Volume 43, Number 15, May 19, 2015

Graduation info; A+ schools; Online Help Desk; New phone system deployment; Grants; Awards and recognitions; Summer fun

Graduation information

Mesa Public Schools will graduate more than 3,800 seniors Thursday, May 21. For those interested in attending one of the district's seven graduation ceremonies, times and locations are:

  • Dobson High School: Dobson football stadium at 7:30 p.m. Gates open at 6 p.m.
  • East Valley Academy: Hilton Phoenix/Mesa at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets required.
  • Mesa High School: Mesa High Jackrabbit stadium at 7 p.m. Gates open at 6 p.m.
  • Mountain View High School: Mountain View football stadium at 8 p.m. Gates open at 5 p.m.
  • Red Mountain High School: Red Mountain football stadium at 7:30 p.m. Gates open at 6 p.m.
  • Skyline High School: Skyline football stadium at 7 p.m. Gates open at 5:30 p.m.
  • Westwood High School: Westwood football stadium at 7:30 p.m. Gates open at 6 p.m.  

Mesa breaks A+ School of Excellence record

Porter A plus

With nine 2015 A+ Schools of Excellence, Mesa Public Schools has officially broken the record for most A+ schools per district in a single year. This year, Arizona Educational Foundation honored: 

  • Highland Elementary, Suzi Rollins, principal
  • Ishikawa Elementary, Shelley Heath, principal
  • Keller Elementary, Monica Torres, principal
  • Mendoza Elementary, Kent Ashton, principal
  • Porter Elementary, Paula Warren, principal
  • Robson Elementary, Lou Perdoni, principal
  • Sirrine Elementary, Renee Parker, principal
  • Sousa Elementary, Elizabeth Mullavey, principal
  • Washington Elementary, Michele Grimaldi, principal

To earn an A+ award, schools must show high achievement or significant improvement. Top schools identify and meet the academic and non-academic needs of their students. A+ Schools of Excellence™ hold their title for three years.

Online Help Desk

Information Systems recently launched Online Help Desk to ease call wait time and increase access to Help Desk. District staff have access to the work order system, frequently asked questions and quick links to common user requests. Upcoming features for Online Help Desk include best practice and system status updates, and password reset with security questions. 

New phone system deployment

Information Systems has begun deploying the new district phone system. District offices will be updated first, followed by high schools, junior highs and elementary schools. Bookmark this handy reference page so the new phone instruction guides are just a click away.

Grants galore

Mesa Public Schools students and staff are enjoying the benefits of a variety of awarded grants.

Christensen retirement

In lieu of retirement gifts, Longfellow Elementary principal David Christensen (pictured) requested a book be given to every student. Thanks to a grant from Reading is Fundamental, Inc., his wish came true. Longfellow was awarded a $1,707 RIF grant that provided 853 books. Christensen and Longfellow student council went room-to-room at the school to deliver books to students. Each book's inside cover features a bookplate with a falcon and the inscription, "In honor of Principal Christensen's service to Longfellow, 2003-2015, this book now belongs to _____."

Thanks to a Heritage Fund grant from the Arizona Fish and Game Department, fourth-graders at Kerr Elementary had an exciting and educational time this year. The school was awarded $2,230 to provide outdoor, nature-based field experiences to 96 students. They learned to fish at Riverview Park, visited the Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson and much more.

PE teachers Colleen Aver (Jefferson) and Greg Veitel (Whittier) were each awarded a $5,000 grant to go toward school programs to fight childhood obesity. The grants, funded by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, were awarded based on the teachers' successes with the 2015 Walk On! challenge. Only five PE teachers in the state won the grant.

Taylor Junior High, and Emerson, Holmes and Roosevelt elementary schools are winners of the 2015 Barbara Park Memorial Literacy Grant. Each school was awarded $400. Park was a Phoenix-based children's literature author, best known for her "Junie B. Jones" series. The grant was promoted through Gardner's Book Service.

Interested in learning more about grant opportunities? Visit our grant support office Web page.

And the awards go to...

Christina Larson Rodel AP

Congratulations to Christina Larson, Lehi Elementary Title 1 Specialist (pictured). She has been named a Rodel Aspiring Principal. For two years, Larson will work with Rodel Exemplary Principal mentors to prepare to one day become a principal of an Arizona school.

Wiley Popovich's Smith Junior High students dove headfirst into Project Citizen this year. Project Citizen is a civic education program for fifth- to 12th-graders that helps teachers and students understand public policy and how to create change in their community. Students explored the problems of unlit neighborhoods, the impact of crime and air pollution, and state park funding. Smith's Project Citizen groups went to the state showcase at Grand Canyon University. Unlit Neighborhoods earned a superior rating, while State Parks and Air Pollution earned exceptional ratings.

Well done to 51 parents at Edison Elementary! Principal Alex Macdonald and group leaders Jaime Clemens, Guadalupe Gonzalez, Jackie Maldonado, Maria Mancinas and Anne Schams are celebrating the parents, who completed Triple P (Positive Parenting Program). This opportunity came from the Parenting Young Children Project, a research study with Arizona State University. The purpose of this study is to learn the best ways to invite parents to attend school programs.

NCLWIThe National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) held their annual award celebration at Intel Corporation in Chandler. The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing honors young women who are active and interested in computing and technology. Catherine McIntosh, a senior at Red Mountain High School, and Jessica Tanner, a senior at Skyline High School, won Arizona Affiliate Awards. Skyline junior Adriana Tapia was a runner-up. Tanner, Tapia and McIntosh are pictured at the event.

Dobson High School FFA scored big at the Arizona State FFA Poultry Evaluation in Yuma. The team earned first place and will compete at the National FFA Convention in Kentucky in October. Three team members (Malik Shelp, Mariana Pastor and Bailey Payne) also placed in the top 10 in individual competition.

John DiehlJohn Diehl, social studies teacher and student council adviser at Poston Junior High School (pictured), received the 2015 Arizona Middle Level Educator of the Year Award at the Arizona Middle Level Association's annual awards breakfast. The association is committed to advancing and improving the professional knowledge of middle level educators so that young adolescents have the opportunity to experience academic success and personal well-being.

Dobson, Mesa, Mountain View, Red Mountain, Skyline and Westwood high schools won the Rising Star Award at the Mesa United Way luncheon. The schools won the award for their success with the Change for Change money drive, which raised nearly $15,000 for Mesa United Way. Student council representatives accepted the award on their school's behalf. Helen Hollands, director of communications and marketing, won the ECL of the Year award for the district's United Way campaign. 

Franklin at Alma Elementary crossing guard Jackie Johnson has been named the 2015 AAA Crossing Guard of the Year. Johnson won $500 for the school and a $500 Target gift card for herself.

Mesa High's AFJROTC unit was recently awarded the Distinguished Unit Award with Merit, which is the highest organizational award given in AFJROTC. Congratulations to Lt. Col. Brian Walker and cadets!

Westwood senior Sarely Licona has won the Gates Millennium Scholarship. The program is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Licona has received a full-ride scholarship to University of Rochester in New York, where she will study in the nurse practitioner program. Along with provided extras such as leadership training, mentoring, and academic and social support, she may also request additional funding for a graduate degree program in select fields.

Anya and Madeline Lamoreaux, freshmen sisters at Mountain View High School, won the Division I State Girls Doubles Tennis Championship when they defeated Chaparral High School in the finals.

Have a fabulous summer!

In a few days, the 2014-15 school year will be over. Have a safe and happy summer, and enjoy a little literary magazine reading by the pool. The district's Voices 2015 and Red Mountain High School's Mind's Eye can be downloaded as PDFs for e-readers.

Don't forget to sign up for summer session professional development. Lots of courses still have seats available.

Send news to:

Heidi Hurst, district communications supervisor

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