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Photo by Michelle Chance

The Maricopa Rotary Club recognized a theatrical high school senior, as well as an eighth-grade “model student” Wednesday night as November Students of the Month.

College and Career Counselor Bernadette Russionello nominated Maricopa High School student Ivie Keene for the accolade. The senior is involved in a school mentorship group, National Honor Society and DECA.

Keene also holds leadership positions in school theatre as a student director and actor and is president of the Arizona Thespian Society.

“Rotary is told that she is a phenomenal student since her freshman year, with a positive attitude, unstoppable work ethic and commitment to school and your community,” said Alma Farrell, Rotary youth coordinator.

Keene aspires to be involved in Broadway one day, “but is also willing to return to MHS to be an English and theatre teacher,” Farrell added.

Desert Wind Middle School Principal June Celaya nominated Raymond Torres as “the type of student that teachers hope to have.”

Farrell reported Torres as being described by school officials as a “quiet leader,” model student and hard worker.

Torres is involved in athletics and various after school activities and was praised for being a positive role model for other students.

“(He) work(s) extremely hard on each and every assignment, going above and beyond teacher expectations and he is a great leader across all grade levels and gets along with everyone,” Farrell reported.

Torres and Keene were accompanied by their parents and siblings during the ceremony which Rotary holds monthly inside the Maricopa Unified School District Administration Office during governing board meetings.

The Maricopa Rotary Club was founded in 1954 and is part of an international, service-oriented, non-profit organization.

“We hope they will be our future leaders of our community and it’s very good for them to start at this early age to learn how to be leaders,” Farrell said.

Photo by Michelle Chance

Diego Villareal and Sara Earle were honored by Maricopa Rotary at an Oct. 25 meeting of the Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board as Students of the Month. Pictured behind them are Rotarians Alma Farrell and Joanne Ortega and MUSD board President Patti Coutre. In back are school board members Joshua Judd, AnnaMarie Knorr, Gary Miller, Superintendent Steve Chestnut and school board member Torri Anderson. Photo by Michelle Chance


Outstanding students in the Maricopa Unified School District were highlighted for their academic efforts during a school board meeting Wednesday night.

Maricopa Rotary Club Youth Coordinator Alma Farrell and Joanne Ortega presented Maricopa High School senior Diego Villareal and Desert Wind Middle School Sara Earle with Rotary Students of the month for October.

Farrell said Villareal is an honors student with a 3.861 grade point average.

“His guidance counselor nominated him for this award,” Farrell said. “She reports that she admires his diligence to do his work and as well as the respectful and kind demeanor that he has.”

Villareal is a member of the National Honor Society, is involved in the school’s Book and Media Club, and active in his church as a youth pastor, Farrell said.

Earle, DWMS eighth grader, was lauded by school staff in Farrell’s report for her sense-of-humor and her work ethic.

“Not only does she excel in each subject area within the Blended Learning program, she goes above and beyond teacher expectations for a student,” Farrell quoted one teacher as saying.

Earle is a member of the National Junior Honor Society and the Tiger volleyball team.

The MUSD Governing Board also approved the early graduation of MHS senior Andrew Bounsone during the meeting.

Bounsone’s guidance counselor Chris Lathan requested the board approve Bounsone’s December graduation.

Lathan said Bounsone, who was not present at the meeting, intends to walk during the graduation ceremony in May before enlisting in the military.

“One of the reasons he wants to graduate early is because he’s going to be servicing in the Army, so one of the things he would like to do is work and get extra money and work out a little bit and get himself ready for basic training,” Lathan said.

Board Member Gary Miller clarified with the board that Bounsone would still be eligible to attend prom in the spring.

The board voted unanimously to approve Bounsone’s early graduation.

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Posing with members of the MUSD Governing Board, students of the month for September and October were Haley Petershiem, Zeah Zimpleman, Madison Russo and Lauren Davis. Not pictured are Zeya Suchite and Edward Banuelos. Photo by Mason Callejas

The Maricopa Rotary Club presented their monthly selection of outstanding students for September and October at the MUSD Board meeting Nov. 17.

The three middle school and three high school students were honored and chosen by leaders at their schools based on achievements both in the classroom and out.

According to the Rotary Club, recipients of the awards, hailing from Desert Winds and Maricopa Wells middle schools and Maricopa High School, have all achieved stellar grade reports and have exhibited admirable character traits. As such, their teachers and activity leaders have deemed their actions exemplary and worthy of recognition.

For the month of September the Rotary Club recognized Maricopa High School student Haley Petershiem for what her teachers and administrators called a “positive attitude and performance on campus,” and that “students like her are what make Maricopa High School a great school”

Also for the month of September, Desert Winds Middle School student Zeya Suchite was recognized for being an “excellent student and awesome athlete,” and for her participation in numerous clubs and city activities.

Edward Banuelos is one of two high school students chosen for the month of October. As a second year student at the CAVIT Firefighter program, Edward hopes to join the Navy after graduating, and then plans to join the front line of first responders as a firefighter. He was honored not only for his involvement at MHS in Debate Class and as a member of the Cross Country team, but also for choosing a career path that will ensure the “safety of our community and nation.”

Maricopa High School Student Lauren Davis was also chosen as the club’s October student of the month. According to her teacher, Katherine Persitz, Lauren “is a dedicated and faithful student who goes above and beyond to take care of herself and the people around her.” She is a member of the National Honor Society and MHS Soccer player.

From Maricopa Wells Middle School Zeah Zimpleman was chosen as the October student of the month. Carrying a 4.0 GPA Zeah is a member of National Junior Honor Society, orchestra and the MWMS Volleyball team. She is also known to participate in community service projects through her church.

Madison Russo was chosen from Desert Winds Middle School also for the month of October. Madison is the DWMS Student Council secretary, she sings in the choir and is a member of the soccer and volleyball teams. According to Roger Wagner “she exhibits a great work ethic” and has an “approachable fun-loving personality.” Madison is also well known to go out of her way to help others.

For more information on the Maricopa Rotary Club please visit their website.