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Heritage Academy

Gov. Doug Ducey and Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman announced Sunday the closures of all public schools in the state through March 27 as a safety measure against COVID-19.


“The health and safety of all our students is our top priority,” Ducey said in the video announcement.

Hoffman said the state had heard concerns from many school administrators about staffing and possible absences.

Maricopa Unified School already had a planned two-week Spring Break during the time of the statewide closure, as did Heritage Academy. Sequoia Pathway Academy is in the middle of a two-week break.

Leading Edge Academy earlier announced a network-wide extension of Spring Break through March 23, but that will now extend through March 27. Legacy Traditional School had announced an extended Spring Break through March 20 at three campuses, which is also altered by the state decision. The LTS network had already canceled gatherings such as field trips through April 10.

“Legacy will be providing meals for in-need students during this extended break,” the charter school announced to its members. “Breakfast and lunch will be served in grab-and-go bags and will be available for pick-up from 8 to 9 a.m. for breakfast and from 12 to 1 p.m. for lunch.”

The state, too, is working to keep boxed meals available for students during the time schools are closed. It would be an early start to the summer food service program through USDA.

The state announcement included an effort to provide childcare options that may be announced later. Families are discouraged from leaving children in the care of elderly adults, a group who appear to be the most vulnerable to the coronavirus.

“We are asking schools to please adhere to the following measures during this period of closure:
* School administrators should make every effort to provide continued education learning opportunities through online resources or materials that can be sent home.
* School administrators should develop a plan to continue breakfast and lunch services for Arizona students.
* As demand rises on healthcare professionals and first responders, schools should expand child care programs currently available to ensure minimal disruption to these critical jobs as a result of the school closure.
* When school resumes, school administrators should develop and implement precautions to ensure schools are a safe learning environment, including social distancing measures, regular intervals for administrators to wash and sanitize their hands, and guidance on how to properly and frequently sanitize election equipment and common surfaces.”


Heritage players watch San Tan receive the first-place trophy.

The Heritage Academy boys’ basketball team ended its debut season with a 16-4 record and a second-place trophy in the state tournament.

The Heroes’ season finished the same way it started, with a blowout loss to top-ranked San Tan Charter.

Playing in Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, San Tan ran rough-shod over Heritage for the 97-56 final in the Canyon Athletic Association Division 3 championship game Tuesday. The Roadrunners took off with a 35-19 lead in the first quarter and never looked back.

When Heritage’s shots wouldn’t fall, San Tan started beating the Heroes at their own run-and-gun game. Heritage was visibly gassed and forlorn before the second quarter.

It was the Heroes’ third time losing to the quick and deft Roadrunners this year. The second-place trophy was little consolation directly after the game as they had to stand on court and watch San Tan celebrate, but the experience was already changing perspectives.

“We got a hunger. We have that want now,” said sophomore Logan Porter. “Before, we wanted the trophy, but we didn’t really want it. Now we really want it.”

While the result was just one game off-mark for coach Jim Deakyne’s goal of winning state in the first year of the program, Heritage was formidable much of the season. The title game was a snapshot of their challenge, with a team comprised mostly of sophomores going up against mostly juniors and seniors.

“We were a lot better than we were at the beginning of the year,” Porter said. “We’ve come a long way. We’ve got the brotherhood, and not even a loss like that could separate us.”

The Heritage Academy boys’ basketball team defeated BASIS-Scottsdale, 79-68, on Saturday to advance to the Central Arizona Association’s Division 3 championship game.

The Heroes, who were 15-3 during the regular season, had a tight battle with the Bulldogs until pulling away in the second half.

“They didn’t let them slowing the game down bother them,” coach Jim Deakyne said of his team. “They maintained their composure. They moved the ball. There were a lot of guys getting the ball offensively. That’s what we want to do.”

Heritage fielded a starting five of sophomores against a team primarily of seniors. It was a challenge of both size and experience until 6-foot-3 Malik Charles arrived in time for the fourth quarter.

Phenomenal play from our boys,” Deakyne said.

Josh Deakyn scored 34 points, and Logan Porter had 18. Ahmari Moody added 10.

In its first year of existence, the team goal all season was to win state, so Coach Deakyne said he was not surprised to reach the final but he was pleased. He said facing either San Tan Charter or Imagine Prep-Surprise would a tough matchup for the Heroes. The final is Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

Pathway's Jose Miguel was top scorer in the game, but Heritage came away with the playoff win. Photos by Raquel Hendrickson

Heritage Academy and Sequoia Pathway went all the way to Phoenix to play each other for the third and final time this year, and with similar results. The Heroes won the Canyon Athletic Association quarterfinal matchup, 99-81.

“We expected to come in, we expected to win by a decent margin,” said head coach Jim Deakyne. “They played us really well, but they played us really well the first two times we met, but it felt like the first two times we didn’t really play our best game. The guys played a lot better tonight and things went our way.”

Previous margins of victory in the charter school rivalry were 106-101 and 93-91. Coming to the CAA playoffs, the Heroes were ranked second in Division 3 behind San Tan Charter. Pathway was seventh.

“We expect to go all the way,” Deakyne said. “That’s what we came to do. That’s the expectation, and that’s why these guys have been working their butts off all year.”

Next up for Heritage is No. 3 BASIS-Scottsdale, whom they defeated in the regular season.

While this was Heritage’s its first year of competition in Maricopa, Pathway ends its last year in CAA with a regular-season record of 12-9. Next year, the school moves over to the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Saturday, Pathway senior Jose Miguel led all scorers with 39 points. Yufiel Jones scored 16, and Ajani Elliot 14.

On the Heritage side, Josh Deakyne (the coach’s brother) scored 33, and Logan Porter put in 30. The team hit six 3-pointers.

Heritage is averaging 97.1 points per game, a nation-leading statistic. This season the Heroes also set an Arizona record for 3-pointers in a single game. They hit 21 in a game against BASIS-Peoria, including six from Porter.

Josh Deakyne is averaging 24.6 points per game and seven assists per game. Porter averages 24.1 ppg.


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Pathway junior Jose Miguel goes up against Imagine-Coolidge in a home victory. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The Sequoia Pathway varsity boys’ basketball team extended its winning streak to four games last week and have an overall record of 10-5. The Pumas have outscored their opponents 1,025-793. Through eight games, junior Jose Miguel was averaging 26.5 points per game.

They are in third place in Region 4 of Division 3 in Canyon Athletic Association play, just behind Maricopa rival Heritage, which is 7-3. The region leader is San Tan, which has defeated both Heritage and Pathway. The Pumas travel to San Tan Wednesday for a rematch.

Heritage, meanwhile, has scored 100 points or more in four games this season. They have outscored their opponents 946-856. Sophomore Josh Deakyne is averaging 25.7 points per game, and Logan Porter 24.2.

Pathway and Heritage next play each other Feb. 6.

The guys became the cheerleaders as four teams of Heritage Academy girls played powderpuff football at Pacana Park to benefit breast cancer awareness and local food banks Thursday. For the price of $300 raised to fight cancer, organizers promised to put Assistant Principal Barry Halterman in a pink tutu for the games, and followed through.

Logan Harper introduces himself to parents and students as the new band teacher at Desert Wind Middle School. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Most schools in Maricopa start the New Year this week and prepared for opening day with Meet the Teacher nights. Maricopa Unified School District hosted a welcome-back gathering for certified and classified employees. Classes will be under way Monday. Watch for buses on the streets and children on foot near school zones.

Construction is continuing rapidly on the academic building at Heritage Academy. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

With construction of its campus behind schedule, the new Heritage Academy will start the school year with classes off-site, according to information released to parents by Principal Kimberly Ellsworth.

The plan is to have classes at Elements Event Center, a conference facility at UltraStar Multi-tainment Center. School starts July 24.

The charter school is a middle school and high school campus. Elements, a property of Ak-Chin Indian Community, has made space available for up to eight weeks if necessary.

Elements has four main rooms with a total capacity of about 395 people. The largest room can be divided into smaller spaces.

“After speaking with Elements at UltraStar, we are confident in the facilities, set up, staff support and safety of this temporary location,” Ellsworth wrote. “We are excited to work with them, and we think the scholars will enjoy the learning experience at this facility.”

Classes will be moved to the new campus as soon as it has a certificate of occupancy.

Heritage will host a Meet the Teacher Night July 18 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Elements, 16000 N. Maricopa Road.

The school broke ground in March. The campus is being constructed at 41001 W. Lucera Lane off Adams Way at Porter Road, not far from Saddleback Elementary and Leading Edge Academy – Maricopa to the west, Legacy Traditional School to the south and Sequoia Pathway Academy to the north.

Heritage Academy construction on June 27
Heritage Academy construction on June 11. Photo by Kyle Norby

Crew work in the early morning at the Heritage Academy sight.

Heritage Academy is scheduled to open its Maricopa campus July 24, but the charter school is still under construction.

The school, prepared for sixth through 11th grade (intending to add 12th grade next year), is awaiting five permits. Ten permits have been issued for the project, and there are 35 inspections yet to be conducted.

The property at 41001 W. Lucera Lane is on land owned by Our Lady of Grace parish in Glennwilde.

The 13,525-square-foot gym and a 29,359-square-foot academic building have been issued permits for commercial new building, sprinkler system and fire alarm. A 16,101-square-foot addition to the academic building has not.

Each of the first two commercial permits took two and a half months to be issued. The commercial permit for the addition was submitted April 17.

The campus plans also eventually include a 16,454-square-foot auditorium and a football field.  Low Mountain Construction has the campus marked for completion in October.

Representatives from Heritage Academy did not respond to queries about contingency plans. A weekly newsletter stated, “We will have a better timeline of completion once the steel is finished.  In the meantime, we are making some back-up plans, just in case, so we can ensure school will begin on time.”

The school has been busy hiring faculty and orienting scholars. Students have been auditioning for fine arts programs as well.

Another planned charter high school and middle school, A+ Charter Schools, opted to postpone its construction until next school year.

Low Mountain Construction is putting up the campus buildings.

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**The Director was Marcus Ellsworth, new Drama Teacher at Heritage Maricopa, who served as Executive Artistic Director and founder of Actors Youth Theater in the East Valley, producing 5+ shows a year since 2001, being awarded countless Zoni Awards for outstanding Youth Theater in Arizona.  He also currently directs for Chandler-Gilbert Community College.

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Heritage students with snakes. (Submitted photo)

“Heritage Academy staff and teachers really have the scholars’ best interest at heart,” said one Heritage Parent. “They are willing to go the extra mile to ensure that all of their students are set up for success and have every available tool to do and be the best they can.”

The original downtown Mesa campus has been open for over 20 years and is an A-rated school with the Arizona Department of Education. Heritage Academy in Maricopa is a replication school from the original Mesa Campus and is a tuition-free, 6th-12th grade charter school. It has already enrolled over 300 new Maricopa scholars. They are excited to add more scholars and families who are interested in high academic standards.

Another Heritage parent was “drawn to the small-school environment which allows the teachers to really get to know their students and help them succeed.” By offering small class sizes, Heritage teachers have more time in class to teach and help scholars learn.

Located in The Crossings in The Heart of Maricopa–East of Porter, off Adams–the campus is ideally situated for families in the City of Maricopa. While excited about the new facilities, the focus of Heritage Academy has always been to give their scholars a quality education and experience. In addition to the strong academics, Heritage offers a wide array of arts and athletics in an innovative 4-day block schedule.

Principal Kim Ellsworth explained how Heritage uses a block schedule. “Scholars attend four classes on Mondays and Wednesdays and four classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This gives teachers and scholars more class time and gives the scholar the opportunity to add electives to explore more options without overloading their schedule.”

She continued, “The scholars really enjoy the four-day school week and parents like it because scholars have time to finish homework and still have weekend family time. We have had many parents tell us they like the flexibility of being able to schedule appointments on Friday without their scholars having to miss any school.”

For the arts, Heritage Academy will be offering classes in dance, art, drama, choir and instrumental music. In athletics, programs include football, volleyball, basketball, soccer, and martial arts. Depending on scholar interest, other sports may be added such as swimming, softball, baseball, and cross country.

Heritage Academy maintains a clean, moral, positive atmosphere where scholars can feel safe. The staff and faculty are committed to the growth and development of young people. Providing the highest quality education and character development are key qualities for every member of the Heritage faculty. The faculty is expected to perform at a high level and focus on serving the parents and scholars.
Heritage Academy is currently taking enrollment applications online for grades 6-10 at https://hamaricopa.com/enrollment-open/. You may also reach us at maricopa@heritageacademyaz.com or by calling (520) 367-3800.

Kimberly Ellsworth will be Heritage Academy's first principal in Maricopa. Photo by Jim Headley

Friday Heritage Academy officially broke ground on its new $16 million school set to open in July.

The campus in Maricopa will be the fourth Heritage Academy to open in Arizona. The company has charter schools open in Laveen, Mesa and Queen Creek.

“Heritage Academy was the fourth charter issued in the state of Arizona in the very first year,” said Jared Taylor, chairman of the Heritage board and CEO. “We were one school for many years. We had so many people asking us to build in other places, and we always said no. We were happy just being one little school in downtown Mesa.”

He said when people started standing in line at 2 a.m. to enroll their children in the charter school, the Heritage board decided to rethink the idea of opening additional locations. Heritage opened locationa in Queen Creek and Laveen five years ago.

“We are not a charter affiliate that needs to build on every corner. We want to go where there is a good fit in the community, where there is a need in the community,” he said.

Taylor said he was approached by some Maricopa parents, especially Sarah Morgan, telling him there was a need in the city as many charter schools had a long waiting list to enroll.

“They said, ‘Will you?’ and I said, ‘No.’ I don’t have any more hair to lose and I can’t go anymore gray,” Taylor joked.  “It was actually a great fit and we are excited to be here.”

Taylor said the $16 million investment in the Maricopa school will come in two phases, with $13.3 million for the opening phase in the first year followed by a $3.3 million phase a couple years after enrollment grows. A school auditorium is planned in the second phase. He said the school is expected to be completed and operational by July.

“We love the families and we’ve been doing this from the very first year of charter schools. We know what we’re doing. We don’t have to be all things to all people. We just specialize with junior high and high school. Here, we are opening grades 6 through 10 the first year. The next year we will open grade 11 and then 12,” Taylor said.

Kimberly Ellsworth will be moving to Maricopa to be the Maricopa school’s first principal. She started at Heritage Academy as a junior high English teacher in 1999. She later worked as a teacher and assistant principal with other schools in the valley and returned to Heritage Academy in 2014 as the founding principal for the Laveen campus.

“We did start the Laveen campus five years ago,” Ellsworth said. “It is quite a process. They have already replaced me in Laveen, and I started working for Maricopa as the principal in January. It is a huge project. We’re starting something new – to me that is the exciting part. We can build exactly what we want. We can train the kids from the very beginning.”

Ellsworth said the first day of school on the Maricopa campus is July 24.

“I think we can do it, maybe a month sooner,” she said. “We are still looking for students. I feel like this school is the best you will ever find.”

Maricopa Mayor Christian Price welcomed Heritage to the city.

“This school is a great addition to the community,” Price said. “Anytime we can add quality institutions of learning to our community and give people a choice, I think it’s an excellent thing. It helps us raise the bar for our attraction of businesses, headquarters and retailers that want to come to our community. We are generating the qualified workforce that needs to be here. For a wonderful A+ school to come to the community – that’s only a valuable addition.”

To find out more about Heritage Academy visit their webpage at heritageacademyaz.com.

“We still have 10 teaching positions to fill. We will probably start with 25 new jobs in the community. Many of them are local. With some of them, they live in Maricopa but working outside of Maricopa. It is fun to bring them back. If people are interested in the jobs here, go to our website to see what openings we have,” Taylor said, adding families interested in enrolling their children in the academy are welcome to tour one of their existing schools.

The Maricopa school’s website will be HAMaricopa.com.