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Bernadette Russoniello

By Bernadette Russoniello

‘Where are you going to college?” “What’s your major?” “Where do you want to go to school?” Unfortunately, these questions are far too common for the average teen. We place incredible pressure on students to pick their college of choice; we even measure or judge students by their college ambitions.

The focus of meaningful college and career-ready conversations needs to shift to career. What career do you want? What major will help you attain your career plans? Where do you want to work?

The entire purpose of post-secondary education is to attain specific skills, knowledge and experiences to better prepare us for a career. At the secondary level, we tend to put too much emphasis on the two to eight years of college we prepare students for, rather than the 40 to 50 years that will span their working life.

We need to shift the conversation from college and career to college FOR career.

Why the push for college? Estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate the average earnings for those with college degrees or certified credentials almost double that of a high school graduate. The same statistics show unemployment rates decrease by the same margins.

What is college? When I speak with students, I explain that college is any form of post-secondary education or training that prepares them for a career. College can take many forms apart from the four-year university, including trade schools, certification or licensure, community college, apprenticeships or the military. I challenge students to first consider what they want from life – what do they value? Is it money? Family? Lifestyle? Purpose? What do they consider a “good income”? Once these questions are prioritized, we can dive into possible directions and pathways for their consideration.

When students consider career options, they need to consider how potential careers match their income needs and how the job fits their lifestyle needs and desires.

There are many resources available online to help provide students guidance and direction in career aspirations. A good starting point is the Myers-Briggs-type indicator. Most universities have some form of an interest profiler and major match available on their websites.

Arizona State offers the Me3 assessment, an online picture-based inventory while University of Arizona offers Degree Search, a clickable interactive checklist of criteria to help match students with their best possible field.

Remember, a goal without a plan is just a wish. Research and set your career goals, determine what school or program will best fit those plans, and start building relevant skills and experiences to achieve your dreams.

Bernadette Russoniello is the Career and College coordinator at Maricopa High School. She can be reached at BRussoniello@MUSD20.org.


This column appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.

A1C Louis Chavez working on an F-16 in Texas. Submitted photo

Two former cadets from the Maricopa High School Air Force Junior ROTC program recently updated current cadets on their military status.

Airman 1st Class Louis Chavez graduated from Aircraft Electronic and Environmental Systems Specialist Technical School at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. He stopped by MHS Monday to talk to the AFJROTC cadets. He is now on his way to his first duty assignment at the 100th Air Refueling Wing, Mildenhall Air Base, England.

Andrew Bounsone is in the U.S. Army. Submitted photo

Andrew Bounsone graduated from U.S. Army basic training. He will become a tactical power generation specialist (91D). He will be responsible for supervising and performing maintenance and overhaul of power-generation equipment, internal combustion engines and associated equipment in mobile and stationary power plants.

Chavez graduated from MHS in 2017, Bounsone in 2018.

This year's MHS Rams include (from left) Trey Keel, Jake Meyer, Jordan Huddleston, Tylen Coleman and Michael Flood. Photo by Victor Moreno

 

There was very little leisure for Maricopa High School football players this summer.

“We call it ‘one heartbeat;’ it’s kind of the analogy we use. We all have to work in concert for it to work.” — Coach Brandon Harris

New head coach Brandon Harris ran practices every morning, five days a week. Many nights were filled by 7-on-7 tournaments. Two weeks before the first day of school, the team left to its annual football camp in Winslow.

The coaches spend more time with athletes than ever before, Harris said, a practice in measuring the team’s pulse on – and off – the field.

MHS head coach Brandon Harris. Photo by Mason Callejas

“We call it ‘one heartbeat;’ it’s kind of the analogy we use,” Harris said of the team’s culture. “We all have to work in concert for it to work.”

When they weren’t running drills, teammates worked in unison fundraising for the program. They were coached by Harris on representing the school and the city well, he said.

The kids reportedly received compliments on their polite behavior during car washes and other engagements where athletes and coaches introduced themselves to the community.

“We are working smart; we’re working hard,” Harris said.

This summer, athletes hit the weight room after their meals – an intake of protein and carbohydrates developed by coaching staff. And while participating in any activity together, Harris only allows uplifting communication between the group.

“We don’t coach from any negativity or fear because fear is very close to hatred and you can’t play well with either one of those feelings,” Harris said.

Harris is an experienced leader on the gridiron, having previously coached championship high school state team sand collegiately.

His goal is to reinvent the Rams, who will sport redesigned uniforms, into a team that not only wins games, but wins in life.

New district Athletic Director Jacob Neill likes the approach.

“If you have a high level of participation and you’re successful in what you’re doing with the kids in your program, it’s going to ultimately have a positive impact on the culture of not just your athletics program but your entire school,” Neill said.

In 2016, Neill left the district after working four years as head basketball coach at MHS. He was the AD and assistant principal of Poston Butte High School in San Tan Valley before his recent return to Maricopa.

That experience has lent well to the football program under Harris.

“First of all, he’s a former coach,” Harris said of Neill. “He’s been doing this awhile and he gets it.”

While the Rams work to recreate themselves and improve upon last year’s 6-4 record, the team is also adjusting to a new, competitive region.

Harris said the team had “flashes of spectacular play” against opponents in the 5A San Tan Region during the 7-on-7s this summer.

But Neill and Harris agreed the region will be a great test for the program that is still developing its pulse.

“We are a team that’s loaded with a lot of players and talent, and now it’s just a matter of us putting that talent to use,” Harris said.

MHS Football
All varsity games at 7 p.m.
Aug. 17 vs. McClintock
Aug. 24 @ Millennium
Aug. 31 @ Apollo
Sept. 7 @ South Mountain
Sept. 14 vs. Central
Sept. 21 vs. Higley
Sept. 28 @ Campo Verde
Oct. 5 @ Williams Field
Oct. 19 vs. Casteel
Oct. 26 vs. Gilbert


This story appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.

 

A Maricopa firefighter works a hydrant, though water was not necessary to shut down the situation. Photo by Michelle Chance

An estimated 1,000 Maricopa High School students were evacuated from the two-story 100 building Thursday morning after a report of smoke.

Maricopa Fire/Medical Department officials said a power surge caused light valances on the top floor to burn. MFMD had six vehicles on location.

Students were initially taken to the football field, but school officials soon began the process of moving them to a cooler location. Maricopa Unified School District spokesman Tom Beckett said the students would be taken to the gymnasium before first lunch.

No injuries were reported, according to MFMD Fire Marshal Eddie Rodriguez. The school sent out messages to parents indicating there was no need to pick up their children and the building was expected to be inhabitable as soon as it is cleared by Electrical District No. 3.

Firefighters shut down electrical power and checked for hot spots. The smoke was first reported by students.

See future leaders at work: Maricopa High School students and Be Awesome Youth Coalition will be on the scene to help run the InMaricopa Town Hall on Saturday.

Students will get a peek at the democratic process during a candidate debate in August.

The Primary Election Town Hall, an InMaricopa.com event, will host candidates vying for local, state and federal positions.

Tentative Itinerary for InMaricopa Town Hall

Teens from around Maricopa will volunteer there with various organizations, the leaders of which hope the students will learn real-world skills like representation, proper debate and public interaction.

“The kids who will show up to an event like this will be engaged kids who are serious and polite who want to be involved and know their issues,” said Priscilla Behnke, program youth director for Be Awesome Youth Coalition.

Up to eight teens will represent the group during the town hall, including students from Maricopa High School and Sequoia Pathway Academy.

It’s Behnke’s view that those who learn to get involved with the community early earn personal benefits like confidence later in life.

“You can’t just wish it, you have to go out there and shake hands and go to the meetings,” Behnke said. “You can be an influencer if you want to.”

BAYC participants attend various events in Maricopa every year. Behnke said she stresses to teens the importance of customer service, honesty and advocacy when her group makes public appearances.

She hopes students will observe the way candidates present themselves and how knowledgeable their responses are.

Behnke also preaches to teens the importance of finding their voices through community engagement, an act she hopes will lead them to “advocate for themselves and for their causes.”

Other student groups and clubs at Maricopa High School are volunteering at the event in various capacities, from student ambassadors to greeters and photographers.

Student Council, Air Force Junior ROTC and other campus organizations of future leaders will be both up front and behind the scenes.

The debate begins 10 a.m. on Aug. 4 at Maricopa High School. Click here to learn more.

 

Air conditioning failed at Maricopa High School during an excessive heat warning. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

On what is forecast to be a record-breaking day of heat, students at Maricopa High School attended their second morning of classes without properly functioning air conditioning Tuesday.

According to a statement published to social media by the Maricopa Unified School District at 10:23 a.m., a power surge was the culprit that caused the high school’s “main chillers” to shut down.

Maintenance workers restarted the equipment and restored the air conditioning.

“The temperature has gone back to an acceptable level,” according to the statement.

Photos by Michelle Chance

Breakfast treats and coffee, donated by Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks, greeted Maricopa High School teachers as they returned to campus July 17. New Principal Brian Winter took to the lecture hall stage early Tuesday morning to discuss school goals, including improving the culture and perception of MHS. Administration and staff are beginning a new school-year calendar, with the first day of school beginning for students July 23.

Members of the Maricopa High School volleyball team had their annual car wash Saturday to raise money for camps and extras not paid for by the school. Sonic allowed the girls use of its parking lot for the event. The season start Aug. 28 with a home match against Camelback.

Laura Logan will be the coach of Maricopa High School's new swim team. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

By Joycelyn Cabrera

A coach has been confirmed for the newly introduced Maricopa High School swim team, and she’s an award-winner.

Laura Logan, 49, plans to share her experience and training with MHS swimmers.

Logan began swimming at the age of 10, competing in her hometown of Springfield, Illinois, for the next eight years. She qualified to compete in Swimming Junior Nationals in high school, taking her to Orlando, Florida, and earned a full-ride athletic scholarship to Northern Illinois University.

Logan moved to Arizona and in 2004 started Arizona Seals Swimming Academy at Central Arizona College.

“I started the Seals because we moved to Casa Grande, and they don’t have anything,” Logan said.

Her son was one of the biggest reasons for starting a swim team, giving him options to continue after he had been swimming for teams in Illinois.

Logan took over as a high school swim coach in Casa Grande from 2007 to 2015, using the pool at the CAC campus. The school qualified swimmers for state competitions under Logan’s coaching. She trained state-champion swimmers within three years. Logan was also voted “Men’s D2 Coach of the Year” for AIA Swimming.

“I think my greatest success as a coach was when a young man came out his freshman year to swim on the high school swim team, and he shows up, and he does not put his face in the water,” she said. “He puts the biggest sour-puss face you’ve ever seen a kid do. His senior year, he was the freestyle anchor on all the relays and was part of the group that I took to state. We finished fourth.”

The school program came to an end with the closing of the CAC pool. Logan moved Arizona Seals to Copper Sky as a club team no longer affiliated with a school.

Three years later, Maricopa High School, in conjunction with Copper Sky, is introducing a Rams swim team. Logan anticipates 25-30 students for tryouts.

Sophomore Olivia Byers has already trained with Laura Logan for three years. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

“I’m so excited,” said MHS sophomore Olivia Byers, who has been coached by Logan for three years. “I’m really interested to see who’s going to come out for the team.”

Freshman Connor Schrader has also been a Seal for three years. A multi-sport athlete who doesn’t like “the feeling of sitting around not doing anything,” he’s looking forward to the formation of the high school team.

Connor Schrader comes to the high school team as a freshman. Photo by
Raquel Hendrickson

“It will be a big advantage on the club team,” he said.

While Logan will not have another role at MUSD, her primary focus on the swim team allows her to be limitless in terms of how many students can make the team.

“I never turn anyone away; I’ll work with anybody,” she said.

Logan’s biggest goal in her new position is to teach her athletes lessons through the sport itself, including being goal-oriented.

Logan spends the summer with Arizona Seals Swim Academy and teaches several classes at the Copper Sky pools.

For Olivia, being a swim team member is not just about laps in a pool. “The team is kind of like a family.”

Laura.Logan86@gmail.com


This story appears in the July issue of InMaricopa.

Back to School

From left: June Celaya, Thad Miller and Brian Winter

By Murray Siegel

Murray Siegel

This is the third in a series of columns on the school principals in Maricopa.

June Celaya, principal at Desert Wind Middle School, brings 33 years of educational experience to her job. Although she grew up in Philadelphia, she got her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University, respectively. She has taught multiple subjects in middle and high school and was a magnet school coordinator. Celaya was principal at Maricopa High School before moving to the principal’s office at DWMS three years ago.

She is most proud of adding a second performing arts teacher at her school, which caused the program to double in size, as well as adding another Blended Learning Program. She looks forward to implementing Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) next year. Her personal credo is that diversity brings opportunity to a school and that a teacher can inspire any student to be a successful learner.

The principal at Maricopa Wells Middle School is Thad Miller, a native Arizonan whose K-12 education was obtained in Maricopa. He is an ASU graduate and obtained a master’s degree from Grand Canyon University. Before becoming an administrator, Miller taught science in the middle grades and in high school in MUSD.

He is very pleased the goals established for MWMS year have been realized and work towards academic improvement continues with strong staff support. Miller anticipates continuing with high academic and behavioral expectations as part of the school’s goals next year.

“The new ELA adoption should be a great benefit for our kids,” he said.

He believes a positive relationship is being built between students and faculty that will lead to future success.

Brian Winter is the Maricopa High School principal for the 2018-19 school year. He was born and raised in Minnesota and received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from state universities there. He has 30 years’ experience in education in various positions including administrative assignments in Oregon and Arizona.

He takes great pride in the fact MHS has tested every 11th grade student on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery and all 12th graders on the ACT standardized college admissions test. This testing was done at no cost to the students due to a grant obtained by the school. His goal as the new principal is to build a connection with every student, whatever it takes.

Murray Siegel has a doctorate in Math Ed and 42 years of teaching experience.


This column appears in the July issue of InMaricopa.

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Photo by Victor Moreno

Maricopa High School football players tried out their summer skills in a 7-on-7 contest against Mesa June 21. Mesa will host the Rams June 28 at 6 p.m. Photographer Victor Moreno shared his photos. Click on photo to enlarge

Photo by Michelle Chance

From Maricopa High School


Attn: Parents of Maricopa High School Students

Maricopa High School is gearing up for the 2018-2019 school year. We will be starting our modified calendar school year making our summer shorter and preparing for student arrival.

Avoid the RUSH and take advantage of registering your “new” student(s) during the week of July 2. Our registrar’s office will be available to help you with that last minute registration(s).

July 3, 7am-11am

July 5-6, noon-3pm

July 9-12,  for returning students during student check-in

July 16, and beyond during regular office hours.

Appointments can be scheduled by contacting Danielle Byers at dbyers@musd20.org.

As we do every year, we have a week of “Student Check-In”. This is the time parents and students use to pick-up schedules (already enrolled students), speak with a counselor regarding any issue with their schedule; update health records with our site nurse; get their new ID that is a requirement for students to be on campus and also pay fees that may be associated with their schedules (Elective classes have fees). Please visit our Maricopa High School website at: http://mhs.maricopausd.org/ to see what day and time each grade level should plan to attend check-in.

Parents, please note that we are only set up for payment to accept cash or check. Unfortunately, we are not able to do debit/credit.

We hope that you’re enjoying your summer and we look forward to having our students back on campus, and ready to go July 23.

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Porter Jones. Photo by Victor Moreno

Class of 2018 Valedictorian Porter Jones delivered the following address at the Maricopa High School commencement.

 

Hello, Class of 2018 and guests! I am honored not only to be addressing the faculty, family and underclassmen around us, but also to get the chance to speak to you, my friends and peers, before we go our separate ways.

Now, I also know that I’m the last thing standing between you and a senior diploma, so I’ll try to keep my comments brief and to the point. As we all shift from side to side in our seats, wondering how much longer this can go, I’m sure that we’re all also thinking the same thing: Our actions this year have spoken louder than any speech or remark could adequately describe.

While there’s not much left to be said as far as academic achievement, extracurricular honors and sheer tenacity and grit at having finally “made it to the bell” go, we — the students, teachers and family members here tonight — have seen a tremendous amount of effort put forth in order for us to be better prepared for a world that can be both exciting and scary. With that in mind, I would like to offer some quick words of advice and comfort for those next years we have along the road.

I have noticed lately that no matter where you go, people seem to think that everything in life is out to get them. If we live with this sentiment, however, our entire lives are going to be the equivalent of a nail in search of a hammer — and that’s not much of a life, is it? No joy can come from pinning unhappiness on others. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” If the sky seems to be dropping anvils on you, find a way to build a ramada, or put those anvils to good use. “The robbed that smiles steals something from the thief,”* after all!

But some might be wondering, how can we ever expect to find satisfaction in a world with people who have different opinions than us? It is my belief that we can always treat anyone, no matter how annoying or backwards they might seem at one moment, with unfeigned charity and understanding, and still maintain our own ideals. Many wise people have noted that discussing beliefs builds faith in a cause and breeds understanding between individuals. There is nothing to fear from hearing another’s ideas. Still, remain passionate about things; never find yourself in a slump of self-doubt, because there are so many good things to live for.

We live in the greatest country of all: The United States of America. Two hundred and thirty-one years ago, a group of men drafted what has become the bedrock of our freedom and liberty. Always remember the sacrifices of others that are meant for us. This will not only help us decide the choices that remain in our lives, but also help us realize that our country’s well-being rests in our hands. I invite us to listen to George Orwell’s advice, which proclaims that “in a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” Use your abilities to search for truth, and take great pride in living in a land where “a better tomorrow” isn’t just a buzzword. Take pride in living in the “land of the free and the home of the brave!”

Lastly, I cannot leave tonight without expressing my enduring gratitude for the many role models we have had to look up to in these four years and even further before. The material for any outstanding graduation speech has really already been given to us by the leaders, confidants and supports who have provided us with morality, affection and the best sermons: good examples.

I want to personally thank my close friends, teachers, family and God above for the many blessings that have been poured out on us these four years, and relish the thought that we are living here, now! We have infinite opportunity before us, and as we travel through life I hope we will always maintain optimism and enthusiasm for it.

And here we are, five minutes older, and still waiting for a conclusion; and here I am, still drawing out every second, since the moment I end this we will bid this campus good-bye for the last time. Don’t fret about what the future has in store for us — that’s how one dies an early death. If we remember time management, work ethic, respect, honesty, patriotism, compassion and living within our means, we will go far. I have faith in every one of you, as I hope you all have in yourselves.

Tonight, I would like to end by leaving the charge of making the best of all the time, relationships, means and talents you will find in life to you, as well as the capability to fulfill your purpose in life. Good night, Class of 2018, and God bless us all.

 

Porter Jones was the valedictorian of the Maricopa High School Class of 2018. Watch other highlights of the ceremony.

*(Othello by William Shakespeare, Act I, Scene 3)


This address appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.

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Jacob Cowing and P.J. Austin show off their gold medals.

 

The Arizona Interscholastic Association hosted the State Track and Field Championships on May 2-5 at Mesa Community College. The Maricopa High School boys finished seventh in the team standings, and the girls placed 36th. May 10, some participated in the Arizona Meet of Champions. The following athletes set a school, meet and/or state records in their events during the 2018 season:

Boys at State
Longman Pyne, Jacob Cowing, Phillip “P.J.” Austin, Francois (Frank) Jones, 4×100 Relay: 41.51 (best of meet, school record and 1st place)
Phillip “P.J.” Austin, senior, long jump: 24-1.25 (school record and 2nd place)
Logan Taylor, junior, 110-meter high hurdles: 14.64 (school record and 4th place)
Logan Taylor, junior, 300-meter low hurdles: 39.66 (school record and 5th place)

Logan Taylor

Girls at State
Shannon Coutré, junior, 400-meter dash: 58.82 (school record and qualified for final)
Italy Brookshire, junior, high jump: 5-2 (school record and seventh place)
Sydni Callis, Destinee Chavis, Jakayla Shaw, Shannon Coutré, 4×100 Relay: 50.30 (school record)

Shannon Coutre

Boys at Meet of Champions
Phillip “P.J.” Austin, senior, long jump: 24-1.25 (1st place)
Longman Pyne, Jacob Cowing, Phillip “P.J.” Austin, Francois (Frank) Jones, 4×100 Relay: 41.86 (1st place)
Logan Taylor, junior, 110-meter high hurdles: 14.74 (3rd place)

Girls at Meet of Champions
Italy Brookshire, junior, high jump: 5-2 (second place)

Boys 2018 Season
Jacob Cowing, junior, 100-meter dash: 10.87 (school record)
Francois (Frank) Jones, senior, 200-meter dash: 21.75 (school record)
Tylen Riley-Coleman, junior, shot put: 49-2.5 (school record and qualified for state)
Tylen Riley-Coleman, junior, discus: 144-4 (school record and qualified for state)
Devin Parady, senior, javelin: 152-0 (school record and qualified for state)
Samual Coles, senior, pole vault: 12-10 (school record and qualified for state)

Girls 2018 Season
Zanaa Ramirez, sophomore, 1-mile run: 6:28.15 (school record)
Tayler Riley-Coleman, sophomore, 100-meter intermediate hurdles: 17.52 (school record)
Ashlynn Jones, Zanaa Ramirez, Jakayla Shaw, Shannon Coutré, 4×400 Relay: 4:15.82 (school record and qualified for state)
Isabella Moe, sophomore, javelin: 85-4 (school record)


This item appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.

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Seniors gather in the gym before the graduation ceremony at Maricopa High School. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Graduation ceremonies for 356 graduates of Maricopa High School drew a standing-room-only crowd to Ram Stadium on Thursday. The students heard encouraging words from valedictorian Porter Jones (see a transcript in the June issue of InMaricopa magazine) and salutatorian Alessandro (Geo) Hernandez de la Pena, as well as Student Body President Favour Odubamowo. Twenty-one of the graduating seniors were members of the National Honor Society. See our growing gallery below (click photos to enlarge).

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa High School Air Force Junior ROTC presented its annual awards night Saturday with a series of honors and promotions  and a Change of Command ceremony. Master Sgt. Dishon Gregory ran the national awards portion, while cadets announced promotions. Guest speaker was state Sen. Steve Smith. Among the seniors are four-year JROTC cadets Reno Dugan, who will attend Arizona State University, Dylan Hill, who will attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Ethan Mitchell, who is joining the U.S Army, and Joseph Reyes, who will attend ASU.

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Front: Alyssa Evans, Drake Cole, Geric Kramarczyk, Elizabeth Dickerson and Elizabeth Barba. Back: Autumn Tischauser, Abigail Poland, Alec Kramarczyk, Grace Njue, Zackary March and teacher McKay Jones

Nineteen Maricopa High School students earned national honors on the 2018 National German Exam (Level One).

Front: Katelyn Brown and Danielle Anderson. Back: Zachary Schroeder, Taylor Holtz, Omar Perez, teacher McKay Jones, Lauryn Yazzie, Regan Elsberry, Nathaly Zavala and Cobe Nadelen

Freshmen Abigail Poland and Nathaly Zavala earned gold medals (top 10 percent nationally), while freshman Geric Kramarczk, sophomore Regan Elsberry and juniors Drake Cole and Cobe Nadelen earned silver medals (top 80th-89th percentile nationally). Freshmen Elizabeth Barba and Zachary Schroeder earned bronze medals (top 70th -79th percentile nationally), and a large number of students earned Leistungsurkunden (Achievement Awards): senior Danielle Anderson; juniors Zackary March and Alec Kramarczyk; sophomore Grace Njue; and freshmen Katelyn Brown, Elizabeth Dickerson, Alyssa Evans, Taylor Holtz, Omar Perez, Autumn Tischauser, and Lauryn Yazzie.

Abigail Poland also had the top score in Arizona, and was in the top 1 percent among all first-year German students nationally.

“I am thrilled with how my students performed on this,” said McKay Jones, MHS German teacher. “Our German II students took the national test for the first time ever at MHS in January, and our first-year students took it in April. It’s exciting how ‘freshman-heavy’ this group of medalists is. This is a good sign for things to come!”

In its 58th year, the National German Exam was administered to more than 26,000 high school German students around the country, and offers German teachers a means of comparing students with other students nationwide. Students with at least a full year of German who score in the 90th percentile are eligible to apply for a paid summer study trip to Germany. Forty-four trips were awarded in 2017, and one MHS student (Porter Jones) was a finalist in 2018.

“One goal going forward is to have an MHS student win one of these trips,” Jones said. “I think our chances of that happening in the coming years are very good.”

 

Maricopa High School hosted its annual Senior Honors Night May 14. It was a time to recognize hard work in the classroom and in extracurricular activities as well as identify students of the year. Organizers also announced scholarships and military honors.

Student of the year awards in Career and Technical Education went to Reno Dugan for Air Force Junior ROTC, David Shaffer for automotive technologies, Marquell David for computer maintenance, Alyssa Newman for digital photography, Mason Whitley for film and television, Aidia Carr for marketing, Braiden Whitworth for networking and Hyrum Sherwood for Technical Theater.

Student of the year awards in Fine Arts went to Jona May Lim for acrylic art, Longman Pyne for ceramics, Jalen Reyes for dance, Ivie Keene for drama, Kayla Rios for graphite, Seattle Luetkahans for studio art, Brittin Call for the John Philip Sousa Band Award and Sonya Martinez for the National School Orchestra Award.

Other students of the year were Porter Jones for English language arts and for German, Patrick Flint for mathematics, Ariana Sauceda for Spanish, Rylee Moore and Kemo Akins for physical education, Rachel Knight for science, Haley Petersheim for social studies, Gerardo Marsical Torres for “attitude, attendance and achievement,” and Alessandro Hernandez de la Pena for Advanced Placement. Among the lists of merit scholarships to state universities, it was also announced Hernandez, a National Scholar, received a scholarship valued at $72,000.

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Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. Maricopa High School AFJROTC cadets will be presenting the colors at the 30th annusl Run For The Wall Cross-Country Ride at Chandler Harley Davidson, 6895 W. Chandler Blvd.

Run for the Wall was created to promote healing among all veterans and their families and friends, to call for an accounting for all prisoners of war and those missing in action (POW/MIA), to honor the memory of those killed in action (KIA) from all wars and to support our military personnel all over the world.

From left to right: Graduating Seniors from Maricopa High School, Lindsay Hubbard, Porter Jones, Alessandro Hernandez, and Britney Montgomery. Photo by Victor Moreno.

The class of 2018 at Maricopa High School and Sequoia Pathway Academy is filled with many goal-oriented, career-minded individuals. Learn about a few of them as they prepare for the commencement of the rest of their lives. Maricopa High School graduation is May 24 at 7:30 p.m. at Ram Stadium. Sequoia Pathway graduation is set for May 18 at 7 p.m.

Ethan Armendariz

Ethan Armendariz. Photo by Victor Moreno

When he’s not working or going to school, Armendariz likes to study math, physics, psychology and biology. He has been accepted at Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University and University of Southern California.
School: Sequoia Pathway Academy
Years in Maricopa: 3
Originally from: Wasilla, Alaska
Career goal: Pediatric physician for Doctors Without Borders
Proudest accomplishment: Moving away from my parents at 16 to pursue my education while maintaining my grades, 35 hours a week at work and all my extracurriculars.
Moving forward: I plan to attend medical school at NYU or Stanford after my undergraduate degree in an engineering field. Following this I would like to take my education and training to families in need across the world while traveling to impoverished countries and making an impact in the lives of the youth who have yet to see life without suffering.


 

Joycelyn Cabrera. Photo by Victor Moreno

Joycelyn Cabrera
Accepted to Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at ASU, Cabrera made scheduling choices to be involved only in journalism-related courses at MHS and has interned during the past year at InMaricopa.com to gain real-world experience.
School: Maricopa High School
Years in Maricopa: 13
Originally from: Yuma
Career goal: Journalist
Proudest accomplishment: I would say I am most proud of having my writing published in the local magazine and doing my first real broadcast, which was aired to the community. I have built a very strong resume and have developed many relationships with various members of the community because of the networking required for these articles.
Moving forward: I plan to study at the Walter Cronkite school and participate in more internships at the university. From there, I’ll be able to decide what specific aspect of journalism I want to pursue and continue
into that field.


Edgar ‘Harrison’ Edmondson IV

Edgar ‘Harrison’ Edmondson IV. Photo by Victor Moreno

Edmondson is president of the MHS chapter of DECA and has participated in summer programs such as ASU’s Fleischer Scholars Program, which helps high school seniors explore W. P. Carey School of Business.
School: Maricopa High School
Years in Maricopa: 3
Originally from: Superior
Career goal: Supply chain manager
Proudest accomplishment: The accomplishment I am most proud of is oddly not being my DECA Chapter’s president, but the award that I received that started the journey that has taken me to where I am today. During my sophomore year, I was awarded the Emerging Leader Award by my DECA Advisor, Mrs. Bernadette Russoniello, an award given to a select few students in the Marketing I classes that showed outstanding leadership potential. It is because of this award that I made the leap to lead students and give back to an organization that has done so much for me, without it I would not be where or who I am now.
Moving forward: I am pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in Supply Chain Management and another in Management at ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business beginning this fall. During college, I hope to gain work experience by getting various internships with companies in the business field, expand my network to have the connections needed to go where I wish to go in life, join clubs, and of course have fun!


Fernanda Garcia. Photo by Victor Moreno

Fernanda Garcia
Garcia has been in CAVIT’s veterinary assisting program and competed in a Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) veterinary competition to prepare for her studies in animal health.
School: Sequoia Pathway Academy
Years in Maricopa: 2
Originally from: Phoenix
Career goal: Veterinarian or biologist
Proudest accomplishment: I am proud of the 33 college credits I have earned at CAC as a high school student, the $10,000 scholarship I earned from ASU, being a member of our school’s National Honor Society, being CAVIT’s HOSA president and my straight A’s throughout high school.
Moving forward: I plan on working in an animal clinic while going to ASU for my bachelor’s degree. From there, I will apply to vet school or pursue a master’s degree in biological sciences.


Alessandro Giovanni Hernandez De La Pena. Photo by Victor Moreno

Alessandro (Giovanni) Hernandez De La Peña


Hernandez is the salutatorian of the MHS senior class. His AP classes include chemistry, giving him a foundation in pharmaceuticals, which he wants to make his future. He will attend the University of Arizona and its Honors College.
School: Maricopa High School
Years in Maricopa: 6
Originally from: Eastvale, California
Career goal: Pharmaceutical scientist
Proudest accomplishment: My naming as a National Hispanic Scholar was definitely one of my proudest moments, and it has opened up to me many opportunities, such as those in scholarships and admittance.
Moving forward: I plan to attend the University of Arizona and pursue either an undergraduate degree in biochemistry or later a PharmD. Pursuing a further education at a graduate school is also something to be kept in mind while working toward a successful career in science and medicine.


Dylan Hill. Photo by Victor Moreno

Dylan Hill
Nominated for two military service academies, Hill has become involved in serious responsibilities during her high school years, including leadership of the city’s Youth Council and the MHS Air Force Junior ROTC program. She intends to foster her leadership skills in college to prepare for life in the military and accepted an appointment to West Point.
School: Maricopa High School
Years in Maricopa: 11
Originally from: Chandler
Career goal: Serve in the U.S. military
Proudest accomplishment: I have received the National NROTC Marine-option scholarship valued at over $180,000 and have received a service academy appointment.
Moving forward: I plan on attending college in the fall, then continually progressing through taking on leadership roles and increasing my physical fitness so I can become more prepared to lead others after I graduate.


Christiana Holguin

Christiana Holguin. Photo by Victor Moreno


Holguin is headed to Villanova, where she intends to continue her study of English literature in hopes of becoming a professor. To prepare, she has tutored English, volunteered at the library and wrote an article about a local veteran for the Veteran’s Heritage Project.
School: Sequoia Pathway Academy
Years in Maricopa: 12
Originally from: Gilbert
Career goal: English professor
Proudest accomplishment: I’m proud of the fact that I was invited to give a speech at the TEDx (Technology, Entertainment and Design experiences) event as a sophomore.
Moving forward: I was accepted to Villanova University, and I intend to study English literature and pursue a doctorate.


Lindsay Hubbard. Photo by Victor Moreno

Lindsay Hubbard
Hubbard is enrolled at ASU’s Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering to study aerospace engineering in the fall. But first, in June, she will be competing in the Miss Arizona pageant.
School: Maricopa High School
Years in Maricopa: 12
Originally from: Phoenix
Career goal: Aerospace engineer at NASA
Proudest accomplishment: I am most proud of my title as Miss Pinal County, a part of the Miss America Organization. With this title I get the chance to have a voice and expand my platform ‘Starting at the S.T.E.M.’ Sharing my passion and dreams with others is not something I thought I would be able to do so early in my life. It’s an amazing feeling to be so young and doing something so big. In June of 2018, before the start of my freshman year at ASU, I will be competing in the Miss Arizona pageant. I hope to make my County and the city of Maricopa proud by bringing home the title Miss Arizona.
Moving forward: I plan to achieve my career goals by continuing the process of applying for scholarships to make my college and future stress free. I want to focus on my first responsibility – being a student. I plan to continue to learn not just in the classroom but through my environment as well. Every day is a new experience and every day I have the chance to learn something new.


Porter Brigham Jones

Porter Jones. Photo by Victor Moreno

Jones is the valedictorian of the MHS senior class and has accepted a full-ride scholarship to NAU. He studies languages and ancient civilizations when not focused on service, art and theater.
School: Maricopa High School
Years in Maricopa: 16
Originally from: Chandler
Career goal: Archaeologist/linguist, husband and father
Proudest accomplishment: Accomplishments are all relative, depending both on how you and others view them.  Still, the things that have given me the most pride in my life so far have to include some things that naturally come from a school environment, like learning how to get along with everyone you meet (and still keep your opinion), learning time management, and most importantly, making so many outstanding and phenomenal friends who inspire me to do better!  I also have a great sense of satisfaction that I have been able to vastly improve my art skills from what they were before, maintain a high GPA, land some larger roles in theatrical performances in the community, and have the opportunity to enter many competitions in the county, state, and nation!  Service has also been a highlight in my time in high school, and I’m thankful that there are many chances for youth to help others and learn some humility—something that I and everyone else could use a hefty helping of in a self-centered world.
Moving forward: Well, one should never count their chickens before they’re hatched — and life is notorious for its curveball pitches — but I feel that I have a pretty straightforward plan for my life so far!  I will be spending my first year of college attending Northern Arizona University, where I plan to get some preliminary Archaeology and Language classes out of the way, taking time to also revel in the electives.  Soon after, however, I hope to have saved enough money to go on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!  After that I’ll move on to another chapter in my life.  I’ll get my degree, get married, settle down, raise a family, and find something I enjoy doing and that will benefit a lot of people.  If I can, I hope to educate the public on the wonders of history, help out people in need, and support my country.    On the side I might also make a hobby/career of cartooning and writing, since both greatly appeal to me.  Of course, none of this would be possible without my family, friends, and God, so thanks!


Britney Montgomery. Photo by Victor Moreno

Britney Montgomery
Montgomery has been a mainstay of the MHS Theatre Company and has earned a musical theater scholarship with her “superior” vocal abilities, honed in statewide and international competitions.
School: Maricopa High School
Years in Maricopa: 4
Originally from: Freeport, New York
Career goal: Broadway performer/theatre teacher
Proudest accomplishment:  I am most proud of being awarded the Amy Bennett Foundation Scholarship. To receive something that means so much to someone is really an honor.
Moving forward: I plan on going to University for musical theatre and secondary education and get my teaching degree and also a degree in theatre.


Haley Petersheim

Haley Petersheim. Photo by Victor Moreno


Petersheim plans to study political science at ASU with a broader goal of civic leadership. As part of the nonpartisan Junior State of America, she has learned how to be an effective civic participant and debater. She is on Maricopa Youth Council and attends school site council and district budget meetings.
School: Maricopa High School
Years in Maricopa: 12
Career goal: To work in legislation
Proudest accomplishment: I am most proud of the fact that I can see the students from my club stand up and try making changes in our community. I am also proud of the award that I received from the Daughters of the American Revolution for my civic engagement and interest in government.
Moving forward: I plan on applying for/getting internships at the capitol and making connections with the congressmen/women to be able to get as much experience and be as involved as I can.


Jalen Reyes. Photo by Victor Moreno.

Jalen Reyes
Reyes intends to earn a university degree in dance education and was recently accepted into a Silver-Medal competitive Urban Dance team, The Elektrolytes.
School: Maricopa High School
Years in Maricopa: 6
Originally from: Greeley, Colorado
Career goal: Choreographer and dance studio director
Proudest accomplishment: Joining the Elektrolytes is definitely one of my greatest accomplishments. The discipline of dance is very subjective and to be accepted to such a prestigious team is validating. It is not everyday that the winners of America’s Best Dance Crew accept dancers onto their competitive team.  I have only been dancing for four years but it something that I take very seriously because it can transcend speech, send a message, and impact a person on an indescribable level. This is what I aim to do as a choreographer: to inspire and to push others to grow.
Moving forward: After receiving my degree in dance education, I plan on traveling to New Zealand to audition for The Royal Family, one of the best and biggest dance teams in the world. This is more than just another team, however. The Royal Family have worked with some of the biggest names in pop culture such as Justin Bieber, Jason Derulo, Nicki Minaj, etc. With my experience and training, I will then be in a position to share this with and mentor the next generation of performers in a dance studio of my own. By owning a studio, I can continue to work in the dance world long after my performing days as a teacher, director, and coach.


This story appears in the May issue of InMaricopa.

Below: Photos and names supplied by Maricopa High School. Click on photos to enlarge.


Below: Photos and names supplied by Sequoia Pathway Academy. Click on photos to enlarge.

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Master Sgt. Dishon Gregory instructs Dylan Hill (center) and Joseph Rice at Maricopa High School. Photo by Victor Moreno

Faced with the choice between U.S. military academies that had accepted her, Maricopa High School graduating senior Dylan Hill announced her decision this month.

 

“I chose West Point because I view it as an excellent institution for teaching people how to lead and, in addition, has a wide array of things to study and participate in,” she said.

 

Hill had also been accepted into the Naval Academy.

 

“Overall, I think that this school will challenge me greatly, whether through tough academics or military training, helping me to gain experiences to draw upon once I become an officer,” she said.

 

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point was established in 1802. To be accepted, applicants must meet academic, leadership and physical requirements and receive a nomination from a member of Congress. Hill was nominated by U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran.

 

Hill has been a leader in the MHS Air Force Junior ROTC.

 

“I have been physically preparing for cadet life and training by expanding my physical training schedule and increasing intensity,” Hill said. “But overall the best preparation I have done is multitasking and maintaining things like grades, work, and extracurriculars since West Point is known to challenge one’s ability to manage time effectively.”

 

Hill will be the second MHS graduate in two years to be accepted into West Point. Cadet John Blodgett just finished his first year.

Photo by Mason Callejas

Maricopa Unified School District’s Native American Education Program and its parent advisory committee (NAPAC) hosted their year-end Family Night on Wednesday, honoring past, present and future.

The event featured Yellowhouse, an award-winning Navajo Nation dance group, as well as Ak-Chin’s Ba’ban Keina dancers. Maricopa High School’s Native American graduates were also spotlighted at the event, which was in the Performing Arts Center.

Click photos to enlarge.

Longman Pyne (right) hands off to Jacob Cowing in the 4x100-meter relay Saturday at Mesa Community College. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

A decisive victory in what is arguably track’s most exciting event capped off an impressive showing for Maricopa High School in the Arizona Track & Field Championships.

The boys’ 4×100-meter relay team fulfilled its own expectations of itself with both the gold and a school record. The squad of Longman Pyne, Jacob Cowing, P.J. Austin and Frank Jones won the Division II competition in 41.51, which bested all teams in all divisions Saturday.

Click here to learn more about this team

“We ran the fastest overall time in the state, beating even the D1 teams. It’s just an amazing feeling,” Jones said.

The win earned hugs from head coach Sheldon Hutchinson, who noted it was his first state champion relay team.

Their previous fastest time had been 43.35. Cowing is the only junior among seniors on the team. The same team combination placed third last year.

Austin was coming off a second-place performance in the long jump, leaping 23-2. He later finished seventh in the 200-meter dash in 22.19.

Meanwhile, junior Logan Taylor is already looking forward to next year after solid runs in his two hurdling events. Taylor earned a place on the medal stand in the 110-meter high hurdles by finishing fourth in 14.83. He then set a school record in the 300-meter hurdles by hitting 39.66 while finishing fifth.

“I didn’t place, but that wasn’t the goal going into it,” Taylor said. “It was to PR [set a personal record], and to get the school record. I succeeded in what I went into the race to do.”

Senior Devin Parady placed ninth in the triple jump in 42-6.75 and was 17th in the javelin throw in 132-3. Junior Tylen Coleman was 12th in the discus throw in 142-8 and in the shot put in 45-5. He was 19th in javelin with 124-5.

Maricopa girls had a tougher go. Only junior Shannon Coutré made it to Saturday’s finals, setting another school record in the 400 in the process. But in the final, she was one of two girls injured and was unable to finish.

 

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Devin Parady (pictured in an earlier meet) set a personal record in the triple jump during the state championships. Photo by Joycelyn Cabrera

Saturday will be a busy day for Maricopa student-athletes.

Several competitors from Maricopa High School advanced from preliminaries into the finals of the Arizona Interscholastic Association Track & Field Championships. Meanwhile, the Sequoia Pathway baseball team is returning to the Canyon Athletic Association championship game.

The MHS boys 4×100-meter relay team set the top time Wednesday in qualifying for the May 5 Division II competition. The team of Longman Pyne, Jacob Cowing, Phillip Austin and Frank Jones ran the lap in 42.36. In most competitions, the top nine advanced to the final.

Junior Logan Taylor was second in the preliminaries for the 110-meter high hurdles with a time of 14.81. He also qualified for the finals in the 300-meter hurdles with a ninth-place finish in 40.42.

Austin, a senior, placed sixth in the 200-meter dash prelims in 22.15. Junior Italy Brookshire was seventh in the girls’ high jump in 5-2. Junior Shannon Coutre was eighth in the girls’ 400-meter dash prelim by lowering her school-record time to 58.82. Senior Devin Parady was ninth in the boys’ triple jump in 42-6.75, a personal record.

Junior Tylen Coleman was placed in the flight 1 finals of both discus and javelin. Austin was placed in flight 2 finals of the long jump.

The Maricopa girls’ 4×100 team of Sydni Callis, Destinee Chavis, Jakayla Shaw and Alayja Reynolds achieved the status of second alternate for the finals by running 50.30 and finishing 11th in the preliminaries.

While MHS track is competing at Mesa Community College, the Puma baseball team will play at Surprise Baseball Stadium against top-seeded American Leadership Academy-Gilbert for the charter title. Pathway defeated South Pointe 4-3 to reach the final.

Cynthia Calhoun directing students. Photo by Mason Callejas

The curtain closed on Maricopa High School’s theater program in 2010 when low interest in enrollment could no longer sustain it.

Then came along Cynthia Calhoun.

At the time, she was already a full-time English teacher at MHS with doctorate and master’s degrees in literature, as well as bachelor degrees in English, Theater and Education.

With $12 and a loan from student council, Calhoun revived interest and took on the theater club as an extra-curricular activity in the days before the high school’s state-of-the-art performing arts center.

“We built this really kooky little set and we did William Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors in the lecture hall,” Calhoun recalled.

Dressed in costumes inherited from Calhoun’s predecessor, the cast decorated their humble stage with the few props remaining from the shuttered program.

That spring, Calhoun wrote and directed a cabaret-style musical chronologizing Broadway’s biggest hits.

The following year, MHS drama found a home as it opened the PAC and its cozy Black Box Theatre.

Calhoun has since resurrected the theater program at MHS and developed it into an award-winning, competitive troupe, MHS Theatre Company. In her tenure, she has directed 11 plays and eight musicals while supervising four student-directed plays.

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The 2017-18 school year was the first Calhoun spent teaching only drama courses full-time. And it will be her last.

In April, the Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board approved Calhoun’s resignation.

“A lot of the decision came down to just trying to manage my health because teaching is an incredibly physically demanding discipline – especially teaching theater,” Calhoun said.

Calhoun was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome as a teenager.

The genetic condition causes chronic health issues in those affected and has spurred Calhoun’s three knee surgeries and a heart operation.

“I’d like to stave off surgeries for a long time and be there for my children, who are in elementary school,” Calhoun said with tears in her eyes. “I decided it was probably best for me to not work as full-time as possible. It sucks.”

Last year at the Arizona High School Drama Coach Convention, she was elected a representative to the Central Region of Arizona Thespians. Her students have gone on to earn scholarships and awards.

A break from the mainstage doesn’t include a permanent absence from her students, however. The celebrated theater teacher plans to register as a volunteer for the drama program at MHS next year.

Many of Calhoun’s students have been under her instruction their entire high school experience and have gained a sense of independence from it, like MHS senior Collin Martin.

Photo by Joycelyn Cabrera

“She helped me discover my love for theater, and she’s also taught me many important life lessons, such as getting your stuff together before something big happens, or always act professional and how to have a certain manner about yourself that you can portray to other people to show you’re serious about something,” Martin said.

Calhoun said she hopes the next theater teacher will find ways to challenge the acting students while at the same time know how to have fun with them.

The effect her own compassion has had in the classroom is evident in Calhoun’s students.

“Not many theater teachers truly treat their students as not only professionals but also as equals, and she allows us to learn in so many different ways,” said senior Britney Montgomery.

Calhoun’s departing lesson comes from a line written by American poet Walt Whitman.

“He writes: ‘The powerful play goes on and you will contribute a verse.’” Calhoun said, adding, “And I always want to challenge kids to think about what their verse is going to be. They get to decide that – so, make it a good one.”

Photo by Mason Callejas

Reporter Joycelyn Cabrera contributed to this story. 


This story appears in the May issue of InMaricopa. 

 

Schools in the Maricopa Unified School District are scheduled to re-open May 3, according to an MUSD statement.

SEE UPDATE 

The openings come on the week anniversary of a statewide teacher walkout and a day after the state announced two K-12 budget bills.

School children will apparently not need to make-up missed days at the end of the year.

“We have calculated the instructional hours in our current school year calendar and have determined we have sufficient hours to conclude the school year,” according to the district statement.

The last day of school for MUSD students will remain May 25.

Rescheduling of events and activities postponed because of school closures will be communicated to parents and students by school principals.

The statement said the MUSD Art Walk originally planned for Thursday is cancelled and “will not be rescheduled.”

Some teachers have indicated they may stay out another day until the budget has passed. MUSD may allow a delegation of up to 10 teachers to travel to the capitol each day the Legislature is in session until the budget passes.

The closure has affected students in different ways.

“I think the walkout is great, I really respect what teachers are doing and I agree, I don’t think that they’re getting paid the proper amount,” MHS senior Ty Pen said. “Arizona’s one of the lowest funding in education. The only problem I’ve really come across is being able to find transportation to get to school [at CAVIT]. I hope that this movement didn’t go without purpose that the teachers get what they have been fighting for.”

“I think that the walkout is absolutely justified because out teachers work so hard and they do deserve a livable salary,” senior Rachel Knight said. “With that, I agree that AZ students deserve a fully funded education. Personally, it’s affecting me due to AP test preparation, less time in class means less instructional time to prep. However, teachers, such as [Aiden] Balt, are making sure AP testers will be prepared and confident come next week, despite the walkout.

“I’m hoping the state legislators and Gov. Ducey will realize that this movement isn’t going away until there is a comprehensive resolution. Arizona schools and students deserve a competitive education and the teachers that lead that deserve a livable wage.”

Two other schools closed as a result of the #RedForEd movement.

Charter schools Leading Edge Academy closed April 26-27 and Sequoia Pathway Academy closed April 26 and reopened Tuesday.

Legacy Traditional School, Holsteiner Agricultural School, Camino Montessori, Mobile Elementary School District remained opened through the walkout.

“My mom has been a teacher in Arizona for about 14 years and I’m happy they are finally doing something to be getting paid what they are worth, MHS senior Baylen Redfern said. “My mom has worked a second job as a waitress up in town and working summer school to make ends meet. Teachers in general are underpaid and in Arizona it’s even worse.”

Joycelyn Cabrera contributed to this report.


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Longman Pyne, Jacob Cowing and Philip Austin are part of the 4x100-meter relay team.

By Joycelyn Cabrera

After taking bronze medals in the track & field state championships last year, Maricopa High School’s 4×100-meter relay team is hungry for more. Consisting of junior Jacob Cowing and seniors P.J. Austin, Frank Jones and Longman Pyne, the team’s top time of 42.35 (accomplished at the Greenway Invitational April 7 and better than their state time of 42.76 last year) is the second-best in Division II and qualifies them for the Arizona Interscholastic Association competition this week.

The team talked to InMaricopa intern Joycelyn Cabrera about what’s ahead.

Learn about other qualifiers and see an MHS track & field gallery below


What are you expecting from State this time around?

Longman Pyne: “This year our mind is set on gold, but just being able to go there again and compete among the best is an accomplishment.”

Jacob Cowing: “I’d say we’re just trying to win the meet this year. We came up short last year, so it’s time to get a win for all the seniors who are going out this year. And for our 4×100, we got third, so we’re trying to win it this year in D2.”

Frank Jones: “Individually, we want to set high standards, make state records and such.”

Francois “Frank” Jones running as the anchor on the 4×100-meter relay team. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Phillip Austin: “It feels great. It feels very important to be the best Maricopa has, and to be top 5 in state overall.”

Cowing: “I think it’s important for us and for Maricopa to be considered one of the best. Also, the middle school kids coming up and trying to have a competing time after we leave from our high school time – it’s kind of important to our community that we’re here to compete with others.”

Jones: “It’s important because our relay team is doing something that no other [MHS] relay team has ever done. We’re basically setting a legacy that younger generations like the elementary schoolers and the middle schoolers can have – to see what they can do.”

How do you prepare for competition individually and as a team?

Pyne: “I just try to block out everything that doesn’t have to do with competing. I go to my happy place and zone in. To get prepared as a team, we practice our exchanges vigorously throughout the week.”

Jones: “I just put a standard in my head, like ‘what time do I need to hit,’ personally. I focus on that all week and during practices. As a team, we really just come together in our 4×100 and do what we need to do – run fast and compete with the best.”

Austin: “Our coach has high expectations every week. He sets what we’re supposed to do, and then when it comes meet time, focus, listen to what he tells us to do. For our 4×100, we as a team have great chemistry, so it starts to become easy.”


MHS athletes also rank high in individual events. Junior Logan Taylor has Division II’s second-best time in the 110-meter hurdles in 14.64. He is fifth-best in the 300-meter hurdles in 40.23.

Jones’ best 200-meter time of 21:95 is sixth in the state, while Cowing ran 22.25, and Austin hit 22.12. The three are competing in the state meet.

Pyne qualified to run in the state meet in the 400-meter dash with a time of 50.77.

Austin’s top result in the long jump, 23-2.5, was fourth best in Division II, and junior Tylen Coleman ranked fourth in the shotput with his top throw of 49-2.5. Coleman also qualified for discus throwing, with a throw of 144-4.

Devin Parady and Coleman both qualified for javelin throwing, with Parady having a throw of 152-0 and Coleman throwing at 138-1.

Parady also qualified for the triple jump, with a leap of 42-1.25.

Cowing’s 100-meter time of 10:87 is eighth best in the division. Austin’s and Jones’ 10.93 in the same event puts them 14th and 15th, respectively. Senior Samual Coles had a 10th-best jump in the pole vault at 12-10.

Among the girls, junior Shannon Coutre’s 200-meter time of 25.86 ranked her No. 4. Coutre also qualified for the 400 with a school-record time of 59.43.

Italy Brookshire qualified to compete in the high jump with a jump of 5-1.

The 4×100-meter relay team’s best time of 50.55 was 15th in the division. The team includes, Sydni Callis, Destinee Chavis, Jakayla Shaw and Alayja Reynolds.

The AIA state championships are May 2 and May 5 at Mesa Community College.


This is a corrected version, clarifying that Phillip Austin qualified to compete in the 200-meter dash at state.


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Taylor Belcher (from left), Tyler Belcher and Mason Williams signed letters to play for Ventura College. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Five Maricopa High School students signed letters of intent for college athletics Wednesday.

Playing baseball together since seventh grade, three MHS baseball players plan to play for the same college.

Taylor Belcher, Tyler Belcher and Mason Williamson signed letters of intent to play for Ventura College in Ventura, California. The Pirates compete in the California Community College Athletics Association and are 20-19 with one game left in the regular season. Ventura’s program has produced professional baseball players Justin De Fratus and Zachary Thornton.

Brian Garcia (left) and Kyle O’Hare (with coach Courtney Kellenaers. MHS photo

MHS soccer players Kyle O’Hare and Brian Garcia signed letters of intent with Gateway Community College in Phoenix, part of Maricopa Community Colleges. The Geckos’ home games are played at the Rose Mofford Sports Complex. They finished their 2017 season 5-15.

The Rams infield, (rom left) Mason Williamson, Taylor Belcher, Tyler Belcher, Nico Bandin, Devin Fiala and Jose Leyva, gathers on the mound. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa High School’s varsity baseball team ended its season Friday with a 10-9 loss at Williams Field.

That left the Rams’ overall record at 11-16. They finished fourth in 5A Metro and were ranked 28th, four slots away from qualifying for the Arizona Interscholastic Association play-in.

“The season was a lot of fun. This is a great group of young men,” head coach Andrew Pollak. “I am really proud of our seniors. They put everything they had into this school, program and city.”

The Rams touted seven seniors this season, most of them starters.

Senior Carter Paine led the team in hitting with a .430 average. He also drove in 17 runs and stole 13 bases. On the mound, he was 4-4 in nine appearances with an earned run average of 5.37. He struck out 53 in 44.1 innings and gave up 50 hits.

Senior Steven Gonzales batted .424, second best on the team. He led in RBIs with 18 and hits with 36. He was 1-3 in 10 appearances on the mound and had a team-best 3.17 ERA. He struck out 29 and gave up 24 hits.

Senior Taylor Belcher hit .324 in 26 games. He totaled 23 hits, including two home runs and five doubles, and drove 15 runs. He pitched in eight games for a record of 1-2 with a save.

Senior Tyler Belcher was 3-4 on the mound with a 3.73 ERA. He struck out 43 and allowed 48 hits. Tyler batted .282, hitting six doubles.

Senior catcher Mason Williamson’s fielding percentage of .972 was fifth in 5A Metro and led Maricopa. He batted .255 with two doubles and 10 RBIs.

Playing in 10 games, senior Kevin McDill batted .375. In 4.2 innings pitched, he struck out four batters.

Though the team relied heavily on the upperclassmen, the season wasn’t all about the seniors.

Junior first baseman Jose Leyva batted .300 and hit a team-leading eight doubles. Nico Bandin, a junior second baseman, battled .269. Beside him at shortstop, junior Devin Fiala batted .241 and had six doubles and a triple.

“This is a great time to be a Maricopa Ram baseball player,” Pollak said. “Nowhere else is a 13-18-year- old going to play on a better field than Matt Huffman field right here in our great city.”

Pollak said the coaches are excited about the younger players, both those already playing varsity and those coming up from the junior varsity team, which posted a much-improved record of 8-8 this season.

“The kids are going to be coached the right way and learn things that go way beyond the playing field,” he said. “We do things that are so much more than the win and loss record. Our kids play the game with respect, they learn to play hard and make each other better people.

“The only thing we will ever guarantee is, when your child spends four years in this program, they are going to leave with a lifetime of memories and be a better person because of their time playing for Maricopa High School.”

Submitted photo

Maricopa High School senior basketball player Sydni Callis signed a letter of intent to play for Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Callis was named All Region First Team in 5A Metro. She played varsity all four years of high school and as a freshman was part of the state championship team. According to the Arizona Interscholastic Association, she averaged 12.3 points per game and led the region with 4.3 steals per game this season.

Shaw University competes in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association.

Junior Jayla Johnson was named Metro’s player of the year, leading all scorers with 16.3 points per game. Sophomore Tayler Coleman was Second Team All Region.

Among the boys, Jayla’s brother, senior Josh Johnson, was named the 5A conference offensive player of the year. Within the conference, he was the Metro Region offensive player of the year and was First Team All Region.

This week, MHS expects three baseball players and a soccer player to sign national letters of intent.


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