Tags Articles tagged with "MHS"


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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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Photo by Michelle Chance

Maricopa High School students participated in a demonstration Friday morning on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting.

More than 100 students began the event with a 17-minute moment of silence in remembrance of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting victims in Parkland, Florida.

The student-led event occurred during National School Walk-Out Day – a countrywide protest in which students walked out of school for the day in commemoration of school shooting victims and in frustration with what many view as a lack of action by lawmakers against classroom gun violence.

MHS students held their demonstration on campus and deemed it non-political. Previously, students walked-out Feb. 17, days after the Parkland shooting, but eventually returned to class.

“We didn’t want it to be so political because honestly the problem is right here in our own schools,” said Brianna Barnes, 17, with the Student Concord Club.

Barnes said students are asking for more lockdown drills and additional safety measures on campus.

Law enforcement and first responders were at MHS during the event and held a static display of vehicles and equipment during lunchtime.

“We want our students to be aware of the resources available to the high school and community in the event of an emergency situation,” an email from MHS to parents stated.

Friday’s demonstration included a passionate speech authored by 16-year-old Simon Crawford during the first two classes of the morning.

The self-described introvert wanted to speak about school safety during the February walk-out, but didn’t have the courage.

Friday, Crawford found the bravery, climbed atop a lunch table and read the message aloud.

“People need to be aware because there’s so much misinformation and misconceptions spread about all these issues,” Crawford said after the event. “People try to make this such a heavy political issue when it’s not — and we should not be treating it as such.

“This is a safety issue. This is a lives issue. This is a human issue,” Crawford added.

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Opening night for the Maricopa High School Theatre Company’s spring musical, “The Baker’s Wife,” was Thursday. Met with a warm reception, the production features an entertaining if challenging score for a talented cast. The show stars Antonio Gonzales as the baker and Kjirsten Lemon as his wife, who becomes the center of a village scandal. Both give touching performances amid a town of comically feuding neighbors who will do just about anything to get their daily bread – even learn to get along. In support are Britney Montgomery, Collin Martin, Brandon Korittky, Carlos Aguilar, Douglas Moulton and many more. Performances continue Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. with a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students.

Antonio Gonzalez and Kjirsten Lemon star in "The Baker's Wife" for MHS Theatre Company. Photo by Mason Callejas


After years of staging musicals that have had their runs on Broadway and are ingrained in the musical-theater psyche, Maricopa High School Theatre Company is tackling a far less known show for its spring musical.

What: “The Baker’s Wife”
Who: MHS Theatre Company
When: April 19-21, 7 p.m., April 21, 2 p.m.
Where: Performing Arts Center, 45012 W. Honeycutt Ave.
How much: $7 adults; $5 students

“The Baker’s Wife” by Stephen Schwartz and Joseph Stein has a long history that includes a brief run on London’s West End but never a production on Broadway. Through regional and international productions, it was changed over the years and gained a cult following.

“I thought it was just going to be real cute,” said junior Antonio Gonzales, who plays Aimable the baker. “It’s not a very well-known show. Before we had actually started the process, I looked into it, and fell in love with it. It was a really good show.”

Set in provincial France, the story opens when a baker finally arrives in a squabbling village long without a bread baker. While welcoming the baker, gossipy villagers take note of his much-younger wife Genevieve. A handsome, young man pursues Genevieve, who resists his advances – for a while.

“She’s challenging, because she does something that I personally would not ever do,” said junior Kjirsten Lemon, who plays Genevieve. “I have to play her like to me that’s what’s right.”

The humble baker’s humble response to what befalls him is censure to the villagers, who take another look at their own relationships.

“It’s a sweet story,” said teacher Cynthia Calhoun, who is directing the musical, apparently her last for MHS. She has submitted her resignation effective at the end of the school year.

Teacher Cynthia Calhoun directs the students through a rehearsal. Hers is among staff resignations that go before the MUSD Governing Board this week. Photo by Mason Callejas

Calhoun said though the show is not well-known, its creators are. Schwartz wrote a collection of hits, from “Pippin” to “Wicked,” and Stein is revered in theater circles for “Fiddler on the Roof.”

“When you listen to the first song, Chanson, it’s so beautiful, especially with Britney [Montgomery] singing it,” Lemon said. “Right when I heard that song, I thought, ‘Oh, this is going to be a great musical.’”


Cast List
Aimable … Antonio Gonzales
Genevieve … Kjirsten Lemon
Denise … Britney Montgomery
Claude … Carlos Aguilar
Martine (teacher) … Stirling Luckey
Therese … Aidyn Curtis
Pierre … Jae Luna
Doumergue … Genevieve Burno
Antoine … Kobe Hinton
Barnaby … Logan Spaulding
Hortense … Taryn Story
le Cure (Priest) … Douglas Moulton
Marquis … Collin Martin
Dominique … Brandon Korittky
Philippe … Emma Schrader
Inez … Ivie Keene
Simone … Chaienne Zoller
Nicole … Alexia Esquivel

The Villagers … Emmeline Boothe, Mary Brokenshire, Keara Burke, Aleyna Call, Isabella Chitwood, Zephanie Coleman, Morgan Cutrara, Astraya Ellyson, Autumn Fausz, Fallon Fruchey, Angelina George, Katie Gilmore, Emily Goncalves, Wynter Grissom, Hailey Gross, Tamara Hanania, Katie Hanks, Azeri Hanson, Makayla Horn, Scotland JanFrancisco, Princess Jimenez, Ashlyn Kelley, Rachel Knight, Dakota Larson, Haley Lemon, Isabelle Lopez, Aubrey Maas, Kylie Nolan, Michael O’Dell, Andrea Ortiz, Caterina Rizzi, Chloe Seekings, Heidi Smith, Katelyn Stroschein, Francis Trast, Alex-Ann Velasco

This story appears in the April edition of InMaricopa.

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Submitted photo

Submitted by Ivan Pour, MHS instrumental director

Friday, the Maricopa High School “Gems” Winter Guard gave their final performance of their 2018 program “The Greatest Show” at Winter Guard Arizona Championships held at Wells Fargo Arena on the Campus of Arizona State University.

The guard received excellent feedback from a double panel of the best adjudicators in the Indoor Pageantry and Marching Arts World and also got to see lots of awesome performances and an exhibition from the Fenix Independent Guard – ASU’s Winter Guard. The guard got great compliments on their improvement and growth in technique and skill over the course of the season with the judges agreeing that a solid foundation has been built for the upcoming marching band season.

This was also an emotional night as this performance also marked the last for MHS Guard Coach Taylor Austin as she moves on to new professional endeavors. Taylor became coach of the MHS Guard after having been a founding member of the team and MHS graduate as well as an assistant coach under team founder Maria Pour.

The team has grown and flourished under Taylor’s leadership, and we want to thank her for her outstanding contribution to the guard, the MHS band, and the MHS community.

Patrick Flint was named Maricopa High School's first-ever Mr. MHS. Submitted photo

Friday, eleven senior guys showcased their best beachwear, talent and formal wear in a battle to become the first ever Mr. MHS.

Patrick Flint, aka ‘That Yo-Yo Kid’ was crowned the pageant winner. He said in all his high school career, he never imagined competing on stage this way, as he is an introvert. The grand prize winner not only received the title of Mr. MHS but also two tickets to prom and a free tailored suit from Nick’s Menswear.

A committee of eight Student Council members has been working since November fine-tuning the details of this event, and the guys have been practicing since February.

Raffle baskets were awarded to audience members, and the guys had a chance to also be awarded for the Penny Wars challenge (proceeds to benefit Children’s Miracle Network) and for the “People’s Choice” award.

“The guys have set the bar very high for next year,” judge and English teacher Aidan Balt said.

Photo by Joycelyn Cabrera

Alonso Chavez won the Penny Wars challenge. Jalen Reyes won “People’s Choice” and was also the second runner up overall. Caleb Wilson was the first runner up. Others competing were Kyle O’Hare, Zechariah Wooten, Nicholas Bradley, Elias Alvarado, Jonavis Rodriguez, Ethan Smith and Jayden Jensen.

MHS Student Council would like to thank everyone that made the event possible, including Josh Fink of Nick’s Menswear. Judges along with Balt were Principal Rick Abel and Jenn Miller. The score auditor was Amanda Zimmerman. Teacher Kevin Piquette and his fantastic Tech Crew ran the stage. National Honor Society members helped sell tickets and pass out programs, and the “A-Team” choreographed the opening number.

Student Council is excited to continue this tradition in the years to come. 

Submitted photo

Choreographers (from left) Chaienne Zoller, Crystabel Sanchez and Giselle Sanchez lead the boys through a rehearsal for the Mr. MHS pageant: Patrick Flint, Kyle O’Hare, Jalen Reyes, Zechariah Wooten, Nicholas Bradley, Alonso Chavez, Elias Alvarado, Jonavis Rodriguez, Ethan Smith, Caleb Wilson and Jayden Jensen. Photo by Joycelyn Cabrera

By Joycelyn Cabrera

Pageant queens Lindsay Hubbard (Miss Pinal County) and Mackenzie Ford (Miss City of Maricopa Outstanding Teen) will host Maricopa High School’s first student pageant – and it’s for the guys.

Senior boys will compete for the title of Mr. MHS, a free suit and two free prom tickets April 6 at 7 p.m. in the MHS lecture hall.

Scoring is based on the talent contestants showcase and how they within each section of the pageant. All school rules in behavior and dress will be in place.

There will also be a raffle for the audience during the event. 

At least 15 contestants will participate, including reigning Homecoming King Jalen Reyes, “Yo-Yo Guy” Patrick Flint and soccer player Kyle O’Hare.

Reyes, a dancer, believes anticipates a fun spin on typically female-dominated pageants and a different experience to being onstage.

“I already like to get up on stage, so it’s another opportunity to get used to being in front of people, but in a different kind of light,” he said. “This is more of a presentation rather than a performance. This is more about my personality.”

Reyes said he is most excited about learning how to “walk” as they do in the modeling world.

Flint is excited to showcase his talent with a yo-yo and learn how to be more outgoing. “I’ve been yo-yoing for seven years. From this experience, I partially hope to try to get over my social anxiety by putting myself up in front of everyone, and just putting myself out there.”

O’Hare loves supporting his school and rose as a leader in February when he led a prayer for the 17 victims of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting during the MHS walkout. “I like to get out and support my school with any event that they’re doing, I thought it’d be fun, and I want to gain more confidence in front of an audience,” O’Hare said.

The pageant is run by Hubbard, Ford and a committee of six student council members. The committee is comprised of seniors Emily Aquino and Samantha Blaschke, juniors Mickaela Brown and Bailey Davis, and sophomores Jaqueline Maza and Cassidy Zimmerman. The event is sponsored by Student Council advisor and chemistry teacher Amber Flores.

Flores introduced the idea of the all-boys pageant after having experienced a similar annual pageant at her previous school in Ohio. She hopes Mr. MHS will be something all boys at the school will look forward to once they reach their senior year. Flores described the contestants as outgoing, unique, talented and, above all, excited.

“I just hope that the students look back on this as a fun addition to their senior year,” Flores said.

Hubbard and Ford plan to make Mr. MHS an annual event. Ford, a junior, will take over the pageant next year once Hubbard graduates. They hope to invite this year’s winner to the second Mr. MHS Pageant to crown the next winner. The girls plan to extend the pageant beyond the high school and into the community.

“We want boys at our school to have looked forward to this ever since their freshman year,” Ford said. “We want to send them off in a fun way.”

Joycelyn Cabrera is a senior at Maricopa High School and an InMaricopa intern.

This story appears in the April issue of InMaricopa. 


Photo by Joycelyn Cabrera


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Desert Wind v. Maricopa Wells

A variety of varsity, junior varsity and junior high activities were in the spotlight leading up to Spring Break. Desert Wind Middle School won the junior high football championship in a showdown with Maricopa Wells, and new Maricopa High School varsity coach Brandon Harris dropped by to look at the youngsters. While the varsity baseball teams at MHS and Sequoia Pathway started their seasons in great form (7-1 and 4-0, respectively), the softball teams have had more of a struggle (3-7-1 and 1-2, respectively). The MHS JV baseball team has posted a 3-1-1 record, including a rough game against Vista Grande (see photos below). In tennis, the MHS girls are 2-3 while the boys are 1-4. Have photos of your favorite student-athlete in spring sports? Send them in: News@InMaricopa.com

Among local teachers wearing red Wednesday in support of better pay in Arizona schools were Brian Burkett, Tyler Miller and Jason Goodwin. Photo by Joycelyn Cabrera

Maricopa public school teachers joined a statewide movement Wednesday in protest of low teacher pay.

 “This is not an indictment of our local schools; it’s an indictment of Arizona as a whole.” — Jason Goodwin, Maricopa teacher.

“Teachers definitely need to stick together. We need to make education better for our students,” said Maricopa High School drama and theatre teacher Cynthia Calhoun.

Calhoun and other public school educators wore red March 7 in participation with the social media-driven event known as “Wear RED for ED.”

Online organizers describe the movement as a show of solidarity, first inspired by a nine-day, statewide teacher strike in West Virginia that led to a wage increase.

Brian Burkett teaches government and economics at Maricopa High School. He wore red to support public educators whom he said are “underpaid and underserved” by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.

“To attract and maintain quality teachers, (the state) is going to have to pay us better,” Burkett said. “We are one of the lowest-paying states in the country.”

Arizona ranked last in the nation according to a report published in 2017 by the National Education Association that compared teachers’ salaries in the United States in 2015-16. Instructional staff ranked 49th.

Public school teachers received a 1 percent “raise” last year by the state. However, it’s often not viewed as a wage increase at all by educators like MHS AP history and government teacher Jason Goodwin, but instead a debt owed to them after the state reallocated education funds elsewhere during the recession.

Teacher Cynthia Calhoun. Photo by Joycelyn Cabrera

“I’m wearing red today because in Arizona our pay is so low. It doesn’t matter what district you’re talking about. This is not an indictment of our local schools; it’s an indictment of Arizona as a whole,” Goodwin said.

The Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board voted last year to increase salaries for all employees by 3 percent and successfully passed an override measure in 2016 that afforded the district 50 additional teachers.

But, even with a raise, retention is still an issue as many teachers struggle to make ends meet.

MHS AP world history teacher Tyler Miller remembers watching dedicated teachers leave the industry during his rookie year in the classroom.

He believes the Red for Ed movement will spark discussions that could end Arizona’s educator exodus.

“People teach because they love teaching, but at a certain point they have to have enough income to make it fiscally possible to survive,” Miller said. “That’s a conversation that we need to have.”


Reporter Joycelyn Cabrera contributed to this story.

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Brandon Harris. Submitted photo

Maricopa High School named its new head football coach this week, pending board approval.

District Athletic Director Brian Winter confirmed Brandon Harris, 47, will lead the varsity team in the upcoming school year.

The Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board will officially vote to approve the new hire March 28. Harris replaces Chris McDonald, who was recently hired as Basha head football coach.

“Brandon is an excellent communicator and motivator,” Winter said. “He had a very successful and extensive coaching career at both the high school and collegiate level. He will be a great addition to MHS.”

Harris’ resume includes high school head coaching positions in Arizona, New York and most recently, Florida’s University School of Southeastern University.

He’s held administration and assistant coaching positions at Seton Catholic Preparatory in Chandler, was passing game coordinator at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix and offensive coordinator at Desert Vista High School, among others.

Harris played for University of Idaho and later professionally with the Sacramento Surge in the World League of American Football.

Harris has co-owned RedLine Athletics training facility in Chandler since 2015.

An Arcadia resident and Southern California native, Harris is no stranger to Maricopa. He owned a home in The Villages in 2007 before he relocated to Buffalo, New York, for a head coaching position at Canisius High School, which won a state championship in 2009.

He now plans to move back to Maricopa.

“(MHS) just needs someone that really wants to be there, and I want to be there,” Harris said.

The new head coach began watching tape and evaluating his new players recently. Harris said he wants to work with the existing culture at MHS to continue creating excitement on Friday nights.

Most importantly, he said, is his goal of encouraging the personal growth of his players.

“I’ve coached and been part of six state title championship teams, and three of them are my own as head coach” Harris said. “We’re going to do that, but they need to win in the classroom, win in the hallways, win in their own personal life, and then winning will take care of itself.”


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Jake Neill

A familiar face in Maricopa High School sports was officially re-hired this week.

The Maricopa Unified Governing Board approved Jacob Neill as its new district athletic director Feb. 28.

Neill previously coached MHS basketball for four years. He left in 2016 when he was hired as assistant principal and athletic director for Poston Butte High School.

Becoming an administrator was not just a professional goal, but something that runs in his blood.

“I’m from a family of educators,” Neill said. “A good portion of my family have worked in the school system from admin assistants on up to administrators.”

He’ll soon take the place of Brian Winter, who will be MHS principal next school year. Winter originally hired Neill in 2012.

“To come back with Mr. Winter in the principal position is one of the draws back to (MUSD) because he has a vision and I’m excited to get behind him and do what we need to do to improve Maricopa High School,” Neill said.

Some of the new AD’s responsibilities will include overseeing sports programs at the junior high level and ensuring the high school’s “facilities are on par with what other 5A and 6A schools are to make our students’ experience as good as it possibly can be,” he said.

Neill lives in Laveen with his wife Jess – a fourth-grade teacher – and their 3-year-old daughter Izzy.

Photos by Victor Moreno

High school varsity spring sports are under way. Maricopa High School introduces a new sport in beach volleyball while other sports hope to get back into state contention.

Sequoia Pathway Baseball
CAA Division II Region II
March 2 v. WSST 5 p.m.
March 6 at HA-Laveen 4 p.m.
March 9 v. El Dorado 4 p.m.
March 21 v. South Pointe 4 p.m.
March 26 at ASU Prep Poly 5 p.m.
March 27 at HA-Mesa 4:15 p.m.
April 3 at EVAC 4 p.m.
April 5 at Imagine Prep Coolidge 4:30 p.m.
April 7 v. ALA-Ironwood 11 a.m.
April 9 v. Imagine Prep Coolidge 4:30 p.m.
April 11 v. Canyon State 4 p.m.

Sequoia Pathway Softball
CAA Division II Region I
March 1 v. ALA-Gilbert 4 p.m.
March 7 at Imagine Prep Surprise 4 p.m.
March 9 v. Imagine Prep Coolidge 4 p.m.
April 2 at Tri-City College Prep 4 p.m.
April 4 v. ALA-Ironwood 4 p.m.
April 5 at ALA-Gilbert 4 p.m.
April 10 v. Mission Heights 4 p.m.
April 12 at HA-Laveen 4 p.m.
April 17 v. South Ridge 4 p.m.
April 19 at Paradise Valley Christian 4 p.m.

Maricopa High School Baseball
AIA Division 5A Section Metro (remaining schedule)
March 1 v. Sierra Linda 3:45 p.m.
March 2 v. Desert Edge 3:45 p.m.
March 5 v. Glendale 3:45 p.m.
March 7 v. Ironwood 4 p.m.
March 10-13 Bob Everett Spring Break Classic at Highland HS
March 21 at Vista Grande 6 p.m.
March 22 at Mesquite 4 p.m.
March 26 at Kellis 3:45 p.m.
March 27 v. Kellis 3:45 p.m.
March 29 at Casa Grande 4 p.m.
April 3 at Sunnyslope 4 p.m.
April 5 v. Verrado 3:45 p.m.
April 6 v. Sunnyslope 3:45 p.m.
April 10 v. Apollo 3:45 p.m.
April 11 v. Ironwood 6:30 p.m.
April 12 at Apollo 4 p.m.
April 17 at McClintock 4 p.m.
April 19 v. McClintock (Senior Night) 3:45 p.m.
April 20 at Williams Field 3:45 p.m.

Maricopa High School Softball
AIA Division 5A Section Metro (remaining schedule)
March 1 at Sierra Linda 4 p.m.
March 2 at Desert Edge6 p.m.
March 5 at Glendale 4 p.m.
March 6 v. Vista Grande 3:45 p.m.
March 8 v. Williams Field 3:45 p.m.
March 19 v. Mesquite 3:45 p.m.
March 27 at Kellis 4 p.m.
March 29 v. Casa Grande 3:45 p.m.
March 30 v. Kellis 3:45 p.m.
April 3 v. Sunnyslope 3:45 p.m.
April 5 at Verrado 4 p.m.
April 6 at Sunnyslope 4 p.m.
April 10 at Apollo 4 p.m.
April 11 at Ironwood 4 p.m.
April 12 v. Apollo 3:45 p.m.
April 17 v. McClintock (Senior Night) 3:45 p.m.
April 19 at McClintock 4 p.m.

Maricopa High School Track & Field
AIA Division II
March 7 at Chaparral 4 p.m.
March 10 at Desert Tune-Up (Mountain View Marana) 8 a.m.
March 21 at McClintock 3 p.m.
March 22 at Schuster Jones Under-Class Showcase 12 p.m.
March 28 at Maricopa Twilight 3:30 p.m.
April 13 at Hohokam Invitational 9:30 a.m.

Maricopa High School Boys’ Tennis
AIA Division I Section I (remaining schedule)
March 2 v. Casa Grande 3:30 p.m.
March 8 at Higley 3:30 p.m.
March 22 at Williams Field 3:30 p.m.
March 27 v. Cibola 3:30 p.m.
March 28 v. Tolleson Union 3:30 p.m.
March 29 at San Luis 3:30 p.m.
April 3 at Millennium 3:30 p.m.
April 4 at La Joya Community 3:30 p.m.
April 10 v. Westview 3:30 p.m.
April 12 at Kofa 3:30 p.m.

Maricopa High School Girls’ Tennis
AIA Division I Section I (remaining schedule)
March 1 v. Casteel 3:30 p.m.
March 5 at Casa Grande 3:30 p.m.
March 8 v. Higley 3:30 p.m.
March 27 at Cibola 3 p.m.
March 28 at Tolleson Union 3:30 p.m.
March 29 v. San Luis 3:30 p.m.
April 3 v. Millennium 3:30 p.m.
April 4 v. La Joya Community 3:30 p.m.
April 10 at Westview 3:30 p.m.
April 12 v. Kofa 3:30 p.m.
April 16 v. Williams Field 3:30 p.m.

Maricopa High School Beach Volleyball
AIA Division I Section IV (remaining schedule)
March 5 v. Casteel at Copper Sky 4 p.m.
March 26 v. Millennium at Copper Sky 4 p.m.
March 28 at Willow Canyon at Victory Lane Complex 4 p.m.
April 2 at Shadow Ridge at Victory Lane Complex 4 p.m.
April 4 at Perry at Seville Golf & Country Club 6:30 p.m.
April 9 v. Verrado at Copper Sky 4 p.m.
April 11 v. Dysart at Copper Sky 4 p.m.
April 13 v. Hamilton at Copper Sky (Senior Night) 4 p.m.
April 16 at Mesquite High School 4 p.m.



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Pictured from left are (front row) Tuesday Borst, Vincent Latona, Emma Morano, Cassidy Chang, Nikki Watson, Angelica Vesconi; (back row) Kalen Scott, Zachary Kalnasy, McKay Jones, Porter Jones, Joshua Hoctor and Madison Creamer.

Eleven Maricopa High School (MHS) students earned national honors on the 2018 National German Exam.

Seniors Porter Jones and Angelica Vesconi earned gold medals (top 10 percent nationally), while juniors Madison Creamer, Vincent Latona and Nikki Watson and sophomore Cassidy Chang earned silver medals (top 80th-89th percentile nationally). Seniors Joshua Hoctor and Zachary Kalnasy as well as juniors Tuesday Borst, Kalen Scott, and Emma Morano earned Leistungsurkunden (Achievement Awards) for scoring just below bronze medal range.

“This is the second year we have offered a German program at Maricopa High School, so these students represent our first group with two years of German. I’m very proud of how they performed, and excited to see how the German I students do on their national test in April,” said McKay Jones, MHS German teacher. “We have some really diligent first year students, and I have high expectations for them.”


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.

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Maricopa High School students landed in-demand tickets to the Tony-winning musical 'Hamilton.' Submitted photo

Friday, 49 U.S. history students from Maricopa High School were able to attend the musical, Hamilton, at Arizona State University’s Gammage Hall.  Teacher Jason Goodwin applied on behalf of Maricopa High School to the Gilder Lehrman Institute for tickets to the musical.

Students across Arizona were given a chance to attend at a discounted rate of $10, thanks in part to The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation. After the high school was chosen as a recipient of the heavily discounted tickets, students from the U.S. history courses created poems, songs, raps, monologues or scripts based on primary sources from the Founding Father era and from a source-based history unit. Students submitted their final projects to a panel for evaluation and 49 entries were given a chance to see the award winning musical firsthand.

Aidyn Curtis (right) and Taryn Story

One MHS submission was videotaped and submitted to the Hamilton Education Program, and that submission was chosen to be performed live in front of the over 2,700 Arizona high school students along with the cast of Hamilton. From the over 40 different schools in attendance, MHS students Aidyn Curtis and Taryn Story were one of 14 acts that performed.

“These young ladies received glowing reviews and much praise afterwards,” Goodwin said.

Students went on to participate in a question-and-answer session with cast members and then finally saw a matinee performance of the musical.

Chaienne Zoller and Kyle O'Hare were leaders of a brief student protest and tribute to high school students and staff gunned down in Florida.

Maricopa High School students have demanded gun law reform after participating in a demonstration on campus last week.

Students walked out of their classrooms Feb. 22 in tribute to students and staff who were killed in a recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

The local demonstration was one of many that have taken place at schools nationwide. It has prompted students to call on adults for action.

“I don’t think it’s right and I think personally they need to fix it,” said 18-year-old MHS student Kyle O’Hare. “I’m not saying you can fix everything in the world, but try, add more things in, be more strict with gun laws.”

Students used their voices to take leadership of the impromptu protest Thursday. O’Hare and classmate Chaienne Zoller, 17, took leadership of the event after they said some students were not taking the matter seriously.

Zoller said she directed students to participate in a moment of silence for each of the victims gunned down in the attack after O’Hare said a prayer.

“I basically told them, ‘You guys do this every morning for the people who fought for our country; let’s do this for 17 minutes for people who just went to school,” Zoller said.

Students have said they’ve been criticized by adults they know for speaking out but said spreading awareness of their stance is worth it.

After the demonstration, Maricopa Unified School District announced it would hold a school safety forum March 1 at the District Administration Building.

The community meeting will take place inside the Governing Board Meeting Room and will feature a panel of local leaders and public safety personnel who will participate in a discussion with students and parents.

Representatives from other area schools have been invited to attend.

One adult who has voiced his support of students’ right to be heard is MHS Principal Rick Abel.

Students said before he asked them to return to class Thursday, he thanked them for a respectful demonstration, calling their compassion “a sign of maturity.”

“As a member of the MHS Staff and our community, I am very appreciative and proud of the efforts of our students yesterday. We are all saddened by the events that took place in Florida. Our students found a positive way to express our support for the families involved in that tragedy. They were respectful and were great representatives of Maricopa. Our work now is to do all we can to make sure that our campus is safe. Our best safeguard is the willingness of our students to say something if they see or hear something. We are all in this together,” Rick Abel said in a written statement.

Students said they are planning another walk-out at MHS in the future and signing petitions for school safety nationwide.

“We’re not just sitting here; we want change, and people have lost lives and now we’re sick and tired of it,” O’Hare said.

Reporter Joycelyn Cabrera contributed to this story.

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The Maricopa Rams started the 2018 season in a home tournament Thursday. Photo by Michelle Chance

Maricopa High School Softball fell at home, 12-2, against Florence Thursday during the team’s season opener at the annual Krystin Diehl Tournament.

It was the first game led by new head coach Jason Crawford. He joined MHS in August as an English teacher.

A day ahead of the game, Crawford said the team’s biggest challenge is its nerves.

“We have been working hard the entire off season for this moment, and now that it’s here, I need to keep the girls’ from getting too nervous and losing focus of our goals,” Crawford said.

The team was plagued with pre-season jitters during its scrimmage Saturday, Crawford said, and despite moments of confidence on the mound and behind the plate Thursday, Rams softball couldn’t shake the butterflies for a win.

Rams varsity softball is a young team this year — made up of mostly underclassmen and only a handful of juniors and seniors.

Crawford said he’s looking to his older players to mentor their newest players on the field.

With the first game under their belt, Crawford said the team is “working out those kinks of youth and inexperience.”

Rams softball faces off against McClintock High Friday at 4:30 p.m.

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This story has been corrected from a previous version to indicate Mr. Crawford is an English teacher.

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The Maricopa varsity Rams take the field for the first time Wednesday night. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa High School Baseball’s season opener started at home Wednesday against Tempe High during the school’s annual Matt Huffman Tournament.

The tourney began Wednesday afternoon between Dobson and Poston Butte and runs through Saturday.

Rams head coach Andrew Pollak said he’s excited about the many players on the team with the potential to have a big year, some of them including his returning seniors.

“They’ve been through the program for four years now, and they could’ve easily chosen to leave town and go to a different school, but they stayed here and have done a good job representing our city,” Pollak said.

Four-year varsity player Carter Paine is slated to be No. 1 on the mound this year across from the Rams’ leader behind the plate, catcher Mason Williamson.

Belcher twins, Taylor and Tyler, will also return. Both pitchers and fielders, they are among those who Pollak said will have a “huge impact” on the field this year.

Senior Kevin McDill will return to the mound and the outfield for the Rams, and Andres Gusse is the team’s “tremendous first baseman,” Pollak said.

The team’s retention of quality players is what Pollak said is a testament to the program and its division.

“We play really good competition,” Pollak said. “We don’t have any cupcakes on our schedule.”

Rams play Poston Butte Thursday at 3:30 p.m. and finish the tourney Saturday with a game at 12:30 p.m.

Post-tournament play begins March 1 at home against Sierra Linda.

Tyler Belcher started for Maricopa against Tempe. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

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A former basketball coach for Maricopa High School is expected to return next year – this time as district athletic director, school officials said Wednesday.

Jake Neill began as MHS head coach of boys’ basketball and PE teacher in 2012 and resigned after four years to pursue a career in administration. He’s currently assistant principal and AD for Poston Butte High School in San Tan Valley.

Prior to MHS, Neill coached at Mesa Westwood High for six years.

Neill is slated to replace Brian Winter as he transitions from district AD to MHS principal next school year.

Superintendent Steve Chestnut said Neill was interviewed Feb. 8 and recommended the candidate be hired by the Maricopa Unified School District board during a meeting Feb. 14.

The board will vote on the recommendation Feb. 28. If approved, Neill’s start date will be July 1.

Neill declined to comment until after the governing board votes on the recommendation.

Governing Board Members approved the same night the retirement of MHS Teacher on Special Assignment Michele Shaffer.

Shaffer’s administrator role at the high school coordinated the CTE department. She has worked at MHS for nearly 10 years, according to an online biography. District documents state Shaffer’s expected to retire at the end of the school year.

Jake Neill

At the Ak-Chin Airport, (from left) Mike Kemery, Reno Dugan, Chief Steve Stahl, Samantha Blaschke, Ian Mase and Capt. Jim Space. Photo by Michelle Chance

Local high school students traded their classrooms in for airplanes.

Air Force JROTC cadets from Maricopa High School have taken to the sky with help from the Civil Air Patrol.

The program is designed to educate cadets about airplanes and give them an opportunity to play pilot.

“It gets them familiar with what flying is all about, so hopefully it builds their enthusiasm about flying and the Air Force,” said Civil Air Patrol Capt. Jim Space.

MHS senior Samantha Blaschke’s first trip in an airplane was last Thursday when she boarded a small CAP craft from Chandler to Ak-Chin Regional Airport.

Her second experience in a plane would be her first time piloting one.

“I’m more excited than nervous, but as soon as I get in the front seat and get a hold of that wheel I know I’m going to be like ‘Oh my gosh, this is going to be interesting,’” Blaschke said before the flight.

Senior Reno Dugan flew the airplane from Chandler to Ak-Chin for more than 30 minutes before Space took over the controls to land.

“At first, I thought it would be scary, but it was actually exhilarating,” Dugan said.

Space taught cadets simple flying maneuvers while touring airspace above Maricopa.

“You don’t really see an experience like that,” said Cadet Ian Mase, a junior at MHS.

Greeting the cadets at Ak-Chin Regional was Maricopa Police Department Chief Stahl, VFW Post 12042 Past Commander Mike Kemery and Maricopa Unified School District Human Resources Director Tom Beckett.

The partnership between the local AFJROTC and CAP was born recently after Lt. Col. Allen Kirksey, leader of the cadets in Maricopa, attended a meeting in the East Valley hosted by the two organizations. Twelve cadets have now had the flying experience, with Alex Odell and Elijah Baxter going up Tuesday.

“As a result of this meeting, both the CAP and AFJROTC will provide orientation flights to cadets in order to motivate and stimulate the cadet’s interest in and knowledge of aviation and aerospace activities as part of its Air Force,” Kirksey said.

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Taylor Coleman (22) scored 15 and Jayla Johnson (12) scored 14 in Maricopa's play-in victory. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa is back in the state playoffs.

With a 59-30 victory over Deer Valley, the Maricopa High School girls’ basketball team qualified for the Arizona Interscholastic Association 5A championships. Seedings for the Top 16 bracket will be announced this weekend.

Most of the team is new to playoff atmosphere, but senior Sydni Callis was a freshman on the state champion team in 2015 and has seen four years of high expectations. So she has some perspective on what it takes to win a title.

“It feels good,” she said about Thursday’s win. “I’m hoping we can get as far as we did. I think we can. I have confidence in them.”

While Callis described the return to the playoffs as “kind of like déjà vu,” head coach Melvin Mitchell feels her experience is vital for a young team that was unprepared for the intensity that came at them from 20th-ranked Deer Valley.

“I tried to explain what the playoff atmosphere was like, but they just don’t understand that because they’ve never experienced it,” said Mitchell, who was assistant coach for that championship season. “Sydni is starting to step up and become more of a leader. She’s not necessarily vocal in her personality, but she’s starting to get there and tell these girls exactly what she wants them to do.

“They respect her because she’s been there and won a state championship.”

Maricopa knew Deer Valley only from game tapes. Mitchell said the team looked bigger in person than on film. Though clearly the superior team, the Rams played shaky, often wild basketball in the first half, letting the Hawks stay close early. Though leading by only one point after one quarter, Maricopa held Deer Valley to just two points in the second and led 23-10 at the half.

“I think they got a little over-anxious we had a lot of fast-break layups in the first half that we just didn’t convert,” Mitchell said.

He told them to calm down during break and to back off on the long pass when it wasn’t there. The Rams scored 21 points in the third quarter and ran off with the victory.

Sophomore Taylor Coleman led all scoring with 15 points. Mitchell said she has always been a spark on the team and is learning what her strong shots are.

Chipping in two 3-pointers, junior Jayla Johnson scored 14. Senior Alia Ballou scored nine, and freshman Brooke Smith scored seven. Callis scored just five but had 12 rebounds, seven steals and six assists.

“The more and more they get used to and the more physical we amp it up in practice, the better they’ll play,” Mitchell said. “We have to do the things that got us here.”

Senior Sydni Callis (11) led the Maricopa scoring Tuesday as the Rams took a tough loss against top-ranked Apollo. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson


After a tight-battle with one of the top teams in the state, Maricopa High School girls’ basketball posted a loss for the final game of the season, but the Rams retained their 13th-place ranking in 5A.

That sets them up as the home team for the first round of the 5A play-in tournament Thursday. They will host No. 20 Deer Valley at 6:30 p.m.

The Rams (17-9) lost to Apollo Tuesday, 53-45. Afterward, Apollo moved from No. 4 to No. 1, finishing with a record of 20-2. The top eight teams automatically move into the state championship bracket. Those ranked ninth through 24th qualify for the play-in tournament to vie for spots in the championship bracket.

For instance, Maricopa’s varsity boys’ team also lost to Apollo Tuesday, to end with an 11-12 record. But their 23rd ranking in 5A advances them to the play-in tournament. They play at 10th-ranked Sahuaro on Friday at 6:30 p.m.

Previously this season, Maricopa’s girls lost to Apollo by 17 points. The Rams came into Tuesday’s rematch with four straight wins, including a narrow 48-47 victory at Williams Field.

“When we played them the first time, they were a heck of a rebounding team,” Rams’ head coach Melvin Mitchell said. “Of course, they’re big. They keep it above their heads. All the fundamental stuff that you want to teach your kids, they do. And they’re very, very physical. So, we wanted to try to match that intensity and make sure we were rebounding off the weak side.

“We definitely wanted to challenge them and see what they were made of.”

Both teams were shooting cold at the start of the game. Maricopa’s defense kept the Rams battling back and forth for the lead. The MHS strategy on the boards was effective for the first half, and then the offense started firing in the third quarter to allow the Rams a lead.

Inconsistency upended the Rams’ effort in the fourth quarter, Mitchell said.

“In the fourth quarter it kind of broke down,” he said. “They were playing ‘Monkey in the Middle’ or something. It was just one of those things where we have to be consistent throughout the whole game.”

For Senior Night, Maricopa’s two seniors led the scoring. Sydni Callis scored 16 and had seven steals, four rebounds and six assists. Alia Ballou scored 10 points, including two 3-pointers. Junior Jayla Johnson had nine points. Sophomore Taylor Coleman had eight rebounds and two blocks.

For Apollo, 6-foot junior Jakaree Harris led all scoring with 22 points, and 6-foot-1 freshman Haylee Weathersby scored 17.

“I think we kept up the intensity,” Mitchell said. “The play out of our guards was spectacular.”

That, he said, has Maricopa in good preparation for Thursday’s play-in game.

“It’s that time of year where we have to refuse to lose, and we want to see where we go,” the coach said. “I’m looking forward to it.”


Dylan Hill. Photo by Victor Moreno

By Joycelyn Cabrera

Maricopa High School senior Dylan Hill has received congressional nominations for the U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Military Academy (also known as West Point). After months of preparation, paperwork and interviews, the Air Force Junior ROTC cadet is on the road toward acceptance to one or both prestigious service academies.

After a long waiting process, Dylan was excited to get the news of her nomination from Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-District 1). “Aside from the clear reason of wanting to serve my country, I also want to be in a leadership position as an officer, so I can advocate for the enlisted and contribute to the safeguarding of America and its interests.”

Dylan, 17, and her family have called Maricopa home for 10 years. Her favorite classes are AP American Government and JROTC. Dylan has been involved in JROTC all four years of high school. She has been interested in the military since her middle school years and would be the first member of her family to join the U.S military since World War II.

Rather than simply enlisting after graduation, Dylan has gravitated toward an academy for the rigorous environment and training, exposure to military environments, and leadership training. Dylan believes an academy would better prepare her to lead others in any situation, as well as offer her many academically challenging opportunities.

She has been taking steps toward this goal since her freshman year. She practices time-management by constantly juggling AP high school courses, JROTC obligations, a job and extracurriculars. She has participated in cross country, Pinal County Teen Court, Youth Council and Governor’s Youth Commission.

She also exercises at least four times a week.

Above all, Dylan makes it a priority to follow through with the responsibilities she is given.  

Dylan envisions a career as a ground intelligence officer. She would be responsible for many aspects of a military unit, including deployment, tactical employment, planning and welfare of troops.

MHS JROTC Master Sgt. Dishon Gregory considers Dylan a superior student, cadet and citizen. He was “not surprised at all” she received the congressional nomination. Gregory lists Dylan finest qualities as her high standards, attention to detail, motivation, drive and leadership skills.

“I am honored to be able to work with Dylan for the past four years,” said Gregory, who believes she will be successful in anything she chooses to do.

Dylan’s aerospace science teacher Allen Kirksey says she is a proven individual with the highest standards of commitment and dedication to the U.S military.

“Without a doubt, she is ready for increased responsibilities as a cadet at West Point or the Naval Academy… I feel that she will prove to be an invaluable asset to the U.S military as a future officer.”

Maricopa High School also had a graduate in last year’s class – John Blodgett – be nominated for admission to West Point and the Air Force Academy.  He chose West Point.

MHS Principal Rick Abel said he hopes the successes of his students will encourage others to make the same level of effort to show what MHS graduates can do. “Both students have been good examples of good examples.”


Joycelyn Cabrera is a student at Maricopa High School.

This story appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.

Theater students from Maricopa High School have written and will perform a play in Florence about the "Baron of Arizona." (File photo)

Students from Maricopa are getting into the act for the Historic Florence Home Tour.

Maricopa High School Theatre Company was asked to perform a bit of history for the 33rd annual event. When local drama clubs were not able to participate, the Florence recreation superintendent knew who to call.

John Nixon was Community Services director in Maricopa before taking the job in Florence. He approached MHS drama teacher Cynthia Calhoun with the committee-chosen title, “The Baron of Arizona,” about infamous fraudster James Reavis. The MHS students jumped at the chance.

“The kids are performing an original script that they wrote about the people of Florence and how they reacted to and banded together against Reavis’ phony Peralta Land Grant claim,” said Calhoun, a master teacher.

She met with Pinal County Historical Museum staff for background to give the theater students solid footing for their storytelling.

“We are excited that a talented high school drama club from Pinal County is willing to come to Florence to perform,” Nixon said.   

The Florence Home Tour started incorporating live plays last year. The drama club from San Tan Foothills High School presented “The Trial of Pearl Hart; Lady Bandit.” Nixon said it was standing-room-only for both performances.

This year, the tour committee asked Calhoun’s troupe to perform three shows for 20-25 minutes each. Nixon said the additional performance would give more visitors the opportunity to view the play.

“The Baron of Arizona” will be performed Feb. 10 at 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at McFarland Historical State Park, 24 W. Ruggles St. The home tour runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Learn more about the tour at www.florenceaz.gov/hometour.

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Submitted photo

Maricopa DECA competed in the Arizona DECA District 9 competition on Jan. 18, facing competitors from eight Arizona schools including Mountain View Mesa, Dobson and Red Mountain.

Maricopa DECA performed its personal best since the program was chartered in 2009. Forty Maricopa DECA members took home 62 medals. Students competed in a range of events such as Hospitality, Hotel and Lodging, Finance, Marketing Communications, Travel and Tourism, and Sports and Entertainment Marketing.

First place: Freya Abraham, Steel Lewis, Yasmeen Hanania, Joy Newey, Jasmine Ngo, Miranda Chitwood, Faith Mead, Brendan Maxwell, Adia Carr, Fides Bernales, Harrison Edmondson and Elise Brown Thunder

Second place: Jamie Hall, Ly’Zhai Wilford, Jimmy Cutajar, Nicholas Perez, John Jackson, Sophia Saucedo, Jaylene Gosselin, Tabaaha Gooden, Jose Ruiz, Landen Thomas, Olivia Healy-Martin

Third place: Jordan Reed, Rachael Zavitka, Kyla Boyce

Role play medalists – 27 MHS students recognized for top role play score in section

Test medalists – 7 MHS students recognized for top tier test scores; the most of any high school at the competition

Six Maricopa DECA champions swept medals in every competitive category.

Maricopa DECA will take 32 competitors to the State Career Development Conference March 2-4, competing against 3000 Arizona DECA students for a shot at 300 competitor spots at the DECA International Career Development Conference hosted in Atlanta, Georgia, this April.

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MHS giPhoto by Raquel Hendricksonrls' soccer qualified for the 5A play-in tournament. They play Sahuaro on Thursday.

Girls’ and boys’ soccer wrapped up the regular season Tuesday with victories for Maricopa High School. But the year isn’t over for the girls.

Posting a record of 8-5-1 (3-2), the girls’ soccer team finished ranked 22nd in 5A. That qualified them for the state’s sectional play-in, a chance to play for a spot in the state tournament.

The Rams play Thursday at 6 p.m. at Sahuaro High School in Tucson. Sahuaro is ranked 11th in 5A despite ending its season with three losses and a tie.

“We have a decent chance to win,” coach Morgan Davis said.

The teams have not met this season and had only one opponent in common. Sahauro beat Poston Butte 2-1; Maricopa beat Poston Butte 4-1. Davis said she used that gauge and Sahuaro’s overall performance to assess her own players. That gives her high expectations.

In Tuesday’s game at McClintock, the Maricopa girls won 7-0. Four of the goals came from the foot of junior Shannon Coutré. Also scoring were sophomores Senaya Cowing and Payson Hacker and freshman Jezelle Magallanes.

Coutré leads the team overall with 20 goals and 47 points, moving her into the top 10 in the region. That was a personal ambition for Coutré, who was this season’s team choice for captain.

“She’s stepped up her game,” Davis said. “She started leading as a player and off the field, and sort of became a mentor to the younger players.”

Junior Bianca Olivares has seven goals and 16 points.

Meanwhile, the boys ended the season with Senior Night and a 3-0 shutout of McClintock. Their overall record was 6-7-3 (1-4). Their final 5A state ranking was 26.

Freshman Cadet Emily Trast won the local Voice of Democracy contest. Submitted photo

Jan. 16, Charles Kemp and Mike Kemery of the Maricopa Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post presented the VFW Voice of Democracy (VOD) Essay Award and $100 prize to Emily Trast, a first-year Air Force JROTC cadet at Maricopa High School in front of her parents, Kati and Peter Trast, counselor, Rebecca Collins, and fellow cadets.

Kemery said, “personally, I enjoy seeing young people succeed, whether it be Cadet of the Year, VOD Winner, or being nominated to a service academy. They are the future.”

The Maricopa VFW Post has been presenting the award since 2005, and the program has evolved over time. MHS AFJROTC cadets have been participated since 2013.

The 2017-18 theme is “American History: Our Hope for the Future.” Essays are submitted to the local VFW Post. Once a winner has been selected, it automatically is submitted to the VFW District. If the essay is chosen at that level then it is submitted to the state level, and then that state winner is submitted to the National Level. A first-place winner is awarded a $30,000 scholarship, second place receives a $16,000 scholarship, and third place receives one of $10,000.

Emily is a freshman originally from Barstow, California. She loves to write and is considering a career in both creative writing and as a playwright. She would love to explore a career in theater. She also loves drawing, writing, painting and singing. Emily is also considering studying political science with a possible goal of working for the State Department and becoming an ambassador.

Her other hobbies include hiking, acting (television and stage) and musicals. Her high school goal is to maintain a 3.75 GPA. Upon her high school graduation, she would like to join the U.S. Navy or attend a Performing Arts School.

Submitted photo

The Maricopa Police Department Explorers Post 2100 placed first in crisis negotiation during a two-day, national tactical competition in Chandler.

The local post was one of 65 teams from around the country that competed in various SWAT events at the Chandler Police Department 20th annual Explorer Tactical Competition Jan. 13-14.

Explorer Edward Figueroa took the top placing in the individual male pistol shoot competition. Explorer Aubree Goettle placed fourth in the same event’s female category.

“Other events the MPD Explorers competed in were the tactical obstacle course, TK4 (swat vehicle) pull, rock wall climb, 5-man Hostage Rescue Team, marijuana grow operation raid, waterborne operations, sniper challenge and a tactical scavenger hunt,” said MPD Explorer advisor Officer Chris Evans.

Explorers who competed:
Edward Figueroa
Jacelyn Rodriguez
Dreama King
Dax Sweetser
James McNelly
Augustine Lujan
Aubree Goettle
Ethan Griffin
Donavan Griffin
MPD Advisors: Officer Chris Evans and Sgt. Sean Marchese

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