Authors Articles byJoyce Hollis

Joyce Hollis

1499 Articles 0 COMMENTS

by -

Many students want the privilege of having and using electronic devices during the school day. Pagers, cell phones, cellular radios, IPODs, MP3s, games and other new devices are fun to have and fun to use, but they are discouraged on the middle school campus.

“I can understand why parents want their children to have cell phones to let them know where they are or when they need to be picked up,” Maricopa Wells Middle School Principal Stephanie Sharp told parents and staff members at Monday’s site council meeting.

With the privilege of having such devices comes responsibility. According to policy, cell phones are to be turned off from the start of the school day until its end. If they are on and make noise, vibrate or call attention to the user, they are considered a classroom disruption and will be confiscated by the teacher.

Parents will be notified of a second occurrence, and the third time an item is turned in from the same student, it will be held for one month until parents request its return.

Additionally, Maricopa Wells is not responsible for the loss or theft of these items, which are in high demand. Investigations for lost or stolen electronic devices will no longer be conducted.

“We spend hours searching for these items, and we have other, academic and safety issues to address,” said Sharp.

Students leave the devices in unattended backpacks or loan them to a friend who loans them to another friend until they cannot be located. “If your child carries a cell phone to school, have them keep it in their pocket,” Sharp explained.

Sharp added that large sums of money should not be on campus for many of the same reasons. Students tell others they have the cash, which is often left in unattended backpacks and then reported missing.

The issue of social networking on Web sites such as, and (which shares how to “hack” passwords) was discussed.

This week News Corp., MySpace’s parent company, launched a Spanish version of its social-networking site in an attempt to increase its appeal among the Hispanic population. MySpace is estimated to attract 95 million unique users a month, according to ComScore, Inc. data.

Both SRO Deputy Kent Ogaard and Sharp cautioned parents about their teens’ use of social-networking sites. Although students may be told not to share their names, addresses and phone numbers, it is easy for predators to ascertain their locations by other means.

Sharp explained that someone can ask what the student did that day. “We had a game with Eloy.” Asked if the game was home or away, or even the team name and the sport, gives a predator sufficient information to know they are speaking with a middle school student.

A parent provided the group with information on blocking access to MySpace or other sites on your home computer. That information is available at the following site:

Contacting your service provider can block text messaging on a child’s cell phone, both sending and receiving. In addition, said Sharp, “If a credible threat is received, school officials will review text messages” of implicated students.

Ogaard added that it is a Class 4 felony, termed a “terroristic hoax,” to use an electronic device to create a viable threat to a school.

“Our main concern is the well-being of every child here,” said Sharp.

by -

The dress code for Maricopa schools has been the focus of ongoing discussion, surveys and comments for the past several months. At Wednesday’s governing board meeting a grades 6-12 dress code was formally adopted for middle and high school students.

Guidelines for elementary students were adopted last month (see related story). They include:
1. Any colored collared shirt or a school T-shirt
2. Black or blue jeans (clean and neat with appropriate fit)
3. Khaki, blue or black pants
4. Shoes or sandals secured behind the heel (no wheels)

The intent was to maintain a “uniform” aspect for elementary students while transitioning to more dress code choices for the upper grades. Both middle school and high school administrators hoped to bring their respective dress codes in line in order to minimize changes from middle school to high school while creating less confusion regarding expectations for students and their parents.

Maricopa Wells Principal Stephanie Sharp, presenting the dress code to governing board members, noted that it was “more professional, more educational.”

Valerie Whitchurch, high school assistant principal, said, “We think this is a dress code that works.”

Board member Tim White, an advocate for uniforms, questioned the dress code’s enforcement by teachers. “The teachers’ primary responsibility is to educate children, not police them,” he said.

Whitchurch explained that it takes a village to raise a child–parents, teachers, administrators and students who are old enough to make correct choices and decisions.

We had many comments, some more stringent or less stringent,” explained Sharp. “We tried to compromise to meet all comments while still maintaining the integrity of the dress code.”

Board member Shannon Amos said he felt the very detailed code should be easy to enforce.
Maricopa Wells math teacher Shannon Hull said, “The dress code is for the safety of our kids, our community and the atmosphere of the school. If we as staff are supportive, we’re not going to have any problems.”

Shannan White, a middle school social studies teacher, recommended each first hour take two minutes at the beginning of class to check for dress code violations.

Tony Barzilla, who provides security at the middle school, disagreed. “The school district is in the business of educating students; they are not their parents and should not have to police them. The more complicated the dress code the more loopholes.”

Acting board president Tracy Davis thanked both Sharp and Whitchurch for their efforts in providing the dress code guidelines. She requested that teachers, as role models, abide by the same code as the students and that parents and students be informed of the changes prior to ID photos and the start of the school year.

The guidelines for the grades 6-12 dress code passed by a vote of 2 to 1 with White voting against its adoption. Board president Jim Chaston and member Shannon Johns were absent.

The newly adopted dress code is as follows:

Dress Code Maricopa Schools Grades 6-12
Students and parents/guardians should be aware that school is a place for the business of education and is not a showcase for extreme styles of dress and grooming. Students must follow the dress code guidelines as listed below:

· Dress and grooming will be clean and in keeping with health, sanitary, and safety requirements.
· While attending school or participating in any school sponsored activities, a student’s dress and/or grooming will not disrupt the setting or constitute a health or safety threat to the individual or other students.

· Upper body articles of clothing should have sleeves. NO tank style tops. Shirts or blouses exposing midriff, backs, or with plunging necklines are not permitted. Midriffs may not be showing at any time. Both sitting and standing alike. Logos, other than school logos, may not be any larger than 2″x2″.
· All clothing must be of sufficient density that the body cannot be seen through the clothing.
· Undergarments should not be showing at any time.

· Lower body articles must be hemmed. Logos, other than school logos, may not be any larger than 2″x2″.
· Shorts/Skirts/Skorts will extend at least one inch past fingertips when the hand is extended at the side while standing straight.
· No “saggin” (baggy) pants/shorts. Shorts and pants must be worn at the waist.

· Baseball caps are permissible, with school logo only. Cowboy hats are permissible. No headgear (hats) may be worn inside the building. Hoodies/hooded sweatshirts may not be worn in class.
· No bandanas, beanies, do rags or headbands may be worn or in possession on campus.
· No T-shirts or “rags” may be slung over the shoulders.
· Sunglasses may not be worn inside school buildings unless a note from a physician is provided in the nurse’s office.
· Clothing that is torn, ragged, or designed to look sloppy or attract undue attention will not be permitted.
· Sleepwear or beachwear is not permitted.
· Proper footwear may be required in certain classes, i.e. Physical Education. No flip-flops, slippers, or “heelies” allowed.
· Pocket chains, studded bracelets, dog collars, giant beaded necklaces and other articles which may be judged to be potentially harmful and/or could be used as a weapon are not permitted.
· Clothing items cannot be worn in anyway that reflects gang affiliation, conceal contraband, creates a distraction, or creates an atmosphere of threat, intimidation or undue pressure or disrupts the educational environment/process.
· Jewelry used in conjunction with visible body piercing such as nose rings, studs, tongue studs, eyebrow rings, chin studs, ear gauging, etc… is prohibited.
· All tattoos must be covered and hidden from view – permanent and temporary
· Articles of clothing, buttons or badges may not be worn if it contains the following:

Offensive/obscene/vulgar words, phrases, or illustrations; derogatory statements toward the purpose of education, political, religious, racial, or national groups; references to drugs, alcohol, weapons, violence, gangs; inappropriate sexual references; and/or advertises any product or service not permitted to minors by law (ie: alcohol/tobacco companies, Playboy bunny).

Students not following the dress code may not attend classes/events until they change into appropriate attire.

The above guidelines are in effect on school property, as well as while students are attending any event in which a Maricopa Unified School District team, squad, group, or individual is participating, regardless of location. If a student is unable to get appropriate attire from home, the office will provide substitute items as available. All inappropriate articles will be confiscated and need to be picked up by parents/guardians.

Administrator Discretion:
The school administration retains the final discretion to determine that the garment or accessory meets the dress code. The school administration retains the right to change certain requirements in the dress code as issues arise throughout the year. Some exceptions may be made for uniforms, formal attire, and or spirit days.

Students in non-compliance with dress code will be removed from the classroom and provided one opportunity to get in dress code (i.e. change, remove, call parents, etc.) All additional violations will result in disciplinary action including ISS, OSS, etc.

Dress code courtesy of MUSD

by -

The Maricopa Republican Club invites you to hit the ‘links’ during its 4th annual golf tournament Saturday, May 14, at The Duke at Rancho El Dorado, 42660 W. Rancho El Dorado Pkway.

The price of a golf package is $125 for one player and includes green fees, a cart, range balls, a goody bag and lunch. The same golf package is available for four at $500. Tee or green signage opportunities are also available for $200.

Registration will be from 6 to 7:30 a.m. with a Continental breakfast served from 6:30 to 8 a.m. The shotgun start is scheduled for 8 a.m. Registration forms and sponsor package information is available here.

A lunch, raffle, and prizes will follow play.

Last year’s tournament proceeds benefitted the 100 Club, Maricopa Police Explorers and Maricopa Little League.

The deadline for entry into the tournament is Monday, May 2. Make checks payable to: Maricopa Republican Club, Attn: Marty Hermanson, 44080 W. Palmen Drive, Maricopa 85138; include all players’ names, contact information, company names and shirt sizes.

“The tournament promises to be fun, with a lot going on,” said Hermanson.

For further information, contact Hermanson at 520-233-4089 or via e-mail at

Photo courtesy of Maricopa Republican Club

by -

“Contestant number seven, please spell the word ‘gizzard.’”

“Could you use that in a sentence, please? What is the language of its origin?”

If you want to witness some spelling bee champs vying for a spot at the county spelling bee, head to Desert Wind Middle School on Thursday morning at 10 a.m.

Two students from each of the six elementary schools and two middle schools in the district will compete at the district level.  These students, in fourth through eighth grades, are the winners of spelling bees at their respective school sites:

Butterfield Elementary Winners:  Taylor Weeks, Marquell David
Maricopa Elementary Winners:  Jaden Roman, Tyler Curtis
Pima Butte Elementary Winners:  Christopher Espiritu, Ean Lake
Saddleback Elementary Winners:  Kelleigh Hogan, Gillian Kennedy
Santa Cruz Elementary Winners:  Nicole Silvestre, Janaa Manning
Santa Rosa Elementary Winners:  Ethian Freye, John Spencer
Desert Wind Middle School Winners:  Nick Kelly, Delano Jackson
Maricopa Wells Middle School Winners:  Kaitlyn Durand, Santos Reyna

According to MUSD District Spelling Bee Coordinator Kathi Stewart, “Trophies for winning the school bees will be presented on Thursday. One winner will receive a championship trophy while the others will receive participant ribbons.”

A winner and two alternates from the district bee will advance to the Pinal County Spelling Bee, which is scheduled for Feb. 20. In the event the district winner cannot participate in the county bee, the runner up or alternate will take his or her place.

Legacy Traditional School will also hold its district spelling bee Thursday from 8:30-10 a.m. in the Maricopa campus school library.

If you go:

What: Maricopa Unified District Spelling Bee
Where: Desert Wind Middle School, 35565 W. Honeycutt Rd.
When: Thursday, Jan. 21, 10 a.m.

File photo

by -

It was all about spelling foodstuffs for the winners of both the Maricopa Unified School District and the Legacy Traditional School spelling bees.

Both competitions were held on Jan. 21 to determine the winners and runners-up who will advance to the 47th Annual Pinal County Spelling Bee tomorrow, Feb. 19, at 9:30 a.m. in the Vista Grande High School auditorium in Casa Grande.

All school districts in Pinal County and several charter schools will be represented at the event.  Each student will be given one word per round. He or she can ask for a definition, to have the word used in a sentence, the word’s language of origin and for any alternate pronunciations.

Tyler Curtis, a fifth grader from Maricopa Elementary School, won her district’s contest by spelling ‘tamale’ correctly in round three. The runner-up was fifth grader Kelleigh Hogan from Saddleback Elementary School. Curtis and Hogan, as well as alternates Janaa Manning from Santa Cruz Elementary and Delano Jackson from Desert Wind Middle School, will be at the county competition.
‘Parmesan’ was the winning word for Anab Abdulle, a sixth grader at Legacy Traditional. Runner-up was sixth grader Lane Johnson, and fourth grader Fabiana Petroza placed third. All three will be in Casa Grande for the county spelling bee.

Photo by Joyce Hollis

by -

“Contestant number seven, please spell the word ‘gizzard.’”

“Could you use that in a sentence, please? What is the language of its origin?”

If you want to witness some spelling bee champs vying for a spot at the county spelling bee, head to the boardroom at MUSD’s district office administration building on Tuesday, Jan. 25, at 9 a.m.

Two students from each of the six elementary and two middle schools will be competing at the district level. These students, in fourth through eighth grades, are the winners and runners up from the spelling bees at their respective school sites:

Butterfield Elementary: Christian Correa, Markel David
Maricopa Elementary: Claire Scoresby, Ashley Hostetler
Pima Butte Elementary: Atizel Charies, Victoria Johnson
Saddleback Elementary: Raul Bretado, Shakala King
Santa Cruz Elementary: Felipe Villareal, Kiki Lemon
Santa Rosa Elementary: Alexis Johnson, Nicole Rocco
Desert Wind Middle School: Jaina Chastin, Shayne Kochheiser
Maricopa Wells Middle School: Blanche Romo, Carissa Castle

Legacy Traditional School will hold its district spelling bee on Thursday, Jan. 27, at 8:45 a.m. in the Maricopa campus gymnasium. This contest will involve 18 students from Maricopa, Casa Grande and Queen Creek.

“Our students learn spelling through a program called Spalding, so they will go about 25 rounds,” said Katie Gjurgevich, Legacy fourth grade teacher and spelling bee coordinator. 

Legacy district spelling bee contestants are:

Aidyn Curtis, 4th
Destiny Warner, 5th
Juan Del Real, Whitney Soloman, 6th grade
Vanessa Sheehan, 7th grade
Lyndsey Voyles, 8th
Casa Grande:
Chasity Mayo, 5th grade
Isabella Fredrick, Valerie Melvin, Alejandro Mendoza, 6th grade
Nicholas Minjores, Megan Poland, 8th grade
Queen Creek:
Alexis Jones, 5th grade
Melanie Backman, Bethany Caldwell, Sydney Vigneux, 6th
Duncan Anderson, Cade Lamb, 8th grade

File photo

by -

Anab Abdulle of Legacy Traditional School in Maricopa came in third at the 47th annual Pinal County Spelling Bee at Vista Grande High School in Casa Grande Friday.

Austin Ryba of Coolidge took first, and Aniket Panda of Cactus Middle School came in second.

Abdulle, a sixth grader at Legacy Traditional who likes to read and play tennis, won her school’s district spelling bee on Jan. 21 by spelling ‘parmesan’ correctly. Runner-up was sixth grader Lane Johnson, and fourth grader Fabiana Petroza placed third. All three went to Casa Grande for the county spelling bee.

All school districts in Pinal County and several charter schools were represented at the county event. Each student was given one word per round. Spellers could ask for a definition, to have the word used in a sentence, the word’s language of origin and for any alternate pronunciations.

Tyler Curtis, a fifth grader from Maricopa Elementary School, won the Maricopa Unified School District contest by spelling ‘tamale’ correctly in round three. The runner-up was fifth grader Kelleigh Hogan from Saddleback Elementary School. Curtis and Hogan, as well as alternates Janaa Manning from Santa Cruz Elementary and Delano Jackson from Desert Wind Middle School, went to the county competition.
The 2010 Arizona Spelling Bee will be held Saturday, March 27, at 1 p.m. at the 8/AZ PBS Studio located in the ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication in downtown Phoenix.  The top 27 spellers in the state compete in the Arizona Spelling Bee to determine who will represent Arizona in the 83rd annual Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., in May.

File photo

by -

Santa Rosa Elementary School showcased its kindergarten through second grade students Thursday evening. Principal Rick Abel and his staff presented the musical accomplishments of their students in a performance titled “A Southwest Holiday.”

“Living in a Desert Wonderland,” “Feliz Navidad” and “We Send You a Season’s Greeting” were the selections presented by the first graders at the school.

An animated performance of “Let’s Play in the Snow,” “The Mitten Song” and “We Wish We Had Snow in Winter” by second graders concluded the event.

Santa Rosa’s multi-purpose room was packed with the students’ families and friends, hoping to get some photos and enjoying the holiday atmosphere.

Dennis Michalski was the musical director for the performance. The accompanist was Yvonne Keime.

Photos courtesy of Carolyn Struble

by -

On Tuesday, April 27, over 100 fourth and fifth graders in the Maricopa Unified School District will come together to present a combined concert at Saddleback Elementary School.

The program will feature various ensembles, including bands from Maricopa, Pima Butte, Saddleback, Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Elementary Schools, choirs from Butterfield and Santa Rosa and an orchestra from Maricopa Elementary School under the direction of Nicole Munns.

Bands will perform songs such as “Old MacDonald” and “Ode to Joy” while the choir repertoire will feature music from around the world. The Santa Rosa and Butterfield choirs will each sing and then join to sing “One Nation,” a song embracing shared culture.

“I am very proud of the growth I have seen from my students at Santa Rosa,” said vocal and instrumental music instructor Joanne Matibag. “They started out back in August not knowing how to open their instrument cases, and eight months later they can play and read songs. My choir has developed hearing and worked together to produce a beautiful sound of voices as well.” 

“Instrumental and vocal ensembles take a great amount of patience, dedication and teamwork,” Matibag said. “I commend each and every student for their hard work as musicians, and I hope they continue to practice this dedication in their future studies.”

If you go:
What:  Combined elementary concert
When:  Tuesday, April 27, at 6:30 p.m.
Where:  Saddleback Elementary School, 18600 N. Porter Rd..

File photo

by -

Maricopa Unified School District recognized the outstanding efforts of staff members at a carnival -style event Friday evening at Maricopa Elementary School’s multi-purpose room.

Following the awards segment, district staffers dined on hot dogs, popcorn and other “carnival” fare. Rather than have a formal, sit-down banquet this year, organizers opted to have an informal event where staff members could actually visit with a larger number of their colleagues.

Game booths (with prizes) like ring toss and balloon darts lined the hall, and goodie bags were handed out to those attending the event. New Human Resources Director Heidi Fawcett chaired the event, assisted by many volunteers and staff members who decorated, organized and set up the booths.

Staff members were recognized for at least five years in the district, including 20 or even 40 years of service.

Other winners, nominated by their colleagues, in various categories were:

Certified Employees of the Year (Sponsored by O’Malley Group), recognizes the outstanding instruction, participation and professional growth of one teacher from each campus in the district:

Jayme Amick
Amy Hogenes
Shannon Hull
Jeanne Miles
Jen Miller
Cassie Nunes

Classified Employees of the Year (Sponsored by Gilleland and Brubaker Architects), recognizes outstanding achievements by a member of the classified staff in the district:

Mary Kay Hazy
Maria Hernandez
Greg Huffman
Jennifer Janiec
Pat Miller
Nevar Mitchell

Special Service Awards (Sponsored by Wholesale Floors Inc.), given to staff members, either certified or classified, who perform “above and beyond” their job requirements. Nominated individuals have been responsible for original suggestions, developments or major improvements in methods, organization or procedures in the district:

Cindy Barzilla
Diane Dreis
Marta Garcia
Kathy Oldfield
Larry Peterson
Mike Thomas

Rookie of the Year Awards (Sponsored by AZ School Furnishings), awarded to staff members, certified or classified, who are in their first full year of employment with the district and have made a great impact. Nominated individuals should exemplify some or all of the following traits: positive attitude, strong work ethic, reliability, responsibility, integrity, teamwork, and/or innovation:

Mark Busch
Jennifer Kraus
Denise Palmer
Robyn Rice
Kelly Tassone

Leading the Way (Sponsored by McCarthy), given to certified or classified staff members who have “led the way” in their position. Nominated individuals have been leaders or mentors among their peers, have taken time to organize and follow through with a project, or as department heads are consistently striving for excellence:

Kathy Drum
Rachele Reese
Lena Sewell

Distinguished Service (Sponsored by The Mahoney Group), awarded to a certified or classified staff member who has completed at least seven years of service in the district and has a long history of outstanding achievements:

Joyce King
Thad Miller
Shannan White

The staff recognition event has been a district tradition for approximately 10 years, and it will continue into the 2007-2008 school year.

by -

Children’s author Conrad Storad spoke to students at Legacy Traditional School last week about his books and the writing process. 

This was Storad’s 77th appearance, including his March visiting author day at the Maricopa Public Library, since his retirement from ASU in December. He was at the university for 32 and a half years and still lives in Tempe.

His books, mostly geared toward third and fourth graders, are about javelinas, scorpions, rattlesnakes, other desert creatures and even the circulatory system. His newest book is about piranhas. “More people eat them than are eaten by them,” said Storad.

Younger students asked if rattlesnakes can go in water (they can) and how big their babies are (two inches high and three inches long).

Storad described his writing process for the older students in grades 6-9. “When you’re an author like me you have to talk to experts and scientists,” he said. “Unfortunately, it’s almost like they’re speaking another language.” Storad also uses the library and the Internet to do his research. “Every time I write a book I learn something new.”

“You don’t write a book in one day, one week or one month,” Storad told the students. His 1995 book on tarantulas took more than a year—and 17 drafts. “My hardest book to write was on the circulatory system; it took two years.”

“When you turn in your papers, you think you’re done,” Storad said, “but then there’s the ‘do over.’” According to the author that also happens in real life. “Remember your teachers are trying to help you be the best writer you can be. Even professional writers write again and again.”

Storad stressed the importance of knowing the group you are writing for—your audience. For third and fourth graders, paragraphs cannot be too long or words too difficult. “You don’t use many words, so every word becomes important,” he explained.

The author of 32 children’s books told the students he had just one wish. “Someday I’ll go to a library or bookstore, and you’ll be there and autograph a book for me.”

Photo by Joyce Hollis

by -

The move from middle school to high school is a time of excitement and, perhaps, some anxiety.

What classes should I take?  Will I make new friends?  Are there sports or activities I would enjoy?  Those types of questions are being asked by Maricopa teens who are about to enter ninth grade.

Maricopa High School students and staff are holding Freshman First Day on Wednesday, July 28, to answer some of those questions, as well as to provide a smooth introduction to the school for incoming freshmen.

Freshman First Day provides an opportunity for incoming students to familiarize themselves with the high school campus, to experience some activities planned especially for them and to meet upperclassmen who will provide a support system for the freshmen during the coming school year.

All incoming freshmen are encouraged to attend. The orientation will begin at 8 a.m. and end at 12:30 p.m. in the new gym at Maricopa High School. Bus transportation will be provided for incoming ninth graders.

For more information, contact MHS at (520) 568-8100.

File photo

by -

Freshmen at Maricopa High School this year will be the first students required to complete an ECAP (Education and Career Action Plan) as a requirement for graduation.

In February the Arizona State Board of Education approved ECAP for all Arizona students in grades 9-12. An ECAP shows a student’s current coursework, his or her career aspirations, activities, sports, community service and any other extended learning opportunities.

ECAP raises the graduation requirement for the class of 2013 from 22 to 23 credits, and school personnel must verify the graduating senior’s ECAP prior to graduation. Although it is currently required for grades 9-12, the state’s intent is to make ECAP a requirement for all students, K-12.

According to MHS assistant principal Rick Neilson, the ECAP will be devised and developed by the student, parents or guardians and school staff members. It essentially asks the student, ‘What is it you want to do after high school?’ The program allows students to define achievable goals, which may change. According to Neilson, too often students have plans, but no real idea of what they need or how to achieve them.

AzCIS, a free, on-line site from the state’s department of education, will manage the program. “This software for free is huge,” said Neilson. Volunteers Jim Irving and Dan Cowley have helped incorporate the ECAP requirements into the Career Explorations course for freshmen at MHS. Career Explorations is a CTE course offering, and monies come back to the district for student completion of CTE classes.

Cowley spent 200-300 hours inputting program documents, creating drop down menus for easy student use and access. All ECAP information can be added and updated on the web site. Students will be required to input grades from the classes they take each year, creating an unofficial transcript.

Parents can have immediate access to their child’s ECAP through the student’s account, or they can set up a separate parental account.

Information can transfer with students to other schools or upon graduation for acceptance at colleges or universities. “It’s a process to seamlessly connect,” explained Neilson. In addition, students coming to MHS from other states will not be penalized; similar programs will be accepted, and students can start the ECAP at their enrollment grade level.

“We’ll be adjusting as we go through; we may find out that certain things won’t work, so we need to adjust and re-adjust the plan,” said Neilson. Since guidance counselors are responsible for certifying that students are keeping up with their ECAP, they will be holding transcript committee meetings every two weeks to audit credits and look for possible missing credits.

Community residents will be invited to share their careers with students in the 16 Pathways areas used for Career Exploration.

In regard to the freshmen using ECAP for the first time, Neilson added, “This group this fall will be teaching us all a lot about the process.”

File photo

by -

Maricopa High School’s varsity cheer squad traveled to Phoenix College to compete in the Sun Devil Classic Sunday—and took home first place.

The event, which is sponsored by the American Cheer and Dance Academy, allows teams two and one half minutes to perform a routine comprised of elements that include cheers, dance, tumbling and stunting.

Winners receive a trophy for their school, and individual cheers take home drawstring backpacks.

As a result of this win, the squad, which won the 3A state championship last year and placed seventh in 4A-II in November, won a bid to attend the U.S. Finals. According to coach Keri Olivas, the closest competition site is Las Vegas, one of six regional locations.

The squad lost four members to injuries last month, making competition even more challenging. Tryouts filled those spots plus one more, and some stunts have been reworked since the 4-II competition.

“I am really proud of these girls and what they have accomplished. They have worked very hard, putting much time and energy into this team while balancing school and other sports activities. I push them very hard both physically and academically to be the best they can. I am very proud to be their coach and hope to finish this year out strong,” said Olivas.

The girls will also compete at Knott’s Berry Farm in California at the end of March.

Maricopa High School’s varsity cheerleaders are:
1. Taylor Wells
2. Brittany Allen
3. Ashleigh Schumacher
4. Stevie Cragar
5. Stephanie Perry
6. Angela Bullion – captain
7. Camilla Cochran
8. Diamond Mason
9. Shena Carver
10. Mikayla Rucker
11. Chelsie Leach
12. Sasha Elbeck
13. Emily Gilbert
14. Kyra James

Submitted photo

by -

It’s never too early to start getting fit, and Team Chances Maricopa is providing local residents a fitness goal as part of Stagecoach Days in October.

The Maricopa Mile and 5K will take place on Sunday, Oct. 10, starting at 8 a.m. from Legacy Traditional School. The 5K is an out and back course, ending at the school. Entry fees are $20 for the 5K walk/run and $5 for the one-mile kids’ run.

“This is a fun event that raises money for Team Fitness Kids programs in Maricopa. All money raised from the event will stay in Maricopa, going to the 4th and 5th graders at Santa Rosa Elementary School. Mayor Anthony Smith has agreed to be the starter for the race, and Maricopa firefighters are tentatively scheduled to hand out medals to the finishers,” said organizer Beth Murphey.

In addition to the Maricopa Mile and 5K, Team Chances will sponsor a free Family Fitness Fair as part of the Stagecoach Days celebration. Fitness Fair vendors will be community members and organizations that are promoting healthy lifestyles and physical activity for all residents. 

“We are looking for at least 15 local businesses to come out, promote their businesses and be part of our event,” Murphey said. “We are also looking for sponsors.”

Sponsors will have their business logo on all promotional material:  postcards, brochures, the website and race t-shirts. Businesses will receive free booth space for any sponsorship of $100 and over. Those interested in being a vendor or sponsor should contact Murphey at 602-621-3854 or via email at

The Team Fit Kids program is a running/walking program designed to get children moving and their families moving in the fight against childhood obesity. In the program children are challenged to run or walk 25 miles during the fall semester at school. Children are assisted through the program by tracking their completed miles on mileage charts. Participants are also provided all of the necessary materials to get active including, Nike running shoes, team shirts, nutrition clinics, running incentives and race entries into the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon.

Team Chances Maricopa provided the Fit Kids Program to five classrooms at Santa Rosa Elementary. They had 88 kids participate with 762 individual workouts, and the kids logged 532 miles.

Start getting in shape now to be part of the Maricopa Mile and 5K, and don’t forget to sign up for  the Family Fitness Fair.

Staff photo

by -

Thursday was Read to Kids Day at all four elementary schools in the Maricopa Unified School District.

Community volunteers were invited to come to their neighborhood school to read a book to kindergarten through second graders. For each book read the school’s library received a book to keep.

Parents, policemen, firemen and residents joined in the United Way’s Success by Six project, which was also sponsored by Qwest.

In Amber Jensen’s kindergarten classroom students were immersed in stories about frogs and Clifford the Big Red Dog. Therese Starkey and Brenda Crean, both from Province, delighted the children with renditions of two of the kids’ favorite books.

Although the number of readers for the day is not yet known, Read to Kids Day is an annual event, bringing new faces into the classrooms and providing fun for the students involved.

Photos by Joyce Hollis

by -

Tracy Davis and Tim White were recognized for their service to the district at the MUSD governing board’s Tuesday meeting.

White has put his bid in for appointment to the board to fill the unexpired two-year term recently vacated by Lori Glenn. He received his boardsmanship award, presented by Superintendent Jeff Kleck.

Davis will also receive that award at a later date. She is retiring from the board after six years of service.

“After many years of service, Tracy Davis is moving on,” said Kleck. She received a standing ovation, and, during the call to the public, Santa Rosa librarian Betty Johnson
thanked Davis and wished her good luck.

“The board will not be the same without you; you’ve been a positive asset, friendly and always prepared. That really impresses me about you, and you’ve dedicated countless hours to this district,” Johnson said.

Dismissal of Pima Butte teacher Debra Wager
Following a 40-minute executive session, board members heard from Kleck regarding the possible dismissal of Pima Butte fifth grade teacher Debra Wager. The administration offered a statement “alleging that good cause exists for dismissal.”

Board members, accepting the statement of charges, voted unanimously to provide a written notice of dismissal to Wager, giving her 10 days to request a hearing beginning from the time she returns to Arizona. If Wager does not request a hearing, presided over by a designated hearing officer, her employment will be automatically terminated. Until the hearing request can be accepted, she will be on administrative leave with pay.

Vendor relations policy
Staff conflict of interest, vendor relations policy GBEAA was reviewed. Under policy regulations, no board member or district employee may accept gifts, gratuities or advertising products from a vendor. This includes lunches and dinners, or anything that might influence the staff or board member to show favoritism to the vendor.

Field usage intergovernmental agreement meeting
Opening discussion on the recent meeting held with city council regarding an intergovernmental agreement for the community use of the middle school fields (see related story), Davis expressed her desire to continue to look at the issue, which is currently on hold. “I feel it will benefit the community, and I’m not ready to let it go,” she said.

“I was very disappointed,” said board president Geoff Goddard. “We have been working over a year to make it happen. In my opinion the whole discussion was dead before we even started.” Goddard acknowledged that both entities are facing budget shortfalls.

“We can’t impact the district financially too much, but I think it’s a disservice to the community not to seek alternatives.”

“It seemed a done deal before it started, a waste of time,” said White. “When push came to shove, we saw who was willing to step up, and it wasn’t the city. I really feel we were done an injustice.”

Goddard said he hopes to see such city and district discussions occur regularly, but he added, “I’d like to see the district do something to open up some of the fields.”

Photo by Joyce Hollis

by -

Saturday, Feb. 26, Tina Leach, the Maricopa Elementary School academic coach, will take the stage at the Wyndham Phoenix to share with her peers what becoming a national board certified teacher has meant to her.

Leach has been part of the Maricopa Unified School District for four of her 14 years as an educator. In November she became one of the three newest MUSD board certified teachers.

“For more than a decade, National Board Certified Teachers have been transforming our nation’s schools by demonstrating effective teaching practice,” said Joseph A. Aguerrebere, NBPTS president and chief executive officer. “Like board-certified medical doctors, National Board Certified Teachers have met high standards through intensive study, expert evaluation, self-assessment and peer review.”

“I am proud that Mrs. Tina Leach is among a select group of excellent teachers nationwide who have achieved National Board Certification. These outstanding educators are making a positive difference in the lives of students,” Aguerrebere added in his November press release.

Leach calls her certification process “a reflective, refining and rewarding experience.”
She credits her husband Dave and their three daughters, Chelsie, Karli and Mariah, as well as her co-workers, for the support they provided her during the rigorous process.

Asked to speak at the NBCT retreat, Leach has now been invited to speak at the Celebration of Accomplished Teaching event, which will honor Arizona’s best teachers on Feb. 26. The event is presented by the Arizona K-12 Center and Arizona Public Service.

“I am truly honored to work with such wonderful people here in Maricopa, and I now have another support system and network of colleagues through the AZ K-12 Center and NBCT,” Leach said. “I look forward to what the future has in store for me, as well as helping to support other teachers that decide to pursue National Board Certification.”

“It is quite an accomplishment to pass the test and earn this title, but it is even a greater honor to be asked as a speaker,” said Leach’s MES assistant principal Zoyla Cruz-Beckett.

Submitted photo

by -

Expository writing deals with explaining information; it doesn’t tell so a story, so it’s not generally a favorite among students. Unless, of course, they are in Joe Szoltysik’s seventh and eighth grade class at Maricopa Wells Middle School and do a toy-making project.

Szoltysik directed his students, who worked in groups of three or four, to sketch, design, test and market a “new toy for hopeful release by December 2010.”  In addition, students had to create instruction manuals for both assembling and operating the toy, a brochure advertising it, as well as a report explaining the toy’s features and benefits to present to a “committee of potential buyers.”

Each toy had to have at least one moving part, and a suggested age range for the toy had to be determined to target the intended audience or buyers. “We used all recycled materials,” said Szoltysik. “I told them to bring all their junk from home, and they did!”

Brochures needed to include the name of the toy, a slogan and illustration, the cost of the toy and how it could be purchased, online or in stores.

The expository or informative report provided a brief overview of each group’s toy, the materials needed to make it, its cost and what it could do. Graphs, charts and data were suggested as elements to include in order to help sell the toy.

Groups presented their toys to classmates and teachers, and Szoltysik scored the projects on a 350-point rubric.

“Counting repeat visits, over 1,000 students came to my classroom to view the toys,” Szoltysik said.

Expository writing may not always be fun, but it can be—if you can write your own “toy story.”

Photo by Joyce Hollis

by -

Maricopa children and adults have an opportunity to celebrate Halloween and raise funds for the Maricopa High School Marching Rams at the same time.

On Saturday, Oct. 30, fun for all ages will be provided in the form of games, vendors, a kids’ corner, food, pony rides, a costume contest and a Haunted House at the band and band boosters’ first Fall Festival.

The event is scheduled from 4 to 10 p.m. at the high school, 45012 W. Honeycutt Ave.

“This fundraising opportunity helps support the student band club as well as the boosters to purchase new instruments, repair older instruments and help fund trips to other high school for competitions,” said band booster president Kim Gaunt.

The MHS marching band came home victorious from its last competition on Oct. 9, taking outstanding in the following categories: percussion, auxiliary (color guard), visual performance and effect. These ratings helped qualify the Marching Rams for state competition at Aqua Fria High School on Oct. 23.

For booth opportunities at the festival, email

“Band students and parents are excited to invite our community to our first Fall Festival and Haunted House,” Gaunt said.

If you go:

What: MHS Marching Rams and band boosters’ Fall Festival
When: Sat, Oct. 30, 4-10 p.m.
Where: Maricopa High School, 45012 W. Honeycutt Ave.

File photo

by -

The Maricopa Prevention Resource Center’s annual Turkey Drive is once again in full swing.

Each year for over 20 years the prevention center and Maricopa Ak-Chin CAASA have been sponsoring a fundraiser to ensure that needy families in the community have a bountiful holiday meal.

This year there are several families who have been referred to the prevention center, and each will receive a complete, pre-cooked dinner. Each dinner costs about $60.

“We are hoping to supply complete turkey meals, including all of the side dishes, dessert and milk to forty families in need,” said Prevention Coordinator Priscilla Behnke.

SADD (Students Against Drunk Driving) students will be assisting with collecting donations and also with the delivery and distribution of the dinners in time for the holiday.

The students will be asking friends, families, neighbors, local businesses, school staff and clubs to donate. In addition, they will utilize money from their own fundraisers to purchase the holiday meals.

Behnke added, “If anyone in the community is aware of a family in need, they may call the prevention center at (520) 568-7100, ext 3095. Community members can contact the center to make a donation, and donations can be dropped off at Maricopa Wells Middle School, or they can be picked up.”

The Turkey Drive is going strong, but as Behnke reminds potential donors, “Every penny counts.”

File photo

by -

Attorney Joseph Estes, representing Legacy Traditional School, and co-founder and director Aaron Hale came to the Maricopa Unified School District’s governing board Wednesday night with a lease proposal for housing the charter school.

Legacy Traditional School is a Pre-K through sixth grade, publicly funded charter school whose permanent facility is being constructed near Honeycutt and Gunsmoke Roads. The school plans to open on August 13 this year.

Estes explained that the opening of the school’s permanent building would be delayed four to six weeks due to a new roadway being mandated by the city, which created a need for re-engineering of the site.

“This puts us beyond where we’d like to be at the start of school,” said Estes. The school will need to bring in portable classrooms until construction is completed. “We’d rather help the local school district instead of paying a big company to bring in portables,” he explained.

Legacy’s proposal was to lease space at the present Santa Cruz Elementary School site for $55,000 per month for three months. If portables were brought to that site, they would be left there, and their lease turned over to the district.

Maricopa High School Principal Burnie Hibbard offered the board “the best information I can give you in terms of availability on campuses.” He reminded the group that there would be ongoing construction at the high school campus this summer when a new sewer line will be installed. At the beginning of the year district Pre-K classes, overflow from Maricopa Elementary and high school classes may all be using the Santa Cruz site.

In regard to portables, Hibbard said, “There will be a huge amount of construction on this campus. We’ll have trouble finding field space as it us.”

Board member Tracy Davis added her concerns about both the district’s space needs and the septic capacity on the campuses. She also noted that portables count against the district in terms of square footage tallied by the state’s School Facilities Board.

“I don’t think it (the lease agreement) is the right message to send,” said Board member Shannon Amos.

Board President Jim Chaston added, “The major problem is we don’t have space.” His concern was with the public questioning why the district was supporting a charter school rather than focusing on its own schools.

“It’s a lot of money,” noted Board member Tim White, “but, as a businessman, there’s no way I would bring in another towing company and give them space in my yard. It’s not good business sense to support the competition.” White asked Mark Busch, Administrator of Business Services, what it costs the district per student enrolled in the charter school — $4,000 per student was Busch’s estimate.

“The community needs education for students,” said Estes. “We’re here to support you guys.”

He also reminded the board that the same government supports the charter school and the district schools.

The board voted unanimously to reject Legacy’s leased space proposal.

by -

Prior to the opening of Wednesday evening’s school board meeting, Board Member Tim White issued a personal statement regarding legal steps he is taking in regard to the actions of his fellow board members and district employees. He said he was using this time to make a public and media statement of his intent.

“I’m tired of this board not keeping me in the loop and not getting me information,” said White, citing four demand letters for lawsuits that were submitted recently. White said he had not seen them and demanded to be legally served with the four demand letters during the course of the meeting.

“I’ve hired an attorney on my own behalf and will be paying for it out of my own pocket,” he explained, stating that “the improper things going on” were being reported to the Department of Education, the Governor and the Attorney General’s office.

White cited board members and district employees “who go on chat lines and defame me.” He said that, as the senior member of the governing board, he viewed this as “insubordination.” He said he felt other board members were keeping an elected official from “doing his duty.”

“I’m being cheated, and the people who voted for me are being cheated,” said White. “It’s time to get behind the program or leave, and I’m not leaving.”

Photo by Joyce Hollis

by -

Butterfield Elementary students are still observing Veterans Day with a Wall of Remembrance.

Second grade teacher Stephanie Rhinehart sponsored the Veterans Wall at the school.

Rhinehart is a Navy wife and an Air Force daughter. Her grandfather, brother and father-in-law also served in the U.S. military.

“Veterans Day is an important holiday for my family—which is why I sponsored the wall,” said Rhinehart.

Students from all grade levels, K-5, were encouraged to honor any and all of their families’ veterans, and many did, bringing in photos and write ups about those family members who served or are presently serving their country.

“It is my hope to continue the wall each year and, hopefully, watch it grow,” Rhinehart said.

Submitted photo 

by -

Maricopa Unified School District (MUSD)’s governing board recognized several students, teachers and volunteers at their Wednesday meeting.

Maricopa Wells Middle School Dean of Activities Shannon Hull presented the school’s students of the month: sixth grader Jordan Mastel, seventh grader Mykel Cifaldi and eighth grader Arturo Saenz.

Hull also introduced some of the newly elected student council members from the school. Officers are: President Cori Teller, Vice-President William Huggins, Secretary Mary Barzilla, Treasurer Alan McDaniel and Media Relations representative Kendra Trussel.

Teacher of the month, Ashley Modlin, is a special education instructor at Maricopa Wells.

Santa Rosa Elementary School Principal Rick Abel announced that eight district teachers have received their Masters degrees from NAU; six of them teach at Santa Rosa. The degrees are all in elementary education with reading endorsements and hours toward ESL certification.

Maricopa Elementary School parent volunteer Leslie Maldonado received a bouquet of roses for her commitment to the school. “She’s missed only one day this year,” noted Principal Bonnie Gibson, “and it’s all on her time.”

Maldonado urged other parents to volunteer at schools. “Tie a shoe, open a packet of ketchup,” she laughed. “It doesn’t take much to make kids happy.”

Superintendent Dr. John Flores told the audience and board members that all schools in the district have been rated as ‘performing’ or better. The specific rankings will be available soon.

Read to Kids Day will be Thursday for grades K-2 at all elementary schools in the district. For every volunteer who reads, United Way of Pinal County will furnish that school’s library with a book. Volunteers do not need a badge but should sign in at the school office. Books will be provided. Hours for the respective schools are:

Maricopa Elementary – 7:30 to 10 a.m.
Pima Butte Elementary – 7:30 to 10:30 a.m.
Santa Cruz Elementary – 8:30 a.m.
Santa Rosa Elementary – 7:45 to 10:45 a.m., 12 to 2 p.m.

Photos by Joyce Hollis

by -

Wednesday’s MUSD governing board meeting was delayed a few minutes in order to find enough chairs for the capacity crowd of parents and community members. Many of them were there for the recognitions and celebrations portion of the meeting.

Maricopa High School principal June Celaya introduced several students who have formed STATE (Students Taking Action Toward Education). The group’s goal is to raise money for everyday classroom supplies and to educate adults about educational goals and needs. “They are taking a very proactive role in their education,” said Celaya.

Rachele Reese, assistant principal at Saddleback Elementary, announced that the school raised $1,859 dollars in their Pennies for Patients drive for children with leukemia.

District volunteer coordinator Margaret Jackson recognized all the nominees for this year’s volunteer awards. Currently the district has 836 registered volunteers, including governing board members. “There are all kinds of ways to volunteer,” said Jackson, who presented the following awards:

Student Service Award:  Wendy Tran of MHS
Volunteer of the Year:  Patricia Garcia
55 and Over Volunteer Award:  Dan Cowley
Community Impact Award:  Treasured Smiles Children’s Dentistry, Dr. Duane Clouse
(for the fall 2009 food drive which garnered 13,000 pounds of food for the local food bank)

The first grade Butterfield Bobcat singers were the finale, singing “Lights, Camera, Action” and the “Bobcat Song” under the direction of music instructor Janell Sarkozy, who wrote the “Bobcat Song.” “They are great singers,” said Sarkozy. “Every day they come in ready to learn.  I’m really proud of our students.”

Board members approved the district benefit plan for the 2011-2012 school year, teacher contract and notice of indefinite term appointment language, but tabled related service provider, counselor and administrator contract language until the next board meeting. The MHS senior Grad Bash trip to Golfland was also tabled. Governing board members voted unanimously to cancel the May 26 board meeting, which was scheduled for graduation night.

During the study session Director of Business Services Aron Rausch gave the monthly financial report. He also reviewed the budget calendar for the next few months, indicating that although the district’s budget revision is due May 13, the legislature may move it to July 15 after the vote on Proposition 100; its passage would mean $2.6 million for MUSD.

The ad hoc budget committee, which will meet again on May 3, will bring the governing board its recommendations on future cuts, amounting to $7.6 million, on June 9. Rausch noted that the Keep Our Educators Working Act of 2010 is proceeding through congressional channels. It could mean $2 million in stimulus monies each year for three years, if passed.

In regard to the potential date changes from the legislature, Superintendent Jeff Kleck told the board, “We need to keep June and July fluid and flexible with budget meetings and hearings.”

Jackson came before the board to enlist their support, which she received, for the Raise a Reader program. “As a community we need to join together and create an atmosphere where reading is cool,” Jackson said. She will be out in the community looking for funding help for this program.

“The focus is really on drawing the community in and allowing them to understand how important they are in educating a child. The goal is to show that reading is not something that’s just done in school. We need to find some strategic ways to get folks involved, and then our hope is it grows as time moves on,” Kleck said.

Celaya and MHS assistant principal Rick Neilson were present to answer the board’s questions on senior retention and promotion. Of the 303 students in this year’s senior class, 21 will not graduate. In addition, 74 regular education students are presently at risk of failing. Of that number, 21 are from other states. “The problem we have is that not all our standards align with other states’ standards,” said Neilson. He also explained that no gender or ethnicity stands out among the 74 at risk students and fluctuations in student status will occur depending on how they are doing in their semester classes.

“Two problem areas are math and science,” Neilson said. “This is not unique to Maricopa; this is a nationwide issue.”

Board president Geoff Goddard said trying to get kids reading earlier, including the board’s decision to maintain all-day kindergarten, would help early learning deficiencies. “All these numbers should get better,” Goddard said, citing the need to have accurate data regarding deficiencies. “We need to put in place a robust system to bring them up to speed before they go to the next level.”

“We need to be making decisions based on best practices and research,” Celaya said. “We can’t control kids coming in from other states, but we need to have some kind of program in place that’s proven to be effective.”

The governing board will revisit the promotion and retention issue at their next meeting on May 12.

Photos by Joyce Hollis

by -

Wednesday’s school board meeting was agendized to be largely informational with reports on construction, after school care on early release days and a recently formed task force in response to the incident at the middle school.

Superintendent Dr. John Flores announced that for the first time the Ak-Chin Community’s preschool children were being tested to establish a baseline assessment to help them with an “operational learning mode.”

When approval was sought for the minutes of the previous meeting and the agenda items, board member Tim White moved to table the minutes and the selection of a date for the board to evaluate the superintendent in executive session.

Although the tape recorder was working at the last board meeting, “something was wrong with the feed,” according to Technology Director Gina Pinch. Minutes of the general meeting were “based off notes from Superintendent Flores due to meeting tapes being blank.”

White, who had obtained a copy of a press recording of that meeting, wanted the minutes tabled until the tapes and the existing minutes could be compared. He questioned whether the minutes were accurate although he had turned the tapes over to Flores. “We need the originals so the minutes are accurate,” said White.

Having requested an executive session for the superintendent’s evaluation on Monday and seeing none on the agenda, White accused Flores of “trying to deny my rights as a board member.” President Jim Chaston took full responsibility for not putting the executive session on the agenda, saying the board should decide the date for the evaluation.

“I am discouraged that you (Chaston) or him (Flores) would try to deter that from happening,” replied White. The evaluation was tabled.

Flores announced that the Before and After School Programs will be continuing as well as a two-hour, fee program for children on Wednesdays during early release. Director Julie Jimenez questioned who would be providing those services, her staff, the city’s new partner, the East Valley Boys and Girls Club, or the YMCA, mentioned earlier by Flores.

“If the YMCA or the Boys Club are taking over, it certainly would be considerate to let me know,” noted Jimenez, who was assured that no changes were being made in the Before and After School Program.

Personnel matters were approved, with the exception of Heidi Fawcett’s change from Director of Special Services to Director of Human Resources. The lateral move was tabled when White suggested the Fawcett was forced to apply and might not be the best qualified.

Task Force for Safe Schools
Flores told the board Wednesday, “The first priority is our students and their safety. We know all parents want to be good parents and all parents try to be good parents, but a little help never hurts.”

Flores outlined the goals of the task force, which included the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, Maricopa Police Department, the state gang task force (GITEM), Mayor Kelly Anderson, SRO Corporal Kent Ogaard, Fawcett and Flores.

The group, formed in direct response to recent middle school issues, has as its goals: communication, collaboration, strategies, education and resources for parents and the establishment of a silent witness program.

White, expressing concern for his own daughter’s safety, questioned why district employees with gang training were not included in the meeting. “We need to include the five individuals trained for gang activity,” he noted.

Ogaard responded that this was “just an initial meeting where we said there’s a problem, let’s fix it.” The task force meeting was put together in under a week and didn’t include either the Ak-Chin or Gila River police chiefs. “Part of the problem was off campus and included the sheriff’s department,” added Ogaard.

“There will absolutely be more meetings and more people brought to the table,” Ogaard said.

White continued to berate Flores for not including the five administrators and directors who had taken gang activity training and for having students return to campus after their suspensions but before their board hearings. Flores “respectfully disagreed” about the inclusion of staff, saying that the meeting was a rapid response to a problem and that the number of possible expulsions was the largest in the district’s history.

White’s continuous remarks brought a response from Chaston, “Mr. White, I think we all understand that you’re trying to get our superintendent fired.”

White retorted, “You took the floor away from me because you think you’re the president.”

Fawcett was able to explain the three-pronged approach, including students, staff and parents, which the district will be taking. Parent and community nights will be held at the schools, and in May student assemblies will be held. Safety teams, consisting of parents, community members and staff will be at each school site.

During the Call to the Public, Maricopa Wells Site Council president and parent of two middle schoolers Theresa Farley thanked “staff and teachers for keeping our kids safe.” She urged to board to get additional hearing officers since Jimenez is currently the only one in the district.

Local resident Suzy Breunig, whose grandson was involved in the recent middle school incident, commended Principal Stephanie Sharp and the officers for their handling of the situation. She asked why Flores was not at the school during the incident.

The board did approve seven legislative priorities, including teacher salary equity, district funding and anti-gang education and resources. Clerk Tracy Davis was particularly adamant about the funding for anti-gang education. The priorities will be forwarded to the Arizona School Board Association (ASBA).

The Houghton Mifflin science textbook adoption for grades K-5 was also approved.

by -

Members of the Independent Political Action Committee to Recall Timothy P. White were out in full force gathering signatures outside the various schools during Curriculum Night Tuesday.

The deadline for submitting signatures to the Pinal County Superintendent’s Office is Thursday, Sept. 6. In order to recall White, who is currently serving a four-year term as a Maricopa Unified School District governing board member, 606 signatures are needed.

“We believe we have about 500 signatures,” said Jake Romero. The committee will be out in the community this week to gather any additional signatures needed. Both Romero and committee member Matt Reese believe that getting signatures over the summer was difficult because so many people were out of town.

“We should have done this earlier,” acknowledged Reese.

According to Lezah Saunders, who heads the recall effort, “We have had many people showing interest and taking up the cause recently–it’s always deadlines that get people going!”

White, whose term expires in 2010, was elected as an incumbent last fall. The committee has taken issue with behavior and speech seen as unprofessional in White’s public criticism of Superintendent Dr. John Flores and Administrator of Business Services Mark Busch, as well as fellow board members, particularly Board President Jim Chaston.

Following the submission of the signatures, White will have 60 days to respond or resign although he has indicated that no resignation will occur. He told that he wants the recall to go to ballot so he can be re-elected.

Once the signatures are turned in, the county’s election department will validate them prior to the recall appearing as a one-issue ballot in early November.

Photo by Joyce Hollis

by -

The gridiron season is wrapping up for colleges all across the nation, and one Maricopa resident recently finished his first season playing college ball at Western New Mexico University.

Calling signals, looking for an open receiver and moving the chains with your feet all get in your blood if you are a quarterback. Former Maricopa High School Rams starting quarterback Will Clemans knows that feeling

Clemans just finished his first season at WNMU, playing second-string quarterback for the Mustangs, who are headquartered in Silver City, New Mexico. The 5 foot, 9 inch, 160-pound freshman is majoring in mathematics.

A former punt returner and defensive back, Clemans took over the offense as quarterback in his senior year at MHS under Coach Tyler Brandt, who often talked about his starter’s “ability to make quick and decisive decisions.”

A Maricopa resident since he started fifth grade, Clemans spent all four years at Maricopa High School, and his parents still live in Maricopa, traveling to as many of his college games as possible.

Clemans took his training, skills and work ethic to Western New Mexico this year. He was five for nine in passing with 23 yards and 11 yards rushing. The Mustangs finished their 2008 season 2-8, winning their final two games.

What’s next for Clemans? He plans to return to WNMU next year and continue his football career.

“Playing college football had always been a dream, and it has finally come true,” said Clemans. I can still remember every play under the lights at MHS, and I believe that is what got me here today. I’m by far not as big, fast or strong as these guys, but I learned to play with my heart and never quit.”

Photos courtesy of Bill Clemans plus file photo