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Sequoia Pathway

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The Maricopa High School volleyball team started its season with two wins and a loss in Arizona Interscholastic Association play, while in the Canyon Athletic Conference, Sequoia Pathway has built a record of 5-1.

Photo by Kyle Norby

MHS soundly defeated Camelback in straight sets, 25-13, 25-14, 25-9. That was followed by a 3-1 home victory over a team they lost to last season, Betty H. Fairfax, with sets of 25-10, 25-13, 13-25, 25-22. Thursday, the girls lost to Verrado in straight sets, 17-25, 12-25, 13-25.

Meanwhile, the Pumas walked over Basis-Peoria to start their season, 3-0. They also took down Basis-Chandler in three, 25-13, 25-24, 25-4, and then Phoenix College Prep in straight sets, 25-20, 25-16, 25-17. Pathway defeated San Tan Charter in five sets, 3-2, but had the tables turned on them against Heritage Academy-Gateway, which handed them their first loss, 2-3.

The Pumas had a walkover win against Imagine-Coolidge, which failed to show for Thursday’s match.

In its first season of competition in CAA, playing in an independent region, Heritage-Maricopa has posted straight-set losses to Southwest Leadership and Basis-Ahwatukee.

Photo by Kyle Norby

Photo by Victor Moreno

 

FOOTBALL

MHS plays hard, fast against tough foes
There is no off-season for Maricopa High School football; just out-of-season. That’s where head coach Brandon Harris has tracked improvement in the players coming back from a team that was 5-6 and qualified for state play from the tough 5A San Tan.

“Summer was good for us,” Harris said. “We participated in a lot of 7-on-7 tournaments. It was nice. We came home and won the whole tournament here at Copper Sky.”

Out-of-season he had them working on speed and agility, skills and drills. Some players migrated to track and field to stay in shape.

“Seven-on-7 isn’t football; I say that all the time,” Harris said, “but it gives you an indication of how you match up skill-wise with other teams in the state. I think we match up really well this year, more so than we did last year. We’ve got weapons everywhere.”

Neill likes the direction the program is headed.

“We’re just getting compliments on how hard we play, in talking with football coaches who maybe didn’t expect the game they got from us,” Athletic Director Jake Neill said. “That’s a credit to the kids and coach Harris and his coaching staff. The consensus is that if a team is going to get a win [against MHS], it’s going to be a tough one.”

The 7-on-7 participation told the most about the growth of senior quarterback Daxton Redfern.

Daxton Redfern
Photo by Victor Moreno

“We realized how good he was when we went down to U of A in Tucson,” Harris said. “He’s grown exponentially. He knows our offense really well.”

In that 7-on-7 tournament, Redfern threw 42 touchdowns in 13 games against one interception. Coming up behind him is sophomore Merhauti Xepera, who is a tight end when not quarterbacking. “He’s a big kid, an athletic kid,” Harris said. “He’s going to be the future.”

Other expected standouts include junior Mister Chavis, Ilijah Johnson, Tylek Mooney, Steven Forrester, Anthony Valenzuela, Hunter Taylor and Bryan Pick, among other Rams who want to make a name for themselves.

“We’ll be fast. We’re always going to be fast here, explosive, resilient, family, very close team this year,” Harris said. “We got into the playoffs. Now the next step is to win some games in the playoffs, which is what I’m used to doing. That’s the goal. We think we have a really good chance of doing that.”

MHS
W, 33-22              at McClintock
L, 0-47                  vs. Millennium
Sept. 6                  7 p.m. vs. Apollo
Sept. 13                7 p.m. vs. South Mountain (Homecoming)
Sept. 20                7 p.m. at Central
Sept. 27                7 p.m. at Higley
Oct. 4                    7 p.m. vs. Campo Verde
Oct. 18                  7 p.m. vs. Williams Field (Senior Night)
Oct. 25                  7 p.m. at Casteel
Nov. 1                   7 p.m. at Gilbert


Jacob McIntyre
Photo by Victor Moreno

Sequoia Pathway gets new coach for growing program
Sequoia Pathway Academy has a new varsity football coach, but he’s no stranger to football in Maricopa. Donnie Margerum moves across town from MHS’s freshman team.

Coach Donnie Margerum
Photo by Victor Moreno

“This year, with Coach Donnie, it’s creating a new culture,” said Glen Hale, the school’s athletic director. “He came in with a new system. He also has another assistant coach from MHS, Corey Nelson.”

The Pumas grew from eight-man to 11-man football a couple of seasons ago, and this year are joined by more charter school teams in the Open division of the Canyon Athletic Association. In 2018 they finished third with a 4-3 record, but football didn’t end with the season.

“I’ve been saying, just taking it to the next level of play and playing throughout the season instead of just coming in through the season,” Hale said. “Now we’re moving to where it’s year-round and giving our kids opportunities to travel to places and compete against higher competition.”

Returning seniors include Shane Miller, Gavin Buchberger, Jacob McIntyre, Ajani Elliot and Patrick Lisby. The high school team has grown to 35 players.

“We had to go get more helmets and equipment, which is a good thing.”

Sequoia Pathway
W, 14-8                vs. Canyon State
Sept. 6                  7 p.m. vs. South Pointe
Sept. 19                6:15 p.m. at Canyon State Academy
Sept. 27                7 p.m. vs. San Tan Charter
Oct. 4                    7 p.m. vs ASU Prep
Oct. 11                  7 p.m. at South Pointe
Oct. 18                  7 p.m. at San Tan Charter
Oct. 25                  7 p.m. at ASU Prep


Shakira Gillespie
Photo by Victor Moreno

VOLLEYBALL

MHS trying to restore self-confidence
The Rams are trying to rebuild a team after a haphazard volleyball season in AIA 5A.

Returning as head coach for MHS varsity is Theresa Abernathy, who is also an instructor at Copper Sky. She is trying to overhaul a team that was 2-20 last season.

“We are completely going to start fresh,” Abernathy said. “We’re building the program from the ground up.”

Expected returning players include juniors Shakira Gillespie, Brooke Smith and Ashley Brown along with senior Tayler Riley-Coleman. But it looks to be a young team.

“They have improved an awful lot,” Abernathy said. “They listen to what I’m saying, and they seem to like each other.”

After the discouragement of 2018, she said they need to restore their self-confidence. She is encouraging more year-round play. In today’s volleyball climate, it is difficult for players who only play during the high school year to compete against those who participate in clubs.

“They need to believe they can win and be competitive with every team,” she said. “They need to be a team.”

MHS
W, 3-0                   at Camelback
W, 3-1                   vs. Fairfax
L, 0-3                    vs. Verrado
Sept. 10                6 p.m. at Paradise Valley
Sept. 12                6 p.m. vs. North Canyon
Sept. 16                6 p.m. at Campo Verde
Sept. 17                6 p.m. vs. Ironwood
Sept. 24                6 p.m. at Williams Field
Sept. 25                6 p.m. at Centennial
Sept. 26                6 p.m. at Higley
Oct. 1                    6 p.m. vs. Casteel
Oct. 3                    6 p.m. vs. Gilbert
Oct. 15                  6 p.m. vs. Campo Verde
Oct. 17                  6 p.m. vs. Williams Field
Oct. 22                  6 p.m. vs. Higley (Senior Night)
Oct. 24                  6 p.m. at Casteel
Oct. 29                  6 p.m. at Gilbert


Lynniece Andrews
Photo by Victor Moreno

Sequoia Pathway works to improve on remarkable year
Pathway wants to build off a hot year that saw them reach the Final Four in Canyon Athletic Association’s Division II, and has had a strong turnout of players. Varsity coach LaShieka Holley is keeping nine, while there are 16 in junior varsity, and 42 came out for junior high.

“I’m asking all the coaches from varsity to reach down into the elementary level, to reach down into the middle school level, so we’re not just working on one program; we’re building as a whole,” Hale said. “She’s done a really good job with that. She’s actually the coach of the junior high, too. It’s been good to see how that transition is happening with the girls, and how they’re just growing.”

Puma captains are Lynniece Andrews and Mikayla Gallon, returning from the team that was undefeated in the regular season.

“This summer they went to an ASU camp. That was amazing,” Hale said. “Once again, they competed against AIA schools. Some were state champions, so they got that experience of playing with top-level competition. That’s where we heading as an athletic program. We want to play people that are better than us so we can get better.”

Sequoia Pathway
W, 3-0                  vs. Basis-Peoria
W, 3-0                  at Basis-Chandler
W, 3-0                  at San Tan Charter
L, 2-3                  vs. Heritage-Gateway
Sept. 5                  7 p.m. at Imagine-Coolidge
Sept. 11                5:30 p.m. at Sequoia Charter
Sept. 12                7 p.m. vs. Mission Heights
Sept. 17                4 p.m. at Imagine-Coolidge
Sept. 19                7 p.m. vs. EVAC
Sept. 24                6:30 p.m. at Mission Heights
Sept. 26                7 p.m. vs. Heritage-Mesa
Oct. 1                    4 p.m. at South Ridge
Oct. 3                    7 p.m. vs. Desert Heights


Kian Carroll and Eva Zavala
Photo by Victor Moreno

SWIMMING

MHS dives into 2nd swimming season
Coming off a rookie season in AIA competition, the MHS swimming team has about 30 returning swimmers and around 45 overall.

“We lost some to the new high school (Heritage Academy), but we have a lot of freshmen coming back from last year,” coach Laura Logan said.

She said having a year under their belts is allowing her to coach more instead of just teaching the basics of swimming as much as she did in 2018.

“They have a base of knowledge that they can build on,” Logan said. “We had so many kids with no experience whatsoever.”

She expects her team leaders to again Olivia Byers, now a junior, and Connor Schrader, a sophomore. The four seniors are Jose Perez Barraza, Kian Carroll, Jacob Davis and Eva Zavala. There are a few more boys than girls participating.

The team includes 16 sophomores and 14 freshmen.

A team goal is to get swimmers qualified for state competition and show the more established swim programs “what Maricopa is becoming.”

The Rams compete in AIA Division II.

Sept. 5                  4 p.m.                   at Apache Junction
Sept. 12                4 p.m.                   at Copper Sky
Sept. 24                4 p.m.                   at Saguaro
Oct. 3                    4 p.m.                   at Copper Sky
Oct. 10                  4 p.m.                   at Copper Sky
Oct. 17                  4 p.m.                   at Copper Sky
Oct. 23                  9:30 a.m.             at Apache Junction
Nov. 2-3               TBA                        State Championship


Quinton Stapleton and Zanaa Ramirez
Photo by Victor Moreno

CROSS COUNTRY

MHS finding new motivation
MHS cross country is recuperating from a difficult year that saw flagging motivation on the boys’ team and not even a full team on the girls’ side.

“Right now, we’re definitely rebuilding,” coach Heather Abel said. “I think we’re looking at a better situation than we were last season, where we were real small and didn’t see a lot of commitment from kids who should have been committed. That seems like it’s changing this year.”

She bases those hopes on the initiative she sees runners taking for themselves and their teammates.

Abel considers this year’s leaders to be Jovanni Fentes, Quinton Stapleton and Zanaa Ramirez.

“Quinton’s really dedicating himself this year,” she said. “They live in San Tan Valley now, so he’s commuting like I am every day and coming to practice every day.”

Ramirez, meanwhile, is a member of the West Coast Striders, a club team based in Maricopa and coached by Corey Nelson. She qualified for the 800-meter run in the Hershey’s Junior Olympics National Championship in Sacramento in July.

Abel sees that level of competition giving Ramirez newfound confidence on the 5K course for cross country. Though literally miles apart, both events take a lot of mental toughness and physical endurance.

To grow the boys’ team, she has been encouraging athletes in other sports to run cross country to stay in shape between their seasons. Wrestlers have been doing just that. Freshman boys are also turning out.

Her goal is to get her runners in good shoes and keep them hydrated and healthy and they come to understand pack strategy while running not just for themselves but for the team.

“What they’re doing is really hard, and they don’t get a lot of recognition for what they’re doing,” Abel said. “Most people won’t do this because it’s hard.”

Sept. 4                  4:30 p.m.             at Vista Grande
Sept. 7                  7 a.m.                    at Chandler Invite
Sept. 14                7 a.m.                    at Fountain Hills Invitational
Sept. 14                7:30 a.m.             at Ojo Rojo Invitational
Sept. 27                TBA                        Nike Desert Twilight
Oct. 12                  TBA                        O’Connor Invitational
Oct. 26                  TBA                        Eye of the Tiger Invite
Nov. 8                   TBA                        State Sectionals


Tyler Kientzler
Photo by Victor Moreno

BOYS’ SOCCER

Sequoia Pathway wants to bounce back
The Sequoia Pathway boys struggled last fall, posting a 2-8 record. This year, the school took advantage of the opportunity to play more out-of-season soccer to improve.

Coach Juan Garavito is “real excited about this year, being able to work through summer and just being able to work with the kids outside of school,” Hale said. “I’m looking for definitely this year seeing improvement. I think it’s only up from there.”

The team is returning a couple of players from last year’s squad – Anthony Saldana and Tyler Kientzler – and are a little fewer in number. They play home games at Pacana Park.

“We did a summer program,” Hale said. “A major focus of ours is to start early and build that program. It’s always been, ‘Are you honing your craft?’”

W, 5-4                  vs. Imagine-Coolidge
W, 1-0                  vs. Basis-Scottsdale
W, 1-0                   vs. Mission Heights Prep
Sept. 5                  4:30 p.m. at Mission Heights Prep
Sept. 11                6:15 p.m. at BASIS-Chandler
Sept. 23                4 p.m. vs. Heritage-Gateway
Sept. 25                4 p.m. vs. Sequoia Charter
Oct. 1                    4 p.m. vs. Canyon State
Oct. 15                  4:30 p.m. at ASU Prep Polytechnic


Karson Collazo
Photo by Victor Moreno

BOYS’ GOLF – Division I Yuma

MHS
Sept. 3                  2 p.m.                   at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes
Sept. 10                3:30 p.m.             at Arcadia
Sept. 12                3:30 p.m.             at Tempe
Sept. 17                3 p.m.                   at Westwood
Sept. 24                3:30 p.m.             at Ocotillo Golf Course
Oct. 1                    2 p.m.                   at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes
Oct. 15                  3 p.m.                   at McCormick Ranch Golf Course

 

GIRLS’ GOLF – Developmental

MHS
Sept. 4                  3 p.m.                   at Western Skies Golf Club
Sept. 12                3 p.m.                   at Las Colinas Golf Course
Sept. 16                2 p.m.                   at Marcos de Niza
Sept. 18                3 p.m.                   at Granite Falls South Course
Sept. 25                3 p.m.                   at Apache Junction
Sept. 30                3 p.m.                   at Apache Creek Golf Course
Oct. 2                    2 p.m.                   at The Duke at Rancho El Dorado
Oct. 4                    1 p.m.                   at Girls Golf Developmental Invitational – Encanto 9


This story appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.

Athletic Directors Jake Neill (left) of Maricopa Unified School District and Glen Hale of Sequoia Pathway see changes ahead.

As Maricopa schools dig into their fall sports, much appears the same on the surface, but there could be changes afoot.

It’s not about personnel, though the athletic departments of Maricopa High School and Sequoia Pathway hired a couple of varsity coaches each. (For MHS it was baseball coach Brad Vericker and boys’ basketball coach Paul Gretkierewicz; for Pathway, football coach Donnie Margerum and boys’ basketball coach George Courtney.)

“The future’s looking like there is going to be a little bit of change because we’re growing so much,” said Jake Neill, Maricopa Unified School District athletic director. “If there’s a change in the next two-year block we could end up being a 6A school. Very good chance of that actually.”

MUSD reports enrollment to the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) in October and then is assigned a conference for a two-year block starting the next school year. However, close on the heels of that, is an election in November. If voters agree to a bond to build a second high school for MUSD, it could trigger a change in district athletics down the road.

Neill said he doesn’t even want to think about that until November, and then will wait to see how things fall out. A second school, for instance, might not have sports initially. Even if it does, it could be years away.

“It really depends on the timing of how everything happens,” Neill said. “What we hope to avoid is turning in our numbers and then split schools and be playing a 6A schedule with two schools of 1,500 kids. We can prepare for that and inform the AIA if that should ever happen.”

For now, the fall season is looking comfortably familiar.

“The good thing is there’s nothing new,” Neill said. “There’s a little bit of consistency from last year to this year. We’re still competing in the always tough 5A San Tan region with the likes of Williams Field, Casteel, Campo Verde, Gilbert High. So, we definitely have our challenges with being in probably the most competitive region in the 5A conference again, but for the most part we’re status quo.”

Maricopa High School’s fall sports include football, volleyball, cross country, swimming and boys’ and girls’ golf.

He said MHS is building a reputation for having great student-athletes, and programs are improving. Tying into that is creating strong bonds between middle school and high school programs. Neill said a recent change made to junior high scheduling could foster more of that.

MUSD’s middle schools are joining the Signal Peak Athletic Conference, playing mostly schools in the Casa Grande area rather than Queen Creek and Apache Junction.

“It’s going to benefit the program because our parents can get to their kids’ games on time. Our students and our coaches that are teachers aren’t going to be missing as much class time and instruction time,” Neill said. “When you look at middle-school athletics, it’s not supposed to be taxing on the student. Just traveling as much as we were, it was taxing on the student. We want to make sure we set our kids up to succeed.”

It may also make it easier for high school coaches to be involved with the middle school sports, he said.

“It’s an expectation that our varsity coaches are somehow, someway involved in our middle school athletics, and everyone does a good job with that,” Neill said. “Being seen and talking to kids. Just creating that connection with kids and getting them excited to be a Ram and come to MHS and maybe future high school No. 2.”

At Pathway, which enrolls about 275 high schoolers, Athletic Director Glen Hale also expects his varsity coaches to maintain a strong link to the junior high. That includes instilling this year’s motto, “Expect great things.”

“It encompasses life,” he said. “If they come to practice, if they’re on time, if they work hard, they can expect great things to happen. Grade-wise, if they’re in the classroom and they’re making their grades and doing their homework and they’re working hard, they can expect great things to happen.”

He said that starts with the coaches working hard and doing their jobs, modeling their behavior they want to see in the student-athletes.

“Each coach, as we go to the next level, is going to sacrifice things so we can get better,” Hale said.

The “next level” could mean a change if Hale gets his way. He intends to apply to join the AIA. Pathway is currently in the Canyon Athletic Association, comprised of charter schools.

“We basically want our kids to play higher competition,” he said. “The CAA is really good, but everybody knows the AIA.”

If accepted, it would mean a big shift for the athletes, who would be facing completely new competition. Having watched the kids face AIA teams during summer competitions, Hale said it could help them grow. He also looks forward to adding girls’ soccer to the array of high school offerings.

“We’re homing in on academics, we’re homing in on character, we’re homing in on serving our community and playing at the next level.”

See the upcoming September issue of InMaricopa for more on this year’s teams.

MHS Varsity Football
W 33-22               at McClintock
Aug. 30                7 p.m. vs. Millennium
Sept. 6                  7 p.m. vs. Apollo
Sept. 13                7 p.m. vs. South Mountain (Homecoming)
Sept. 20                7 p.m. at Central
Sept. 27                7 p.m. at Higley
Oct. 4                    7 p.m. vs. Campo Verde
Oct. 18                  7 p.m. vs. Williams Field (Senior Night)
Oct. 25                  7 p.m. at Casteel
Nov. 1                   7 p.m. at Gilbert

Sequoia Pathway Varsity Football
Aug. 30                7 p.m. vs. Canyon State Academy
Sept. 6                  7 p.m. vs. South Pointe
Sept. 19                6:15 p.m. at Canyon State Academy
Sept. 27                7 p.m. vs. San Tan Charter
Oct. 4                    7 p.m. vs ASU Prep
Oct. 11                  7 p.m. at South Pointe
Oct. 18                  7 p.m. at San Tan Charter
Oct. 25                  7 p.m. at ASU Prep

MHS Varsity Volleyball
Sept. 3                  6 p.m. at Camelback
Sept. 4                  6 p.m. vs. Fairfax
Sept. 5                  6 p.m. vs. Verrado
Sept. 10                6 p.m. at Paradise Valley
Sept. 12                6 p.m. vs. North Canyon
Sept. 16                6 p.m. at Campo Verde
Sept. 17                6 p.m. vs. Ironwood
Sept. 24                6 p.m. at Williams Field
Sept. 25                6 p.m. at Centennial
Sept. 26                6 p.m. at Higley
Oct. 1                    6 p.m. vs. Casteel
Oct. 3                    6 p.m. vs. Gilbert
Oct. 15                  6 p.m. vs. Campo Verde
Oct. 17                  6 p.m. vs. Williams Field
Oct. 22                  6 p.m. vs. Higley (Senior Night)
Oct. 24                  6 p.m. at Casteel
Oct. 29                  6 p.m. at Gilbert

Sequoia Pathway Varsity Volleyball
W, 3-0                  vs. Basis-Peoria
W, 3-0                  at Basis-Chandler
W, 3-0                  vs. Phoenix College Prep
Sept. 3                  6 p.m. vs. Heritage-Gateway
Sept. 5                  7 p.m. at Imagine-Coolidge
Sept. 11                5:30 p.m. at Sequoia Charter
Sept. 12                7 p.m. vs. Mission Heights
Sept. 17                4 p.m. at Imagine-Coolidge
Sept. 19                7 p.m. vs. EVAC
Sept. 24                6:30 p.m. at Mission Heights
Sept. 26                7 p.m. vs. Heritage-Mesa
Oct. 1                    4 p.m. at South Ridge
Oct. 3                    7 p.m. vs. Desert Heights

MHS Swimming
Sept. 5                  4 p.m.                   at Apache Junction
Sept. 12                4 p.m.                   at Copper Sky
Sept. 24                4 p.m.                   at Saguaro
Oct. 3                    4 p.m.                   at Copper Sky
Oct. 10                  4 p.m.                   at Copper Sky
Oct. 17                  4 p.m.                   at Copper Sky
Oct. 23                  9:30 a.m.             at Apache Junction
Nov. 2-3               TBA                        State Championship

MHS Cross Country
Sept. 4                  4:30 p.m.             at Vista Grande
Sept. 7                  7 a.m.                    at Chandler Invite
Sept. 14                7 a.m.                    at Fountain Hills Invitational
Sept. 14                7:30 a.m.             at Ojo Rojo Invitational
Sept. 27                TBA                        Nike Desert Twilight
Oct. 12                  TBA                        O’Connor Invitational
Oct. 26                  TBA                        Eye of the Tiger Invite
Nov. 8                   TBA                        State Sectionals

Sequoia Pathway Boys’ Soccer
Aug. 29                6 p.m.                   vs. Imagine Prep-Coolidge
Aug. 30                5 p.m.                   at Basis-S
Sept. 2                  5 p.m.                   vs. Mission Heights Prep
Sept. 5                  4:30 p.m.             at Mission Heights Prep
Sept. 11                6:15 p.m.             at BASIS-Chandler
Sept. 23                4 p.m.                   vs. Heritage-Gateway
Sept. 25                4 p.m.                   vs. Sequoia Charter
Oct. 1                    4 p.m.                   vs. Canyon State
Oct. 15                  4:30 p.m.             at ASU Prep Polytechnic

MHS Boys’ Golf
Aug. 22                 3 p.m.                   at Las Colinas Golf Course
Aug. 27                 2 p.m.                   at Ken McDonald Golf Course
Sept. 3                  2 p.m.                   at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes
Sept. 10                3:30 p.m.             at Arcadia
Sept. 12                3:30 p.m.             at Tempe
Sept. 17                3 p.m.                   at Westwood
Sept. 24                3:30 p.m.             at Ocotillo Golf Course
Oct. 1                    2 p.m.                   at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes
Oct. 15                  3 p.m.                   at McCormick Ranch Golf Course

MHS Girls’ Golf (Developmental)
Sept. 4                  3 p.m.                   at Western Skies Golf Club
Sept. 12                3 p.m.                   at Las Colinas Golf Course
Sept. 16                2 p.m.                   at Marcos de Niza
Sept. 18                3 p.m.                   at Granite Falls South Course
Sept. 25                3 p.m.                   at Apache Junction
Sept. 30                3 p.m.                   at Apache Creek Golf Course
Oct. 2                    2 p.m.                   at The Duke at Rancho El Dorado
Oct. 4                    1 p.m.                   at Girls Golf Developmental Invitational – Encanto 9

 

Among Maricopa high schoolers graduating this week are Nina Sarappo of Sequoia Pathway, Nancy Saldana of Maricopa High School, Britney Garcia-Coyolt of SPA and Nathan Wallin of MHS. Photo by Victor Moreno

The Class of 2019 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 graduation. 

Jonathan Aguilar. Photo by Victor Moreno

Jonathan Aguilar
An MHS senior, Aguilar has been a student-athlete and taken college-level classes to prepare for his next step. “My high school career has gone by so fast, and I have accomplished a lot.”
Years in Maricopa: 8
Originally from: Downey, California
Career goal: Civil engineering
Self-made advantage: I have taken dual-enrollment classes the past couple of years.
Work/internship/volunteerism: I work at The Duke golf course and I volunteer with Link Crew at Maricopa High School.
High school achievement: My greatest achievement would be having good grades throughout high school and playing varsity sports (golf and baseball).
After graduation: I plan on attending Arizona State’s Ira A. Fulton’s Engineering School and study civil engineering and minor in finance.

Chandler Chang. Photo by Victor Moreno

Chandler Chang
The MHS valedictorian has been out front leading the band and taking tough classes to set himself up for a full-ride scholarship. “It’s an ongoing sense of fulfillment, every moment of every day. I have a whole community supporting me and encouraging me to succeed and excel. It’s like the entire student body and staff is with me in my highest moments, and even my lowest moments. I have made a name for myself and have built a legacy that will endure. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Years in Maricopa: 14
Originally from: Elk Grove Village, Illinois
Career goal: Mathematics/chemical engineering
Work/internships/volunteerism: Drum major of MHS marching band, Junior States of America, National Honor Society, part-time employee at McDonald’s
Self-made advantage: I have received the Flinn Scholarship, which provides me with a four-year, full-ride scholarship to ASU as well as professional connections and mentorship. At MHS, I have taken the most rigorous mathematics and science courses available, earning college credit through AP courses.
High school achievement: Becoming a student role model for MHS
After graduation: I plan to attend ASU to major in mathematics and chemical engineering and explore various research opportunities and internships. While I will always be on the academic grind, I also want to take time to have fun, socialize and enjoy my youth while I still have it.

Brian Forkum Jr. Photo by Victor Moreno

Brian Forkum Jr.
A member of National Honor Society at MHS, Forkum has already been involved academically with Northern Arizona University while staying in touch with his roots.
Years in Maricopa: 12
Originally from: Born in Mesa, but I grew up here. I call this place home.
Career goal: Become tenured professor in history and philosophy
Self-made advantage: I attended college at NAU for three summers through the Nizhoni (Navajo for “Beautiful”) Academy. I also interact with teachers and try to understand how they chose their careers and why.
Work/internship/volunteerism: I was an intern for Dr. Cindy Browder at NAU. I volunteer a lot in Maricopa, especially as an NHS member.
High school achievement: Personal growth, from a quiet freshman to a comfortable and self-assured senior.
After graduation: Continue studying, explore the world, meet new people and help others when I can.

Britney Garcia-Coyolt. Photo by Victor Moreno

Britney Garcia-Coyolt
Valedictorian of the Sequoia Pathway Class of 2019, Britney has had a very busy high school experience including earning certification in Medical Office Management. “I remember completing my exam and anxiously waiting for my results to come in and as soon as I saw my results I was completely ecstatic and so proud because all the hard work that had paid off.”
Years in Maricopa: 17
Originally from: Maricopa
Career goal: Interventional radiologist
Work/internships/volunteerism: Two Internships at Sun Life Family Health Center
Self-made advantage: I currently attend Central Arizona Valley Institute of Technology and I am in the Medical Assistant Program. CAVIT was a stepping stone to be able to get into the medical field and to be able to expand my knowledge. Thanks to that I have been able to complete two internships at the Sun Life Family Health Center here in Maricopa and I completely loved it. I am also currently dual-enrolled with CAC so that I can get ahead on some of my basic classes.
High school achievement: Personally, receiving my Medical Office Management Certification was the greatest accomplishment that I received during high school that I worked really hard for.
After graduation: I hope to be able to continue my education at ASU.

Alexis Jackson. Photo by Victor Moreno

Alexis Jackson
The salutatorian of the MHS graduates, Alexis has taken advantage of opportunities for medical training while staying involved in campus politics. “I am extremely blessed and thankful for the support from my friends and family who helped me obtain these achievements, I am eager to see what my career path and future hold.”
Years in Maricopa: 16
Originally from: Mesa, Arizona
Career goal: Nurse practitioner
Self-made advantage: While taking steps towards reaching my end goal of becoming a nurse practitioner, Maricopa High School has provided me with a Sports Medicine program and Athletic Training internship where I have gained insight into the medical field.
Work/internships/volunteerism: National Honor Society member, Student Body president, Student Council experience for nine years, athletic training internship, microbiologist (water quality) intern, ALA Girls’ State attendee, civil engineering job shadow
High school achievement: Earning the Wildcat Excellence scholarship that has paid all my tuition costs at the University of Arizona, as well as getting involved in my community through Student Council.
After graduation: I intend to major in nursing at the University of Arizona.

Brianna N. McVey. Photo by Victor Moreno

Brianna N. McVey
A relative newbie at MHS, Bree has interned with Maricopa Police Department to prepare for her chosen field and was also sent to Girls State. “I was proud to know that I was given such an amazing opportunity.”
Years in Maricopa: 2.5
Originally from: Born in California but lived in Peoria, Arizona.
Career goal: Work for the FBI or be a detective
Self-made advantage: Interning at Maricopa Police Department
Work/internships/volunteerism: I have worked with CopaCloset at MHS and local food banks, I am a captain in the JROTC program, a link leader and an MPD high school intern.
High school achievement: One of my biggest accomplishments is going to Girls State last summer.
After graduation: I am attending University of Arizona to study criminology.

Connor Paine. Photo by Victor Moreno

Connor Paine
With a goal of being a doctor, Connor is also an MHS student-athlete who wrestled his senior year and made it to state. “I was ecstatic because I had worked so hard for months to make it there and I had finally met that goal.”
Years in Maricopa: 7
Originally from: Champaign, Illinois
Career goal: Pediatrician
Self-made advantage: I have begun studying anatomy and physiology to gain a basic understanding of the human body before attending the University of Arizona, majoring in pre-physiology.
Work/internships/volunteerism: Two years at Barro’s Pizza as a cook and two years of volunteering through NHS for various community events
High school achievement: My greatest accomplishment in high school is qualifying for the AIA Division 2 State Wrestling Tournament my senior year.
After graduation: Attending the University of Arizona and majoring in pre-physiology. After college, I plan to attend medical school and become a pediatrician.

Nina Sarappo. Photo by Victor Moreno

Nina Sarappo
Sequoia Pathway’s salutatorian, Nina ingratiated herself with people working in political fields and took dual-enrollment classes starting as a freshman. “My reaction to finding out that I am salutatorian was rewarding myself by eating a whole box of Strawberry Pop-tarts.”
Years in Maricopa: 9
Originally from: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Career goal: Politics
Work/internships/volunteerism: I was treasurer for National Honor Society in 11th grade and our small group organized several volunteer and community-oriented activities. As a senior, I participated in the City of Maricopa internship program which granted me experience in local government.
Self-made advantage: Reading about political philosophy and history helped me shape my own beliefs about what needs to be changed in American government. Although certain ideas are subject to change or evolve, they certainly fuel my own passion to take a political career seriously. Throughout high school, I developed excellent connections with individuals involved in political predictions and reporting.
High school achievement: My greatest accomplishment in high school is graduating second in my class. I have been a dual-enrollment student with Central Arizona College since ninth grade, taking college classes along with high school curriculum and during the summers. Responsibilities and problems outside of the classroom did not hinder my dedication to education and schoolwork. Also, I was low-carb for three months: That was impressive.
After graduation: I will be attending Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University as a philosophy (morality, politics and law) major. I am eager to learn about the subjects that interest me at a higher level and refine my critical thinking and argumentative skills to prepare me for my career aspirations as a politician. Outside of school, I want to travel to Europe, specifically Albania, to reconnect with my heritage.

Nancy Saldana. Photo by Victor Moreno

Nancy Denise Saldana
Chairing the Youth Council, she pushed herself to be involved in school activities and the community at large. “It became my greatest accomplishment because ever since then every opportunity to be involved to serve, to show school spirit I took it and through that I gained close relationships with the community, staff and gained amazing friendships. It really gave me a reason to smile at school everyday.”
Years In Maricopa: I’ve lived in Maricopa for 7 years and love it
Originally from: Baja California, Mexico
Career Goal: My goal is to be happy in what I do everyday. I love being involved and talking to people so that’s why I’ve chosen to further my education in mass communications.
Work/internships/volunteerism: I’ve been a member of the Maricopa Youth City Council and Currently work as a respite and habilitation provider.
High school achievement: This last year I just made the decision to make it the best year it can be.
Self-made advantage: I’ve taken every opportunity around school or the city to use skills I would need in my future career such as promoting events, reaching out to others and have found local internships.
After Graduation: Straight out of high school I plan to serve a mission for the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, then attend a university to further my career in mass communications and media.

Kimberly Vega-Sanchez. Photo by Victor Moreno

Kimberly Vega-Sanchez
A member of the National Honor Society at MHS, Kimberly has turned her hard work in the classroom into scholarships. “It makes me proud to think that I’ve managed to work a busy schedule, get schoolwork done and volunteer in my free time while keeping my grades up.”
Years in Maricopa: 12 years
From: California
Career goal: Corporate lawyer
Work/internships/volunteerism: I’ve worked at Panda Express this past year and volunteer with the school’s National Honor Society.
High school achievement: Apart from the scholarships and awards, I would have to say my greatest accomplishment in high school has been having the ability to balance it all throughout these four years and seeing how my hard work has paid off.
After graduation: I’ll be attending ASU this fall to study at the W.P. Carey School of business. This will provide me the opportunity to receive internships, expand my connections, and learn the versatile fundamentals of business and legal expertise to help gain the knowledge needed to become a corporate lawyer.

Nathan Wallin. Photo by Victor Moreno

Nathan Wallin
As president of Junior State of America at MHS, Nathan became organizer and leader for community events, including political forums, for which he was awarded by the vice mayor. “I was so surprised to see myself up there with such amazing young leaders from our community but felt very gratified to be seen as a good member to our community and was able to tell people how thankful I was to be here and to listen to their stories and passions.”
Years in Maricopa: 8
Originally from: Spokane, Washington
Career goal: Traveling nurse
Work/internships/volunteering: I work at Copper Sky as a lifeguard and swim instructor.
Self-made advantage: I’ve done very good in high school in order to receive the top 10-percent scholarship for CAC, giving two free years of college, which is just enough to get me into nursing school.
High school achievement: Being one of the recipients of the first MLK Youth Dreamer Award presented to me by Henry Wade.
After graduation: I plan on expanding my knowledge of the world by meeting and talking to as many people as I can while attending CAC in the fall to purse a degree in nursing.

The MHS graduation ceremony is scheduled for May 23 at 7:30 p.m. at Ram Stadium. Valedictorian is Chandler Chang, and salutatorian is Alexis Jackson. The SPA ceremony is May 22 at 7 p.m. in its gymnasium. Valedictorian is Britney Garcia-Coyolt, and salutatorian is Nina Sarappo.


This article appears in the May issue of InMaricopa.

Sequoia Pathway varsity softball celebrates an undefeated season. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

After playing a perfect 14-0 season that wrapped Tuesday, the Sequoia Pathway varsity softball team is top seed in the Canyon Athletic Association Division 2 state tournament automatically in the final four.

At home Tuesday, the Pumas defeated South Ridge 22-2. This season, they outscored their opponents 239-26. Pathway played in the CAA’s Landmark Conference. CAA is primarily comprised of charter schools.

In the state tourney, the Pumas will play either Sequoia Charter or Imagine-Superstition on Friday at Salt River High School.

Last season, Sequoia Pathway was 7-6. The turnaround was driven by this year’s seniors, who were honored after Tuesday’s contest. They include Deserae Garcia, Alicia Lewis, Jasmin Nafarrate and Brenda Peck.

Garcia, a co-captain, led the team in hits with 23, runs scored (27) and doubles (nine) while batting .609.

“She is the leader on the field and in the batter’s box,” head coach Matt Gallagher said. “There is no one I want hitting in a clutch situation than Deserae Garcia.”

Nafarrate, who batted .407, has been a team captain for four years, the last three of which she has been catcher.

“There is something that is just awesome when your catcher can throw to second base from her knees,” Gallagher said. “Nobody runs on that.”

Lewis batted .545, scored 16 and drove in 16 while playing a steady first base.

The Pumas had only two close games this season. One was an 8-6 win at Desert Heights; the other a 3-1 win over Imagine-Superstition.

From Feb. 7, 2019. Photo by Kyle Norby

High school girls’ basketball teams have extended their seasons as the Sequoia Pathway varsity upset No. 4 Jefferson Prep in the Canyon Athletic Association quarterfinals.

The Pumas won 47-39 Monday night to advance to the semis of Division 2. Aleina Estrada scored 24 points for Pathway, bringing her season total to 371.

Kymani Bledsoe put up 12 points, and Jasmin Nafarrate scored seven and had 5 offensive rebounds. Alicia Lewis scored three, and Destiny Rosales had two.

The Pumas, seeded fifth, next play Saturday against top seed Desert Heights at Valley Lutheran High School at 6:15 p.m.

In the Arizona Interscholastic Association, the Maricopa High School girls’ basketball team plays tonight at Marana High School in the 5A round of 16. The Rams are seeded ninth. Marana is eighth. Game time is 7 p.m.

Other Maricopa teams that qualified for the playoffs bowed out early. The Pathway boys’ basketball team lost to top-ranked Eduprize-Gilbert, 102-28, in the CAA round of 16 on Friday. In AIA play, the MHS girls’ soccer team lost to Casteel in the first round 4-0 Saturday.

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Photo by Kyle Norby

Living up to their billing, the Sequoia Pathway girls’ basketball team won their play-in game easily Thursday in Canyon Athletic Association competition. The Pumas, ranked fifth in Division II, defeated South Ridge, 56-23, at home. That puts them in the quarterfinals to play No. 4 Jefferson Prep on Monday at Powerhouse Hoops in Phoenix. Game time is 5:30 p.m.

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The Pumas fight for the ball at home in the play-in tournament. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Sequoia Pathway boys’ basketball pulled out a win over Bella Vista College Prep in the Canyon Athletic Association’s play-in, 58-53, moving onto the second round. The Pumas trailed until the fourth quarter, but key shots and turnovers salted away the victory. Pathway, which was ranked 16th, next plays top seed Eduprize-Gilbert on Friday.

Isabella Ayala tries out the driver's ed car with teacher Glen Hale at Sequoia Pathway. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

A program that started in October is making it less nerve-racking for teens to take their driving tests and get a license.

Drivers education has returned to Maricopa on the campus of Sequoia Pathway Academy, but it’s not just for Pathway students. Some have come from as far away as Mountain Pointe High School.

“The first seminar we had 23 kids,” said Pathway Athletic Director Glen Hale, who teaches the class. “They all passed, which was awesome for our first time.”

There were more seminars in December and January. The three-hour class is taught on a Saturday morning. Students watch a PowerPoint presentation, have interactive discussions and review. Then they take the written test. If they pass, they receive a certificate and can go to the MVD and get a permit.

“It’s exciting to have that moment with the kids, just to be part of that when they’re so relieved, but also to lower their anxiety,” Hale said. “It takes you back and you remember when you took the test.”

If they fail, Hale tells them to take notes home and study and come back in a couple of weeks to try again.

Sixteen-year-old Isabella Ayala has a 2019 Honda Civic waiting for her when she gets fully licensed. Before taking the seminar, she had tried the test the way many teens do when there is no drivers ed class available.

“I took it online and failed,” Isabella said. “I didn’t want to risk it again.”

Then she learned about Hale starting the program at Pathway.

“I thought, ‘OK, he’s my favorite teacher, so it’s a win-win,’” she said. “At first, I was nervous, because I learn more hands-on, and I didn’t know what to expect.”

Like others who have passed the written test, she awaits the driving portion of the licensing process.

A Behind-the-Wheel program starts Feb. 25. That involves 30 hours in class and six hours behind the wheel. The program has a Toyota Prius for student drivers.

Hale said the classes discuss the practical aspects of driving, rules of the road, what to do when pulled over by law enforcement and the specific street situations in Maricopa.

“We relate it to Maricopa,” Hale said. “It’s amazing to use our city as a backdrop to take the test.”

He said the classes lower the insurance rates for teen drivers. The course involves guest speakers from the police and fire departments as well as Courtney Tyler of State Farm.

The permit seminars cost $30. Behind-the-Wheel training costs $240.

Contact Hale at ghale@edkey.org.

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A diverse collection of sports stories in Maricopa were interesting for different reasons in 2018. Some were about the new and shiny, others about overcoming challenges while the top story was flat-out victory.

Brandon Harris and RaShawn Calvert are among Maricopa Unified’s new coaches hired this year.

5. New coaches and athletic directors were hired this year at Maricopa High School and Sequoia Pathway Academy. At MHS, Brandon Harris became the varsity football head coach while RaShawn Calvert was hired as girls’ basketball head coach and Laura Logan launched the swim team. Former boys’ basketball coach Jake Neill returned as AD. At Sequoia Pathway, Glen Hale took over the football and boys’ basketball teams and was named AD.


4. Ak-Chin Southern Dunes, one of the top-rated golf courses in the state, was inundated with floodwaters from Vekol Wash in October, causing the course to close for nearly a month. General Manager Brady Wilson and his staff soldiered on, keeping the pro shop and restaurant open while water was pumped off the fairways.

Brady Wilson faced flooding challenges as general manager of Ak-Chin Southern Dunes.

3. In Arizona Interscholastic Association competition, MHS football earned a spot in the playoffs out of arguably the toughest section in the state. Sequoia Pathway’s varsity football team finished second in the Canyon Athletic Association’s open division, and the Puma volleyball team reached the final four with two players named all-state.


2. Even readers who don’t usually follow high school sports took interest in this year’s Homecoming game at MHS after a fracas between head coaches capped off the Rams’ 55-0 win. Central suspended its coach long-term, Maricopa’s Harris sat out a game, and both teams were given warnings by AIA.

Photo by Jeffrey Hazlett

  1. The MHS 4×100-meter boys’ relay team won the state gold medal in Division II in May, running the fastest circuit of any team of any division in the Arizona Track & Field Championships in 2018. Longman Pyne, Jacob Cowing, P.J. Austin and Frank Jones ran their lap in 41.51, breaking their previous school record by nearly 2 seconds.

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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.