PTS Rising Report
News and happenings from across Phoenix-Talent SD
Loop With the Supt.
PHS welders put to the test
PHOENIX – Phoenix High welding students relatively new to the world of molten metal and angle grinders are busy designing and fabricating bumpers that must be strong enough to withstand the pounding of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department.
Welding teacher Jesse Holcomb’s students have been tasked with building and installing a front and rear bumper for a JCSD Interceptor, which will then be used by the department for PIT (Precision Immobilization Technique) maneuver practice.
“They approached us with the project a couple weeks before Christmas break,” Holcomb said over a steady rumble of machine work in the PHS metal fabricating and welding lab. “It was actually really funny. We were in here working and all of a sudden (school resource officer Aaron) Hull and two sheriff's deputies appeared and it’s like, that’s weird, what’s going on? Kids were panicked, like ‘Oh no, somebody’s getting arrested.’ …And they’re like, ‘Hey, would you guys be interested in building bumpers for the PIT maneuvering that we do out in White City?’”
Phoenix High is one of four Rogue Valley schools involved in the project, which is set to wrap up with PIT maneuver testing in mid-April.
PTS receives $2.6M grant
PTS Director of Equity and Community Care Kelly Soter told local news station KTVL News 10 that the district will look to add 15 mental health professionals and a grief intervention screener who can assess the well-being of students who may be struggling the most.
PTS Superintendent Brent Barry said the grant will offer crucial upgrades that will benefit the district's students and families.
"This grant puts Phoenix-Talent Schools in a position to greatly expand our students' mental health support system, and the collaborative partnership PTS has with La Clinica makes it a perfect fit," he said. "Following the devastating 2020 Almeda fire and the impact of the COVID pandemic, the need here is tremendous and likely will be for some time. We are very excited to get to work and eternally grateful for this opportunity to help our kids and families."
PHS graduation time change
Why the change?
"There have been many requests from families to host that a little bit earlier," Principal Cross said, "so we are wanting to honor that request so families have some time to celebrate with their graduates before the grad night event."
As always, the ceremony will be held at Phoenix-Talent Rising Field.
The Croys are Pirates through and through, and if you want proof just dig out those disco-era yearbooks. Indeed, Dean-A's mom (Gayle) graduated from PHS in 1973, which means that when Paityn walks across the stage on June 10 of this year it'll complete a family circle 50 years in the making.
But the Croys have been much more than ubiquitous. Since Huntyr's freshman year they've been active, tireless contributors to all things Pirate related (even during the interview for this Family Focus, Dean-A was busy prospecting for graduation night donations). Currently, Dean-A (PHS Class of '94), who coached the PHS cheerleading team with her sister from 1995 through 2007, is the co-president of the PHS All Sports Boosters Club, which has raised about $13,000 so far this school year. Paityn, meanwhile, is one of three student representatives on the Phoenix-Talent SD School Board.
PHS participation was something Paityn was born into. This is not hyperbole. She was only two days old when she attended her first pep assembly. "I just got out of the hospital," Dean-A said, "and I wanted to see my cheerleaders so my mom took me and Paityn."
Dean-A says the booster club has a divide-and-conquer approach to the job, with fellow co-president Nathan Humphreys also calling the shots - Nathan (PHS Class of '95) and his wife Heather (Class of 93') jumped into boosters a year before Dean-A. It's a responsibility that goes well beyond fundraising. Just two weeks ago, in fact, they were called into action to pop 200 bags of popcorn for the entire junior class.
"Basically, we're the head of all the concessions of all events," Dean-A said. "Some aren't sporting events - some are other events - but Dave (Ehrhardt, the PHS athletics director) asks us to be there so we open. We (also) do the booster memberships, we take care of all the sports grants. If they need money outside of their budget they can fill out a grant form and we can give them money from the boosters."
The concession responsibilities alone represent a significant time commitment, Dean-A said. She or somebody else in her family hits the grocery store once or twice a week to keep the cupboards stocked, and staffing it often falls on the boosters, too.
"We try and get sports departments to come in and help with some of the concessions, which they do, but we still have to be there to be ahead of it," Dean-A said.
Odds and ends like pep rallies or tailgate parties also require the attention of the boosters, she added. "Pretty much anything Mr. Ehrhardt asks we never say no. We're always there to help him."
That includes the annual senior party, which this year will be held at the Family Fun Center. That requires once-a-month meetings, a lot of fundraising and a big auction on May 7.
Sometimes, meeting all the deadlines requires some fancy footwork. During basketball season, nobody on the booster club - they all have jobs, after all - could get to the high school in time to get the cheese ready for the concession stand on basketball game nights, so Paityn had to save the day. She zipped down during her off period to make sure Pirate fans wouldn't go without.
Living up to the family tradition, Paityn is always willing to pitch in. Recently, she agreed to help coach at the Junior Pirate Athletic League cheer camp even though she's not a cheerleader. She also helped organize last Sunday's FFA auction, though she's never participated in FFA.
"If they ask her she just goes for it," Dean-A said of her daughter. "She’s always putting herself out there."
Where do the Croys get that passion for public service? Dean-A credits her parents.
"I always could look up into the stands - my brother and I and my sisters - no matter home game or away game, my parents would always be there," she said. "For everybody. They weren’t just there for us; they would be there for everybody, cheering everybody on.
"I just think they instilled that in me and I wanted to do that for my kids - to be involved and be a part of their life.”
Stellar Student: MaKenna Rowenhorst
MaKenna Rowenhorst has the kind of work ethic and school spirit to which other student leaders aspire. The Phoenix High senior, who is the leader of the school's Leadership crew, belongs and/or heads up a list of clubs and student groups that's long enough to send even the most dedicated student body president running for the hills.
MaKenna is the high school's Link Crew leader, one of three PHS student school board representatives, the Kindness Club leader, Disney Club co-leader, Taylor Swift Club co-leader, works at R&R Pet Resort in Phoenix and volunteers at Hero Tails Animal Rescue in Eagle Point.
Additionally, the do-it-all aspiring veterinarian (she plans to attend Oregon State University in the fall to study veterinary medicine) is taking four advanced placement courses at PHS and is carrying a 3.94-grade point average.
And beyond all that, as the admirer who nominated her as a Stellar Student put it, MaKenna also puts her heart into everything she does - recently, that even included helping to run Talent Elementary's annual Talent Show.
"She has great school spirit and is incredibly involved and dedicated to PHS," read the nomination. "MaKenna is super kind and compassionate and is a good representation of PHS."
Here is a short Q&A MaKenna filled out for us, probably during a 10-minute window she had available between something and something else:
What is your favorite thing to do with friends and why?
My favorite thing I like doing with my friends is to go to sporting events or drive around and listen to music.
How do you manage to balance so many commitments in addition to your schoolwork?
I won't deny that balancing my commitments is challenging, but I do it by planning when I will do things and fitting them in like a puzzle. I also make sure to leave time for myself to recharge my mental health.
What has been your favorite class at PHS and why?
This is so hard to choose from since I mostly have loved all the classes I have been in, so can I pick two? I think Link Crew and Physics have been my favorite, mostly as the teachers are my favorite and also I was allowed to have good conversations/ brian storms with my friends and peers.
If you were in charge of the school schedule, what would you change?
If I were to change the schedule, I would want there to be more times throughout the week when we meet with our advisory. I just love advisory so much.
If you could choose the uniforms that students wear at PHS, what would they look like?
I don't think I could choose a uniform. I like the self-expression were are allowed to have with our clothing at school.
Pride of PTS: Erin Mahanay
Erin Mahanay was hired to teach fifth grade at Phoenix Elementary about three decades ago and has been with the Phoenix-Talent School District ever since. She had already spent time teaching fifth grade, second grade, kindergarten and a second/third-grade blended class before hearing about a new magnet program that Talent Elementary parents were attempting to build.
Erin met with those parents and fell in love with their vision and passion for alternative education. Soon thereafter the Outdoor Discovery Program was born and Erin has been there ever since, teaching ODP's K-1-2 class for the past 15 years.
Her incredible passion for elementary education and wide range of pedagogical skills have earned Erin great respect from her peers. One PTS staff member wrote of Erin:
"She helped found the Outdoor Discovery Program and has worked tirelessly for the continued success of the program since the beginning. She has a wealth of knowledge about environmental studies, curriculum, and child development and is constantly seeking out new information and learning about best practices.
"She consistently provides enrichment opportunities for her students, both within academics but also with activities that create well-rounded skills. She excels at pushing kids to create work that they can be proud of and to reach their fullest potential. To me, these everyday examples exemplify going 'above and beyond' because she is a teacher that thinks and cares deeply about creating an environment where all learners are not just successful but are thriving."
Following is a Q&A featuring the one and only Erin Mahanay, now in her 31st year of teaching.
What would your students be surprised to find out about you?
My students might be surprised to know that I attended Talent Middle School (when it was still Talent Junior High) and graduated from Phoenix High School!
What is one of your hidden talents?
If I hadn't become a teacher I might have been a Biologist - I love learning about nature and living things. I'm a decent gardener - although I always stretch myself too thin by planting too many things - and I live with a menagerie of rescued pets. I'm fascinated by birds - I've adopted six rescued parrots (yes, that is a LOT of parrots).
How do you spend your summer breaks?
My summer breaks are usually divided between gardening, catching up with friends, and outdoor adventures. I love camping, especially at the beach or in the Redwoods. During the pandemic I bought a tiny fiberglass trailer I can pull with my Outback and that has made camping a lot more fun since my days of sleeping on the ground are pretty much over.
What is the best and worst thing about being a teacher?
One of the best things about my particular job is that I get to keep my students for three years. Looping has transformed my relationships with my students and their families. I get to help them set, and reach, goals they did not think they were capable of achieving. I love that I have the opportunity to nurture my student's interest in issues I care about: the environment, conservation, and the natural world.
I would say that the most difficult thing about teaching is that teachers generally don't have a voice in the way the education system is run. It's frustrating because, when it comes right down to it, curriculum doesn't teach students - TEACHERS do.
Open/Barrel Burning begins
For more information visit Jackson County's open and barrel burning webpage here, or call 541-776-7007 for the daily burn status call.
March 1: Open and barrel burning is no longer prohibited.
March 1-31: Women's History Month
March 2: PTS School Board meeting
March 2: TES Battle of the Books
March 6-10: Classified School Employees Week
- March 10: PES Music Program
- March 15: TES Family Fun Night With Reading
- March 20: PTRA Parent Night
- March 23-31: Spring Break (no classes)