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District Announcements

July 2017

Dear Scottsdale Unified School District Family,

It has been a busy summer at SUSD as we prepare to welcome more than 24,000 students on Monday, August 7. If you cannot tell by the calendar that it is nearly back-to-school time, there is little doubt about it when you see what office stores have on display – markers, pens, notebooks and backpacks!

Teachers, too, are getting ready for the new school year, setting up their new laptops, made possible by last fall’s capital override, and creating exciting new lesson plans for their students. Many of our teachers and principals were students themselves this summer, attending professional development seminars and leadership conferences.

Summertime is when our facilities staff deep-cleans schools and performs preventive maintenance: lightbulbs and ceiling tiles are replaced as necessary, electrical outlets are checked, roofs are inspected and repaired, carpets are cleaned, classrooms are sanitized, and gym floors are re-waxed. In addition, new flooring was installed this summer at Anasazi, Laguna and Sequoya. That’s a lot of work over 10 weeks at 29 schools!

The beginning of a new school year means it’s time to welcome new school leaders and tell you a little bit about them:


Principal of

Comes to SUSD from

Christopher Barnes

Anasazi Elementary School

Corte Sierra Elementary School Litchfield Park ESD
Litchfield Park, AZ

Michael May

Kiva Elementary School

Alta E. Butler Elementary School Isaac ESD, Phoenix

Matthew Patzlaff

Navajo Elementary School

Copper Ridge School, SUSD

Alexis Cruz-Freeman

Pima Elementary School

P.T. Coe Elementary School Isaac ESD, Phoenix

Julio Martinez

Yavapai Elementary School

Jornada Elementary School Las Cruces Public Schools Las Cruces, New Mexico

Nick Noonan

Cocopah Middle School

Kiva Elementary, SUSD

Todd Stevens

Arcadia High School

Madison Park Middle School Madison SD, Phoenix

Dr. Angela Chomokos

Chaparral High School

Catalina Foothills High School Catalina Foothills SD
Tucson, AZ

Christopher Gilmore

Coronado High School

Winslow High School Winslow USD, Winslow, AZ

Dr. Lisa Hirsch

Desert Mountain High School

Sedona Charter School Sedona, AZ

You will also see new, and some familiar, faces in assistant principal and dean of students positions at our schools. Please give all of these outstanding educators a warm SUSD welcome when you see them!

Here at the district, I have consolidated the academic leadership team at the Mohave District Annex (MDA) this summer so that we are all in one location, resulting in more time collaborating and less time commuting from the downtown Ed Center. The remodeled training center at the MDA provides us with the ability to train two groups of 150 teachers at a time or one large group of 300, and triples our training capacity. In addition, future Governing Board study sessions will be able to be live-streamed on YouTube from the training center and recorded for later viewing, just as our regular monthly meetings are, in order to bring even more transparency to the district.

Lastly, as we head into the new school year, I want to take this opportunity to congratulate our students, who continued their improvement on the state AzMERIT test this year. I especially want to commend our teachers for their continued focus on student learning. Teachers, we thank you for your service.

We look forward to another successful school year in SUSD!

Dr. A. Denise Birdwell Superintendent 

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Robotics Reboot:
SUSD Keeps Promise to Students to Put Robotics in the Classroom

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (June 20, 2017) Keeping a commitment made to a group of high school students six weeks ago, the Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) Governing Board tonight voted to make robotics part of the high school academic curriculum.

During the Governing Board’s May 9 meeting, students challenged Board members and Superintendent Dr. Denise Birdwell:  Make robotics part of the for-credit, high school curriculum, instead of an after-school activity. Supt. Birdwell accepted the challenge.

Six weeks, to the day, later, the Board voted 5-0 to establish a pilot robotics course at Arcadia, Chaparral, Coronado Desert Mountain and Saguaro high schools for the 2017-18 school year that begins August 7.  “I can’t wait to tell our robotics clubs that all the hard work they’ve been putting in after school will now have academic status and mean something on their high school transcripts,” said Dr. Birdwell.

The newly established Robotics course will provide students with opportunities to apply engineering principles to solve complex, open-ended problems in a real-world context. Based on Arizona and national technology standards, the project-based, STEM-focused curriculum will emphasize innovation, invention, critical thinking, oral and written communication, creativity, personal initiative, teamwork, and accountability. Students will be expected to apply the design process to develop, produce, apply and analyze products related to science, technology, engineering and math.

View the students’ challenge and Dr. Birdwell’s response here: http://bit.ly/2sxGsquThe challenge runs from the 45:15 – 47:35 mark.


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June 2017

Dear Scottsdale Unified School District Family,

I hope you are enjoying your first taste of summer vacation and that your students are relishing not having to set the alarm for school, at least for a few weeks!

School years always seem to end in such a flurry of activity that it is not until about now, a few weeks after the final bell has rung, that students start to gain an appreciation for everything they achieved this past school year.  In so doing, I very much hope they recognize that those achievements were inspired by their teachers, who were there for them every step of the way, every day, to issue the challenges and guide the learning process.

The end of the school year also means that we bid farewell to 94 District employees who will retire by the end of the month.  Combined, these employees provided students, school communities, the school district and taxpayers more than 1,800 years of public service – thank you, and best wishes to you!

Congratulations are in order for the SUSD Finance Department, which recently received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association.  The certificate is the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting.

The first visible signs of 2016 bond-related construction are apparent at Chaparral, Coronado and Saguaro high schools, where the football fields and surrounding track surfaces have been removed.  Initial work on the new additions at Cheyenne Traditional will get underway this summer, as well.  To check on how the District’s bond projects are proceeding, go to bond.susd.org.  Better yet, sign up weekly bond project updates at http://www.tinyurl.com/bondupdate.

The learning doesn’t stop in SUSD, just because it’s summer.  Last week, 558 of our teachers took part in our four-day, annual Summer Institute.  Nearly 40 seminars were offered, with topics ranging from vocabulary building and academic writing in elementary grades to encouraging mathematical mindsets in middle schoolers, and using interactive math and science simulation programs in high school classrooms.  A considerable amount of time was also spent expanding teachers’ technology knowledge so they can make use of digital teaching and learning resources, and collaborate more effectively with each other.

At Coronado High School last week, the Dons’ teaching team gathered for design days with our Success Initiative partners from ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.  The sessions were similar to ones that have been held since the beginning of the year with Coronado students, parents and the community at-large as we look to turn over a new leaf in the school’s storied history.

SUSD students are staying busy this summer.  A district-wide summer reading program is keeping our middle school students engaged in learning.  Many high school students also have summer assignments in English, math and science, all in preparation for their fall classes.

Our Community Education Department is offering multiple educational, sports and camp activities throughout the district this summer.  More than 1,800 high school students started taking classes this week in the first set of summer school classes.  Students have the option of either getting ahead on coursework or improving their achievement in a variety of core subjects.  Exploratory electives are also available for credit.  The second, three-week session of SUSD Summer School begins July 10.  Go to communityed.susd.org for more information.

We continue to learn of the accomplishments of the Class of 2017!  Nine recent SUSD graduates learned last week that they are recipients of college-sponsored National Merit® Scholarships.  They are:

  • Karishma Albal, Desert Mountain; Arizona State University
  • Jake Ausdemore, Desert Mountain; Arizona State University
  • Benjamin Buzas, Chaparral; Arizona State University
  • Ari Cohen, Chaparral; University of Southern California
  • Eleanor Jo, Arcadia; Arizona State University
  • Wesley Jung, Desert Mountain, Vanderbilt University
  • Camryn Lizik, Arcadia; Arizona State University
  • Megan Seifert, Desert Mountain; University of Southern California and
  • Laura Tutelman, Desert Mountain; Arizona State University

Congratulations are in order for two other Arcadia graduates.  Sarah Himmelberg has accepted an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and classmate Grant Loftin will head to the U.S Military Academy at West Point.  Both students underwent an extensive, months-long application and interview process before being recommended for commissions by members of Arizona’s congressional delegation.  We are very proud of this pair of Titans and know they will serve our nation with distinction.

Lastly, big things are ahead for Chaparral graduate Jacob Gonzalez, who was drafted this week to play baseball for the San Francisco Giants.  The Firebirds third baseman comes from a baseball family:  You may recall the heroics of his father, Luis “Gonzo” Gonzalez of the Arizona Diamondbacks, in the 2001 World Series.  We expect Jacob will make his own mark on the game.   

Have a great summer!

Dr. A. Denise Birdwell


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Verizon Wireless  - Yavapai Elementary

verizon_annoucement-33.pngVerizon Wireless is an existing tenant at the Site and they now desire to modify their current equipmentVerizon Wireless is will be removing twelve (12) Remote Electrical Tilt and three (Remote Radio Units to install six (6) Remote Radio Units. In addition, Verizon Wireless will also swap six (6) Panel Antennas, and one (1) Surge Suppressor All equipment modifications will take place at the tower heights of 64 and 65 feet; this equipment modification will not affect the height of the tower.  The work is currently scheduled to be performed on or about September 1, 2017.  If you have any questions about the work being performed, please contact Mr. Dennis Roehler, Director of Facilities at (480) 484-8503 or email droehler@susd.org.

Verizon Wireless  - Arcadia High School

verizon_annoucement-33.pngVerizon Wireless is an existing tenant at 4709 E Indian School Rd and will be installing three (3) Remote Radio Heads behind the existing antennas in or around the middle of July.  Verizon Wireless will likely install these upgrades before school begins in August and will only take one day to complete.  If you have any questions about the work being performed, please contact Mr. Dennis Roehler, Director of Facilities at (480) 484-8503 or email droehler@susd.org.  

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SUSD Celebrates More Flinn Scholars than Any District in Arizona

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (May 9, 2017) Scottsdale Unified School District is extremely proud to announce that three of its distinguished students have been awarded the 2017 Flinn Scholarship. Only 20 seniors across the state are recipients of this coveted award this year, and three of them are our own:

  • Cameron Whyte, Saguaro High School Screen Shot 2017-05-10 at 2.44.14 PM.png
  • Camryn Lizik, Arcadia High School (middle)
  • Keaton McDonald, Arcadia High School (left)

Cameron Whyte got a standing ovation at last month’s Governing Board meeting for this achievement. Camryn Lizik and Keaton McDonald will be recognized at the Tuesday, May 9, board meeting, and we are expecting more thunderous applause. 

The Flinn Scholarship is a true “full ride.” The college scholarship covers the cost of tuition, room and board, two study-abroad experiences and an off-campus internship. It is explicitly for students who will attend one of Arizona’s three public universities.

“The Foundation is once again inspired by the dynamic student leaders who make up the new class of Flinn Scholars. These talented and successful students, a diverse group from rural and urban areas of Arizona, are ready for an extraordinary education and college experience at our state’s universities,” said Jack B. Jewett, Flinn Foundation President and CEO.

Whyte announced last month he will attend Arizona State University in the fall. Lizik and McDonald plan to join him.

Arcadia Principal Nathan Slater says of his standout seniors, “Keaton is a tremendous person with amazing character and I am always thrilled to be in his presence. Camryn is positive in everything she does. Her efforts and personality make me proud to be the principal of the school she attends.” 

 No other school district in Arizona had three students receive the 2017 Flinn award. It is a credit not only to these tremendous students, but to their outstanding teachers through the years.  

McDonald and Lizik will be honored at the beginning of the Governing Board meeting on Tuesday, May 9, at 5 pm at Coronado High School. For more information about our SUSD Flinn Scholars or to coordinate interviews, contact Erin Helm at 480-389-9033.

Scottsdale Unified School District, where we Engage, Educate and Empower Every Student, Every Day. The Scottsdale Unified School District offers 30 schools, serving approximately 23,000 students. School boundaries include parts of Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Phoenix and Tempe. Find more information about SUSD at www.susd.org.

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Robotics Funding Challenge, Worlds Competition a Success

LED_1408 (2).jpgSCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (May 3, 2017)  Three weeks ago, Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) Governing Board Vice President Pam Kirby challenged the community to raise money to help send the Chaparral High School and Desert Mountain High School robotics teams to Houston, Texas to compete in the 2017 FIRST® Robotics world championship competition. Kirby pledged to match whatever was raised, dollar-for-dollar, up to $25,000.

Now she has to write a check for $14,300. That’s how much was money was raised during the nine-day effort, with the Scottsdale Charros pitching in $2,500 to each of the two high schools. With Kirby’s dollar-for dollar match, the total raised comes to $28,600.

“I am so grateful to our generous community for supporting our STEM students in such a big way,” said Kirby. “Students need to know that we’re behind them all the way.”

Scottsdale Charro Education Chairman Rick Carpinelli is equally pleased. “Our community is privileged to have such talented children and Chap_DM_Houston_FIRST.jpgsupportive teachers. The Charros are happy that we have the opportunity to support these initiatives.”

Wolves robotics coach Michelle Okun is grateful both teams were able to go to the Texas competition. “DM Robotics is blown away by the generosity of the Charros and Ms. Kirby. A big ‘howl out’ and thank you from our entire team!” Chaparral co-coach Amy Palatucci echoed the sentiment. “Thank you all so much for the continued interest and support in all of our SUSD robotics teams of all ages!”

Chaparral and Desert Mountain represented SUSD well in the Houston World Championships: Desert Mountain’s Wolfpack Team 6314 is the first SUSD robotics team to be part of an alliance that advanced to the finals of the FIRST competition and only the second team ever from Arizona to achieve that. The combination Arizona-Georgia-Idaho-Nevada alliance placed first in its division and placed third overall, a major accomplishment for Desert Mountain’s rookie team.

Chaparral’s Team 3091 robotics team made a major impression at the Texas championships, as well.  It captured the Gracious Professionalism Award for its division. As part of its philosophy of supporting others, the Firebirds created a texting hotline during the Houston competition through which other teams could seek troubleshooting assistance from the Firebirds. Through its 301-911 hotline, the Chaparral team was able to help teams that were having electrical and mechanical issues with their robots.

The FIRST Robotics Competition combines sports excitement with the rigors of science and technology. Under strict rules, limited resources and time limits, teams are challenged to fund-raise, design a brand, exercise teamwork, and build and program robots to perform tasks against competitors. More than 15,000 students from around the world traveled to Houston for the April 19-22 event.

Outside of the competitions, members of both schools’ robotics teams had opportunities to network with top professionals from NASA and Boeing, as well as renowned engineers, such as Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST® robotics, who invented the Segway personal transportation device. Chaparral’s female team members attended an event hosted by The National Center for Women in Technology and networked with female professionals in technology fields. Lastly, all students from both SUSD teams attended Scholarship Row, where they were able to speak to representatives from colleges, universities and organizations that provide FIRST Scholarships. This year, more than $50 million in scholarships will be offered to FIRST participants.

FIRST stands for ‘For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.’

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Scottsdale Unified School District, where we Engage, Educate and Empower Every Student, Every Day. The Scottsdale Unified School District offers 30 schools, serving approximately 23,000 students. School boundaries include parts of Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Phoenix and Tempe. More information regarding SUSD can be found at www.susd.org.

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Gifted Pre-Kindergarten Academy Launching This Fall

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (June 1, 2017) The Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) believes you’re never too young to start learning. That’s why we’re launching the Gifted Pre-Kindergarten Academy (GPA) for 4 year olds next fall.

There is still room for more tiny geniuses in the GPA, so we have added the following admission testing dates:

  • Monday, June 12
  • Tuesday, June 20
  • Tuesday, June 27

Interested families with children who will be four years old by September 1 can register for testing by signing up on our interest list at /communityed/ go to the pink Gifted Pre-K Academy button.  

For media interested in covering the program, we can facilitate interviews with a preschooler who has already qualified for the program and is enrolled for fall. A parent is also available for interviews.

The GPA is designed to meet the unique learning needs of gifted preschoolers through hands-on, project-based, and accelerated learning. Students will get early instruction in art, music and science, all taught by a certified teacher with specialized training in education for gifted children. Redfield Elementary will be home to the GPA. Families have several upcoming opportunities to visit Redfield to learn more about the program.

Gifted program tour date:

  • Wednesday, June 7 (5:30-6:30 PM)
  • Tuesday, July 11, 2017 (5:30-6:30 pm)

GPA parent informational meeting:

  • Tuesday, August 1, 2017 (5:30-7:00 pm)

Redfield Elementary is located at 9181 E. Redfield Rd. Scottsdale, AZ 85260. Families can sign up for the tours at gifted.susd.org. Media, please contact Erin Helm at 480-389-9033 to arrange an interview with the enrolled child and parent or to attend one of the gifted tours.

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Arizona Education Foundation Renews Tavan and Cherokee A+ Awards

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (April 13, 2017) Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) elementary schools Tavan and Cherokee can call themselves A+ Schools of Excellence for another three years. The Arizona Educational Foundation (AEF) announced today that Tavan and Cherokee are among 39 Arizona public schools to win the coveted A+ award for the 2016-17 academic year.

Tavan, located at 4610 E. Osborn Rd., Phoenix, and Cherokee, located at 8801 N. 56th St., Paradise Valley, submitted applications to have their A+ status, first awarded in 2013, renewed.

“We are thrilled that Tavan and Cherokee will display their A+ banners for another three years,” said Dr. Steve Nance, SUSD Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services. “The work that goes on at these schools every day and that is supported by their communities is just outstanding.”

The AEF requires schools to submit in-depth applications that provide demographic information, a description of current programs and practices, documentation of parent and

community involvement, a profile of the school’s leadership, and commitment to excellence, equity and service.

Schools must also demonstrate sustained high achievement or significant improvement through assessment data. Schools that meet the criteria receive site visits from a selection panel that includes award-winning principals, teachers and community leaders. 56 pre-kindergarten through 12th grade schools submitted applications for the 2016-17 award; 44 received site visits.

Tavan Principal Margaret Serna could not be more pleased. “I am extremely proud of our Tavan Learning Community for being awarded a second consecutive Arizona Educational Foundation A+ School of Excellence designation. This honor is bestowed on Tavan’s young dedicated scholars, extraordinary teachers and staff, and we are committed to continuing our journey of academic and social excellence.”

Cherokee Principal Walter Chantler echoed those remarks. "Cherokee Elementary School is extremely honored to be recognized, once again, as an Arizona Educational Foundation A+ School of Excellence. I am proud to be part of a community that supports our amazing staff and students, and the desire for ongoing and continuous school improvement."

In addition to receiving new banners designating them as A+ Schools of Excellence, Cherokee and Tavan will each receive $500. Also, the faculty and staff at both schools will be eligible for partial scholarships for the next three and a half years from Argosy University, Phoenix. 

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Cherokee Elementary School to Become Arizona’s First Literary Landmark™;
Ceremony to Honor Local Junie B. Jones Author Barbara Park 

May 5, 2017  

WHAT:             Dedication of Cherokee Elementary School as Arizona’s First Literary Landmark™

WHO:               Students, teachers and staff of Cherokee Elementary School; family members of the late author Barbara Park; Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan; SUSD Superintendent Dr. Denise Birdwell

WHEN:             Friday, May 5, 2017, 9:30 a.m.

WHERE:           Cherokee Elementary School, 8801 N. 56th Street, Paradise Valley 85253

ADDITIONAL INFO:  The Arizona State Library, a division of the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office, nominated Cherokee Elementary School to be the state’s first Literary Landmark™. 

Cherokee considers itself late author Barbara Park’s neighborhood school. Park (1947-2013) was inspired in the early 1990s to write Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus when she saw a young Cherokee Elementary student walking home after having missed the school bus. It was the first in Park’s wildly popular, bestselling Junie B. Jones book series, which has kept millions of children and their grownups laughing – and reading – for decades.

The Literary Landmarks Association was founded in 1986 to encourage the dedication of historic literary sites. Dedications have included the homes of famous writers, libraries, museum collections and literary scenes.

For more information on Literary Landmarks, visit: http://www.ala.org/united/products_services/literarylandmarks. 

MEDIA CONTACT:           For information, contact Nancy Norman, 480-484-6223 or nnorman@susd.org.

Scottsdale Unified School District, where we Engage, Educate and Empower Every Student, Every Day. The Scottsdale Unified School District offers 30 schools serving approximately 23,000 students. School boundaries include parts of Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Phoenix and Tempe. You can find more information about SUSD at www.susd.org.

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SUSD Not Waiting for Arizona Budget to Raise Teacher Pay

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (March 24, 2017) Scottsdale public school teachers just got a surprise bump in pay for next school year. This week, the Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board approved a compensation package for the 2017-2018 fiscal year that will give certified teachers a 2% raise. That pay increase is made possible through administrative spending cuts and reallocation of current dollars. 

“Rather than waiting for a state budget to pass, we decided to be proactive,” said Superintendent Dr. Denise Birdwell. “We jumped back into our own budget to see where we could get creative and be even more efficient.”

 The district is able to reallocate funds to provide more than $2.5 million in additional compensation.

Where is the money coming from?

  • Administrative expense cuts
  • Efficiencies within the existing budget

 Where is it going?

  • 2% raise for certified teachers
  • 1% raise for hourly employees not impacted by the state minimum wage increase
  • Increase in starting salaries for teachers

The reallocation of funds demonstrates the Governing Board’s commitment to classroom spending. This same commitment was behind the district’s decision to invest last year’s Proposition 123 funds into teacher pay. The Scottsdale Unified School district is dedicated to continuing to place dollars in teacher salaries as additional funding becomes available through the state budgeting process.

Scottsdale Unified School District, where we Engage, Educate and Empower Every Student, Every Day. The Scottsdale Unified School District offers 30 schools, serving approximately 24,000 students. School boundaries include parts of Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Phoenix and Tempe. More information about SUSD can be found at www.susd.org.

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Arcadia High School to Host Annual Agora Event
March 23, 2017, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

WHAT: Arcadia High School’s annual Agora Arts Festival

WHO: Students and staff from Arcadia High School, Ingleside Middle School, Arcadia Neighborhood Learning Center (ANLC), Tavan and Hopi Elementary schools, and community members

WHEN: March 23, 2017, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

WHERE: Arcadia High School, 4703 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix

ADDITIONAL INFO: Agora is the ancient Greek word for "gathering place.” This free, annual community event showcases artwork by Arcadia, Ingleside, ANLC, Tavan and Hopi students. Handmade items will be available for sale. Proceeds will benefit Free Arts of Arizona, the state’s only non-profit organization that delivers no-cost, creative and therapeutic arts programs to children ages 3 to 21 who have faced abuse, neglect and homelessness. Read more at http://www.freeartsaz.org/.

This year’s Agora activities include:

  • Street art spray-paint demo

  • Photo booth

  • Henna tattoos, face painting, interactive pottery wheel

  • Food by Fantasy Funnel Cakes, Mr. Martz Food Truck, Broke Brothers Catering

    Performances feature:
    Arcadia High School’s CMAS (Creative Musical Arts & Sciences) program Arcadia Theatre Improv
    Arcadia Dance – Teen Titans
    Arcadia Jazz Ensemble

MEDIA CONTACT: For information, contact Nancy Norman, 480-484-6223 or nnorman@susd.org. 

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 Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 2.58.37 PM.png  Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 2.54.10 PM.png Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 2.53.45 PM.png Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 2.53.12 PM.png
Coronado Principal Letter 02/14/2017  CSI-Post-DesignDay-Newsletter Board Presentation - Coronado Model Coronado Success Initiative 01/19/17 



Dear Coronado High School Community,

As you know, the collaborative process known as the ‘Coronado Success Initiative’ kicked off last month with the gathering of an estimated 150 community members, teachers, current and former students, parents, business leaders and elected officials to begin the academic re-design of Coronado High School.

Under the guidance of Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, and with the financial support of the Charro Foundation, smaller groups engaged in frank, meaningful discussions about what Coronado High School was in the past, what it is today and what it needs to be in the future to better serve students of this learning community. They discovered common goals: among them, a school schedule that is more conducive to student learning and teacher planning, the need to produce college- and workplace-ready graduates, the need for additional training for teachers and a much-improved graduation rate. They saw a bright future for Coronado that is on par with the success of our other district high schools.

This discussion is ongoing, and today, I hope to add a key piece to it. I am very pleased to share with you that I will recommend to the Governing Board that Mr. Christopher Gilmore be named principal of Coronado High School for the 2017-2018 school year.

Mr. Gilmore has been principal of Winslow High School in Winslow, Arizona, for the past nine years. In that time, he has overseen the formation of teacher ‘professional learning communities’ within the school that have proved to be instrumental to its success. He is skilled in communicating with the school’s internal and external communities, and he understands how to direct resources to maximize student achievement. The result has been a dramatic increase in his school’s graduation rate. It is my belief that Mr. Gilmore is the leader Coronado High School needs.

By way of background, Mr. Gilmore received his bachelor’s degree in secondary education and master’s degree in educational leadership, both from Northern Arizona University. Prior to taking the principal’s position, he served as assistant principal, guidance counselor and social studies teacher at Winslow.

I am confident that Mr. Gilmore is the right choice for Coronado, and I look forward to introducing him to you in the coming weeks and months as the Coronado Success Initiative continues its mission.


A. Denise Birdwell

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birdwell_web.pngMarch 2017

Dear Scottsdale Unified School District Family,

Exciting things are always happening in our District, and this past month has been no different.

Our Governing Board has been fully engaged in deliberating numerous issues that will affect what our learning communities look like in the future. We have launched the Coronado Success Initiative, aimed at improving the career and college readiness of Coronado High School graduates and bolstering the school’s graduation rate. An estimated 150 community members, teachers, current and former students, parents, business leaders and elected officials gathered on a Saturday morning in January at SkySong to begin the academic re-design of Coronado High School.

Under the guidance of Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, and with the financial support of the Charro Foundation, smaller groups engaged in frank, meaningful discussions about what Coronado High School was in the past, what it is today and what it needs to be in the future to better serve students of this learning community. They discovered common goals: among them, a school schedule that is more conducive to student learning and teacher planning, the need to produce college- and workplace-ready graduates, the need for additional training for teachers and a much-improved graduation rate. They saw a bright future for Coronado that is on par with the success of our other district high schools. I do, too.

Since then, the Governing Board has named current Winslow High School principal Christopher Gilmore to be Coronado’s next principal, starting in July. In his nine years at the helm in Winslow, Mr. Gilmore has overseen the formation of teacher ‘professional learning communities’ within the school that have proved to be instrumental to its success. He is skilled in communicating with the school’s internal and external communities, and he understands how to direct resources to maximize student achievement. The result has been a dramatic increase in his school’s graduation rate.

I am confident that Mr. Gilmore is the right choice for Coronado, and I look forward to introducing him to you in the coming weeks and months as the Coronado Success Initiative continues its mission. The first opportunity will be at 6 p.m., Thursday, March 2, in the Coronado Media Center.

The Governing Board has also been considering future educational opportunities in the Granite Reef corridor learning communities, intertwined with determining a second and third school campus to rebuild with November 2016 bond money. After examining the instructional models that are available in south Scottsdale, the Board voted on Feb. 23 to re-build Hohokam Traditional School, now K-5, as a K-6 school. At its March 21 meeting, the Governing Board will consider a proposal to make Pima Elementary School the District’s southern ‘traditional’ educational institution, joining Cheyenne Traditional on the north, and to make it the third campus to be rebuilt. With the Board’s approval, it is anticipated that new schools would open to students in fall 2018 on the Hopi, Hohokam and Pima campuses.

From new schools to a new name: At the February Board meeting, Arcadia Neighborhood Learning Center Principal Kat Hughes approached the Governing Board about changing the school’s name to reflect a change in the school’s instructional model that will begin in August. That is when ANLC will move from elementary grade multi-age classrooms to looping, in which elementary students will have the same teachers for two-year blocks (K-1, 2-3, 4-5) to enhance student achievement. The Board agreed a name change is in order, and ANLC will be known as Echo Canyon School, starting next school year.

As we turn the corner on the school year, our high school winter sports – basketball, soccer and wrestling – are over and spring sports teams – baseball, softball, tennis, and track and field – are practicing. I am pleased to report that our district is home to two state championship soccer teams: the Coronado Dons captured the 4A boys’ soccer crown on Feb. 18, followed by the 5A Chaparral Firebirds girls’ soccer team, which had to fend off a strong challenge from sister-school Arcadia. Both contests were decided in overtime, with the boys’ contest settled by penalty kicks. Congratulations to all three teams and their coaches. We are very proud of all of our athletes. The dedication to their sport shows whenever they take the field of play, and when you consider that they are just as serious about their academic commitments, the true picture of a SUSD high school athlete is revealed.

We learned recently that three SUSD students are U.S. Presidential Scholar nominees this year: Jake Ausdemore and Wesley Jung from Desert Mountain High School and Cameron Whyte from Saguaro High School. The Presidential Scholar program was established in 1964 to recognize the nation’s most distinguished graduating high school seniors. The semifinalists will be announced in April, with the Scholar finalists named in early May. We are extremely proud of these students’ accomplishments and know that even bigger achievements lie ahead for them.

The annual SUSD Spelling Bee was held a few weeks back and, once again, Redfield Elementary student Omkar Bharath outlasted the winners of bees from the District’s other elementary, middle and K-8 schools to repeat as champion speller. Omkar, now a fourth grader, successfully defended his title by spelling the word magnesium correctly. Omkar and runners-up Gabriella Tadio (Desert Canyon Middle), Dean Alkhairy (Kiva), Max Greenspan (Cherokee), Tanner Hertz (Copper Ridge K-8) and Andrew Pham, (Pueblo) represented SUSD Feb. 17 in the regional Spelling Bee. Although they did not claim the title, we know they d-i-s-t-i-n-g-u-i-s-h-e-d our district with feats of fabulous phonetics!

Lastly, we celebrated the naming of Ingleside Middle School orchestra director Rachel Mazzullo as a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT) last month. The designation is considered one of the highest achievements in the teaching profession, with standards determined by teachers themselves. She is one of 10 teachers in Arizona to earn certification this winter and is the 87th in SUSD! Congratulations to Rachel for pursuing certification, and much gratitude to the SUSD Foundation and the Scottsdale Charros for providing her with financial assistance to do so.

It is hard to believe that spring break is just around the corner. We wish safe journeys to you and your families, and look forward to your returning re-energized for the final quarter of the 2017-18 school year!

Dr. A. Denise Birdwell

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Special Kid Field Day

Feb 17, 2017

Special Kid Field Day
February 22, 2017

WHAT: Field day activities for Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) students with special needs 

WHO: More than 250 students with special needs, grades K-8, from 22 SUSD schools

WHEN: Wednesday, February 22, 2017, 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

WHERE: Mountain View Park, 8625 E. Mountain View Rd., Scottsdale 85258 (east of Cochise Elementary School)


‘Special Kid Field Day,’ organized by SUSD’s Adapted Physical Education Department, has been a tradition for more than 10 years. Students will participate in modified field day activities that support their specific, individualized needs. Student volunteers from SUSD high schools, including Chaparral High School’s football, Robotics and Spiritline teams, will facilitate nearly 30 activity stations.

Special guests include local U.S. Paralympic medal-winning cyclist Todd Key and Julian the Yoyo Expert. The Scottsdale Police Department will be in attendance with both mounted and motorcycle officers, as well as K-9 units. It will be joined by local sports mascots ‘Howler’ from the Arizona Coyotes, the Phoenix Suns Gorilla and ‘Baxter’ from the Arizona Diamondbacks, as well as other government agencies and community organizations, such as Scottsdale Adapted Recreation Services, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service and the Shriners.

MEDIA NOTE: Students wearing name tags with red Xs may not be photographed.

MEDIA CONTACT: For more information, contact Nancy Norman: 480-389-9033, nnorman@susd.org. 







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Redfield Student Repeats As District Spelling Bee Champ 


SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (Jan. 23, 2017) After 15 rounds of words, Redfield Elementary School 4th grade student Omkar Bharath emerged as the winner of the Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) annual Spelling Bee, held Jan. 20 at Arcadia High School 

It is Omkar’s second consecutive title, this year fending off 23 Bee winners from other SUSD elementary, middle and K-8 schools. The winning word was magnesium

Omkar said he was happy he was able to defend his title. “There’s this warm feeling when you do it multiple times,” said Omkar. “It just feels good.” 

The District’s top speller is more than willing to share his approach to studying for spelling competitions, too. “I would say, do a half-hour-long study period on a certain subject, then take a break and do some of those study periods every day,” Omkar suggested. “Then you’ll get to know all about a certain subject and all the words in that.” 

Joining Omkar in representing SUSD in the Region II Spelling Bee on Feb. 17 will be the five runners-up from the SUSD competition: Gabriella Tadio, 7th grade, Desert Canyon Middle School; Dean Alkhairy, 5th grade, Kiva Elementary School; Max Greenspan, 5th grade, Cherokee Elementary School; Tanner Hertz, 5th grade, Copper Ridge School; and Andrew Pham, 5th grade, Pueblo Elementary School. The Cave Creek Unified School District hosts this year’s regional Bee. 

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SUSD Governing Board Elects President, Vice President

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona (January 17, 2017) The Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) Governing Board has elected its 2017 officers. Barbara Perleberg will serve as President; Pam Kirby will serve as Vice President. The reorganization took place at the Governing Board’s Jan. 12 study session.

“It is an honor to serve our Governing Board and the new direction of the Scottsdale Unified School District in this capacity,” said Perleberg. “Our community has never been more unified in its focus on learning in the classroom. As President, I will be dedicated to that focus and work hard to support the exciting vision of SUSD's future.”

This is Perleberg’s first time heading up the Governing Board; she served as its Vice President last year and was first elected to the Board in 2012.

“It’s an exciting time in SUSD as we have tremendous momentum heading into the future,” said Vice President Kirby. “With a focus on stretch learning for every student and strong leadership, SUSD is poised to meet the high expectations of our community. It is truly an honor and a privilege to serve, and I am grateful for the opportunity.”

This is the first time Kirby has served as Vice President; she served as Board President in 2013 and was first elected to the Board in 2010.

Joining Perleberg, Kirby and Kim Hartmann on the 2017 SUSD Governing Board are newcomers Allyson Beckham and Sandy Kravetz, who, with Perleberg, were unopposed in the Nov. 2016 general election.

Scottsdale Unified School District, where we Engage, Educate and Empower Every Student, Every Day. The Scottsdale Unified School District offers 30 schools, serving approximately 24,000 students. School boundaries include parts of Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Phoenix and Tempe. More information regarding SUSD can be found at www.susd.org

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SUSD Fall Sports Athletes to Be Honored at Annual All-City Awards Banquet
January 23, 2017

WHAT: Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) will host its annual All-City Athletic Fall Sports Awards Banquet to honor athletes from Arcadia, Chaparral, Coronado, Desert Mountain and Saguaro high schools

WHO: Keynote speaker Kevin McCabe, SUSD coaches, athletic directors, students and parents

WHEN: Monday, Jan. 23, 2016, at 6 p.m.

WHERE: The McCormick Scottsdale, Lakeside Ballroom, 7401 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale 85253

ADDITIONAL INFO: This is the first of three SUSD All-City Awards banquets of the 2016-17 school year. The keynote speaker will be Valley sportscaster Kevin McCabe.

The banquet provides an opportunity to recognize and honor the accomplishments – both academic and athletic – of athletes who took part in SUSD’s fall sports programs. Eighty (80) athletes who were a part of high school football, swimming and diving, cross country, badminton, golf and volleyball teams will be honored at the event. Attendance is by invitation only.

Scholarships from the Scottsdale Charros Foundation will be awarded. The event is sponsored the Scottsdale Unified School District Foundation, the Scottsdale Charro Foundation, the Larry Hellestrae Foundation and Sports Destination Network, Inc.

There will be two additional banquets this year to honor winter and spring sports participants:

  • March 20, 2017 (Basketball, Soccer and Wrestling)

  • May 15, 2017 (Baseball, Softball, Tennis and Track)

MEDIA CONTACT: For more information, contact Kristine Harrington at 480-389-9033 or kharrington@susd.org.

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SUSD Students Compete in District Spelling Bee
January 20, 2017


WHAT: Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) hosts its annual District Spelling Bee.

WHO: This year, 24 students representing their schools will compete for the title of District Spelling Champion. School Bee winners from Arcadia Neighborhood Learning Center, Anasazi Elementary, Cheyenne Traditional, Cherokee Elementary, Cochise Elementary, Cocopah Middle, Copper Ridge, Desert Canyon Elementary, Desert Canyon Middle, Hohokam Traditional, Hopi Elementary, Ingleside Middle, Kiva Elementary, Laguna Elementary, Mohave Middle, Mountainside Middle, Navajo Elementary, Pima Elementary, Pueblo Elementary, Redfield Elementary, Sequoya Elementary, Tavan Elementary, Tonalea and Yavapai Elementary schools will participate in the District Spelling Bee.

WHERE: Friday, January 20, 2017 – Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. The Spelling Bee begins at 9 a.m.

WHEN: Auditorium, Arcadia High School, 4703 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix 85018

ADDITIONAL INFO:  The first place winner and the five runners-up will advance to the Regional Spelling Bee.

Dr. Karen Benson, SUSD Executive Director, Teaching & Learning, will deliver opening remarks, provide introductions and present the rules of the Bee. Nancy Norman, SUSD Communications Specialist, will pronounce the Spelling Bee words. District Bee judges are Barbara Reinert, K-12 Science Academic Coach; Kelly Davis, Elementary Math Academic Coach; and Michael Miller, K-12 Fine Arts Academic Coach.

Media note: Photos and video are permitted only during the practice round. Photos and video are not permitted during the Spelling Bee.

MEDIA CONTACT: For information, contact Kristine Harrington at: 480-389-9033, KHarrington@susd.org 







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MLK Youth Voices: Living the Dream
Students to Celebrate the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
January 12, 2017

WHAT: In the spirit of diversity and to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Scottsdale Unified School District’s (SUSD) Saguaro High School hosts the 2017 MLK Youth Voices program.

WHO: Keynote speaker William “Bill” Norwood; SUSD Leadership Team Members; Saguaro Principal Ann Achtziger; Valley school district superintendents; Scottsdale Mayor W. J. “Jim” Lane; Community Celebrating Diversity Board Members; Voices of Saguaro Concert Choir; Saguaro High School Symphonic Orchestra; Saguaro Dance Company and students from high schools across the Valley, including SUSD’s five high schools

WHEN: Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017, from 9 - 11 a.m.

WHERE: Auditorium, Saguaro High School, 6250 N. 82
nd St., Scottsdale 85250

ADDITIONAL INFO: Scottsdale’s “Youth Voices” Program, sponsored by Saguaro High School’s student government organization, focuses on the importance of embracing diversity in our communities. Through this annual program, inspirational speakers share the obstacles they have faced due to differences in race, culture and perspective, and how Dr. King’s message is still relevant in creating a more inclusive society.

This year, students and guests will have the opportunity to listen to and meet William “Bill” Norwood, retired United Airlines pilot and author of Cleared for Takeoff: A Pilot’s Story of Challenges and Triumphs. Norwood is a former U.S. Air Force B-52 pilot who flew nuclear weapons missions during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and was United Airlines’ first African American pilot, retiring after 31 years of service with the Chicago-based airline.

MEDIA CONTACT: For information, contact Kristine Harrington at 480-389-9033 or kharrington@susd.org.

Scottsdale Unified School District, where we Engage, Educate and Empower Every Student, Every Day. The Scottsdale Unified School District offers 30 schools, serving approximately 24,000 students. School boundaries include parts of Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Phoenix and Tempe. More information regarding SUSD can be found at www.susd.org.


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birdwell_web.pngSUSD Board Hires Superintendent

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona (Dec. 15, 2016) The Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) Governing Board approved a Superintendent contract with Dr. A. Denise Birdwell at its Dec. 13, 2016, meeting. The contract runs through June 30, 2019.

 “The Governing Board officially welcomes Dr. Birdwell to the Scottsdale family,” said Governing Board President Bonnie Sneed. “Her leadership as Interim Superintendent over the last eleven months was instrumental in the passage of our bond and capital override campaign. She is student-focused, and we look forward to working with her on important initiatives, including school rebuilds, increased academic achievement and financial accountability.”

 “I am honored to have this opportunity to continue to serve the Scottsdale community, staff and Governing Board,” stated Dr. Birdwell. “Scottsdale has a strong legacy of dedicated teachers in excelling schools supporting all learners. I look forward to building on that foundation as we work with stakeholders to help shape the future of Scottsdale schools.”

Scottsdale Unified School District, where we Engage, Educate and Empower Every Student, Every Day. The Scottsdale Unified School District offers 30 schools, serving approximately 24,000 students. School boundaries include parts of Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Phoenix and Tempe. More information regarding SUSD can be found at www.susd.org.


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Saguaro Football Player, Coach Chosen for 2017 U.S. Army All-American Bowl

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (Dec. 7, 2016) Kaelib Jarrell of Saguaro High School has been selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 7, 2017, in San Antonio, Texas. U.S. Army representatives presented Jarrell with his official game jersey on Tuesday, Dec. 6, at Saguaro. Jarrell was joined at the event by his Sabercats teammates and Coach Jason Mohns; family members; representatives from the U.S. Army and bowl sponsor American Family Insurance; and Saguaro administration.

The senior defensive back/wide receiver from this year’s Class 4A state championship team will see a familiar face prowling the sidelines at the Alamodome next month: Mohns will be the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in the Jan. 7 bowl game that features 90 of the best high school football players in the country in a classic East vs. West match-up. Jarrell and Mohns will represent the West. Mohns has led Saguaro to four consecutive state championships.

Jarrell is one of the state’s top high school football recruits and is being sought by some of the nation’s top college football programs, including Arizona State University, University of Southern California (USC) and Cal (University of California, Berkeley). He has not yet committed.

The U.S. Army All-American Bowl features and provides a glimpse into the future of college and pro football. Past participants in the 16-year-old bowl include Heisman Trophy winners and more than 200 NFL players, including the Arizona Cardinals’ Patrick Peterson (2008), the Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott (2013), the New York Giants’ Odell Beckham, Jr. (2011) and the Indianapolis Colts’ Andrew Luck (2008).

Selection as a U.S. Army All-American is an honor. Activities throughout Bowl Week leading up to the game help connect the athletes with Army Soldier Heroes who provide them with a better understanding of “what it takes and what it means to be an Army Strong Soldier and an All-American,” according to the bowl’s website. “Only the strongest are chosen to wear the Army colors, and these young men truly embody the characteristics of the Army Strong Soldier – demonstrating Strength through Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage on a daily basis.”

More than 39,000 fans, many of them U.S. servicemen and servicewomen, attended the 2016 game. The 2017 game will be broadcast live on NBC at 11 a.m. Phoenix time and around the world to members of the U.S. Army stationed overseas.

For additional information, contact Kristine Harrington, 480-389-9033 or kharrington@susd.org.

Scottsdale Unified School District, where we Engage, Educate and Empower Every Student, Every Day. For more information about Scottsdale Unified schools, please visit www.susd.org

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pima.jpgMohave Middle School Students Rock Out to Support ‘Heart and Star’ Health Organizations

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (Nov. 30, 2016) A Scottsdale middle school musical group will use its talents to raise money to benefit a pair of health organizations - one national, one local - with a free performance at Tempe Marketplace on Sunday, Dec. 4 from 3 – 5 p.m.

Pima Rock Band, comprised of four Mohave Middle School 6th grade students and two teachers, has selected the American Heart Association, known for its pediatric heart research, and Guiding Star, a local residential treatment center for women, to be the recipients of its fundraising efforts that day.

In conjunction with its Dec. 4 performance, Pima Rock Band will launch two songs, ‘Eyes Wide Open’ and “Fly,” on iTunes. All of the proceeds from the songs’ downloads will be directed to those two organizations.

“Pima Rock Band is all about taking a group of talented kids and giving them the opportunity to do something big for their community,” said Erik Hedrick, Pima Elementary School 5th grade teacher. “It’s not about being the best singer, playing the loudest guitar solo or being the best musician in school: it’s about school-aged kids helping others with their talents and, hopefully, inspiring others along the way.”

Past Pima Rock band projects include participating in PACER’s national anti-bullying campaign, offering music lessons to patients and staff at Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s Child Life Zone, mentoring peers and introducing classmates to music.

For more information, visit pimarockband.com.


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dces_logo-31.pngDesert Canyon Elementary Kicks Off Mandarin Immersion Information Meetings

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (Nov. 28, 2016) Desert Canyon Elementary School will begin offering an optional Full Language Immersion (FLI) Mandarin Chinese program for kindergarten students in the 2017-18 school year, following up on its all-grade-level, Mandarin cultural studies begun this school year. The program will progress to the next grade level each year through Desert Canyon Middle School, then Desert Mountain High School - with this initial cohort of students.

The school plans a series of public meetings over the next two months to familiarize parents and guardians with the Mandarin FLI program they have the option of choosing for their students and acquaint them with the advantages students gain now and in the future as a result of their knowledge of Mandarin language and culture. Mandarin has been identified by the U.S. Department of Defense as a 21st century ‘critical language.’

The meetings will be held on the following dates in the Desert Canyon Library located at 10203 E. McDowell Mountain Ranch Road, Scottsdale:

  • Tues., Nov. 29, 2016, 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
  • Thurs., Dec. 15, 2016, 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
  • Thurs., Jan. 12, 2017, 10:30 a.m. (following Kindergarten Roundup)
  • Tues., Jan. 24, 2017, 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
  • Wed., Feb. 15, 2017, 9:00 a.m.
  • Tues., Mar. 14, 2017, 9:00 a.m.

“Mandarin Chinese is the most widely spoken, first language in the world,” said Desert Canyon Elementary principal Kristin Kinghorn. “If you are able to communicate in both Mandarin and English, you can speak to 50-percent of the world’s population. We are excited to be able to offer this opportunity to our students.”

Among the benefits of acquiring second-language skills, Kinghorn added, are greater cognitive flexibility, superior problem-solving skills, better performance on English standardized tests, increased cultural sensitivity and an enhanced understanding of English.

Students who participate in the Desert Canyon FLI program will spend half of their day learning math, science and Chinese language arts from a native Mandarin speaker, who will speak to them in Mandarin only. The students will spend the other half of their day learning reading, writing and social studies from an English- speaking teacher.

With the introduction of the Mandarin program at Desert Canyon next school year, the Scottsdale Unified School District will have its second FLI program. The first program was established 11 years ago in Spanish at Pueblo Elementary School.

For more information about Desert Canyon Elementary School, visit https://concrete.susd.org/schools/desert-canyon-es.


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vote-31.pngNovember 9, 2016

Dear Scottsdale Unified School District Family and Friends,

Although the results are not yet official, I want to thank you on behalf of our District’s 24,270 students for the confidence you have shown Scottsdale schools by approving the bond and capital override questions on yesterday’s ballot.

We look forward to the opportunity of continuing to provide Scottsdale students with safe schools, facilities and transportation, and the curriculum, equipment and technology they need to succeed in today’s and tomorrow’s world.

The Governing Board and District leadership take on this responsibility willingly, but humbly, and we look forward to working with each school to do what is best. We will be responsible stewards of your investment in the District and will not disappoint you.


Dr. A. Denise Birdwell

Interim Superintendent 

English Version - PDF
Spanish Version - PDF


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ceo.pngPriority Open Enrollment in Scottsdale Public Schools

Nov. 1 Dec. 15, 2016

Priority Open Enrollment for the 2017-2018 school year
Parents who would like to open enroll their child(ren) in a Scottsdale public school Nov. 1
Dec. 15, 2016
Online at

Open enrollment is the process by which parents or guardians may submit an application for their student(s) to attend a Scottsdale public school outside the boundary in which they reside. Open enrollment is also the process by which parents or guardians of out-of-district students may apply to attend a Scottsdale public school. The first round of the open enrollment application process for the 2017-2018 school year begins online Nov. 1.

Parents/guardians will be able to log in to their student’s application no later than Feb. 1, 2017, to find out whether their student’s application has been approved or put on a waitlist. If a student’s open enrollment application is approved, documentation must then be submitted to the school in order to complete the enrollment process.

Additional information on SUSD open enrollment can be found at:


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career_languages.jpgCritical Languages College and Career Night

Nov. 1, 2016

Meeting for students, parents and guardians to learn about SUSD critical languages programs Chinese Mandarin, Japanese and Russian and how fluency in them can impact post-secondary and career options

SUSD Critical Languages program
Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Library, Saguaro High School, 6250 N. 82
nd Street, Scottsdale 85250

Research shows that students who are fluent in Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and/or Russian have dramatically higher chances of being admitted to the college of their choice and have the inside track on careers with government and non-governmental organizations and international corporations.

This event offers students and their parents the opportunity to visit with local academics and other professionals whose highly successful careers depend heavily on Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and Russian. Attendees will have access during breakout sessions to all of the evening’s presenters in a personalized setting of 6 - 8 people, ensuring focus on a student’s particular language of interest and its potential educational and career options.

SUSD offers five, full years of Mandarin Chinese and four years of both Russian and Japanese. Scottsdale schools also offer instruction in Spanish, French and Latin.

For more information, contact Kristine Harrington at 480-389-9033, kharrington@susd.org

Info Flyer

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special_event.pngGet to Know Your Schools: Scottsdale Unified School District to Host Second Annual SUSD Showcase

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (October 10, 2016) Join us for the second annual SUSD Showcase that will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, October 22, at Cocopah Middle School, 6615 E. Cholla St., Scottsdale. Representatives from each Scottsdale Unified School District school will be on hand to share information about the unique learning opportunities available at each campus, and student musical performances by groups from all grade levels will take place throughout the event.

We are so proud of our students. Every day, they are accomplishing something new and noteworthy,” remarked Kristine Harrington, SUSD Public Information and Marketing Officer. This is our chance to not only recognize their accomplishments and talents, but to share them with the community at large. We invite everyone to join in this celebration of learning in Scottsdale’s public schools.”

From robotics to the arts, world languages to athletics, the SUSD Showcase provides the community with an opportunity to connect with all SUSD schools, as well as with district-wide programs, such as Early Childhood, Gifted and Community Education. In addition, student-created art representing all grade levels will be on display in a one-day art gallery. Food trucks, bounce houses, face painting and door prizes will ensure there’s fun for everyone.

“We enjoy being able to show the community the results of the diverse and challenging learning opportunities that take place in our schools,said Dr. David McNeil, assistant superintendent of educational leadership. “What Scottsdale students achieve during their years with us is amazing, and we are confident that the important groundwork we are laying now will ensure their success through the years.”

The SUSD Showcase is open to all stakeholders, including Scottsdale Unified families and community members. The event is free. For more information, please visit www.susd.org/showcase/.

Scottsdale Unified School District, where we Engage, Educate and Empower Every Student, Every Day, celebrates its 120th anniversary this year. An estimated 24,000 students attend SUSD’s 30 schools, 19 of which have earned the state’s highest A-F Achievement Profile grade an A from the Arizona Department of Education. For more information about Scottsdale Unified schools, please visit www.susd.org.


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Social Media Threats

Sep 28, 2016

Interim_contract.pngSocial Media Threats

September 28, 2016

Dear Parents/Guardians:

As you know, the recent social media threats made to a Scottsdale school and many others around the nation have been frightening and disruptive. As of this morning, Scottsdale and Phoenix police have arrested four juveniles and confirm that these local threats were hoaxes. 

We recognize these incidents are quite frustrating for schools, students, staff and parents, but we must take every threat seriously. These threats are a reminder to us all of the dangers associated with social media.

The Scottsdale Police Department wants to make it clear: this type of threatening behavior is not a joke - it is a felony.

Consequences: Although additional federal offenses may be considered and investigated by the FBI, the most common Arizona State Criminal Codes violated are Hoax, a Class 4 felony; Disruption of an educational facility, a Class 6 felony; and threatening and intimidating, a Class 1 misdemeanor. 

Additionally, students determined to have been involved are subject to school discipline, including suspension or expulsion.


1)     Talk to your student(s) about social media, its appropriate use and the possible life-changing consequences of what he/she shares.
2)     Monitor your student’s social media, and let them know that job and college prospects could be jeopardized.
3)     Don’t invite everyone to your network.
4)     Don’t post, repost, ‘like’ or ‘favorite’ any inappropriate photos or messages. 
5)     Report any questionable, obscene or inflammatory posts or comments. 
6)     Report anything that may be construed as bullying, intimidation, harassment or other threats of violence to any adult on campus.

The Arizona Attorney General’s Office addresses internet safety with publications in English and Spanish, specifically designed to educate parents. https://www.azag.gov/internet-safety .

We appreciate your support and are confident that together, we can keep Scottsdale schools safe for teaching and learning. 


Scottsdale Unified School District

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District-Announcements.jpg22 SUSD Students Named Semifinalists in the 2017 National Merit® Scholarship Program; 63 Others Named ‘Commended Students’

Twenty-two seniors who attend Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) high schools have been named Semifinalists in the 62nd annual National Merit® Scholarship Program. The students became Semifinalists by taking the 2015 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®) last October. About 1.6 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools nationwide took the test, which served as an initial screening of program entrants.

Additionally, 63 other SUSD seniors have received Letters of Commendation from the National Merit® Scholarship Program in recognition of their outstanding academic promise. These students also took the PSAT/NMSQT® in October 2015.

“We are gratified that these outstanding Scottsdale students are being recognized for the hard work they are investing in their high school careers,” said Dr. Steve Nance, SUSD assistant superintendent of Educational Services. “It is a privilege for our teachers and schools to play an integral role in student success, now and in the future.”

The following Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) students have been named Semifinalists for 2017 National Merit® Scholarships:

Arcadia High School
Eleanor Jo, Camryn Lizik

Chaparral High School
Benjamin Buzas, Ari Cohen, Savannah Crichton, Anna Hostal, Robin Kuo, Emma Mones, Kendrick Nguyen, Alekhya Reddy

Desert Mountain High School
Karishma Albal, Jaimee Andreotti, Jake Ausdemore, Nicholas Basch, Jordyn Blew, Wesley Jung, Cleo Payne, Pranav Rudra, Aakanksha Saxena, Megan Seifert, Laura Tutelman

Saguaro High School
Cameron Whyte

These 22 SUSD students are among 16,000 academically talented students nationwide who will now have the opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth about $33 million that will be offered next spring.  Finalists will be announced in February 2017.  Winners will be announced in four parts, beginning in April 2017. The nationwide pool of Semifinalists, representing less than one percent of all U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state. Arizona has 284 Semifinalists this year.

The following SUSD students have been received Letters of Commendation from the National Merit® Scholarship Program:

Arcadia High School

Lily Baye-Wallace, Kyle Durchslag, Sheldon Meyer, Elise Mulligan, Luis Prieto Alvarez, Abraham Rez

Chaparral High School

Peter Adler, Noah Berger, Eric Bryan, Anna Lee Cook, Ian Gordon, Gerold Kaplan, Amy Kent, Bailey Kroop, David Lustgarten, Maia Nagle, Kyler Novotny, Reese Pettyford, Lauren Prince, Jacob Ref, Sydney Rummel, Gabriella Sarussi, Levi Schulman, Emma Segneri, Taylor Sender, Ryley Sigmon, Nathan Wolin

Coronado High School
Christopher Ramirez

Desert Mountain High School
Steven Adelberg, Kyle Ashworth, Marni Balamut, Tingting Bi, Drew Chickering, Kasey Cretors, Lucas Cruz, Matthew Cummings, Adelina Effendi, Alyssa Ferrell, Grace Gay, Jacob Hotz, Vanessa Johnson, Nancy Li, Julia Mars, Aamena Mookadam, Ryder Moreno, Akshar Pandia, Anjali Ramohalli, Danya Schaefer, Caroline Shi, Maya Shrikant, Elise Spivey, William Stahlschmidt, Sydney Wickman, Zachary Yang, Frances Yau, Tracy Zhang

Saguaro High School
Jason Do, Seong-Chan Lim, Michael Pickett, Charles Robson, Grace Sluga, Nicole Varda, Cameron Young

Although Commended Students do not continue in the competition for National Merit® Scholarships, some of these students become candidates for Special Scholarships sponsored by the organization’s business sponsors in the spring and summer of 2017.

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Bond-Overridge_Meetings.jpgSUSD Hosts Bond/Override Election Community Information Meetings

September and October 2016 

WHAT:              The Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) will host meetings in each of the District’s learning communities next week and the following week to share factual information with the community about the bond and additional assistance budget override proposals that will appear on the November 8 general election ballot. SUSD Chief Financial Officer Daniel O’Brien will be available to answer questions regarding the ballot issues, the District’s budget and how the school funding mechanisms being proposed would work.

The bond election asks voter consideration of up to $229 million in bonds to be issued over a six-year period to rebuild, remodel and refurbish schools, enhance school safety and security, upgrade high school athletic facilities and replace aging school buses. All 30 SUSD schools would benefit, and the bonds’ issuance would have no tax rate impact. The additional assistance override requests voter consideration of classroom capital improvements of $8.5 million annually, from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2024. The override provides for curriculum materials and school technology, fine arts, athletics and library programs, playground equipment and classroom furniture.

WHO:               All SUSD community members


Tuesday, September 27– Coronado Learning Community
6 p.m.,Board Room, Coronado High School

7501 E. Virginia Ave., Scottsdale

Wednesday, September 28 – Chaparral Learning Community
6 p.m., Library, Chaparral High School

6935 E. Gold Dust Ave., Scottsdale

Thursday, September 29 – Arcadia Learning Community
6 p.m., Mt. Olympus, Arcadia High School

4703 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix

Tuesday, October 4 - Saguaro Learning Community
6 p.m., Community Room, Saguaro High School

6250 N. 82nd St., Scottsdale

Wednesday, October 5 – Desert Mountain Learning Community
6 p.m., Room 5121, Desert Mountain High School

12575 E. Via Linda, Scottsdale

ADDITIONAL    For more information on the bond and override proposals, please visit elections.susd.org.

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Coronado Hosts 2016 Running & Winning Workshop


The Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD), the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Scottsdale Branch and the League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Phoenix (LWVMP) will host a ‘Running & Winning’ workshop from 8:15 a.m.-2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 13 at Coronado High School, 7501 E. Virginia Ave., Scottsdale 85257. Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane will deliver the welcome message and present a proclamation from the city. More than 25 women elected officials will attend the event, including former Scottsdale mayors Mary Manross and Sam Campana.

Nearly 100 female seniors from Coronado High School will participate in this event to educate high school women about leadership, public service and the electoral process. “This is a great opportunity for our young women at Coronado High School to learn more about our country’s political process and to interact with female elected officials in their community,” said Dr. Mitch von Gnechten, SUSD executive director of secondary/middle schools.

‘Running & Winning’ was developed in 2000 by the League of Women Voters of Camden County, New Jersey, in an effort to empower women to have their voices heard. The goals of this year’s Scottsdale program are to encourage young women to consider running for public office, promote social and civic awareness and leadership, and give students the opportunity to work with local, female elected officials.

“The AAUW Scottsdale Branch is proud to help young women learn about public service,” said Cindy Hartel, president, AAUW Scottsdale. “We hope that this workshop encourages these young women to consider a career in public service, and that one day we will see them in public office.”

“The League of Women Voters is an organization dedicated to encouraging informed and active participation in government," said Care Lengel, President, League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Phoenix. "We hope the ‘Running and Winning’ workshop will inspire these young women to take an active role in the political process."

About SUSD
Scottsdale Unified School District, where we Engage, Educate and Empower Every Student, Every Day, celebrates its 120th anniversary this year. SUSD’s 30 schools serve about 24,000 students. Its boundaries include most, but not all, of the city of Scottsdale, almost all of the town of Paradise Valley, and sections of the cities of Phoenix and Tempe. Nineteen District schools have earned the state’s highest A-F Achievement Profile grade – an A – from the Arizona Department of Education. For more information about Scottsdale Unified schools, please visit www.susd.org.

About AAUW

The American Association of University Women advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research.  Founded in 1881, the organization currently has over 170,000 members and supporters, over 1,000 local branches, and over 800 college and university partners.  AAUW is one of the largest sources of funding for women in graduate studies, providing more than $3.7 million to fund more than 244 fellowships and grants for the 2014-2015 academic year.  The Scottsdale Branch of AAUW has over 120 members and is partnered with Scottsdale Community College. This year, AAUW Scottsdale will award 2-$1,000 scholarships to female students at SCC from funds raised by their members. http://scottsdale-az.aauw.net

About League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Phoenix

Members of the League of Women Voters are women and men living in communities across our state and nation. League members engage in hands-on work to safeguard democracy and improve our communities. The LWV is citizen-powered democracy in action. We not only promote the values of democracy, we embody them.

The League is the original and preeminent grassroots citizens’ network, directed by the consensus of our members and committed to engaging citizens in our democracy so that it works for all Americans. Strictly nonpartisan, the League is at the same time wholeheartedly political and works to influence policy through advocacy.

In 2016, the League celebrated the 96th birthday of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the League of Women Voters.

Since our founding in 1920, promoting the right of every citizen to vote has been a principle of the League. The state and local Leagues sponsor debates and forums to educate voters about where candidates stand on important issues. We register voters, offer them information about issues and promote voter turnout.

The League does not endorse political parties or candidates, but does have a member consensus on issues. Members lobby state legislators and Members of Congress on certain issues. www.lwvmetrophoenix.org

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School Nurse Update

Aug 30, 2016


School Nurse Update

Click here to view an update about SUSD school nurses.

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admin.pngSUSD Appoints New Principals, Assistant Principals for the 2016-17 School Year

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (July 12, 2016) For the upcoming school year beginning Aug. 8, 2016, students, parents and staff will see some new and some familiar faces at a few of the Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) campuses.

Hohokam Traditional School

Andrea Wymore is the new assistant principal at Hohokam Elementary School. Ms. Wymore joined SUSD in the 2002-03 school year and has worked as a learning resource center teacher at Mountainside Middle School.

Hopi Elementary School

Tamara Jagodzinski was named as the new principal at Hopi Elementary School. Ms. Jagodzinski most recently served as assistant principal at Pima Elementary. Before her role at Pima, she was the assistant principal at Hohokam Traditional and taught 13 years at Mountainside Middle School.

Pima Elementary School

Kimberly Mills is the new assistant principal at Pima Elementary School. Before joining SUSD, Ms. Mills worked as a first and fifth-grade teacher in California and most recently served as the PBIS coach and assistant principal at Litchfield School District.

Yavapai Elementary School

Matt Gromek has been named as the new assistant principal at Yavapai Elementary School. Mr. Gromek joined SUSD in 2012 as a fifth-grade teacher at Yavapai Elementary.

Arcadia Neighborhood Learning Center

Kathleen Hughes will join SUSD as the new principal at ANLC. Ms. Hughes has been an administrator in the Higley Unified School District since 2008. She also taught in a K-8 school in Southern California.

Copper Ridge School

Lindsay Stollar Slover has been named the new principal at Copper Ridge School. Ms. Stollar Slover most recently served as assistant principal at Cordova Middle School in the Alhambra Elementary School District in Phoenix and she was selected as a Rodel Aspiring Principal for 2016. Additionally, Ms. Stollar Slover worked as a classroom teacher for 10 years in the valley.

Tonalea K-8

Dr. David Priniski has been named the K-5 level principal for Tonalea. Dr. Priniski most recently served as assistant principal at Supai Middle School. Previously, Dr. Priniski served as an SUSD administrator to SUSD Community Schools, Ingleside Middle School and both Yavapai and Tonalea Elementary Schools. Dr. Priniski served as a teacher in the Flowing Wells School District in Tucson, Arizona and Madison School District in Phoenix, Arizona. He has also served as a teacher to the Greig City Academy in the London Borough of Haringey.

Shelley Slick-Hummon will serve as the Grade 6-8 principal for Tonalea K-8. Ms. Slick-Hummon most recently served as the principal of Supai Middle School, which has now combined with Tonalea Elementary School to form Tonalea K-8.

Justin Firehawk will join SUSD as assistant principal at Tonalea K-8. Mr. Firehawk most recently taught in the Maricopa Unified School District and Paradise Valley Unified School District.

Ingleside Middle School

Dr. Christopher Thuman has been named the principal of Ingleside Middle School. Dr. Thuman has nine years of administrative experience in the Scottsdale Unified School District. He most recently has been the executive director of Community Education and Online Learning. Previous to this role, Dr. Thuman worked as a high school science teacher and coach at Desert Mountain High School as well as a K-8 physical education teacher in the Chicago Public Schools.

Arcadia High School

Stephen Cervantez has been named as an assistant principal at Arcadia High School. Mr. Cervantez joined SUSD in 2003. He most recently served as a teacher at Chaparral High School and taught economics and social studies.

Saguaro High School

Ann Achtziger has been named as the interim principal at Saguaro High School. Ms. Achtziger joined Saguaro as assistant principal two years ago. Before Saguaro, Ms. Achtziger served as an assistant principal at Mohave Middle School for four years and as an assistant principal at Hopi Elementary School. Ms. Achtziger also worked at Sequoya Elementary as a service learning coordinator.

Sarah Barela will join SUSD as an assistant principal at Saguaro High School. Before working for SUSD, Ms. Barela taught English for 14 years at Peoria High School.

Kraig Leuschner has been named as an assistant principal at Saguaro High School. Before joining SUSD, Mr. Leuschner worked in the Higley Unified School District for the past six years as a high school special education teacher.

Dan Milligan was named as an assistant principal at Saguaro High School. Before this role, Mr. Milligan worked as a math teacher at Desert Mountain High School during the 2006 - 07 school year. He also taught math in the Paradise Valley School District from 2007 – 2015 and served as the Dean of Students at Horizon High School during the 2015 - 16 school year.

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PROP123.pngScottsdale Unified School District Directs Prop. 123 Dollars toward Teachers

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (June 29, 2016) The passage of Proposition 123, passed by the voters on May 17th, not only settles the inflation funding lawsuit but provides Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) an opportunity to recognize teachers and support staff who work tirelessly to ensure our students success and safety.

SUSD received $5 million in June, for fiscal year 2016, the bulk of which is being paid out to employees as a one-time stipend.

“We recognize that teacher pay is not where it should be,” said Dr. Denise Birdwell, interim superintendent for SUSD.  “Our employees have committed their lives to serving students and this is one way we can show our appreciation and continue to support the critical work they do.”

In fiscal year 2017, the District will receive $5.4 million. The Governing Board approved the budget June 21, 2016. This is a breakdown of how those dollars will be distributed.

Certified Compensation Increases (3% to 6.5%)              $3,913,309

Classified Salary Increases (3%)                                    $   740,340

Administration Salary Increases (2%)                              $   265,216

SRO                                                                             $   300,000

Instructional Resource Assistants                                   $     30,000

Program Innovation (Mandarin)                                       $   100,000

Total Prop. 123 Expenses                                              $5,348,865

The focus remains on District teachers and support staff who routinely go above and beyond.

“We want to thank the voters for their continued support of public education,” said Dr. Birdwell. “While Proposition 123 was a win for education that should be celebrated, we recognize there is more work to be done to establish a long-term solution to increase education funding.”

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laguna-event.pngLaguna Elementary Team Earns Highest Honors

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona (June 2, 2016) A team representing Laguna Elementary School from the Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) recently earned Highest Honors in the 2015-16 WordMasters Challenge™ - a national vocabulary competition. The competition involves nearly 150,000 students each year.

The fifth grade Laguna team scored an impressive 173 points out of a possible 200 points in the last three meets of the year, placing sixth in the nation. The fifth grade team also placed ninth nationally in the overall competition. The team earned a cumulative score of 523 points out of a possible 600.

Laguna fifth-grade student, Kate Farrell, earned a perfect score of 20 in a recent meet. Farrell competed in the difficult Blue Division and earned a score shared with only 13 fifth graders nationwide. Other students at Laguna Elementary who achieved outstanding results in the last meet of the year include Youssef Nasef, fourth-grader, and Jordan Wolff, fifth-grader.

WordMasters Challenge™ materials are designed for students in grades three through eight. The program provides an exercise in critical thinking that encourage students to become familiar with a set of above grade level words and then challenges students to use the words to complete analogies expressing logical relationships. The analogies help students learn to think both analytically and metaphorically.

Laguna Elementary is an Arizona Education Foundation A School of Excellence. The school provides services for youth from toddlers through fifth grade. To learn more about Laguna Elementary, please visit:  laguna.susd.org.

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graduation.pngScottsdale Unified School District Graduates 1,908 Students

Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) said farewell to 1,908 graduating students.  “I am confident that our students are well-prepared for whatever comes next, whether that be college or career,” stated Dr. Denise Birdwell, interim superintendent for SUSD.

Students at Arcadia High School, Chaparral High School, Coronado High School, Desert Mountain High School and Saguaro High School all graduated on Thursday, May 26th.  Students graduated from Scottsdale Online High School on May 24th

Scottsdale Unified School District has a 90 percent graduation rate and 92 percent of students go onto college.  Additionally, the class of 2016 earned over $55 million in scholarship dollars.

“We congratulate our high school students on their accomplishments and wish them the best in their future endeavors,” stated Dr. Mitch von Gnechten, executive director of secondary education.

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ms.pngMiddle School Learning Prepares Students for High School Success

SUSD embraces the belief that every young adolescent should have the opportunity to pursue his or her dreams and aspirations, and post-secondary education should be a possibility for all. “SUSD offers middle school programs designed to meet the academic, social and emotional needs of the emerging adolescent,” stated Diane Whitmore, director of curriculum and professional development.

Each SUSD middle school provides programs for gifted, special education, and second language students to meet their unique needs. “In addition, SUSD middle schools employ counseling services, nurses, librarians and instructional resource assistants and a school resource officer to maintain a focus on student health and safety,” stated Karen Benson, executive director of instructional services. SUSD middle schools are committed to providing an environment which expands personal and academic success. “All Scottsdale middle schools provide curriculum that is relevant and rigorous, support meaningful relationships and ensure assessment and evaluation processes that promote quality learning,” stated Dr. Mitch von Gnechten, executive director of secondary education.

Middle level courses offer rich content for students to develop as future ready learners, fostering the skills of critical thinking, problem-solving, communication along with informational literacy. Courses make connections between science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics (STEAM).

“In order to best prepare students for college and careers, SUSD middle school mathematics instruction focuses on developing a conceptual understanding and problem-solving skills,” stated Benson. “To ensure success of our students at the middle level, we use multiple criteria to identify students who may benefit from acceleration. Additionally, students who face academic challenges receive necessary supports to help them overcome academic hurdles.”

We understand that “one size does not fit all” and as a result, a variety of programs including fine and performing arts, rigorous academic opportunities and honors courses, middle school sports, technology and world language are offered to students to meet the vast abilities and interests of all. “The choices provided to middle level learners support our students exploring interests and developing stronger skills,” stated Terri Kellen, principal of Mountainside Middle School.

 “We realize that socially, middle school students see as much emotional growth as a child between the ages of zero and three,” stated Lance Huffman, principal of Cocopah Middle School. Our middle school counselors and teachers are trained to address the academic, physical and emotional needs of our students as they face the changes that occur at this critical point in their development.

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Interim_contract.png21st Century Learning After-School Learning Opportunities

Beginning in the 2014-15 school year, 10 Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) Title I schools were awarded a 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) grant. The grants provided for student before/after-school and summer academic and enrichment programming as well as youth development. In addition, the funding offered services to family members of students, further engaging parents in their student’s learning.

“All 10 of the 21st CCLC school sites have been very successful and utilize a support/advisory team to identify those students who need extra support,” stated Cindy Hans, 21st CCLS Grant Specialist. “Semi-annually, each site reviews data on student attendance and academic achievement and program adjustments are made as necessary.”

The 21st CCLC program at Hohokam Traditional School is one example of a successful elementary program. This year, the Falcon Academy, had 231 regular attendees from a total enrollment of 276. The robotic program, which just competed at the World Championship, was part of the Falcon Academy. Jane Jebelian, 21st CCLC site coordinator stated, “A strong cadre of teachers as well as a solid relationship with the City of Scottsdale benefit our students. The city staff assists in providing after-program care and the English Language Learner program partners by providing parent classes.”

At Navajo Elementary School, site coordinators Rachel Hellring and Cindy Dudley offer the Navajo After School Academics (NASA) 21st CCLC program. One of the many secrets behind the Navajo program are the student surveys that provide participants a voice in choosing the after school programming. Teachers note that as a result of the implementation of the 21st CCLC program, homework is completed more thoroughly. This year, 138 students regularly attended the Navajo 21st CCLC program.

Christina Haas Smith, the 21st CCLC program coordinator for Pima Elementary oversees programming for 158 students. Since the inception of the program, Pima teachers have seen an improvement in school attendance. “Students must be in class to attend the Beyond the Bell Program,” stated Smith. “Students just don’t want to miss their after school classes.” This year Pima students were able to participate in STEAM Fairytale, Story Book Creator, gardening club, rockets and technology, youth leadership and guitar. Smith produces a monthly calendar and newsletter that highlights activities.

The high school 21st CCLC has been one of the District’s largest success stories. Site coordinators Fran Prather and Kelly James work closely with their principal to continue building a culture focused on academic success. Coronado coaches joined the DEAL (Don Enrichment, Academic, Leadership) program and all athletes attend the first hour after school for tutoring and homework help. Honors students are incorporated as tutor assistants. Counselors support the program by recommending the tutoring program to struggling students. Over the past two years, students attended field trips to Scottsdale Community College, Taliesin West and Construction Career Day. This year, Coronado had 176 regular attendees.

The successes of the 21st CCLC program have led to improved student attendance, grades and engagement. SUSD will continue to seek grant partners, including business leaders and foundations to further support the mission of the program. Community members interested in learning more can contact the Cindy Hans, 21st CCLC Grant Specialist, a chans@susd.org or visit www.susd.org.

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Arcadia Teacher Named Quarterfinalist for the Third Time for Music Educator Award

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (May 12, 2016) Richard Maxwell, the creator of the groundbreaking Contemporary Music and Sound (CMAS) program at Arcadia High School, has been selected as a quarterfinalist for the Music Educator Award presented by The Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Foundation. This is the third year in a row that Maxwell has been nominated. In 2015, Maxwell was named one of 10 finalists for the award. He and the other finalists received a $1,000 honorarium and Arcadia received a matching grant.

The CMAS program is unique to Arcadia and Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD), and as part of the Career and Technical Education department, functions largely as a full scale record label, run entirely by the students.

“It’s a real honor to have been selected as a quarterfinalist, but it just blew me away that the students wanted to put together all of my submission materials.  I am beyond humbled by all of it,” said Maxwell.  “I’m proud of my musical diversity and adaptability, music degrees, work as a conductor, and creating CMAS; but as a singer-songwriter and self-taught producer facilitating CMAS, I am most proud of my students.”

Semifinalists will be announced in September. According to the GRAMMY website, this year, more than 3,300 nominations were submitted from all 50 states. The 290 quarterfinalists come from 264 cities across 41 states.

The Music Educator Award was established to recognize current educators (kindergarten through college, public and private schools) who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools. One recipient will be selected from 10 finalists and will be recognized for his/her remarkable impact on students' lives. The winner will be flown to Los Angeles to accept the award, attend the GRAMMY Awards ceremony and receive a $10,000 honorarium. The nine finalists will each receive a $1,000 honorarium and the schools of all 10 finalists will receive matching grants.

This award will be presented at the Special Merit Awards Ceremony and Nominees Reception honoring recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award, Trustees Award and Technical GRAMMY Award during GRAMMY Week 2017.

For more information about CMAS, please visit www.ArcadiaCMAS.com. For more information about the GRAMMY Foundation, please visit http://www.grammy.org/grammy-foundation

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Yavapai Robotics Students to Participate in FLL North American Championship

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona (May 10, 2016) Yavapai’s Robotics team, the Thunderbots has been invited to the FIRST® LEGO®  League (FLL) North American Tournament of Champions. The event gives third through eighth grade students the opportunity to compete against other top teams from the United States, as well as other countries.

The FLL North American Championship will be held from May 20 – May 22, 2016, at LEGOLAND in Carlsbad, California. Ten Yavapai robotics students and two coaches will attend the event. “We are very proud of the accomplishments of our students,” stated Nancy Hudson, Yavapai Elementary principal. “Our students meet many times each week to work on robot design and programming for their competitions.”

Robotics participation has a long history on the Yavapai campus. The program began in 2006 and has grown into the competitive program they have today. In fact, they have advanced to the Arizona State FLL tournament three times! Using extensive mathematic and problem-solving skills, the Thunderbots designed an extremely successful robot that helped them advance to the State Championship at Arizona State University in 2015. It was there that they earned the “Judges Choice” trophy and an invitation to the international tournament at LEGOLAND. Another part of FLL tournaments involves solving a “real world” problem. In 2015, teams were challenged with finding a way to reduce waste. The Thunderbots came up with a unique and innovative idea that separates plastic bags from trash and allows them to be recycled, as well.

To learn more about Yavapai Elementary School please visit yavapai.susd.org.

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strategic-language.pngSUSD Students Learn Critical and Strategic World Languages

 “SUSD realizes the importance of ensuring that our students are prepared to meet future industry demands. Students have the opportunity to learn Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and Russian as well as more traditional foreign languages such as Spanish, French and Latin,” stated Jill Newburg, SUSD world language coordinator. Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and Russian are deemed strategic by the U.S. Department of State, as they are crucial to the economic, business, cultural and diplomatic relationships of the U.S. Mandarin Chinese and Russian are also deemed critical by the U.S. Department of Defense as they affect our national security on a daily basis. Due to the relative low supply of people highly proficient in these languages, there is a large demand for them across all employment sectors, including government, international banking and business, trade and tourism and industry. Mastering these languages can make students eligible for college scholarships as well as provide an opportunity to earn increased compensation in future careers.

Students in SUSD currently have the opportunity to choose from the above foreign language courses in high school. Additionally, at least one of the languages of Spanish, French and Mandarin Chinese is offered in all SUSD middle schools. Pueblo Elementary has housed the District Spanish Foreign Language Immersion (FLI) program for the past nine years and Mohave Middle School hosts the middle school Spanish FLI program. Beginning with the 2016-17 school year, Spanish will be offered at the following elementary schools: Pima, Copper Ridge, Anasazi and Cherokee. Additionally, Desert Canyon Elementary will offer Mandarin Chinese.

“Bilingual students show higher academic achievement on standardized tests,” stated Julie Vazquez, SUSD world language academic coach.

“In order to ensure that our students are “future ready” and to maximize the number of languages offered, we utilize technology to connect some of the strategic/critical classrooms on multiple campuses,” stated Newburg. Native-speaking instructional support specialists staff the connected classrooms. Instruction is offered via television and microphones and the lead instructor travels between campuses weekly so that all students have direct instruction from both the certified teacher and the native-speaking instructional support specialist. “The 21st century classrooms allow for small class sizes and maximize learning opportunities at all campuses.”

“We hope to increase foreign language choices at the high school and middle school levels as well as afford more opportunities for our elementary students to explore world languages,” stated Newburg. 

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fine-arts-festival.pngImproving Academic Achievement through Art Education

The arts are vital to student development and the Scottsdale Unified School District offers award winning fine arts programs. According to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, students who participate in arts learning experiences often improve their achievement in other realms of learning and life. Multiple studies have shown a correlation between enrollment in art courses and SAT verbal and math scores.

“Art strategies help students learn core curriculum concepts from other disciplines in a variety of methods. For example, students learn how to analyze a piece of American artwork from the early 1900s and develop an understanding of the depression and the impact on the citizens of the country,” stated Janet Blum, SUSD K-12 fine arts academic coordinator.

The Scottsdale Unified School District art curriculum has been developed based on standards that include creativity, technical strategies, art history, art interpretation and comprehension. The curriculum is aligned from grades K-12. As students progress within the District, they grow technically and develop a true love and appreciation for the fine arts within their lives.

The development of artistic expression, the exploration of scientific technique and the implementation of creative formalities such as composition, elements of art and the principles of design help students explore a problem and discover a solution. Students learn that there are many ways to explore questions and while one solution may not work, another can. Students learn how to artistically solve problems and challenges and through this process student confidence increases.

Students within SUSD have demonstrated success within the arts in numerous academic and fine arts festivals, events and arts integration programs.

Students have exhibited work at the Arizona State Competition, The Congressional Arts Exhibition, through Sister Cities, at the Arizona State Fair Exhibition, at the Shemer High School Festival and through numerous Scottsdale fine arts exhibitions and District complex shows.

Visual arts students have participated in partnerships with the Center for the Performing Arts, the Musical Instrument Museum and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Through the partnerships, students participated in residencies within their classrooms, attended off-site gallery events, and SUSD teachers have learned about arts integration strategies that they are now implementing daily within their classrooms.

Students have also had the opportunity to give back to the community. Annually, SUSD students participate in the Ali Ortega Empty Bowls Event. Students create artistic bowls, which are sold at the event. Proceeds raised are donated to Vista del Camino to support food crisis issues in our community.

The arts help students learn the importance of creativity, offer academic growth and provide opportunity to impact the community in which they live.

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ecybermission.pngCopper Ridge Students Win eCYBERMISSION STEM Competition

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (May 4, 2016) The U.S. Army announced that the sixth grade team, the Wizards, from Copper Ridge School was named the state winner in the 14th annual eCYBERMISSION competition. The competition is one of several science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) initiatives of the U.S. Army Educational Outreach Program.

The web-based contest is sponsored by the U.S. Army and is administered by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). eCYBERMISSION challenges students in grades six through nine to develop solutions for real-world problems in their communities.

The Wizards worked with their team advisor to create a new type of speed bump that has two humps in order to reduce speeding in school parking lots and neighborhoods.

Additionally, a second Copper Ridge team, the Demelectrons, was awarded honorable mention in the eCYBERMISSION competition.

This is not the first year that Copper Ridge students received eCYBERMISSION honors. Last year, two eighth grade student teams won first and second place in the competition. “We are proud of our students and their accomplishments,” stated Michelle Otstot, principal of Copper Ridge.

Copper Ridge is a Pre-K through eighth grade school in the Scottsdale Unified School District. The school promotes STEM teaching and learning strategies and is one of 12 Arizona schools to be selected as an APS STEM-Focus School of the future. Additionally, Copper Ridge has a partnership with Northern Arizona University allowing teachers access to professional development training in effective STEM teaching and learning strategies.

To learn more about Copper Ridge School, please visit copperridge.susd.org.

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arcadia.pngNo Place for Hate Banner to be Presented to Arcadia High School

WHAT: Arcadia High School will be presented a banner from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)

WHO: Students and staff from Arcadia and representatives from the Anti-Defamation League

WHEN: May 10, 2016, at 10:30 a.m.

WHERE: Arcadia High School, 4703 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix 85018

ADDITIONAL INFO: On April 27, 2016, the ADL designated 21 Arizona Schools No Place for Hate®. The schools were recognized for creating a safe and respectful learning environment, bringing awareness to the issues of bullying and bias throughout the 2015-16 school year.
The No Place for Hate® initiative offers students, teachers, administrators and families the opportunity to work together to create a culture of respect and unity.
On May 10, Arcadia will be presented with a banner from the ADL signifying their selection as a No Place for Hate® school. Only seven high schools in the state of Arizona earned the designation.

View Media Advisory.

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all-city.pngSUSD Spring Sports Athletes Honored at Annual All-City Awards Banquet

WHAT: Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) will host its annual All-City Athletic Spring Sports Awards Banquet to honor athletes from Arcadia, Chaparral, Coronado, Desert Mountain and Saguaro high schools

WHO: Keynote speaker Mechelle Lewis Freeman, SUSD coaches, athletic directors, students and parents

WHEN: Monday, May 16, 2016, at 6 p.m.

WHERE: The McCormick, 7401 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale 85253

ADDITIONAL INFO: SUSD will host its final All-City Awards Banquet of the 2015-16 school year. The keynote speaker will be Mechelle Lewis Freeman, retired Team USA sprinter who competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

The tri-annual banquet provides an opportunity to recognize and honor the accomplishments – both academic and athletic – of athletes within SUSD’s Sports programs. 53 athletes will be honored at the event. Attendance at the event is by invitation only. Scholarships from the Scottsdale Charros Foundation will be awarded. The event is sponsored the Scottsdale Unified School District Foundation and the Scottsdale Charros Foundation.

The banquet is to honor spring sports – baseball, softball, tennis and track.

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graduation.pngSUSD Athletes Commit to Colleges

62 SUSD student athletes have made a commitment to participate in college sports. The students have signed a Letter of Intent to play sports in college. Students who have signed a Letter of Intent include:

Arcadia High School

  • Baseball:  Sam Huff – Grand Canyon University
  • Basketball: Elijah Sikora – Lewis University
  • Cross Country and Track:  Megan Reniewicki – Arizona State University
  • Football: Kevin Hill – Phoenix Community College and Riley Kaye – Scottsdale Community College
  • Sand Volleyball:  Kara Woodard – Arizona State University
  • Softball: Emily Ingles – Southern Illinois University
  • Swim:  Matti Harrison – Harvard University and Antonio Ramirez – Ohio State University

Chaparral High School

  • Baseball: Travis Bailey – Paradise Valley Community College, Nick Castagna – Grand Canyon University, Blake Flint – Hawaii Pacific University, Bryce Pyro – University of Colorado (Colorado Springs), Alex Segal – Wichita State
  • Basketball:  Kayla Shaw – Monmouth University
  • Football: Brandon Jamison – UC Davis, Kurt Shugart – New Mexico State, Christian Skeptaris – UC Davis
  • Lacrosse:  Russell Gilligan – Norwich University, Logan Hicks – Syracuse University, Noah Plotkin – College of Wooster
  • Soccer: Jacob Cohen – Southern Methodist University, Allison Jorden – Indiana University
  • Softball: Marisa Alemany – Bucknell University
  • Track:  Brooke Martin – University of Utah
  • Volleyball:  Abby Akin – Northern Arizona University, Mary Jo McBride – Texas Tech, Lauren Stivrins – University of Nebraska

Coronado High School

  • Basketball: Aaron Rhymes – Scottsdale Community College
  • Football: Cristian Alvarez – Briar Cliff University, JC Haight – Briar Cliff University, Dru Tullie – Benedictine College, Alex Ventura – Arizona Prep Academy, Victor Caison Washington – Scottsdale Community College
  • Soccer: Lauren Russ – Scottsdale Community College

Desert Mountain High School

  • Basketball: Adam Rees – Pomona Pitzer College
  • Baseball:  Frank Dickson – Arizona State University, Jayson Curtis – Dordt College, Jacob Halland – Howard College, Tucker Rohde – North Dakota State, Tristan Stockman - Arizona Western College
  • Football: Keaton Licon – Mesa Community College
  • Golf:  Matt McCarty – University of Santa Clara, David Ricciardelli – University of San Diego, Chase Wicklund – Drake University
  • Gymnastics: Brittany Jones – University of Illinois, Leah Perrino – San Jose State University
  • Softball: Jana Froehle – Cornell College
  • Soccer: Parker Caudle – Arizona State University
  • Tennis: Jeremy Auh – Vassar College

Saguaro High School

  • Basketball: Kenneth Arrick – Pepperdine, Jenna Marsh – Scottsdale Community College,  Amber Rollins – Embry Riddle, Haley Smith - Benedictine
  • Baseball: Nick Grossman – Scottsdale Community College, Travis Johnson – Yavapai Community College
  • Football: Julian Carter – Boise State, Kare´ Lyles – University of Wisconsin, Byron Murphy – University of Washington, Michael Weinstein – University of San Diego
  • Sand Volleyball: Regan Hurkett – University of Hawaii
  • Volleyball: Sarah Davis – Sacramento State

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a .pngChaparral, Cochise, Copper Ridge, Hohokam and Navajo Earn A School of Excellence™ Award

Chaparral High School, Cochise Elementary, Copper Ridge School, Hohokam Traditional School and Navajo Elementary earned the A School of Excellence™ Award from the Arizona Education Foundation (AEF).

This is the second time that Chaparral has been honored with the award. Chaparral first received the honor in 2012. This is the first time that Cochise, Copper Ridge, Hohokam and Navajo have earned the award.

“We are extremely proud of the Chaparral, Cochise, Copper Ridge, Hohokam and Navajo communities for earning the prestigious A School of Excellence designation,” stated Dr. Denise Birdwell, interim superintendent for the Scottsdale Unified School District. “Their commitment to student success shines through every day and this recognition honors the work that is occurring on each of these campuses.”

Winning schools are recognized for their ability to meet the needs of their student population both on an academic as well as a non-academic basis. Applications are available to pre-kindergarten through 12th grade schools throughout Arizona. The evaluation of each school is based upon a lengthy written application and a rigorous site visit by a team of judges. In the application, each school provides demographic information, a description of current programs and practices, documentation of parent and community involvement, a profile of the school leadership and a commitment to excellence, equality and service. School leadership must also show a commitment to sustained high achievement. Preparation of applications includes feedback from all stakeholders including students, staff members, administration, parents and community members.

Read more.

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us-news.pngFour SUSD High Schools Nationally Recognized by ‘U.S. News & World Report’

Four Scottsdale Unified School District high schools have been nationally recognized and three were listed in the top 50 high schools in Arizona by U.S. News & World Report’s 2016 Best High School Rankings.

Chaparral, Desert Mountain and Arcadia high schools all received silver national awards while Saguaro High School was awarded bronze. All four schools received the same ranking in 2014 and 2015. In addition, among all Arizona high schools, Desert Mountain was named #14, Chaparral was ranked #20 and Arcadia was recognized as #26.

“These awards and rankings reflect the hard work and dedication of our teachers, staff and students,” stated Dr. Mitch von Gnechten, SUSD executive director of secondary education. “SUSD would like to congratulate these schools for doing a great job educating and preparing our students for college.”

Read more.

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FRC.pngSUSD Robotics Teams Win at Regional Competition, Head to World Competition

After winning awards at the Arizona West Regional 2016 Tournament, Chaparral High School Robotics Team 3019 and Saguaro High School Robotics Team 4146 have been invited to the 2016 FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Championship.

The FRC Championship will be held April 27-30 in St. Louis, Missouri. The international competition will include 900 teams from 39 countries.

Chaparral secured their spot at the world championship by winning the Regional Engineering Inspiration Award at the Arizona West Regional Competition held April 8-9 at Grand Canyon University.

Saguaro Team 4146 won the Regional Finalist Award and the Industrial Safety Award sponsored by Underwriters Laboratories at the regional competition. Saguaro was also invited to the 2016 FRC World Championship with their Wildcard Award. Read more.

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hohokam.pngHohokam Students Witness SWAT Team Robots in Action

The Scottsdale Police Department SWAT team will visit Hohokam Traditional School for robotics practice Wednesday, April 13, at 3 p.m.

Robots are changing the ways that law enforcement personnel address dangerous situations. They are commonly used by tactical teams to clear buildings and secure packages. The Scottsdale Police department recognizes the use of robots as an important investigative tool. On April 13, Hohokam students will have the opportunity to see the robots up close.

“The goal behind the visit is to allow students the opportunity to see robots in action and to help them realize practical applications for the robots in the community,” stated Chuck Rantala, principal of Hohokam Traditional School. Read more.

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early-learning.pngEarly Learning Options Available within Scottsdale Unified School District
The Scottsdale Unified School District offers early learning programs for children ages infant through prekindergarten. The following programs are available within SUSD:

right arrow4.PNGInfants:  beginning at six weeks of age
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Toddlers: 12 months and walking through three years
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Preschool (3s)
right arrow4.PNG 
Prekindergarten (4s)

All programs offer a developmentally appropriate curriculum tailored to meet the unique needs of each child. Early learning programs are available at 17 different locations within SUSD.

Starting in the 2016-17 school year, Scottsdale Unified School District will expand early learning opportunities to include the following new programs:

  • Redfield Cardinal Scholar Pre-K Academy – a full day program offering a student-centered curriculum designed to promote critical thinking and learning. The program will develop high potential through hands-on exploration and interdisciplinary learning experiences.
  • Desert Canyon Elementary 2/3 Combination Program – a half day or full day program that offers hands-on learning opportunities introducing our young learners to preschool academics.

To learn more about early learning programs available within SUSD, please visit:  http://communityed.susd.org or call (480) 484-7900.

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Winter All-City Awards

Mar 24, 2016

all-city-2.pngTwo SUSD Students Receive Scholarships at Winter All-City Awards Banquet

Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) hosted its annual All-City Athletic winter Sports Awards Banquet to honor athletes from the five SUSD high schools, Monday, March 21. The tri-annual banquet recognizes and honors the accomplishments – both academic and athletic – of athletes within SUSD’s sports programs. 47 athletes were honored at the winter awards banquet. Athletes honored participated in wrestling, basketball and soccer.

This year athletes had the opportunity to hear from Dr. Denise Birdwell, Interim Superintendent for the Scottsdale Unified School District. Dr. Birdwell spoke about her athletic experience and how overcoming adversity at the athletic level helped her learn to persevere and apply her skills academically.

Additionally, two Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) high school students were awarded scholarships. Mary Sloan Beger, student at Arcadia High School and Andrew Campbell, student at Desert Mountain High School each received a $500 scholarship from the Scottsdale Charro Foundation. Nominations for these awards are made by SUSD District athletic directors and coaches, based on character, academics, community service, athletics and future plans. Read more.


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laguna-event.pngLaguna Elementary Students Share Biomedical Learning

Fifth grade gifted students at Laguna Elementary will present biomedical research and arm/hand and leg prosthetics created for fictitious clients.

Over the past several months, students have been fully immersed in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) learning. Students have researched biomedical engineering and used recycled materials to create prosthetics measured and designed specifically for selected clients. Students used the engineering design process and incorporated modifications as they field tested their products.

Seven creative presentations will include the use of multimedia as students share their amazing work on Tuesday, March 22 at 9:15 a.m., located at Laguna Elementary School. Read more.

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NBC_Teachers.png16 SUSD Students Named Finalists in the 2016 National Merit® Scholarship Program
The National Merit® Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) notified  approximately 15,000 students that they were Finalists in the 61st annual National Merit® Scholarship Program. High school principals were also notified and were provided with a certificate to present to each Finalist. Sixteen SUSD students were among those finalists. Students who became finalists will be considered for National Merit® Scholarships. Approximately half of the Finalists will win a National Merit® Scholarship and earn the Merit Scholar® title. 

To be considered for a National Merit® Scholarship award, finalists must fulfill several requirements. The names of scholarship winners will be released in a series of National Merit® announcements between April and July.

Read more.

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hohokam.pngHohokam Traditional School’s Robotics Team Wins State Competition, Sets Sights on World Competition in April
After winning the Arizona VEX IQ Robotics State Championship Elementary Division, Hohokam Traditional School’s robotics team, Talon, has qualified for the 2016 VEX IQ World Competition in April.

The 2016 VEX Worlds – VEX IQ Challenge Elementary Division, will be held April 20-23 in Louisville, Kentucky. The robotics team, led by coach Mike Peabody, is excited to have the opportunity to compete at the world level. Three parent volunteers work with the students weekly. “I am so proud of our 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students,” stated Peabody. Read more.

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world-language.pngSUSD to Offer World Language in Elementary Schools

SUSD realizes the importance of ensuring that our students are prepared to meet future academic and industry demands. “Students have the opportunity to learn Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and Russian as well as more traditional foreign languages such as Spanish, French and Latin,” stated Jill Newburg, SUSD world language coordinator. Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and Russian are deemed strategic by the U.S. Department of State, as they are crucial to the economic, business, cultural and diplomatic relationships of the U.S. Mandarin Chinese and Russian are also deemed critical by the U.S. Department of Defense as they affect our national security on a daily basis. “Due to the relative low supply of people highly proficient in these languages, there is a large demand for them across all employment sectors, including government, international banking and business, trade and tourism and industry,” stated Newburg. Read more or visit worldlanguage.susd.org


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4 SUSD Schools Ranked

Feb 09, 2016

pbj.png4 SUSD Schools Ranked as Top Scoring Public Phoenix Area Schools According to Phoenix Business Journal

Maps & Facts Unlimited Inc. mapped the top 15 scoring schools based on fifth grade results of the AzMERIT test. Cherokee Elementary School, Cheyenne Traditional School, Desert Canyon Elementary School and Kiva Elementary School made the list for the Top Scoring Public and District-Owned Charter Schools in the Phoenix Area.

Some of the schools that were top scoring on the AIMS test made the list, but many did not, said Paul Johnson, founder of Maps & Facts Unlimited Inc.

He said it was difficult to compare the schools this time around because the scores were very compressed.

With the exception of the top five schools, the remaining 10 schools all scored between 71 and 74, with ties at 71, 72 and 73, he said.

He said he wanted to map the top-scoring schools to show real estate brokers and their clients where they are located. Read more.

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CMAS.pngNew Summer Fine Arts Music Classes at Arcadia

New Summer Fine Arts Music Classes at Arcadia

*These courses receives a Fine Arts Credit. ** Optional college credit available.

6930/6931 - CMAS I: Music & Industry Fundamentals
Students will study music fundamentals, which will emphasize a comprehensive understanding of instrumental technique, music theory and the fundamentals of Music Creation/Composition. Students will learn the fundamentals of the recording studio, utilizing Pro Tools, industry standard software, and other industry standard practices.

6938/6939 - CMAS II: Music Creation/Technology
Prerequisite: any one of the following: CMAS I; one full year of Band, Chorus or Strings or similar with instructor approval; also Freshmen, with appropriate prior experience, with instructor approval.
Students will further develop their individual Creative Process and working knowledge of musical form, structure and technology for both live performances and recordings.

6940/6941 - CMAS III: Music Creation/Digital Music Production
Prerequisites: CMAS II or equivalent with instructor approval.
In addition to building on the skills previously acquired in the program, students are responsible for the planning and execution of Songwriter Night concerts and many other CMAS events that take place on and off campus as well as the release of CMAS recorded albums and related materials.

6942/6943 - CMAS IV: Advanced Music Creation/Production
Prerequisites: CMAS III or equivalent with instructor approval.
This course is a continuation of CMAS III. Students will learn advanced Music Creation/Composition and recording audio production techniques within and outside of the Pro Tools environment. Techniques used to create music for a specific audience or with a specific lyrical subject will be developed. Students will also serve as direct mentors to those in lower levels of the program. Opportunities are available for students to apply their songwriting and production skills.

6944/6945 - CMAS V: Guided Independent Study in Music Creation/Production
Prerequisite: CMAS IV or equivalent with instructor approval.
This course is a continuation of CMAS IV. It is intended for advanced students who entered directly into the CMAS II course as freshmen due to previous experience prior to high school and who wished to have a 4th year of study within the CMAS program. This course is also for the CMAS student who wishes to take an additional elective during the year. No refunds will be allowed after the first day.

For more information visit: http://arcadiacmas.com/

- See more at: https://concrete.susd.org/communityed/announcements/2016/02/new-summer-fine-arts-music-classes-arcadia/#sthash.0w4PlIkh.dpuf

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sick.pngShigellosis is a highly infectious illness caused by Shigella bacteria
Maricopa County is currently experiencing rates of shigellosis almost 10 times greater than usual, especially in children under 6 years of age. We have identified outbreaks of shigellosis in numerous child care facilities throughout Maricopa County. While we currently do not have any identified cases within the Scottsdale Unified School District, we want to share this preventative message from Maricopa County. 

Shigellosis is a highly infectious illness caused by Shigella bacteria. Adults and children with this infection will have diarrhea (watery and/or bloody), fever, stomach pain and cramps and generally do not feel well. Please find attached an information sheet on Shigella.

Shigellosis is very contagious-as few as 10 bacteria can cause an infection (verses 1000 bacteria for Salmonella), which is why this disease can spread rapidly though the child care setting. Good hygiene and handwashing habits are critical to prevent further spread of the disease.

Training modules on hand hygiene, diapering and sanitation can be found here: http://www.maricopa.gov/publichealth/Programs/CCHC/education.aspx

Per Arizona Administrative Code Title 9, Chapter 6, child care attendees or staff with shigellosis will be excluded from the child care setting until antibiotic treatment is maintained for 24 hours and diarrhea has resolved OR  two successive cultures negative for Shigella are obtained from stool specimens collected at least 24 hours apart and at least 48 hours after completing antibiotics.

Please report cases and suspect cases to Maricopa County Department of Public Health, Office of Epidemiology, at (602) 506-6767 Mon-Fri 8 a.m.- 5 p.m.  We thank you for your assistance in keeping Maricopa County children healthy and safe.

View the Shigella Information Sheet.

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Parada del Sol Parade

Feb 01, 2016

parada.pngSUSD to Participate in the 63rd Annual Parada del Sol Parade
Scottsdale Unified School District administrators, principals, assistant principals, teachers, classified employees and elementary, middle and high school students will participate in the 63rd Annual Parada del Sol.

Marching bands from Arcadia, Chaparral, Coronado, Desert Mountain and Saguaro High Schools will perform, as well as bands from Ingleside, Mohave and Supai Middle Schools. Additionally, students from various SUSD elementary schools will also participate in the event. Read more.

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all-city.pngSUSD Fall Sports Athletes Honored at Annual All-City Awards Banquet
Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) will host its annual All-City Athletic Fall Sports Awards Banquet to honor athletes from Arcadia, Chaparral, Coronado, Desert Mountain and Saguaro high schools on Monday, January 25. Read more.


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sitton.pngInterim Superintendent Introduction
I am honored to be selected as Interim Superintendent of Scottsdale Unified School District. I have 33 years of experience as an educator, teacher, department chair, coach, athletic director and administrator. My breadth of experience ranges from education law to curriculum to finance. I have served as Superintendent for the Higley Unified School District, Assistant Superintendent for Dysart Unified School District and for eight years as Assistant Principal and Principal of Paradise Valley High School. Since retiring from the Higley Unified School District at the end of June 2015, I have been the principal owner of Birdwell Educational Consulting providing training in the analysis of teacher and principal evaluations. Read more

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SUSD Board Approves Contract with Dr. A. Denise Birdwell as Interim Superintendent

The Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) Governing Board, in a special meeting, Jan. 15, 2016, unanimously approved the Interim Superintendent contract with Dr. A. Denise Birdwell. Dr. Birdwell’s start date is Jan. 19, 2016, ending June 30, 2016.

“The Governing Board welcomes Dr. Birdwell during this important transitional period for our District,” said Governing Board President, Bonnie Sneed. “We look forward to working with her as we continue important initiatives such as the 2020 Strategic Plan, election initiatives, budget process, and the search for a new Superintendent.” Read more.

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interim.pngSUSD Board Appoints Dr. A. Denise Birdwell as Interim Superintendent
The Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board, during a study session, Jan. 11, 2016, by a unanimous vote named Dr. A. Denise Birdwell interim Superintendent, contingent on a background check and successful contract negotiation.

"I am honored to have an opportunity to serve the Scottsdale community, staff and governing board,” stated Dr. Birdwell. “I look forward to working with the outstanding teachers, administrators and staff to continue providing our Scottsdale families an excellent education. Scottsdale Unified School District has a long tradition in creating engaging learning environments for all learners. I look forward to supporting this tradition while working together to build on the many successes found throughout the district.” Read more

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Kindergarten_Article.pngSUSD Future Readiness Begins in Full-Day Kindergarten
Teaching and learning within kindergarten classrooms has evolved. An increasing number of children participate in preschool programs.  As a result, kindergarten is no longer the first school experience for many children.

“What was once an emphasis on social play with toys and manipulates has now become highly academic in rigor,” stated Amy Moore, principal of Navajo Elementary. Students spend their day immersed in activities that reflect reading, math and writing with applications of technology. According to Nick Noonan, Principal of Kiva Elementary, “we use the District adopted curriculum and provide rigor through differentiation.”  At the kindergarten level, teachers see a wide spectrum of learning ability.  Nicole Wahl, Kiva kindergarten teacher stated, “We are constantly assessing to determine what level the students are achieving.  We do this through observation and small group assessment… and differentiate lessons.”  Class activities range from whole group, small group, one-on-one instruction and individual activities.  “Activities are interactive, fun and challenging to all students,” stated Wahl.

In the kindergarten classrooms of Navajo Elementary, teachers foster inquiry and understanding through exploration and discovery.  Activities in the classrooms foster active engagement and project based learning.  “We use a lot of cross curriculum instruction and thematic learning based upon instructional units, “ stated Cristi Youngkin, kindergarten teacher at Navajo Elementary. Frequently students are broken into small groups to differentiate instruction and to allow students the opportunity for individual learning.  Homework packets further differentiate kindergarten learning as they reinforce units taught and allow students the opportunity to challenge themselves based upon their individual abilities.

“Full day kindergarten is essential for students to maximize their learning potential,” stated Moore.  Teachers use all instructional minutes in the classrooms to prepare students for academic success and to teach socialization and communication skills.  “Our kindergarten program provides the balance between educating the academic, social and emotional needs of our students, “ stated Noonan. With a full day program, teachers are able to plan lessons to address academics, yet allow time for cooperative learning activities.

SUSD offers kindergarten students the much-needed, full-day kindergarten program.  With unified, tight core standards and assessments, all kindergarten students are taught the necessary skills to show growth and success.  “The philosophy of SUSD is to provide students an innovative focus with applications and explorations of relevance,” stated Moore.  Kindergarten teachers work to build a strong foundation in order to make a successful transition from kindergarten to first grade.  As a result, “SUSD kindergarten students rise beyond the standards of educational entities to become future ready.”

Families interested in learning more about SUSD kindergarten programs can visit https://concrete.susd.org/directory/kindergarten-roundup/ for information regarding kindergarten roundup dates.

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aef.pngSUSD Teacher Named 2016 Arizona Teacher of the Year
Christine Marsh, an Advanced Placement (AP) English teacher at Chaparral High School was named 2016 Arizona Teacher of the Year by the Arizona Educational Foundation (AEF). Marsh is in her 24th year of teaching and believes it is important for students to feel valued both inside and outside the classroom. “I believe that outstanding teaching is more a factor of a teacher’s relationships with students than his or her knowledge of a subject matter,” stated Marsh. “The more the students know a teacher cares, the more effort they will put into the class.” Read more.

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US-Army.pngSaguaro Football Player Chosen to Play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl
Byron Murphy of Saguaro High School has been selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas. A U.S. Army representative presented Murphy with his official game jersey Friday, Nov. 6, at Saguaro High School. Attendance at the event included U.S. Army representatives, football teammates, family members, Saguaro Administration and Coach Jason Mohns. Read more.


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Enrollment-Priority-Period.pngSUSD Accepting Open Enrollment Forms for 2016-17 School Year
SUSD’s priority period for Open Enrollment for the 2016-2017 school year will begin on Nov. 2 and end Dec. 15. During this time, parents of children who live outside the boundary area of the school in which they wish to enroll will begin the Open Enrollment process by filling out an online application beginning Nov. 2 which will be available at http://openenrollment.susd.org. Priority will be granted to applications submitted during priority period from SUSD employees and siblings of students who will be concurrently enrolled at the same school. Status of your application can be viewed Feb. 1 by logging into the Open Enrollment Web page and clicking the “STATUS” button. Read more.

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New Ice Den Academy

Sep 01, 2015

Ice-Den-Academy.pngSUSD Announces the Creation of the Ice Den Academy
Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) is proud to announce the creation of the Ice Den Academy, a partnership between Scottsdale Online Learning and the Ice Den Scottsdale. This partnership connects academically rigorous high school level courses with college bound student athletes. According to Dr. Christopher Thuman, executive director of Community Education and Online Learning, “The goal of the Ice Den Academy is to help excelling athletes attain their high school diploma in a manner which prepares them for college and beyond.” Read more

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Early College Program

Jul 13, 2015

Coronado-Early-College.pngCoronado’s Early College Program Aims to Prepare Students for Post-Secondary Education
Scottsdale Unified School District and Coronado High School are excited to announce that beginning in Aug. 2015 Coronado High School will become an Early College High School. Early College High Schools (ECHS) blend high school and college curricula into a simultaneous educational experience that gives students the chance to earn college credit while they finish high school.

The Coronado Early College-Career High School Program will allow students to earn up to 12 college credits and to receive academic support along the way from teachers. Read Coronado Early College Program

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SUSD Joins Nextdoor

Jul 09, 2015

Next-Door-Partnership.pngScottsdale Unified School District Strengthening Community Engagement through Partnership with Nextdoor
School district is the first in Arizona to partner with the private social network

Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) is forging a new path in community engagement as the first school district in Arizona to officially partner with Nextdoor, the private social network for neighborhoods that is widely used across Scottsdale. Starting today, SUSD will use Nextdoor to inform residents – both parents and non-parents – of school news, announcements and activities on a neighborhood level. The district joins the Scottsdale Police Department and city government on the social network, which partnered with Nextdoor in March 2015.

“Strong schools are at the heart of strong neighborhoods,” said Dr. David Peterson, Superintendent of SUSD. “We are excited to be partnering with Nextdoor to highlight both our great Scottsdale Schools and our vibrant community.”

Read SUSD Joins Nextdoor

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