger division in two different associations for the 2016 marching season.

The band has experienced rapid growth over the last five years, from less than 30 students in 2012 to 118 this year. This puts the Marching Rams into Division 1 for the Arizona Band and Orchestra Director’s Association (ABODA) and the 4A Class for the Arizona Marching Band Association (AzMBA). Both classifications are the largest classification possible.

Due to rapid growth, the Maricopa Marching Rams have the unusual distinction of having performed in all four ABODA divisions in the last 5 years:
2012 – Festival Class – 28 members
2013 – Division III – 55 members
2014 – Division II – 66 members
2015 – Division II – 92 members
2016 – Division I – 118 members

MHS Music Director and Fine Art Chair Ivan Pour stated, “The band will be performing among the best programs in our state this year and after working with our band for several weeks, this change in division has become a source of motivation – we are working hard and the students are excited to accept this new challenge!”

Upcoming Festival and Competitive Performances include:
• ABODA Evaluation Show and Clinic with ASU Marching Band staff – Sept. 17
• AzMBA Mesquite HS Show – Oct. 8
• ABODA Basha Show – Oct. 22
• Northern Arizona University Band Day – Oct. 29
• ABODA State Marching Band Festival @ Dobson HS (if qualified) – Nov. 5
• ABODA Marching Championships (if qualified) – Nov. 12
• AzMBA Championships @ Perry and Campo Verde High Schools – Nov. 19

Both AzMBA and ABODA use the overall number of performers in marching bands to determine classification. For ABODA, the breakdown is:
Festival Class – less than 45 performers,
Division III – 64 or fewer performers
Division II – 65 to 94 performers
Division I – 95 or more performers

For AzMBA, it is
Class 1A – 0-49 performers
Class 2A – 50-74 performers
Class 3A – 75-104 performers
Class 4A – 105+ performers

MHS Marching Band. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

By Ethan McSweeney

Maricopa High School’s band director will see a boost in his pay next year that would put him on par with varsity basketball and baseball coaches.

The Maricopa Unified School District’s Governing Board approved the higher stipend for the position Wednesday night after some of its members called for the increase at previous meetings. Under the new stipend pay scale, the marching band director, Ivan Pour, will receive an annual stipend of $3,400, up from $2,600.

“This is a good start compared to where we were,” said Board President Patti Coutré.

Board Member Torri Anderson said she believes the marching band director should be paid at the higher rate that the athletic trainer is paid, which is $3,600.

“The amount of kids, the amount of time, the amount of awards, I think it’s more of them than the other ones,” she said about the band director in comparison to other coaches.

At the MUSD board meeting on June 8, Anderson and Coutré argued that due to the heavy work schedule the band director has throughout the year, the position should be paid more. They also called for raising the stipends for varsity high school coaches so all sports would be paid equally, which was not included in the approved stipend changes.

Under the stipend pay scale for coaches adopted by the MUSD board:

•    The head football coach will be paid $4,000, and the athletic trainer will receive $3,600 per season
•    The marching band director and head varsity coaches for volleyball, baseball, softball and boys’ and girls’ basketball will receive $3,400
•    Varsity wrestling, track, soccer and cross country varsity head coaches will be paid $2,600
•    Cheerleading, tennis and golf head coaches will collect $2,000

A more comprehensive revision to the stipend pay scale could be adopted with the involvement of a special committee, said Steve Chestnut, MUSD superintendent. Those future changes could be made retroactive to affect the pay for the upcoming school year, he said.

“There are other areas we need to look at,” Chestnut said. “That’s been reflected in our discussion in the last couple meetings.”

The revisions for the upcoming school year also included an increase in stipends for MUSD teachers and administrators who hold doctoral degrees from $1,000 to $2,300. Chestnut said this change reflects the higher stipends that other school districts pay to employees that hold higher degrees.

JROTC staff meets for instruction during Leadership Week at Maricopa High School. JROTC photo

Drilling under a hot sun is a hallmark of joining the military.

At Maricopa High School, 14 incoming freshmen got a taste of that with the Air Force Junior ROTC program during Leadership Week, May 23-27.

Retired Lt. Col. Allen Kirksey, the new instructor of the program, said he expects around 150 students participating in the program this year.

Leadership Week is summer camp of sorts for Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. It is also the first real introduction to ROTC for the students who just finished eighth grade. Continuing cadets put the newcomers through their paces in physical training and combat fitness.

They also received instruction in flag-raising.

And they drilled.

For Chet Carroll, that meant learning “how to step, how to stay in line with everybody else and not try to go too fast or too slow and keep up.”

Unlike other newbies, Carroll is an incoming junior, a transfer from Benjamin Franklin High School in the East Valley, where there was no JROTC program.

“I want to be in the Marines, and I’m assuming this is going to give me a little bit of a head start,” he said.

Maricopa's JROTC keeps a POW/MIA table in the classroom. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson
Maricopa’s JROTC keeps a POW/MIA table in the classroom. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Contessa Ramirez comes to MHS from Desert Wind Middle School. Her father was in the Military Police.

“I thought this was going to be a very cool idea,” she said. “It’s really fascinating, and I want to [join] the Rangers or U.S. Marshals or work on weather for Air Force.”

She said she read two chapters of the Air Force manual to be somewhat prepared, but Leadership Week has taught her how much work she needs to do over the summer.

The camp is not just a chance for upperclassmen to yell at freshmen. They are learning leadership techniques, how to assert themselves and plan for their future.

Incoming junior Dylan Hill has been involved in the JROTC program since freshman year in hopes of a career in the U.S. Army or Marines.

“I think serving my country is one of the most important things I can do,” Hill said.

JROTC, she said, “has made me a better leader. I enjoy the extracurriculars like color guard and drill team.” In fact, she instructs other cadets in color guard.

Keaton Lancaster, an incoming senior, is also using JROTC as preparation for the military.

“The military has always been something I’ve been interested in as a kid. It’s been my dream to join the Army,” he said. “And I feel that ROTC is a way that I can set myself professionally to reach those goals of mine.”

Lancaster’s father was in the National Guard and his grandfather served in Vietnam.

A family background in the military is typical of many cadets. Whitney Mason graduated from MHS in May and is taking her four years of JROTC training to Grand Canyon University and eventually the military. Her grandfather was in the Army, one uncle was in the Army and another uncle works for the Department of Defense.

“Navy offers me more, but Marines is where my heart has always been. So it’s kind of, do I do what I want or do I live comfortably?” she said.

The MHS version of ROTC is Air Force-based with a decidedly aviation-themed curriculum. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson
The MHS version of ROTC is Air Force-based with a decidedly aviation-themed curriculum. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

She came to MHS as a junior after already being involved in Marines JROTC. It was shift in learning, suddenly having to study aerospace science, but experience had already instilled serious self-confidence.

“When I first got here, it was kind of set up that ‘These are the next commanders whether you like it or not.’ And I thought, ‘Oh, but I can match skills with these people.’ So I kind of knocked one of them out of the way and took his spot,” she said.

“Then we lost an entire chain of command at one point because they could not get along. My junior year, we saw that and we said, ‘We are so not going to do that next year.’ And it didn’t happen.”

“It’s helped me grow up a lot,” Lancaster said of JROTC. “It’s helped me change my mindset from, ‘Oh, everything’s a joke,’ to ‘This is something that’s real. This is serious.’ It’s changed me in a good way, and it’s set my professional standards higher.”

Coming into a new school, Carroll said the program allowed him to meet more people and make friends in between school years.

Though Ramirez said she knew some of her classmates in the program from DWMS, “when you’re here, it’s brothers and sisters and family, not friends.”

“I was used to having a commander breathing down my neck. If you’re not doing something right, you’re doing it wrong, always,” Mason said. “Here, it’s kind of OK to make mistakes, but over time if you don’t get it right, you gotta go.”

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Maricopa High School announced an additional Central Arizona College dual enrollment class will be offered for 2016-17. The new class will be General Biology I. Four CAC dual enrollment classes were offered in 2015-16. These classes are taught by MHS faculty who qualify to teach college level classes. Students can take the course for high school credit only, or for high school and college credit.

Students who choose college credit must pay tuition fees and must pass the CAC placement test. The following five CAC courses will be offered in 2016-17:

Math 121 – Intermediate Algebra
Math 151 -College Algebra
Eng 101 – English Composition III
Eng 102 – English Composition IV
Bio 181 – General Biology I

For additional information, please contact Wade Watson, MUSD Director of Curriculum & Instruction at 520-568-5100 ext. 1013, or at wwatson@musd20.org

There is still time for Maricopa students to get registered for Central Arizona College’s First Step summer program and Early College program for fall. The First Step program provides an opportunity for Pinal County high school students who have completed their sophomore, junior, or senior years, to take up to 5 college credit hours, during
CAC’s summer sessions for free tuition and fees. The only cost a student would incur would be for books and transportation. For more details on the program, summer course offerings, and the steps to enroll in the program, please visit us atwww.centralaz.edu/firststep.

The Early College program provides an opportunity for Pinal County high school students who are in their junior or senior years, to take up to five college credit hours, during CAC’s fall and spring sessions for free tuition and fees.

The only cost a student would incur would be for books and transportation. For more details on the program, fall course offerings, and the steps to enroll in the program, please visit us at www.centralaz.edu/earlycollege.

CAC is also offering recent high school graduates, beginning with the class of 2014, and GED recipients an opportunity to experience life as a college student this summer. Summer Bridge will take place Aug. 14-18 at the CAC Signal Peak Campus. Summer Bridge is a free five-day extended orientation to college. During Summer Bridge, students learn valuable skills in time-management, health and wellness, financial management and money matters, decision making, and many other topics crucial to success in college. Students live on-campus in CAC’s residential halls, and are provided meals and all learning materials throughout the program. The TRIO Summer Bridge program is the only all-inclusive residential college orientation program held in Arizona.

Among the benefits for students who attend Summer Bridge is the Peer Mentor program. Students are assigned a peer mentor and are encouraged to meet with their mentor as often as necessary throughout the fall semester while they adjust to college life. Students interested in Summer Bridge should log on to  www.centralaz.edu/summerbridge to download a fillable application. Certain eligibility requirements are
based on federal guidelines.

Maricopa High School graduates take their places at Ram Stadium. Photo by William Lange

Maricopa High School may have had its largest class of graduates ever on Thursday night, but a crisp pace had the 336 seniors tassel-turned and back with friends and families relatively quickly.

The stands on both sides of Ram Stadium were filled as the crowd heard from seven speakers on a fine night.

Maricopa High School Graduation is May 19 at 7:30 p.m. Speakers include Robert Miguel (submitted photo), Christian Price (photo by William Lange), Savannah Hull (photo by MHS Digital Photography), Siena Garcia (photo by MHS Digital Photography) and Principal Renita Myers (InMaricopa file photo).

When Robert Miguel speaks to the graduating seniors of Maricopa High School on Thursday, it won’t just be as chairman of the Ak-Chin Indian Community.

He is also speaking as the father of two of the graduates.

He is also marking the 30th anniversary of his own graduation from the same school.

Miguel can’t remember who spoke at his graduation in 1986, but he wants the Class of 2016 to have better recall.

“I’m going to tell them, ‘Remember the night and who’s sitting next to you,’” he said. “My class was the biggest at the time and it was 56 students. Eighty percent of them I’ve never seen since graduation. So look around, look beside you and see who’s there, because it might be the last time you see them.”

MHS has 336 graduating seniors.

He said being asked to be a speaker at graduation was emotional for him. “How many parents can say they were the guest speaker at their child’s graduation?” he said. “It just put the cherry on top of the ice cream.”

Maricopa High School graduation starts at 7:30 p.m. on May 19 at Ram Stadium.
Other speakers:
Mayor Christian Price
Principal Renita Myers
Valedictorian Savannah Hull
Salutatorian Sienna Garcia
Student Body President Ciera Reynolds
Senior Class President Cristina Lorayes
Class motto: “Remember yesterday, Dream for tomorrow, Live for today.”


In the past 30 years, he has watched a lot of changes at MHS. The growth is obvious, but he’s also pleased with the depth and diversity of some programs and “many more opportunities at the school than there were in my time,” particularly the students’ ability to get started in college while still in high school.

“The staff and officials try to adapt, and the growth approached them really, really quick, so they’re trying to play catch-up with some programs,” he said.

Miguel specifically noted the special-needs program. One of his daughters going through Thursday’s exercises is a special-needs student.

“I know they are behind in that, they’re lacking in that as far as staffing and the services they need to provide,” he said. “But I understand, because the growth hit them so vastly. Hopefully in the future they’ll improve the programming. But Maricopa’s a good school overall.”

Even as a teen, Miguel said, he knew he wanted to be a tribal leader, “but I didn’t know how I was going to get there.”

He said he wants this year’s seniors to know they will face many obstacles before they reach their goals. They will face different opportunities and failures, even different jobs than anticipated.

“They’re going to go through highs and lows, but it’s those things that are going to make you succeed and push you to be who you’re eventually going to become,” the chairman said.

Miguel said though he wanted to be in tribal leadership like his maternal grandfather, Jonas Miguel, who raised him, he worked as a farm laborer, worked in parks and recreation, and spent 17 years as a photojournalist for the community newspaper. He said now he sees how those careers are part of his understanding of tribal leadership.

He said words he’s lived by since junior high are “Failure is a part of success. If you’re afraid of failure, you’ll never succeed.” He said his grandfather told him “never to be afraid to go after what you want to become.”

He also credits several others with keeping him on the right path and believing in him. When Miguel was in high school, Police Chief Milton Paul Antone threw him in jail for no reason.

“After a couple of hours he came to my jail cell, and of course I was afraid. And he told me, ‘You know why I threw you in jail?’ And I said, ‘No, I don’t know why.’ And he told me basically I was hanging around with a bad crowd. I needed to make a decision. There’s a wrong road and a right road.”

Antone was later killed in the line of duty, but his effort to guide Miguel has had a 30-year impact.

“It was really important that he believed in me and made me make a choice to go right or left,” he said.

Besides the entire Miguel family and his cousins the Peters brothers – Cecil, David and Norbert – who took him under wing and supported him with advice and even financially, previous and current tribal council members have helped him become who he is now.

Though Miguel is an easy talker and accustomed to addressing large crowds, he’s nervous about speaking at graduation.

“My girls are going to be there,” he said. “But I’m living the dream, and it only gets better.”


The students listed below may or may not have met the requirements for graduating at the time of publication.

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Alison Korittky was on stage several times during Evening of Honors May 9.

Maricopa High School seniors were acknowledged with awards and scholarships during the annual Evening of Honors May 9. In previous years, the school had used the awards night to honor all students, but Monday it was limited to the large number of seniors.

The class of 2016 earned a school record $3.7 million in scholarships.

Academic Excellence Year One: Monashia Akins, Benjamin Busby, Cailee Hall, Michael Herbig, Jazmeen Johnson, Anya Lundstrom, Maylene Marcha, Kayla Negron, Samantha Ricardo and Ashley Rieken.

Academic Excellence Year Two: Beatrice Berthiaume, Lauren Hovland, Mariah Leach, Victoria Lissy, Ashley Lynn, Taylor Moore, Andrea Perez and Jaleesa Rodriguez.

Academic Excellence Year Three: Amanda Deiulio, Siena Garcia, Shelby Hanks, Skye Johnson, Christeana Lorayes, Kyle Salazar, Josephine Sherwood and Fiona Tupponce.

Academic Excellence Year Four: Tatiana Castro, Cierra Cureton, Torrent Fischbach, Elizabeth Gallon, Geovana Garcia, Seth Hendrickson, Savannah Hull, Skye Kincaid, Alison Korittky, Denice Montero, Cierra Reynolds and Hunter Towery.

Academic Achievement: Ricardo Alvarez Gomez, Annely Arriola, Annalyn E. Concepcion, Jacob Cox, Shyann Dugan, Ganella N. Esposito, Jennifer J. Gastelum, Donald R. Grace, Hannah O. Herrera, Ivan Herrera, Gage A. Hicks, Ashley M. Jackson, Moneeke Jacobs, Johnny L. Johnson Jr., Heidi  B. Jordan, Ashlee N. Keene, Whitney A. Mason, Jessica A. Melgarejo, Kiersten T. Moore, Joann P. O’Hare, Frank H. Olvey III, Austin C. Troyer, Kristifer A. Yarrito and Christian A. Ybarra.

AP Scholars: Beatrice Berthiaume, Torrent Fishbach, Shelby Hanks, Alison Korittky and Hunter Towery.

National Merit Candidate: Geovana Garcia and Siena Garcia.

Army Reserve National Scholar Athlete: Seth Hendrickson and Alison Korittky.

Congressional Excellence: Whitney Mason.

USMC Distinguished Athlete Award: Cierra Cureton.

USMC Scholastic Excellence Award: Jessica Melgarejo.

USMC Semper Fidelis: Amanda Deiulio.

Director’s Award for Orchestra: Jennifer John.

John Philip Sousa Band Award: Mariah Leach.

National School Orchestra Award: Kiersten Moore.

Male Athlete of the Year: Johnny Johnson Jr.

Female Athlete of the Year: Cierra Cureton.

Male Academic Athlete of the Year: Frank Olvey.

Female Academic Athlete of the Year: Cierra Cureton.

American Legion Auxiliary Recognition: Jacob Brannon, Ethan Cook, Leonardo Weller, Michael Handwerk, Ethan Taylor, Frank Olvey III, Allyssa Hatchell, Axel Uriarte, Anel Schiver, Daniel Wehle, Cristaly Betancourt Sanchez and Alexander Hjort.

Perfect Attendance: Elizabeth Holmes, Hilda Luna and Hunter Towery.

American Institute for Cancer Research Scholarship: Hannah Herrera.

International Culinary Scholarship: Hannah Herrera.

Cesar Chavez Memorial Scholarship: Cierra Cureton.

Horatio Alger Association Scholarship: Beatrice Berthiaume.

Pinal County Federal Credit Union Scholarship: Jessica Olivo.

Greyhound Lines Inc. Scholarship: Siena Garcia and Geovana Garcia.

Krystin Diehl Memorial Scholarship: Denice Montero.

Maricopa Chamber of Commerce Scholarship: Alyssa Smith, Amanda Deiulio, Donald Grace III, Allison Korittky and Denice Montero.

Maricopa Rotary Scholarship: Anastasia Stamatis and Cierra Reynolds.

Real Life 101 Scholarship: LaQuez Brown, Donald Grace III, Aaron Harrison, Isaiah Hart, Johnny Johnson Jr., Ronnie Lee Jr., Aaron Owens, Isaiah Soriano, Johnathan Strong and Devaughn Sutton.

Friends of the Maricopa Library Scholarship: Beatrice Berthiaume and Denise Montero.

Merit Scholarship: Maria Santillan.

SkillsUSA: Hannah Herrera.

Arizona Wendy’s Heisman Award: Elizabeth Gallon.

CGCC Softball Scholarship: Amber Cramer.

GI Bill U.S. Army: Jacob Brannon, Ethan Cook, Leonardo Weller, Michael Handwerk, Joshua Hall and Alexander Hjort.

GI Bill U.S. Marines: Ethan Taylor.

GI Bill U.S. Air Force: Frank Olvey.

GI Bill U.S. Army Reserves: Allyssa Hatchell, Axel Uriarte and Anel Schiver.

GI Bill Army National Guard: Daniel Wehle.

GI Bill U. S. Air Force Reserves: Cristaly Betancourt Sanchez.

Nate Ford Memorial Scholarship: Tyler Rapp and Cierra Cureton.

Central Arizona College Promise for the Future: Monashia Akins, Michaela Bomgaars, Marquice Brown, Serena Carman, Madison Collazo, Morgan Collett, Amanda Deiulio, Drake Dutra, Andrew Earle, Bailee Eaton, Reanna Eriksen, Denise Galache, Elizabeth Gallon, Jennifer Gastelum, Nicole Gubler, Allyssa Haley, Joshua Hall, Hanna Herrera, Gage Hicks, Breanne Horton, Lauren Hovland, Mysia Hudson, Savannah Hull, Rebecca Ibarra, Ashley Jackson, Esequiel Jauregui, Jennifer John, Heidi Jordan, Kelsee Keys, Alison Korittky, Mariah Leach, Carlos Leal, Victoria Lissy, Alix Maciel, Maylene Marchan, Denice Montero, Kirsten Moore, Shaylynn Parker, Andrewa Perez, Frederick Piet, Alexis Rosales, Juan Ruiz, Alexis Simmons, Anastasia Stamatis, Hunter Towery, Fiona Tupponce, Robert Urbano, Mairely Vazquez Ornelas and Jessica  Villasenor.

Central Arizona College Academic Scholarship: Ricardo Alvarez Gomez, Beatrice Berthiaume, Tatiana Castro, Cierra Cureton, Syann Dugan, Ganella Esposito, Torrent Fischbach, Siena Garcia, Geovana Garcia, Cailee Hall, Shelby Hanks, Seth Hendrickson, Moneeke Jacobs, Jazmeen Johnson, Sky Johnson, Skye Kincaid, Shristeana Lorayes, Ashley Lynn, Whitney Mason, Taylor Moore, Joann O’Hare, Frank Olvey, Cierra Reynolds and Jaleesa Rodriguez.

ASU Scholastic Award: Anastasia Stamatis.

ASU Academic Achievement: LaQuez Brown.

ASU University Scholarship: Cailee hall, Mariah Leach, Jason Magers Frank Olvey and Justin Scaturro.

ASU Dean Scholarship: Ricardo Alvarez Gomez, Amanda Deiulio, Ganella Esposito, Donald Grace III, Victoria Lissy and Jaleesa Rodriguez.

ASU Academic Achievement: Anel Schriver

ASU Provost: Beatrice Berthiaume, Geovana Garcia, Michael Herbig and Denice Montero.

ASU President: Torrent Fischbach, Siena Garcia, Savannah Hull, Kyle Salazar and Josephine Sherwood.

ASU Obama Scholarship: Torrent Fischbach, Beatrice Berthiaume, Michael Herbig, Jaleesa Rodriguez and Laura Hernandez.

ASU Dignity Health Scholarship: Denice Montero.

Northern Montana University Football Scholarship: Aaron Owens.

GCU Antelope Scholarship: Laura Hernandez.

GCU Dean Scholarship: Abrianna Lopez.

GCU Provost Scholarship:  Joann O’Hare and Janel Small.

GCU President Scholarship: Beatrice Berthiaume, Geovana Garcia, Siena Garcia, Lauren Hovland, Skye Kincaid, Whitney Mason and Cierra Reynolds.

GCU Chancellor Scholarship: Alison Korittky.

NAU Merit Scholarship: Gage Hicks and Alyssa Smith.

NAU Dean’s Scholarship: Shelby Hanks and Fiona Tupponce.

NAU President Scholarship: Hunter Towery.

NAU Lumberjack Scholarship: Beatrice Berthiaume, Tatiana Castro, Torrent Fischbach, Geovana Garcia, Siena Garcia, Seth Hendrickson, Savannah Hull, Christeana Lorayes, Ashley Lynn, Denice Monero, Taylor Moore, Jaleesa Rodriguez, Josie Sherwood and Anastasia Stamatis.

UofA Wildcat Excellence Scholarship: Shyann Dugan, Donald Grace III, Lauren Hovland, Anya Lundstrom, Shiloh Thompson, Frank Olvey, Michael Herbig, Cierra Reynolds, Tatiana Castrok Alyssa Estrada, Christeana Lorayes, Denice Montero, Shelby Hanks, Skye Kincaid, Alison Korittky, Torrent Fischbach, Seth Hendrickson, Savannah Hull, Geovana Garcia and Siena Garcia.

New Mexico State University Undergrad Comp Scholar: Savannah Hull.

Embry Riddle Basketball Scholarship: Danae Ruiz.

Embry Riddle Women of Excellence Scholarship: Danae Ruiz and Cristaly Betancourt Sanchez.

Embry Riddle Dean’s Scholarship: Danae Ruiz.

Embry Riddle Chancellor Scholarship: Cristaly Betancourt Sanchez

William Jessup University Athletic Award for Volleyball: Elizabeth Gallon.

William Jessup University Scholar Award: Elizabeth Gallon.

William Jessup Out of State Grant: Elizabeth Gallon.

Johnson & Wales University Culinary Essentials: Hannah Herrera.

Johnson & Wales University Presidential Academic Scholarship: Hannah Herrera.

Johnson & Wales University SkillsUSA VICA Scholarship: Hannah Herrera.

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Submitted photo

By Cadet Lyly Varela and Maria Garcia

April 2, 53 Maricopa High School Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFJROTC) program cadets had the chance to attend Luke Air Force Base in Glendale for its 2016 air show.

While on the trip we had the honor of interviewing the C-17 Loadmaster Technical Sgt. Benson as he described his job duties.

We asked, “What was the best and worst part of the job?”  He looked at both of us and said simply, “the most honorable mission I fly was the Dignified Transfer mission.”

That is the process of getting the caskets from the battlefield to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, peacefully

When handling the caskets they do everything they can to make sure they get the utmost respect. They put all caskets in the very front of the plane to the left with the U.S flag draped over each.  The most difficult part of this mission is trying to keep his composure while waiting for the cargo door to fully open and watch the funeral hearse and families of the fallen soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines come into the aircraft (while some families break down emotionally) at the sight of their loved one’s transfer case draped with the U.S. flag.

Submitted photo
Submitted photo

Extensive coordination goes into planning any Air Force flight, especially when transporting both people and supplies. Loadmasters are responsible for properly loading, securing and escorting cargo and passengers and custom loading aircraft before any flight.  From calculating proper weight distribution to providing for passenger comfort throughout the flight, these specialists ensure everything and everyone is safe and secure on flights all over the world.

Our research also indicated a dignified transfer is the process by which, upon the return from the theater of operations to the United States, the remains of fallen military members are transferred from the aircraft to a waiting vehicle and then to the port mortuary. The dignified transfer is not a ceremony; rather, it is a solemn movement of the transfer case by a carry team of military personnel from the fallen member’s respective service.

A dignified transfer is conducted for every U.S. military member who dies in the theater of operation while in the service of their country. A senior ranking officer of the fallen member’s service presides over each dignified transfer.

This experience for all of our cadets will last a lifetime.  I am very thankful for the Maricopa Union High School District, Principal Renita Meyers, Career Technical Education Director Michelle Shaffer, Lt. Col. Allen  Kirksey, our new senior aerospace science instructor and Master Sgt. Dishon Gregory, our assistant science instructor for giving 53 Maricopa High School AFJROTC cadets such a great experience.  It was an awesome day.


Lyly Varela and Maria Garcia are students at Maricopa High School.

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Photo by William Lange

By Shelby Hanks

Arizona’s graduation requirements have seen multiple changes in the past few years. With the class of 2013, the 22-credit total for the state was established. To graduate, seniors must have four English credits, four math credits, three science credits, three social studies credits, one CTE or fine arts credit, and seven elective credits.

Since February 2015, passing AIMS is no longer a graduation requirement, as the state transitioned to AZMerit.

Maricopa High School also requires a total of 22 credits to graduate. However, MHS has made a slight change to the requirements. Students are required to take a half credit of physical education – a credit not specified in the state’s graduation requirements – and only need six and a half elective credits as opposed to the state’s seven elective credits.

Graduation is quickly approaching for the class of 2016. Seniors are finally seeing payoff for their four years of hard work in math, English, science and history. This was the class that saw the transition from AIMS to AZMerit, only for neither to count toward their graduation.

Maricopa High School has built its curriculum and required courses around the state’s graduation standards. Every year when class registration comes around, students must sign up for an English class, a math class, a science class, and a history class, as well as choose electives.

Senior Ashley Lynn felt school counselors had been “helpful” in making sure she was on track, but “could have done more.” Counselors have to meet with a variety of students and, unfortunately, cannot make extra time for each individual student.

However, most students don’t meet with their counselors regarding credits unless there’s an issue with their credits that needs to be addressed.

One senior said she “made sure to take two Spanish classes to keep [her] college options open.” Foreign language credits are the one discrepancy between state graduation requirements and university entrance requirements. Arizona does not require students to take a foreign language class to graduate, but many universities require two years of a foreign language for admission.

Many graduating seniors are frustrated over the standardized testing. Seniors had to take AIMS their freshman and sophomore year, but when all that testing was done, the state had abolished AIMS as a graduation requirement. With the implementation of AZMerit, many seniors had to take the test in their English and math classes, despite the fact they already paid their testing dues. Even the seniors who don’t test find themselves suffering through block schedule while the rest of the school does AZMerit testing.

Maricopa High School graduates more than 300 students a year.


Shelby Hanks is a student at Maricopa High School. MHS graduation is May 19 at 7 p.m. This story appeared in the May issue of InMaricopa.

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Lt. Col. Allen Kirksey has taken command early of Maricopa High School's Air Force Jr. ROTC program.

“This is my calling. This is my passion,” Lt. Col. Allen Kirksey said of his new position at Maricopa High School.

Kirksey is the new leader of the Air Force Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (Jr. ROTC). He replaces Maj. James Alonzo, who is retiring.

He said being able to “get my feet wet” by substituting the last two months of the school year has allowed him to get set up in the MHS system instead of trying to get organized in August.

Kirksey enlisted in the U.S. Air Force out of high school in 1979. He re-enlisted in the Air National Guard in 1984. He was commander of the 161st Security Forces Squadron. Kirksey was deployed as the wing senior intelligence officer in support of Operation Desert Shield, Deny Flight, Phoenix Scorpion and Southern Watch.

When he retired in 2015 he was the wing chief of staff.

A product of the Arizona school system, Kirksey has volunteered hundreds of hours at Phoenix area high schools.

“I’ve been working for kids for years,” he said.

His wife, a sixth-grade teacher, has taught in Phoenix for 23 years.

When Alonzo announced he was retiring, Kirksey felt he was in the right place at the right time to take the reins of the Jr. ROTC program in Maricopa.

Allen Kirksey. Submitted photo
Allen Kirksey. Submitted photo

Maricopa Unified School District Superintendent Steve Chestnut, whom Kirksey refers to as “my boss’s boss’s boss,” called Kirksey “a very unique person.”

“He brings a very distinguished career to Maricopa High School,” Chestnut said.

Kirksey earned the Meritorious Service Medal twice. In 2011, he received the Excellence in Diversity Award, which recognizes service members who contribute to mission readiness and diversity initiatives that impact the National Guard, state and local community.

In 2014, he received the Calvin C. Goode Lifetime Achievement Award from the City of Phoenix.

He has a bachelor’s degree from University of Phoenix.

Kirksey has already accompanied 53 MHS cadets to an air show at Luke Air Force Base. Next school year, he anticipates a return to Luke to tour the F-35 and the F-15 and try out the simulators. Also on the schedule is a trip to Davis-Montham Air Force Base in Tucson to tour an A-10 Warthog, a trip to Fort Huachuca to see the Predator unmanned aerial vehicle, then back to Phoenix to see a KC-135 Stratotanker. Fifteen cadets may get to go on an air-refueling mission.

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Clockwise from top left: Tyler Rapp, Christian Garcia, Kevin Borboa, Carter Paine and Marcos Cano. Photos by William Lange

Five members of the Maricopa High School baseball team were named all-section in a coaches’ poll this week.

Seniors Tyler Rapp, Christian Garcia and Kevin Borboa were all named First Team. Junior Marcos Cano and sophomore Carter Pain were Second Team selections.

As a pitcher, Rapp was 7-1 with two saves and an earned run average of just 2.06. In 51 innings, he struck out 44, walked 14 and gave up 15 earned runs. At bat, he had a .333 average. His 25 hits included two home runs and eight doubles. He also led the team in stolen bases with seven.

Garcia had a .381 batting average with a team-leading 32 hits and 26 runs batted in. He had a homer, three triples and five doubles. A catcher, he also had the highest fielding average on the team at .985.

Borboa played in 20 out of 29 games and had a team-leading batting average of .462. He had six doubles, two triples and a home run while driving in 19 runs. He had four stolen bases.

Cano batted .346 with three home runs, two triples and four doubles. He drove in 24. He drew the most walks on the team with 15. He also stole four bases. His fielding average was .921.

Paine was 5-4 as a pitcher with an ERA of 2.68. He struck out 43 in 52.1 innings while walking 22 and giving up 20 earned runs. He batted .322, with four doubles and a triple. He had four stolen bases.

The Rams finished the season in the second round of the state tournament with a 16-13 record. They were ranked 10th in the state in Division III.

Ex-NBA player has 156-94 record coaching high school

Tony Fuller, a former college coach and most recently head coach at Brophy Prep, has been hired to coach boys' basketball at Maricopa High School.

Tony Fuller, who just ended 10 years at Brophy College Prep, has been hired to coach the boys’ basketball team at Maricopa High School.

Jake Neill, who was head coach for four years, resigned his coaching duties at the end of the season to pursue school administration. Since then, MHS received more than 40 applications for the job.

“I’m all about moving forward,” Fuller said. “I’ve been to Maricopa three times. There are nice, new homes, and it seems to be clean and safe.”

Fuller, a one-time NBA player, was hired as head coach at Brophy in 2006. He coached only one losing season, his first, and his 2011 team reached the state Division I final. His overall record there was 156-94.

“Coach Fuller is a terrific coach with experience from all levels,” said Rick McConnell, longtime head coach at Dobson High School. “His college experience is evident in the way his teams play. They are always very fundamentally sound on both offense and defense. His demeanor and coaching style is very professional.”

In 2015, Brophy opted to make a change in its coaching staff, but Fuller stayed on with the school as a physical education teacher. When he saw the opening in Maricopa, however, his resume was ready.

“He’d asked about the job and, of course, he was a very good interview,” Maricopa Athletic Director Mark Cisterna said.

A native of Detroit, Fuller played at Pepperdine University and a season with the Detroit Pistons as a 6-foot-4 shooting guard. He was head coach at San Diego State University for two seasons and at Pepperdine for two more. He was assistant coach at Colorado State and Utah State before moving to Stanford University as an assistant for six seasons.

“I’m excited about him,” Cisterna said. “I hope people realize what a quality coach we are getting.”

Fuller, 57, has a master’s degree in physical education. He was hired as a PE teacher for MHS but also has an option to teach credit retention.

Cisterna said he already had Fuller meet some of the students and parents.

“I like the entire community,” Fuller said. “It seems to be a good situation. I wanted to go into a program where the previous coach stepped down on his own terms, unlike my situation.”

Cisterna said he and Fuller know a lot of the same people in the coaching community, and he spoke with several who had worked with him. “I got nothing but great statements about him,” he said.

Because the reasons Brophy decided not to bring back Fuller as coach were never publicized, Cisterna also spoke with the Brophy athletic director for insight.

Meanwhile, Fuller said he looked at the Rams’ record over the past 10 years on MaxPreps.com and watched game tapes. Maricopa’s team was 17-11 this season.

“Mark told me the kids are tough and hungry,” Fuller said.

That’s what he likes in a player. He describes his teams as disciplined players who play hard and play together as a group and are comprised of a lot of over-achievers.

His six-point approach to the game is clear and simple: “Transition defense, half-court defense and defensive rebounding; transition offense, half-court offense and offensive rebounding.”

Fuller called basketball a means to end. “It’s work, it’s education, it’s lifelong friendships, it’s business, it’s community,” he said.

Cisterna said a bonus of hiring Fuller is the coach’s knowledge of teams the Rams will be playing next year as realignment moves them from Division III to 5A.

“It’s not going to be an easy road,” Cisterna said.

More importantly, he said, Fuller was the kind of coach he hoped to find because of his experience with youth.

“I think he’ll be great for our kids and hold them accountable for what they do,” he said.

Two of the most influential men in Fuller’s life were his high school and college coaches. That was Ed Rachal at St. Martin de Porres in Detroit and Jim Harrick at Pepperdine. “They were father figures and role models and great, great men.”

Though he lives in Phoenix, he plans to find a house in Maricopa. (“I’m not a commuter.”) Fuller said it’s important the students and community see that he is “all in.”

“As a leader, it’s important to show your commitment to a course,” he said.

Once his commitment to Brophy is officially over, Fuller expects to host some basketball classes and tournaments in Maricopa.

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Freshman Nico Bandin and senior Tyler Rapp cover a play at second during the second round of the state tournament. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa High School’s baseball team gave up only one earned run in second-round play of the state tournament, but five errors let in six more.

The Rams lost to seventh-seed Sahuarita 7-1 Saturday afternoon in Surprise. Maricopa was ranked 10th in the Division III tourney.

The loss ended a fine season for MHS, which posted a 16-13 record. Outside of tournaments, the team was 13-5.

“We have a lot of things to look back on and be proud of,” head coach Andrew Pollak said.

The last time the team reached the state tournament was 2007. The last time the team reached the second round was 2004.

The team had a goal of getting the MHS program back to state despite a lackluster 2015 season. Pollak said many of the seniors came up through the program and had “100-percent buy-in” on that objective.

They also had the added inspiration of playing for their late teammate Nate Ford. Though the team was “bummed out” at Saturday’s loss, Pollak said they were proud to finish among the top 16 Division III teams in the state.

Against Sahuarita, the Rams tied the game 1-1 in the top of the second inning when senior Chad Nachtweh’s sacrifice fly knocked in sophomore Carter Paine.

“We definitely had our chances, but we weren’t able to capitalize on them,” the coach said.

After Paine pitched out of a bases-loaded jam, Sahuarita had only a 2-1 lead going into the bottom of the fifth inning. For Maricopa, the game turned into a mess in every way.

Untidy field play helped Sahuarita score three more runs before lightning on the horizon brought all playoff games in the complex to a halt.

Official rules require a 30-minute delay for a lightning sighting. With every subsequent lightning bolt, the 30-minute clock starts over. The continued lightning and subsequent rain had most baseball players sitting in their buses for nearly an hour.

The resumption of play did not help the Rams. Sahuarita scored another run before Paine got out of the fifth inning. Maricopa junior Jackson Stensgard finished the game on the mound, allowing an unearned run in the bottom of the sixth.

Stensgard had three hits in the game, including a double. Paine hit a triple and a single, and senior Ivan Herrera had a single. Paine struck out three, Stensgard one.

MHS baseball is losing five senior starters but has a deep selection of underclassmen moving up, including freshman Nico Bandin. Several players can shift from the outfield or the infield to the mound.

“We just knew that our players could also pitch, and we were excited about that flexibility,” Pollak said.

He hopes this season will be a precursor of good things to come for the Rams.

“It was a blast,” Pollak said.

Taking part in a recognition ceremony at Maricopa City Hall were (from left) MUSD Superintendent Steve Chestnut, MHS senior Donald Grace, Mayor Christian Price, AHS senior Derrick Gray, Krystal Hagler, Zelmer Hagler (aka Sincere D.I.B.), Nicholas Sheppard and Jaysie Sheppard.

A Maricopa ministry has begun a year-long kickoff of an effort to reward leadership among African-American students.

During Black History Month in February, the Flock Ministries, founded by Nicholas and Jaysie Sheppard, identified four nominees for its first scholarships. They contacted schools in Maricopa and in the Valley to find students meeting this year’s criteria of being African-American male seniors with good grades and a reputation for good character.

Of those who met the standard this year, three were from Maricopa and one was from Glendale.

“It sounds like a great idea,” said nominee Donald Grace. “I’m glad they’re helping people out, like in my situation, people who could definitely use the help that they’re providing.”

Grace will be graduating in May from Maricopa High School along with fellow nominees Johnny Johnson Jr. and Devaughn Sutton. Derrick Gray was nominated from Apollo High School.

The nominees were given certificates of appreciation on Feb. 27 by Flock Ministries, Doing It Big Entertainment (Up Next) and the City of Maricopa at a brief ceremony at City Hall. Mayor Christian Price and Maricopa Unified School District Superintendent Steve Chestnut spoke at the gathering.

Donald Grace (left) of Maricopa High School and Derrick Gray of Apollo High School are among four senior nominated for Black History Month scholarships. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson
Donald Grace (left) of Maricopa High School and Derrick Gray of Apollo High School are among four senior nominated for Black History Month scholarships. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

“We’re going to start it here in Maricopa and then we’re going to spread it,” said Zelmer Hagler, who performs rap as Sincere D.I.B. and owns Doing It Big Entertainment. “We have a whole list of things we want to do in the city.”

During this year, organizers will host fund-raisers to create the first scholarships to be presented at a Black History Ball being planned for February 2017.

Jaysie Sheppard said it was important for the students to have black leaders to look up to in the community, but it was also important for her children to see black students being recognized for their achievements.

She thanked the students for “awesome character that you show to the community, showing great behavior in the classroom and then academic success. And that is so important today, because your wisdom is our future, is our black history.”

Next year, organizers will seek female seniors to recognize.

Grace, who attended the City Hall ceremony with parents Donald and Merry Grace and his brothers, is trying to decide between Arizona State University and University of Arizona. “I’m kind of more interested in economics because I’ve been taking it in high school,” he said.

Gray is mulling football scholarships that are already available to him and is also investigating baseball scholarships.

“I kind of want to go into teaching because my father is a teacher,” Gray said, adding he found mentorship in his family and his coaches. His parents, Derrick and Felisha Gray, were with him at the presentation.

Hagler said organizers notified schools around the Phoenix area about the scholarship opportunity, but ran into a surprising roadblock. “We couldn’t even find three in [Phoenix] because their grades were so low.”

He said it was another reason he wanted to recognize those who put in the work.

“We just want to show we appreciate what they’re doing and their work hasn’t gone unnoticed,” he said. “We want to continue to encourage them to go farther and just let them know they have mentors and different people here to help them.”

Nicholas Sheppard said he started the foundation because of how important mentors were to him. He and Jaysie played professional basketball.

“So now it’s time for me to give back,” he said.

FlockMinistries.com
TPAHoops.Weebly.com


This story appeared in the April issue of InMaricopa.

This year's senior Rams are (from left) Kevin Borboa, Tyler Rapp, Chad Nachtweh, Ivan Herrera and Christian Garcia. The late Nate Ford would have been a senior player and is listed on the roster as captain. Photo by William Lange

When 16-year-old Nate Ford died in an August traffic accident, he left behind grieving parents, siblings, relatives, friends and teammates. At Maricopa High School, the loss was immediately felt on the football team, for which he was a lineman and which was just starting its season at the time.

But the baseball diamond was really Ford’s athletic home. The Rams baseball team had a longer time to absorb the loss before its spring season began. Time did not lessen the personal loss to his friends on the team, but it did offer the opportunity to honor the senior catcher baseball-style.

Nate was made the team captain and is included on the Rams’ roster of seniors.

Friday will be Senior Night at Matt Huffman Field. The Rams Baseball Booster Club is making it the Nate Ford Community Night.

“Baseball was Nate’s passion,” Booster President Melanie Rapp said. “”He loved to be on the baseball field.”

Maricopa musician Laura Walsh will sing the National Anthem at 5:50 p.m., and the Rams will host Tempe High School at 6 p.m.

There will be ongoing raffles. Prizes include a 55-inch Toshiba flat screen TV, two-night stay at Sheraton Wild Horse Pass, Mommy and Me photo session, a $100 Dick’s Sporting Goods gift card, 50/50 and more.

Nate Ford would have been a senior catcher this year for Maricopa High School. He and the other five seniors will be honored Friday night. Submitted photo
Nate Ford would have been a senior catcher this year for Maricopa High School. He and the other five seniors will be honored Friday night. Submitted photo

The concession stand will be serving smoked ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, hamburgers and hotdogs.

After the game, MHS will honor all of its baseball seniors. They include Kevin Borboa, Christian Garcia, Ivan Herrera, Chad Nachtweh and Tyler Rapp.

The Rams are 12-11 going into this week. Outside of tournaments, they are 10-4 and are 11th in the Division III power rankings.

Among the seniors (alphabetically), Borboa has played 13 games and batted .512. He has 21 hits, 11 runs batted in, four doubles and a triple.

Garcia, in 22 games, is batting .377 and his fielding percentage of .987 leads the team. He is also the team leader in walks with 12 and triples with three, and he is co-leader in total hits with 23, doubles with five and RBI with 19.

Herrera is batting .299 and is co-leader in hits with 23 and co-leader in runs scored with 17. He has three triples.

Nachtweh has struggled at the plate this season with a .196 averages, but two of his 10 hits were doubles. He also drew nine walks and had five RBI. His fielding percentage at first base is an impressive .962.

Rapp is leading the Rams’ pitching with an earned run average of 2.80. His 5-1 record is also the team’s best, and he has two saves. In 30 innings pitched, he has walked seven and struck out 27. Offensively, he is batting .281, with 14 runs scored, four doubles a triple and 10 walks. He leads the team in stolen bases with six.

Maricopa Rams Baseball Schedule
Higley            W     10-7
Dobson            L    8-4
Williams Field        L    15-2
Poston Butte        W    15-11
Fairfax            W    3-2
Seton Catholic        W    9-7
Marcos de Niza        L    14-0
Youngker        W    14-8
Basha            L    11-6
Mesquite        L    14-0
Dobson            L    14-4
Perry            L    16-1
St. Mary’s        L    13-7
Walden Grove        W    3-1
North            W    6-3
Vista Grande        W    3-2
Estrella Foothills    W    5-3
Sahuarita        L    8-3
Mountain View        W    4-0
Poston Butte        W    10-3
Fountain Hills        L    5-2
Scottsdale Christian    W    8-3
Casa Grande        L    1-0
Sierra Linda        Away    3:45 p.m.
Tempe            Home    6 p.m.
McClintock        Home    4 p.m.
Combs            Away    3:45 p.m.