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Sequoia Pathway

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Three schools in Maricopa have earned A-ratings from the state as announced this fall, and other schools showed marked improvement.

A
Butterfield Elementary (MUSD)
Legacy Traditional School (charter)
Pima Butte Elementary (MUSD)

B
Leading Edge Academy (charter)
Maricopa Elementary School (MUSD)
Santa Cruz Elementary School (MUSD)
Santa Rosa Elementary School (MUSD)

C
Camino Montessori (charter – closed)
Desert Wind Middle School (MUSD)
Graysmark Schools (charter)
Maricopa High School (MUSD)
Maricopa Wells Middle School (MUSD)
Saddleback Elementary School (MUSD)
Sequoia Pathway Academy (charter)

D
Stanfield Elementary School (SED)

 

A = Excellent: Distinguished performance on the statewide assessment, significant student growth, high four-year graduation rates, students are on track to proficiency or overall performance is significantly higher than the state average.
B = Highly Performing: High performance on statewide assessments and/or significant student growth and/or higher four-year graduation rates and/or moving students to proficiency at a higher rate than the state average.
C = Performing: Adequate performance but needs improvement on some indicators including proficiency, growth or graduation rate.
D = Minimally Performing: Inadequate performance in proficiency, growth and/or four-year graduation rate relative to the state average.
F = Systematic failures in proficiency, growth and graduation rates and/or performance is in bottom 5 percent of the state.



“We are excited to earn an A rating for our wonderful school. This A rating represents the dedication and care of each and every one of our staff and our students’ hard work. I am so proud and excited for our students, staff and community to have another A school in Maricopa.” – Butterfield Elementary School Principal Janel Hildick

“Pima Butte is ecstatic about receiving the 2018 ‘A’ rating. This achievement was due to the tireless effort and dedication of our teachers, the hard work of our students and the support of our families. We are extremely proud of this recognition.” – Pima Butte Elementary Principal Randy Lazar



DROPOUT RATES

Sequoia Pathway Academy          0.18%
Desert Wind Middle School        0.69%
Maricopa Wells Middle School   2.58%
Maricopa High School                  4.51%


GRADUATION RATES (2017)
Percent graduating in four years from Maricopa High School and Sequoia Pathway Academy

MHS                      SPA
                                                                 350 Grads             97 Grads
Total                                                          76%                        97%
Economically Disadvantaged               77%                        96%
Male                                                           71%                        97%
Female                                                       81%                       96%
White                                                         81%                        94%
Hispanic                                                    80%                       100%
African-American                                   65%                        *
Native American                                     54%                        *
Asian                                                          73%                        *

*Sample size too small


Source: AZED Oct. 5



This information appears in the November issue of InMaricopa.

The Sequoia Pathway volleyball team had a perfect regular season and reached the CAA semifinals. Top row: Coach Holley, Emma Berg, Alexis Powell, Volunteer Assistant Jodi Kalulu; middle row: Cydnee Byrd, Lynniece Andrews, Lexi Trimmer, Mikayla Gallon and Lani Kalulu; bottom row: Taylor Yon, Mercedes Garcia, Jasmin Nafarrate and Jameshia Hughes.

 

Last night the Sequoia Pathway volleyball team experienced its first loss of the season against the Basis Peoria Scorpions in a hard-fought four-setter.  The 1-3 defeat means the Pumas will not advance to the Canyon Athletic Association’s Division II State Championship.

“The girls held on to their nerves for too long,” coach Lashieka Holley said of the game.

However, Holley was more upbeat about the season past as a whole and the one to come.

“The girls ended the season 16-1,” Holley said. “They really came together and had an unprecedented season, which sets us up for next year. They will be ready for those close games.”

Two juniors are slated to return next season, as will a number of freshmen and sophomores, preserving a strong core. Despite the loss, the camaraderie developed by the tight-knit squad was itself a form of victory.

“We worked really hard as soon as we came in from tryouts,” said Lynniece Andrews, the team’s court captain. “We weren’t as bonded back then, and that was a big piece, because we had different components coming in. We all meshed together and we’re sisters now. We work hard everyday and every game.”

Another Puma captain, Jasmin Nafarrate, echoed this sentiment.

“We have our ups and downs, of course, every team does, but we really did bond together,” said Nafarrate, who described her own role on the team as the “emotional support captain.”

“I’m like a big sister. If they need any advice off the court, anything going on with their families, boy troubles, I’m always there for them. I’m just a shoulder to lean on.”

Holley had hoped the Pumas’ extra practices and long hours would have end in the goal they wrote down shortly after tryouts: winning the state championship for their division. 

“They really put themselves through it this year,” Holley said. “They are a really hard-working group of girls, a special group.”

Shianne Holman guides students through the process of reading local news and using traditional media as they learn to consume information. Photo by Mason Callejas

 

In an age dominated by digital platforms, Shianne Holman’s fourth-grade students learn hands-on, practical skills like public speaking, reading a paper map and writing checks.

But it’s the teacher, with her bubbly personality and welcoming smile, that motivates students to come to social studies class at Sequoia Pathway Academy.

“She makes me feel joyful, happy and calm,” said 9-year-old James Newman.

Shianne Holman brought a background in education – from security to secretary to paraprofessional – to her newest position as fourth-grade teacher at Sequoia Pathway Academy. Photo by Mason Callejas

A native of Hawaii, Holman is in her second year teaching.

Prior to earning her master’s degree in Elementary Education, she built her resume with wide-ranging school positions in Washington state – from security to secretary to paraprofessional.

And she covers it all in class, too.

With segments in government, economics and state history, Holman’s students are exposed to real-world applications of modern-day issues.

In September, they begin lessons on current events. The children study news of the day from magazines and newsprint collected by Holman from local outlets.

“They need to know what’s happening,” Holman said. “They need to know what’s going on.”

Technology has evolved the education system. Its effects are present in every school’s computer lab and digital smart screens. Holman’s students, likely having navigating hand-held devices since a young age, are exposed in class to the idea that tech can – and does – fail.

That’s why students receive teachings from traditional textbooks, dissect and create map legends, and use their hands to flip through the tangible pages of a news magazine.

Through those lessons, Holman’s students learn to identify the structure of informational texts and gain experience with traditional mediums still produced today.

Photo by Mason Callejas

“I hope they are able to use their experiences that they’re learning now and apply it to become better for us,” Holman said. “They’re our future. Who’s going to take care of us?”

Being informed is an important key in Holman’s teaching philosophy.

Every year her students compose a classroom constitution and submit votes to a handmade ballot box.

“I try to make everything into a real-life situation. I tell them if our parents and grandparents hadn’t gone through what they went through, we wouldn’t have the things we have now, such as technology,” Holman said.

Holman’s educational nostalgia even reaches into the scripts of penmanship – with occasional worksheets on cursive handwriting.

Her fourth-grade teaching colleagues say Holman’s love for educating is illustrated not just by her personality, but also her sundry lesson plans.

“Shianne brings such a passion to teaching, and it shows because her students are always excited to enter her class,” said social studies teacher Dillon Shosted. “Shianne is always looking for new ways to reach all of her students with instructional practices.”

Holman has lived in Maricopa since 2014 with her husband Jonathan and their three daughters Tiani, 11, Nara, 9, and 6-year-old Azaria.

The new educator said she considers former and current students family and hopes her hands-on teachings will produce future leaders.

“I feel like maybe it will inspire one of the kids,” Holman said, “and if that’s one, then that’s better than none.”


This story appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.

 

Back to school

Members of the Maricopa High School band continued to perform during the summer in preparation for an early start to the school year.

 

It will still be July when students return to class in the Maricopa Unified School District, Legacy Traditional and Sequoia Pathway this year.

In exchange for an expedited first day of school, kids will get to spend an additional week off during fall, winter and spring breaks.

The changes at MUSD come as part of a modified calendar adopted by the school Governing Board in early 2017. The district operated an additional year under its traditional calendar to give families and staff time to plan ahead. The two charter schools then chose to follow suit.

Back in 2017, parents voiced concern about childcare during the extended breaks and how the July start-date would negatively affect teen workers with summer jobs.

Others are not worried.

“As a stay-at-home mom, (the new schedule) doesn’t really affect our family,” said Karen Fortunato. “Our family is pretty excited about the changes.”

Some educators in the district are also pleased.

Kathy Fuentes, special education teacher at Saddleback Elementary School, has experience working under the modified calendar in another district.

She loved it then and is looking forward to spending more time off in the cooler weather months of October and March.

“It also gives families a week to take care of doctor appointments and other business and then a week, or so, to rest and relax,” Fuentes said.

A sixth-grade teacher at Maricopa Wells Middle School, Rachael Isenberg, also likes the additional time she’ll have to schedule appointments and travel.

Isenberg was on the district calendar committee and deliberated the reasons why the district should adopt the new schedule.

“We considered things like getting kids out of the worst of the heat and continuity of curriculum and instruction,” Isenberg said.

But the committee also looked at how the extended breaks could benefit educators and families.

Isenberg said teachers often spent the one-week vacations in waiting rooms – cramming in medical appointments during break to avoid missing a day of school.

She said the extended breaks could alleviate that.

Even with its benefits, teachers said the new schedule doesn’t come without a degree of adaptation, especially with summer break.

“For me, it has already made the summer feel shorter,” said Desert Wind music teacher Roger Wagner, who said marching band camp begins one week before staff returns to school

Many educators like Alicia Chin, a science teacher a Maricopa High School, teach summer school and participate in curriculum planning well into June.

School begins July 23.

“I will only be able to take a couple weeks to myself before I need to be back to work again preparing for next year,” Chin said.

MHS Music Director Ivan Pour called the schedule changes “minimal,” although the fall break is in the middle of marching band season.

Beginning school in July means the marching band will have more time overall to rehearse, but Pour said he will have to reconfigure his spring programming because of the new schedule.

“A calendar is a calendar and it is the same number of (school) days,” Pour said, adding, “I think, ultimately, it will allow for more intentional teaching throughout the school year with less progress lost in summer. But it will take some getting used to.”


This story appears in the July issue of InMaricopa.

Photo by Victor Moreno

Sequoia Pathway Academy celebrated the graduating class in commencement exercises Friday night. More than 70 seniors graduated from the charter school as Mayor Christian Price was the guest speaker.  See senior photos of the graduates here.

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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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.

At least two charter schools in Maricopa will be closed Thursday for a planned #RedForEd teacher walkout.

Sequoia Pathway Academy Campus Director Alfonso F. Alva said Monday the school will be closed Thursday and Friday. That makes SPA one of eight EdKey schools planning to close for the walkout. The Maricopa campus was already scheduled to be closed Friday.

Late Tuesday, Leading Edge Academy told parents the school would close Thursday and Friday, a decision based on the number of teachers and staff indicating they would not be at school. Legacy Traditional School, another large charter, is currently slated to be open.

Statewide, educators have called for a work stoppage to bring awareness to the issues of teacher pay and education funding in Arizona. In a rejection of Gov. Doug Ducey’s proposal for what is being described as a 20-percent raise by 2020, a majority of teachers voted last week to walkout April 26.

The effort is being organized by Arizona Education Association, Arizona Educators United and other teachers. The duration of the walkout has not been determined.

Neighboring districts in Stanfield and Mobile both intend to stay open. Monday, Stanfield Superintendent Melissa Sadorf posted an announcement to parents explaining a full schedule Thursday and early release Friday.

During those two days, she said, “some teachers will not be at work and on those days we may be short-staffed.”


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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

Sequoia Pathway Academy basketball is heating up.

The Pumas junior high basketball team will play their regular season finale tonight in Tucson. The boys, coming off their 10th consecutive win, are ranked fifth in the Canyon Athletic Association.

The team won the Imagine Prep Basketball Tournament in January and are gearing up for their playoff run on Feb. 9 at Pathway.

Third-ranked varsity girls’ basketball remains undefeated at 11-0.

The team is led by “the most exciting basketball player in the state,” according to Pathway Athletic Director Nate Wong.

That player is sophomore point guard Aleina Estrada.

“Despite being the smallest player on the floor, she is averaging more than 20 points per game,” Wong said. “This week against perennial powerhouse Salt River High School, she scored 27 as the Lady Pumas won 52-29.”

Girls Varsity went on to defeat Mission Heights Prep 60-30 Wednesday night and face off at home against Coolidge’s Imagine Prep Feb. 2 at 5 p.m.

The Pumas play in Division 2 Region 5 of CAA.

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Photo by Anita McLeod

Sequoia Pathway Academy’s varsity football team moved to 4-3 on the season with a victory in its final home game Friday. The Pumas defeated Heritage Academy-Laveen, 14-6. The school also celebrated Senior Night for the young team. SPA is scheduled to finish its season Oct. 27 against Harvest Prep at Desert Sun Stadium. The Pumas are in second place in the Fiesta Conference of the Canyon Athletic Association.

 

MUSD and other schools in Maricopa saw their state letter grades drop this year.

The majority of local schools have received lowered A-F letter grades since the scores were last released by the state in 2014.

The district will hold two meetings for parents regarding the A-F letter grades on Oct. 18. The first meeting will be held at 10 a.m. and another at 7 p.m. at the MUSD Governing Board Room, 44150 W. Maricopa Casa Grande Highway.

Schools received their letter grades for the 2016-17 school year from the Arizona Department of Education last week. The results were formally released to the public Oct. 9.

The state’s “A-F Accountability system” was recently adopted in April and measures new testing and achievement standards.

“Arizona’s new transparent A-F system has clear objectives and metrics that focus less on the results of one test, but place a greater emphasis on student growth,” said Tim Carter, president of the Arizona State Board of Education in a press release on Sept. 25.

Letter grades are partially based on results from the AzMERIT standardized test and a combination of other factors including proficiency, growth, English Language Learners’ growth and proficiency, and acceleration/readiness factors.

Indicators are weighted differently for K-8 schools and high schools. For example, 80 percent of K-8 scores are dependent on AzMERIT proficiency and growth, whereas high school scores in that category make up 50 percent.

The 2016-17 letter grades are the first to be released after the state took a “two-year hiatus allowing for a transition to higher academics and a new assessment.”

Legacy Traditional School and Pima Butte Elementary, the only formerly “A”-rated schools in Maricopa, lowered to “B” ratings.

Both middle schools in the Maricopa Unified School District, Desert Wind and Maricopa Wells, lowered from “C” to “D” ratings.

Saddleback Elementary “C”; Santa Cruz Elementary “B”; and Maricopa High School “C”, all maintained their letter grades.

Butterfield Elementary, Maricopa Elementary and Santa Rosa Elementary all lowered from “B”-rated schools to “C” ratings.

Charter school Sequoia Pathway Academy rated “C” in both its K-8 and 9-12 schools. Leading Edge Academy received a “B” rating.

Holsteiner Agricultural School, Camino Montessori School and nearby Mobile Elementary School did not receive ratings.

According to an ADE press release “the State Board voted to not assign FY17 letter grades for schools exclusively serving grades K-2 and small schools.”

Those ratings are scheduled to be released to the smaller schools in mid-January, and opened to the public in February.

Regionally, Stanfield Elementary School received the lowest “F” rating.

Maricopa’s largest public school district, MUSD, has for years publicly campaigned to become an “A”-rated district.

However, challenges most schools experienced adapting to the new standardized test and letter grade system have proved that goal is still ahead of the district.

“We knew that this was a tougher test (AzMERIT) and more demanding curriculum standards, so we knew that it was quite possible that letter grades could drop,” said MUSD Superintendent Steve Chestnut.

The district’s recent efforts in passing an override, hiring 50 additional teaching staff, and implementing new technology in schools are all ways the district plans to improve scores in the future, Chestnut said.

“We believe that we have good strategies in place to continue to improve and that’s our goal,” Chestnut said.

This year, the district opened Ram Academy, an alternative program for high school students with credit deficiencies. Chestnut said those students’ scores will be included in next year’s state letter grades for Maricopa High School because the academy is not considered separate from MHS, at least for now.

The district will hold two meetings for parents regarding the A-F letter grades on Oct. 18. The first meeting will be held at 10 a.m. and another at 7 p.m. at the MUSD Governing Board Room located at 44150 W. Maricopa Casa Grande Highway.

Photo by Victor Moreno

The Sequoia Pathway volleyball team defeated Summit in straight sets Tuesday, 25-20, 25-6, 25-11, to build its record to 8-2 overall.

“We are now undefeated in our conference and remain first in our conference,” coach Dawnell Haupt said. “We are working hard to keep our position in post season playoffs.”

The Pumas share the Far South Conference in the Canyon Athletic Association with Mission Heights Prep and Imagine Prep Coolidge.

In Tuesday’s game, Lynniece Andrews had nine kills and 11 aces. Cyndee Byrd had five kills and 17 aces. Mickayla Gallon had five aces, and Lexi Trimmer had three blocks.

They next play at American Leadership Academy – Gilbert Friday at 3 p.m.

Photo by Victor Moreno

 

After a season-opening loss at home last week, the Sequoia Pathway Academy varsity football team will be on the road Friday taking on Imagine Superstition. Photographer Victor Moreno shared photos from the Pumas’ first game, a scoreless effort against ALA-Gilbert.

Sequoia Pathway Academy is going through the arduous, voluntary process of becoming an accredited high school.

Sequoia Pathway Academy is seeking accreditation, school officials said.

Mariama Jenkins, a spokesman for accrediting agency AdvancED, said the charter school became a candidate for accreditation in April after first applying in 2014.

The school opened in 2009.

“We are happy to be partners with AdvancED and will continue finalizing our process,” said District Director Alfonso Alva.

A parent of one graduate has said she was surprised to learn Pathway was a nonaccredited school.

Danelle Mayfield’s son graduated from the school in May. She heard Pathway was not accredited two months later through a social media post on a community forum.

“Since we’ve now found out that Pathway is not an accredited school, my son even told me that if he would have known that, he would’ve gone to Maricopa (High School) to graduate,” Mayfield said.

Mayfield pulled her fourth-grade daughter from the school this year and placed her in a Maricopa Unified School District elementary “because of the accreditation status and because of the multiple teachers and administration that [were] leaving Pathway,” she said.

Notable administrative changes at the school over the summer included the departure of former high school Principal Nate Lamma and elementary Assistant Principal Aundre Bell.

Alva said the school is scheduled to have an accreditation review by AdvancED next spring per policy.

Mark Plitzuweit, CEO of Edkey Inc., the parent company over Sequoia Pathway Academy, said although accreditation for K-12 schools is not a requirement, the administration is committed to following through with the rest of the process.

“Our graduates are able to continue on into fields of their choosing, even as far back as 2009, as long as they meet either the employment requirements or school entrance requirements,” Plitzuweit said.

Graduates from nonaccredited schools still have access to higher learning, although they may have additional steps to complete before acceptance.

For example, according to an Arizona State University spokesperson, ASU will accept students who have graduated from a nonaccredited high school, if they meet freshman admission requirements and additional criteria, including:

  • An admissible GED score, or
  • completion of an associate’s degree, or
  • Written confirmation/acknowledgement that the school in question is in progress of seeking accreditation from the state, or
  • Written confirmation/acknowledgement that the state recognizes diplomas from this school. 

Accredited schools in Maricopa include Legacy Traditional Charter School and Maricopa High School. The purpose of accreditation is to certify an institution has met established standards and assist the school in achieving goals.

Maricopa athletes working for spots on this year’s high school varsity teams: (from left) Sequoia Pathway Academy volleyball players Lynniece Andrews, Kelsey Blatz and Keara Simpson, Maricopa High School cross country runner Megan Carr, SPA soccer player Brian Gardner, MHS football players Taylor Belcher, Kemo Akin and Cameron Sanders, MHS volleyball players Tyla Gooden and Mackenzie Ford, and SPA football players Jacob Burbo, Cade Bell, Richard Joaquin and Tyler Burton. Photo montage by Victor Moreno

 

  1. SPA Volleyball

Dawnell Haupt returns to Pathway for her fourth year as head coach of the varsity Pumas volleyball team. Most of the team is also returning, and the Pumas are expected to make a run for the Canyon Athletic Association title.

 

2. MHS Cross Country

The boys’ cross country team defied expectations last season and earned a spot in the state championships. They lost a couple of senior leaders but still have eyes set on qualifying meets at the end of the season. Meanwhile, the girls have struggled to field a consistent team. Both boys’ and girls’ teams are coached by Heather Abel, and both will be in competition Aug. 30 at Tumbleweed Park in Chandler.

 

3. SPA Boys’ Soccer

After a four-year hiatus, Pathway will have a varsity boys’ soccer team in the fall this year, led by new head coach Juan Garavito, who saw good participation in summer clinics and camps. The school didn’t have the student population to support a soccer program, but enthusiasm was recently renewed after a co-ed program at the junior high was introduced last spring.

 

4. MHS Football

Led by head coach Chris McDonald, the Maricopa Rams’ first action is a scrimmage at Notre Dame Aug. 11. They open the season Aug. 18 hosting Willow Canyon and then play at Paradise Valley Aug. 25. The Rams were 5-5 last season and finished fourth in 5A Metro in its first season of existence.

 

5. MHS Volleyball

The Rams’ volleyball team posted a 9-9 record in 2016, their first season with coach Jecksan Quinones. Maricopa returns to action Aug. 24 in a scrimmage at Valley Christian. The Rams’ first season game is at Vista Grande Aug. 29, and they host Paradise Valley Aug. 31. They have two tournaments scheduled.

 

6. SPA Football

The Pathway Pumas will be led by a new head coach this season. Anthony Nava was an assistant coach for Casa Grande Union High School, as well as a coach for semi-professional teams in the Arizona Football League. Pathway’s season begins Sept. 1 at Pacana Park against Gilbert’s American Leadership Academy.

 

MHS Golf

Maricopa’s boys’ and girls’ golf teams will be under the tutelage of coach John Tobin but with different schedules. The boys’ home course is Ak-Chin Southern Dunes. Their first competition is Aug. 29 at Seville Country Club in Gilbert. The girls, who played instructional league last year, don’t play until Sept. 11.

 

SPA Cross Country

Coach Justin Price will return to lead Pathway’s varsity cross country team. Athletic Director Nate Wong hopes new practice times will breed faster, stronger runners. The team will practice at 6 a.m. instead of the afternoon.

 

For complete schedules, visit InMaricopa.com/Calendar/.

Principal Nate Lamma has stepped aside after eight years at Sequoia Pathway. Stepping in is Alfonso Alva.

Sequoia Pathway Academy High School will gain new leadership in the upcoming school year.

Former principal Nathan Lamma said he will not be returning. Lamma said he is leaving to be closer to home and to spend more time with his family.

“The staff, families and students have been my life for the last eight years, and great things will keep happening for the Pumas,” Lamma said.

The new high school principal at Pathway is Alfonso Alva, who serves as campus director.

“I am looking forward to meeting our students, staff, parents and community members,” Alva said.

Before coming to Pathway, Alva was the college campus chair for the College of Education at the University of Phoenix, according to a statement supplied by Alva.

Pathway’s new principal said he has 20 years of experience in education ranging from classroom teacher to a variety of administrator positions including assistant principal, principal, district director and university chair.

“Dr. Alva holds a B.A. in Elementary Education from Prescott College, an M.Ed. in Elementary Education from Northern Arizona University, and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. In 2009, he completed his Ed.D in Educational Leadership and Innovation from Arizona State University,” the statement reads.

Sequoia Pathway Academy Elementary School will also see changes in its administration. Lamma confirmed Assistant Principal Aundre Bell has resigned. Bell could not be reached for comment.

Demond Williams, high school head football coach, is also leaving Pathway. The school has posted an opening for the position on its website.

Some of Maricopa's "super seniors" are (from left) Nikolas Mase, Tyler Curtis, Pamela Crabajales, Abigail Paternina, John Blodgett, Diamond Sims, Aisawan Chanpraphap, Marina Vasquez and Carlos Venegas. Photo by Victor Moreno

The class of 2017 at Maricopa High School and Sequoia Pathway Academy is filled with many goal-oriented, career-minded individuals. Learn about just a few of them as they prepare for the commencement of their next steps. The MHS graduation ceremony is scheduled for May 25 at 7:30 p.m. at Ram Stadium. Co-valedictorians are Alfred Abraham and John Blodgett. Salutatorian is Rachel Blakely. The SPA ceremony is May 26 at 7 p.m. in its gymnasium. Valedictorian is Hailey Cantrell. Salutatorian is Anali Warner.

 

Alfred Abraham

Alfred Abraham (submitted photo)

Born in India and raised his first three years in Singapore, Abraham is the co-valedictorian of Maricopa High School’s graduating class. Considered to be “Special Ed” early in school, he has since been the academic leader of the Class of 2017 all through high school, with his career sights set on biomedical engineering.

Years in Maricopa: 11
Originally from: India
Career goals: Engineer

Accomplishment: Member of a team that placed eighth out of 24 in a Vex Robotics competition with limited time and resources to prepare compared to other teams.

Reaction: I was initially surprised. For much of the competition, my team was doing just average; it stayed at 12th place out of 24. But then, after the last three or four rounds, we ended up in eighth place. Immediately after a moment of surprise, I felt happy. The skill of my teammates was a key factor in our success, and I was proud of what we accomplished. This prepared me for the workforce as Vex Robotics promotes the development of scientific and mathematical skills, skills that are essential for engineering.

How do you plan to achieve your career goals? I will attend ASU in August in order to get at least a bachelor’s degree in engineering. While in college, I will do internships in my specific field, biomedical engineering, that will give me some career-related experience. I also aim to get a part-time job around Maricopa after my graduation so I can get some experience in the workplace.

 

Rachel Blakely

Rachel Blakely (submitted photo)

A long-timer by local standards, Blakely has been a Maricopa resident since kindergarten and is now the salutatorian of her class at Maricopa High School. As a freshman she was already taking junior-level math and tackled senior-level math as a sophomore, setting herself on the path to a career.

Years in Maricopa: 13
Originally from: Mesa
Career goal: High school math teacher

Accomplishment: Being two years ahead in math

Reaction: Proud of my hard work and realized it was something I wanted to do in my life after high school.

How do you plan to achieve your career goals? Attend University of Portland and major in secondary education and mathematics, hard work, determination and dedication.

 

John Blodgett

John Blodgett. Photo by Victor Moreno

A co-valedictorian at Maricopa High School, Blodgett is a cadet major in the Air Force Junior ROTC program, Link Crew leader, National Honor Society member, teacher assistant, Robotics team member, member of cross country and track teams and a member of Si Se Puede Foundation. He received two military academy appointments and chose West Point.

Years in Maricopa: 12
Originally from: Phoenix
Career goal: U.S. Army officer

Accomplishment: Receiving appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point

Reaction: I was very excited! Knowing that all of my hard work in high school had gotten me accepted to one of the best schools in the country caused great joy to surge through me.

How do you plan to achieve your career goals? I plan on continuing to strive for my goals by trying to be the best I can in everything I do, while at the same time helping others do the same.

 

Hailey Cantrell

Hailey Cantrell (submitted photo)

Cantrell is the valedictorian at Sequoia Pathway Academy. A member of the National Honor Society, she has been on every Principal’s List throughout high school. She completed two college English courses and a child development course and has been a mentor. She will attend Grand Canyon University and plans to return to PSA as an assistant Student Council advisor.

Years in Maricopa: 7
Originally from: Newport Beach, California
Career goal: Teacher, administrator, professor

Accomplishment: Student Council president for two years

Reaction: We all went through our speeches, and when I finished everyone smiled. It made me happy because I was elected to lead and better our school.

How do you plan to achieve your career goals? I will continue to stay organized, responsible and not give up. Also, this career is what makes me happy. I just want to help students; I want to teach them valuable lessons. 

 

Aisawan Chanpraphap

Aisawan Chanpraphap. Photo by Victor Moreno

Chanpraphap’s family moved to the United States when she was 7 years old and moved from Virginia to Maricopa when she was in fifth grade. A gifted art student at Maricopa High School, she also runs cross country and track.

Years in Maricopa: 7
Originally from: Thailand
Career goal: Art teacher

Accomplishment: Won second place at Art on the Veranda against professionals

Reaction: I went to help out at Art on the Veranda expecting it to be the same as last year, where all I did was help sell art pieces, but during the early morning session I noticed a judge circling around my art piece and examining it. I did not want to get my hopes up so I kind of pushed it to the back of my mind, to the point that I actually forgot about it altogether. So it came as a big shock when the judge came back around and told me to go get my ribbon in front of a small crowd!

How do you plan to achieve your career goals? Attend NAU majoring in art education in the fall, and once I am more financially independent I would like to attend an actual art school, preferably The Art Institute of Chicago.

 

Pamela Crabajales

Pamela Crabajales. Photo by Victor Moreno

Crabajales has been involved with a number of institutions around town, from Youth Council to Maricopa Police Department, while being a member of the National Honor Society and DECA at Maricopa High School. She is a Link Crew leader and school newspaper editor.

Years in Maricopa: 7
Originally from: Philippines
Career goal: United Nations nurse

Accomplishment: Having the opportunity to volunteer with the different organizations in Maricopa. It led me to find my passion in helping to serve others.

Reaction: One day that really stuck out to me was when I was volunteering for Against Abuse Inc. with their latest gala. That night I saw how much the cause meant a lot to people and I felt like I was a part of something great. I realized how much I enjoyed giving back to my community.

How do you plan to achieve your career goals? I plan on taking steps before leaping to my main goal of being a United Nations nurse by attending college and later specializing in forensics so that I gain plenty of experience and help plenty of people along the way. 

 

Tyler Curtis

Tyler Curtis. Photo by Victor Moreno

Curtis has grown from being the Maricopa Unified School District spelling champ in elementary school to a virtual repertory actor in four plays a year. She will attend a private conservatory in New York City.

Years in Maricopa: 7
Originally from: Denver, Colorado
Career goal: Broadway performer

Accomplishment: Cast as Madame Thenardier in “Les Miserables”

Reaction: It was my favorite role out of the 12 I’ve been able to do at MHS.

How do you plan to achieve your career goals? I’m attending the American Musical and Dramatic Academy to pursue musical theatre to continue my training.

  

Nikolas Mase

Nikolas Mase. Photo by Victor Moreno

An accomplished singer and actor, garnering scores of Excellent and Superior in state competition, Mase came to Maricopa High School from Legacy Traditional School.

Years in Maricopa: 5
Originally from: New York
Career goal: Broadway performer and theater teacher

Accomplishment: Playing Javert in “Les Miserables”

Reaction: I was ecstatic. Javert has been one of my dream roles, and I was amazed that I had the opportunity to portray his character as a high schooler.

How do you plan to achieve your career goals? I am planning on pursuing an education in musical theatre. After getting the training I need, I am going to move to New York and start auditioning for shows on Broadway. After obtaining my degree I would also like to become certified to teach theatre so I can continue to inspire students just as my high school theatre teacher inspired me.

 

Karla Orci Vega

Karla Orci Vega (submitted photo)

Orci Vega is on track to earn two nursing certificates through CAVIT by her Maricopa High School graduation. Also a softball player, she is planning to earn her master’s degree in nursing, taking her next educational step at Central Arizona College.

Years in Maricopa: 11
Originally from: Tempe
Career goal: Nurse practitioner

Accomplishment: Getting accepted into the CAVIT Nursing Program

Reaction: I got a letter in the mail telling me I was accepted into the program. I felt relieved because it was a huge step in the right direction for me. It made me feel excited as well because it would help me determine if nursing would be the right career for me.

How do you plan to achieve your career goals going forward? I will be attending CAC in Maricopa. Then I will transfer to ASU and finish school there.

 

Abigail Paternina

Abigail Paternina. Photo by Victor Moreno

A child of immigrants, Paternina took several AP classes at Sequoia Pathway Academy after advancing from Leading Edge Academy, received a class poetry award her junior year and was named Homecoming queen this year. She will attend Northern Arizona University.

Years in Maricopa: 11
Originally from: Clifton, New Jersey
Career goal: Cultural studies

Accomplishment: Full-ride scholarship to NAU

Reaction: I still recall the utmost joy I felt upon receiving the admission call that fateful day in November. I was home alone and could not stop thanking the admissions officer after she told me, and upon my parents’ arrival home, could not stop the beam that overtook my features when telling them the news of my admission.

How do you plan to achieve your career goals? I plan on achieving these goals by applying and pushing myself toward excellence and beyond boundaries in college, and by exposing myself to new opportunities by putting myself out there. After university, I plan on joining the Peace Corps and embarking on a two-year mission abroad in Colombia, in order to give back to my parents’ home country, which I would be nothing without.

 

Diamond Sims

Diamond Sims. Photo by Victor Moreno

Sims came to Maricopa High School as a freshman and soon set a goal to obtain a master’s degree in law. Wanting to do that as soon as possible, she attended summer school to put her on the path to graduating a year early and will attend Arizona State University.

Years in Maricopa: 3
Originally from: Joliet, Illinois
Career goal: Criminal attorney

Accomplishment: Completing two classes of summer school to qualify for early graduation

Reaction: During the last day of my summer classes I was anxious and relieved because I knew the following summer I’d be getting ready to go to college to finally start my dream career.

How do you plan to achieve your career goals going forward? I’ll complete 10 years of schooling and within the first eight years I’ll do internships to build up my skill to become a criminal lawyer.

 

Robinson Torres

Robinson Torres (submitted photo)

An honor roll student at Maricopa High School, Torres is a nursing program student in CAVIT, helping at a clinic in Sacaton. He has worked blood drives and helped feed needy children. He will attend Central Arizona College.

Originally from: Brooklyn, New York
Career goal: Physical therapist/sports medicine

Accomplishment: CAVIT Clinics

Reaction: The CAVIT clinics helped people. It was heart-warming and breath-taking.

How do you plan to achieve your career goals? Going to CAC for two years, thanks to my Promise to the Future, then I’ll transfer to a four-year university that specializes in my desired profession. Most important part to achieve my goal is hard work and dedication.

 

Marina Vasquez

Marina Vasquez. Photo by Victor Moreno

Vasquez leaped two grades to graduate early from Sequoia Pathway Academy, where she took four AP courses, has a 4.3 grade point average and is a member of the National Honor Society. She used online courses to teach herself quantum mechanics. She will attend Arizona State University Barrett Honors College.

Years in Maricopa: 11
Originally from: Southern California
Career goal: Professional puzzle solver (aka mechanical engineer)

Accomplishment: Graduating two years early

Reaction: The day that it sunk in I was graduating at 15 was the most excited (and terrified) I had ever felt. The sense of accomplishment was so outstanding that all my fears were set aside because I had no doubt in my mind that this was the best choice that I could have made.

How do you plan to achieve your career goals? I put my heart and soul into everything I do, and my biggest goal throughout college is to keep that passion and find ways to showcase it in my work. I believe grit and work ethic are the two deciding factors for success and I will strive to carry these traits with me in order to help achieve my career goals.

 

Carlos Venegas

Carolos Venegas. Photo by Victor Moreno

Venegas came to Maricopa High School his sophomore year and has been heavily involved in the MHS Theatre Company, landing leads in “Les Miserables” and “Beauty & the Beast,” and also playing community theater. He will attend the University of Arizona.

Years in Maricopa: 3
Originally from: Salt Lake City, Utah
Career goal: Musical theatre

Accomplishment: Achieved highest score of “superior” for solo in Central Arizona Festival of Theatre

Reaction: I took “Bring Him Home,” so it was a song I was very familiar with. I just let all the practice take over and focused more on calming my nerves and making sure those didn’t take over in my song. … You just try to do the best you can do and wait for the results at the end of the day. It was definitely a really good experience, though, connecting with other schools and competing.

How do you plan to achieve your career goals? An actor’s job is not to act but to audition, because you do so much more auditioning than you do performing. So I’ve worked a lot on auditioning with everything I have and being able to display the best me talent-wise that I can put forth. So I’ve been really working on that and hopefully that will help me reach that end goal of being able to perform hopefully for the rest of my life.

 

Anali Warner

Anali Warner (submitted photo)

Warner is the salutatorian of Sequoia Pathway’s Class of 2017. She will attend Northern Arizona University on a Lumberjack Scholarship. Though her major is undecided, she would like her abilities channeled into community service.

Years in Maricopa: 4
Originally from: Racine, Wisconsin
Career goal: To be well-informed, comfortable and active in helping others in whatever I do.

Accomplishment: Inducted into National Honor Society

Reaction: Joyful and motivated. Being able to achieve such a high award made me realize that I am capable of achieving whatever I strive for and that I am capable of greatness.

How do you plan to achieve your career goals? I plan on attending college and going on to higher education in the future. I intend to get involved in my community and activism, to improve others’ well-being and my own. I also plan on joining committees and social groups that coordinate with my future career, goals and interests.


This story appears in the May issue of InMaricopa.

Photo by Michelle Chance

When one of fiction’s most memorable screwballs is hauled into an insane asylum in Sequoia Pathway Academy’s production of “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” it has all the clinical appearance of an actual mental ward.

Kevin Struble’s terrific set creates a tone that no dialogue can, its clean and ordered lines contrasting the manic psychological situation of the patients. It even includes a fully realized nurse’s station – with sliding glass window – that is pivotal to the action of the high school play.

R.P. McMurphy (Derek Reiher) enters this world of enforced tranquility as a loud agitator spreading hijinks in his wake. He can win over the doctor but not the infamous Nurse Ratched (Kacie Swaffield), as cold and detached as the walls that surround them.

That turns into a power struggle, with patients caught in the middle. A range of mental disorders is on display, and an expose of the deficient treatment too at hand in the 20th century. There is the blatant physical bullying by the staff (Jaiden Simcic and Jillian Alvarez) and the more subtly cruel abuse by Ratched.

Reiher brings a very naturalistic style to his central role and makes projection look easy. He’s clearly having fun in a story that quickly shifts from light to dark. Swaffield is cool and quiet in contrast but still believably as deadly as a snake.

Then there is Chief Bromden, an outsider even among the inmates but full of inner life. Grace Castellanos, in a great example of unexpectedly effective casting, gives Chief’s soliloquies the passionate touch of a slam poet. That is made particularly personal under Craig Fleming’s lighting.

Director David Blanchard’s wise decision to abandon the multipurpose room’s small stage for a floor-level performance has its disadvantages (sight and sound is sometimes muddled for the audience), but one of its biggest benefits is the easier flow of action in the large set piece.

It gives characters like Billy Bibbit (Jeremy Greifer), Dale Harding (Abigail Paternina), Candy (Kaytlin Bovey) and Sandra (Halley Sanchez) room to breathe and react. And the nurses in their nurse’s station are shielded from it all.

The next performances of “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” are Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m. and then on May 5 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for adults are $10 at the door.

 

Important meetings and the city’s monthly Game Night are part of this week’s activities in Maricopa. Below, Sequoia Pathway student Kacie Swaffield invites the community to the school’s production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” For details on these and other listings, or to add your own, visit http://www.inmaricopa.com/calendar/

  

MONDAY

  

Color Yourself Calm is at 11 a.m. at Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road.

 

 A Ray of Hope meeting of Narcotics Anonymous is at 7 p.m. at Maricopa Community Church, 44977 W. Hathaway Ave.

  

TUESDAY

  

Day Trip to Sedona & Montezuma Castle leaves at 9 a.m. from Copper Sky Multigenerational Center, 44345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

 

 Coffee with Friends of the Maricopa Library is at 1:30 p.m. at Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road.

 

 Maricopa Police Explorer Post Meeting is at 5 p.m. at Maricopa High School, 45012 W. Honeycutt Ave.

  

Celebrate Recovery Coffee & Karaoke is at 5 p.m. at Maricopa Community Church, 44977 W. Hathaway Ave.

  

Maricopa Youth Council meets at 6 p.m. in Multipurpose Room A at Copper Sky, 45345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

 
Charcoal Drawing for Everyone, via Copper Sky, is at 6:30 p.m. at Central Arizona College – Maricopa Campus, 17945 N. Regent Drive.

 

 WEDNESDAY

  

Harrah’s Club 777 Toastmasters meet at 3 p.m. at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino, 15406 Maricopa Road.

  

Parks, Recreation and Libraries Committee meets at 6 p.m. at Maricopa City Hall, 39700 W. Civic Center Plaza.

 
MUSD Governing Board Meeting is at 6:30 p.m. at Maricopa Unified School District, 44150 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Hwy.

  

THURSDAY

 

 MUSD Gifted Parent Meeting is at 5:30 p.m. at Saddleback Elementary School, 18600 N. Porter Road.

  

A Ray of Hope meeting of Narcotics Anonymous is at 7 p.m. at Ak-Chin Social Services, 48227 W. Farrell Road.

  

FRIDAY

  

Multigenerational Game Night is at 6:30 p.m. at Copper Sky Multigenerational Center, 44345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

  

“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is at 7 p.m. at Sequoia Pathway Academy, 19287 N Porter Road.

  

Strength & Hope Al-Anon Meeting is at 7 p.m. at Community of Hope Church, 45295 W. Honeycutt Ave.

  

SATURDAY

  

“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is at 2 p.m. and again at 7 p.m. at Sequoia Pathway Academy, 19287 N Porter Road.

  

SUNDAY

  

A Ray of Hope meeting of Narcotics Anonymous is at 7 p.m. at Maricopa Community Church, 44977 W. Hathaway Ave.

Schools near Pacana Park sent out letters to parents after an odd incident that got a man banned from city parks.

Maricopa Police responded to a suspicious-person call at Pacana Park Wednesday morning, April 19, after a female student was approached by an individual who began asking her questions about her age.

The 17-year-old Sequoia Pathway student reported the incident to school staff, who then contacted police. Officers questioned the 55-year-old man who was found still fishing at Pacana Park.

MPD spokesman Ricardo Alvarado confirmed the man, who has no criminal history, was not found to have committed any crimes. However, based on his response to certain questioning, he was indefinitely barred from returning to Pacana Park and Copper Sky Regional Park.

Other schools in the area were also notified of the incident and sent out letters to parents to explain the situation and offer safety tips.

 

 

Grace Castellanos (left) and Derek Reiher perform in “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Photo by Michelle Chance

By Michelle Chance

It’s a story about rebellion against asylum-hood oppression.

Although the setting for the award-winning film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest took place decades ago, acting students at Sequoia Pathway Academy are learning about mental health awareness in today’s society by portraying patients inside a psychiatric ward.

The play opens April 28 at 7 p.m., has two performance April 29 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and closes May 5 with a show time of 7 p.m.

Acting teacher and director David Blanchard said the play shows students the advancements in mental health that have taken place since the play was written, as well as improvements the health system has yet to make.

“We are looking at the state of mental health in America even today … where you can see that not much has really changed,” Blanchard said.

The central characters in the play, R.P. McMurphy and Nurse Ratched are played by Derek Reiher and Kacie Swaffield, respectively.

CAST (in order of appearance)
Chief Bromden: Grace Castellanos
Aide Warren: Jaiden Simcic
Aide Williams: Mauryce Harper
Nurse Ratched: Kacie Swaffield
Nurse Flinn: Nina Sarappo
Dale Harding: Abigail Paternina
Billy Bibbit: Jeremy Greifer
Charlie Cheswick: Rachel Couts
Scanlon: Mason Whitted
Martini: Rachel Griffin
Ruckly: Elizabeth Prentice
Randle P. McMurphy: Derek Reiher
Dr. Spivey: Cadel Grisinger
Candy Starr: Kaytlin Bovey
Aide Turkle: Calvin Wright
Sandra: Halley Sanchez
Other patients: Bryanna Juarez, Jillian Alvarez, Jillian Miller, Kiva Deluca, Lexi Vargas

Reiher, who was cast in the school’s previous productions of “Grease” and “Spoon River Anthology,” said his biggest challenge in this play is capturing the essence of the insubordinate McMurphy.

Specifically, Reiher said the obstacle has been figuring out “how to release all this embodiment of the character and find who this character is and what I have inside myself to bring it out.”

The acting class of 24 students, the majority of whom are female, required Blanchard to switch the genders of certain characters.

Sophomore Grace Castellanos plays Chief Bromden, a traditionally male role.

“I personally think it’s pretty cool because I get to play a strong, empowered character that’s supposed to be male – as a female – which is kind of empowering to me,” Castellanos said.

Another aspect of the production is unique: The set.

The play takes place inside the school’s multipurpose building, which has a stage. However, actors will not perform on it this time.

Instead, the performance will take place in the center of the building’s floor surrounded by the audience, providing the play-goers with an immersive experience.

“We are going to sit them and kind of make them feel like they are all patients in the mental ward, too,” Blanchard said. “They just don’t know it yet.”

Tickets can be purchased at SequoiaPathway.org or at the door. Adult prices are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Student prices are $8 in advance and $10 at the door.

Photo by Michelle Chance
Photo by Michelle Chance

This story appears in the April issue of InMaricopa.

Santa and Mrs. Claus chat with kids at the tree lighting. Photo by Mason Callejas

Mayor Christian Price lighted the Christmas tree at City Hall Dec. 6 as Santa and Mrs. Claus mingled with children, a choir from Sequoia Pathway Academy performed, Maricopa Arts Council unveiled a new gallery and Maricopa Historical Society unveiled its new permanent display.

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Sequoia Pathway won a tight CAA state championship came and took home the trophy Saturday. Photo by Victor Moreno

In the challenge of moving up to 11-man football in Division III of the Canyon Athletic Association, Sequoia Pathway Academy overcame odds and won the state championship on Saturday.

The Pumas defeated American Leadership Academy-Ironwood 20-13 at Phoenix Christian High School for the division trophy.

Senior running back Travion Bolds was named Most Valuable Player in the division. During the season he led the CAA in rushing with 1,731 yards. Senior quarterback Arthur Silva led Division III and was third overall in passing with 878 yards. Senior wide receiver Trey Anderson was first in the division and fourth overall in receiving yards with 658.

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Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The fourth-ranked Sequoia Pathway Academy Pumas shut out Heritage Academy – Laveen Friday night in Division III of Canyon Athletic Association’s football playoffs.

Despite a slow start, the Pumas quickly picked apart the visiting Heroes at Pacana Park for the 36-0 victory.

The win pits the Pumas against No. 1 Canyon State Academy in the semi-finals on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Valley Christian Academy in Chandler.

Sequoia Pathway is 8-2 in its first year of 11-man football.

Puma running back Travion Bolds leads the CAA in rushing yards this season with 1,731. Quarterback Arthur Silva is third in passing yards with 878. Many of those passes have gone to Trey Anderson, who is fourth in receiving yards with 658. Bolds was fifth in tackles in CAA play with 51.

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Photo by Victor H. Moreno

Sequoia Pathway’s football team is in second place in the Canyon Athletic Association’s Division III. Friday’s 50-14 victory over Arizona Compass Prep gave the Pumas a 4-1 record, half a game behind Arizona Leadership Academy – Ironwood.

The Pumas hosted AZ Compass at Pacana Park and quickly ran off with the game. The Dragons scored both of their touchdowns in the first half and were shut down for the rest of the game.

Senior Travion Bolds ran for three touchdowns for Sequoia Pathway. Senior Trey Anderson scored three more on passes from Arthur Silva. Seth Lucas also rushed for a touchdown.

Bolds had 15 carries for 170 yards. Silva completed six passes for 162 yards, all to Anderson.

Lucas picked up 60 yards on four carries, and freshman Shane Miller ran 25 yards on five carries.

On defense, Bolds had five tackles on the night. Shawn Yuhas, Anderson and Miller each had four.

Anderson is leading the CAA in receiving this season. He has 27 completions for 568 yards, more than 100 yards above the second-place receiver, Brandon Haldiman of Desert Heights. He also has 99 yards rushing. He has scored nine touchdowns.

Bolds easily leads the league in rushing with 857 yards on 82 carries. (Second place is 428 yards). Going the other direction, he is the Pumas’ leader in tackles with 23.

Sequoia Pathway next plays Oct. 6 against Sequoia Charter School.

By Ethan McSweeney

Soon, buses will be rumbling down Maricopa street,s and students will crowd sidewalks on their way to the first day of classes for the 2016-17 school year at district and charter schools.

Here’s what to expect:Youth-Back-to-school-MUSD

Maricopa Unified School District

With school starting Aug. 8 for MUSD schools, some district-wide changes affecting students include an expansion of before and after-school programs at elementary schools and the district’s blended-learning program, Superintendent Steve Chestnut said.

MUSD school buses will transport 3,600 students to and from school each day this school year.  Keeping buses cool for the first month can be a challenge when temperatures exceed 100 degrees, particularly on the afternoon routes. All MUSD buses have air conditioning, but the air conditioning units are only designed to drop the temperature in the bus 10-15 degrees. MUSD does not provide water to students on buses. Parents are asked to provide a bottle of water for the bus ride home in the afternoons. Another option would be to provide a reusable container that students can fill with water before boarding the school bus. Parents and community members are reminded to exercise caution when driving near schools.


Blended-learning, which teaches students through a combination of laptop-based learning and traditional instruction, will expand its enrollment capacity at Maricopa High School, the middle schools and Santa Rosa Elementary School.

MUSD is expecting 6,500 students this school year. Registration information can be found on the district’s website or at each neighborhood school.

About 25 new staff members will be added across the district following voter approval of Proposition 123, which allows Arizona to tap into the State Land Trust to give K-12 schools $3.5 billion over 10 years.

Chestnut will also be continuing in his role as superintendent of the district through at least 2018. The MUSD Governing Board approved a two-year extension of his contract last year with an annual salary of $147,000.

Maricopa High School

MHS welcomes two new administrators and a few new classes. Principal Renita Myers said a new assistant principal (Stephen Ybarra) and dean of students (Brian Winter) bring years of experience with them to the high school.

A fifth college class through Central Arizona College is added with Biology 181, and each student will have advisory time. “It’s an opportunity to look at their four-year plan,” Myers said. “And it provides more opportunity for kids to connect with their advisers.”

Another new class being offering German, the first time MHS has had a foreign language other than Spanish, Myers said.

Maricopa Elementary School

Maricopa Elementary will continue to work to instill good character habits in its students this year, Principal Jennifer Robinson said. MES teaches students character traits based on the popular book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” each morning beginning with a daily reflection question, she said.

Maricopa Elementary will also be a national board development site for teachers to obtain certification and reflect on their teaching. The certification, Robinson said, is one of the highest a teacher can obtain.

Pima Butte Elementary School

At Pima Butte, Principal Randy Lazar said he’s looking forward to another year with a continued focus on science, technology and the arts. He added they are looking for volunteers to help around the school and at school events.

Pima Butte students have been focusing on developing character traits, including caring, which Lazar said he hopes to show with a food drive during Meet the Teacher Night on Aug. 4. Cans of food and non-perishable food items will be donated to the local food bank, F.O.R. Maricopa.

Saddleback Elementary School

Saddleback plans to maintain the programs it’s been implementing in the past few years, which also include a focus on character development. “We believe that good character is one of the most valuable things our students should possess,” Principal Felicia Williams said in an email. “This seamlessly ties into parental involvement.”

Williams said Saddleback will continue with its mission of exposing students to technology throughout the day in the learning environment, and implementing its 21st Century Community Learning Center program in September.

Santa Cruz Elementary School

Santa Cruz will offer after-school programs this year, including drama, choir and color guard, for its fourth, fifth and sixth grade students, said Loraine Conley, the school’s principal. “We’re really trying to beef up our after-school opportunities,” Conley said.

Conley said she hopes to improve on communication this year at the school and to make Santa Cruz a better user of its technology. She’s excited about the growth Maricopa is experiencing this year with new families coming in. The school has also added a fourth-grade classroom.

CHARTER SCHOOLSYouth-Back-to-school-camino

Camino Montessori

Camino Montessori adds fifth and sixth grades this year following approval from the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools, said Judy Webster, founder and director of Camino Montessori. With the increase in enrollment, the school is also actively searching for land and financing for a new campus, Webster said.

School starts Aug. 10.

Leading Edge AcademyYouth-Back-to-school-LE

Leading Edge is finishing construction on a two-story, 18-classroom building, including a gymnasium, on its campus to accommodate its growing enrollment. Principal Mat Reese expects 700 to 725 students this year, up from 430 last year.

The growth at the K-12 charter means the school will be nearly doubling its staff, including teachers, assistants and special education employees. Leading Edge is also be adopting a new curriculum, Reese said. School starts Aug. 9.

Legacy Traditional SchoolYouth-Back-to-school-legacy

A new principal, Amy Sundeen, will be taking the reins at Legacy Traditional School for its 10th year in Maricopa. Sundeen said the new administrative team at the school has several years of experience in Maricopa, and the charter school plans to strengthen its sports programs and work to be more involved in the community.

The first day of school is Aug. 3. Back-to-School Night is Aug. 1. Legacy is also now a fixed stop on COMET, City of Maricopa Express Transit, so students that didn’t have transportation before can now use the bus, Sundeen said.

Sequoia PathwayYouth-Back-to-school-SPA

Sequoia Pathway is undergoing major changes as it restructures its administration to have principals at the elementary, junior high and high school levels as enrollment grows. Rachael Lay is the elementary principal, Diane Silvia the junior high principal, and the high school principal is Nate Lamma.

The charter school is expecting around 1,160 students this year, up from just below 1,000 last year, with students wait-listed to get enrolled. Sequoia Pathway will adopt a new math program for grades K through nine that is more aligned with AzMERIT, and it plans on increasing Advanced Placement class offerings.

On the athletic side, Sequoia Pathway will have 11-man football this year, a change from 8-man football, and the elementary school will offer intramural sports.

Its Meet the Teacher Night is scheduled for Aug. 4. School starts Aug. 8.


This story appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.

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A record 59 seniors graduated from Sequoia Pathway Academy on Thursday night in a packed gymnasium. Emma Mastel was the valedictorian of the Class of 2016. Andrew Helm was the salutatorian. Helm and Brendan Onquit also received their associate’s degrees from Central Arizona College.

Country star Neal McCoy comes to The Lounge at Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino on Friday. Subitted photo

Sequoia Pathway is finishing up its school year with advancement ceremonies and high school graduation, The Streets Don’t Love You Back is starting another session in Maricopa, American Legion Baseball is getting started and Neal McCoy is coming to town. For details on these listing and other events, or to add your own, visit InMaricopa.com/Calendar.

SUNDAY

A Ray of Hope meeting of Narcotics Anonymous is at 7 p.m. at Maricopa Chamber of Commerce, 44480 W. Honeycutt Road, Suite 106.

MONDAY

Skill Drills for Pickleball for ages 55 and up runs from 10:30 a.m. to noon at Copper Sky Multigenerational Center, 44345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

The Streets Don’t Love You Back Lifeskills Intervention Program is 4-5 p.m. at Maricopa/Stanfield Justice Court, 19955 N Wilson Ave.

A Ray of Hope meeting of Narcotics Anonymous is at 7 p.m. at Maricopa Community Church, 44977 W. Hathaway Ave.

TUESDAY

Coffee with Friends of the Maricopa Library is at 1:30 p.m. at Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road.

Maricopa Chamber of Commerce Mixer starts at 5:30 p.m. at Ak-Chin’s Him-Dak Museum, 47685 N. EcoMuseum Road.

WEDNESDAY

Sequoia Pathway Kindergarten Graduation is at 8:30 a.m. at Sequoia Pathway Academy, 19287 N Porter Road.

Little Cookers class for ages 5-12 is at 5 p.m. at Copper Sky Multigenerational Center, 44345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Sequoia Pathway 8th Grade Promotion is at 7 p.m. in the gymnasium at Sequoia Pathway Academy, 19287 N Porter Road.

THURSDAYsequoiaPathway-grad

Sequoia Pathway Graduation is at 7 p.m. in the gymnasium at Sequoia Pathway Academy, 19287 N Porter Road.

A Ray of Hope meeting of Narcotics Anonymous is at 7 p.m. at Ak-Chin Social Services, 48227 W. Farrell Road.

FRIDAY

Raft the Upper Salt River, leaving at 6 p.m. from Copper Sky Multigenerational Center, 44345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., for an overnight trip.

Game Night, the third hosted by the city’s Age-Friendly Maricopa Committee, starts at 6:30 p.m. in Rooms A and B at Copper Sky Multigenerational Center, 44345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Neal McCoy will be in concert starting at 8 p.m. in The Lounge at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino, 15406 Maricopa Road.

SATURDAY

American Legion Baseball Opening Day will have many special guests and a tribute to Nate Ford, beginning at 9 a.m. at Copper Sky Regional Park, 55345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.