#ThisIsWhoWeAre

Welcome to Good News Biweekly!

Happy Spooky Season PXU Family!

We are excited to welcome you back this week and share the unique news we have gathered for you these past weeks. From Dr. Batsell winning an Exemplary Principal Award to weekly contributions to the Falcon Family and Community Resource Center, we have some uplifting stories to prepare you for Fall Break! Remember, Fall break is from October 5-9. If you can, we hope you take this time to recharge, relax, and enjoy time with your loved ones.


Like always, Even though we are in the middle of a pandemic, it does not mean we should stop spreading positivity or sharing the innovative things happening in our district.

Dr. Holly Batsell Honored With 2020 Exemplary Principal Award

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Join us in congratulating Dr. Holly Batsell, Principal from Bioscience High School, for earning the 2020 Maricopa County Exemplary Principal Award.


The Maricopa County Exemplary Principal Award, formerly known as the Rodel Exemplary Principal Award, recognizes principals in Maricopa County who exemplify practices and leadership that contribute to high expectations and exceptional student learning. Principals are chosen based on a robust nomination process that includes five phases. Aspects of the process involve a site visit, interviews with staff members, classroom walkthroughs, and an observation of a leadership team meeting.


The process includes a review of the last three years of achievement data to identify schools with a history of high student achievement, student growth, and teacher retention. Superintendents are then invited to nominate principals who meet the established criteria.


“Bioscience High School, with Dr. Holly Batsell’s steady leadership for the past four years, is routinely ranked as one of the top high schools in Arizona, earning an “A” for the past two years”, said PXU Superintendent Dr. Chad Gestson. “With an emphasis on an integrated, rigorous curriculum while incorporating science, technology, engineering, and math, Dr. Batsell has successfully focused on increasing ACT scores and increasing student enrollment and retention. She has high expectations for herself and her staff.”


Dr. Gestson continued, “these expectations have translated into positive and supportive school culture. This, in turn, consistently promotes student success. Bioscience students receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships each year and many go on to successful STEM careers. The honor of being named a National Blue Ribbon School is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of all Bioscience staff.”

Bioscience Earns 2020 National Blue Ribbon School Award

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Phoenix Union Bioscience High School joins Franklin Police and Fire High School (2014) as one of two schools in #PXU to earn the prestigious 2020 National Blue Ribbon School award. This award is earned through an extensive application process and review by the United States Department of Education.


The coveted National Blue Ribbon Schools award affirms the hard work of educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content. Now in its 38th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed almost 10,000 awards to more than 9,000 schools, with some schools winning multiple awards. Schools are eligible for nomination after five years.


Congratulations Bioscience! To view a full list of the 2020 Blue Ribbon Schools, click the button below.

Bioscience Teacher Awarded Art Educator of the Year

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Laura Motush from Bioscience High School was named the Arizona Art Educators Association Secondary Art Educator of the Year!


Laura works hard to create a well-rounded art experience at Bioscience, and her students complete projects in drawing and painting, photography, sculpture, and printmaking. She works with the Freshman Team at Bioscience to ensure that her art curriculum fits with the themes and topics being taught in their other classes as well. In addition to teaching, Laura is a leader in Evidence-Based Grading and has contributed to our districtwide resources and professional development opportunities for EBG.


Congratulations Laura! We are so lucky to have you in PXU!

Fairfax Teacher Selected For WE Teachers Award

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Jeff Kunes, Art Teacher at Betty H. Fairfax High School, has been selected as a WE Teachers Award recipient. The award recognizes the tremendous impact that amazing teachers have on their students.


Mr. Kunes receives a $500 Walgreen’s Gift card to purchase classroom supplies as well as access to an online learning platform with free resources and training to address well being in the classroom. We are so proud of you Jeff!


Nominate a teacher for a WE Teachers Award by clicking the button below:

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Linda Reid, an English teacher at Trevor G. Browne High School, received a $500 grant from Cardinals Charities' Touchdowns for Teachers program.


For the second season, Salt River Project partnered with Cardinals Charities on the Touchdowns for Teachers program, which awards grants to two deserving teachers every time the Cardinals score a touchdown for the entire season. After the season opener, six educators – who applied – were randomly selected and verified. Each received a $500 grant for three touchdowns scored during the Arizona Cardinals victory over the San Francisco 49ers on September 13th.


Congratulations Linda! To learn more, visit srpnet.com/touchdowns. Throughout the season, SRP will be sharing winners and awarding grants. Follow along at @srpconnect on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Chavez Choir Students Participates in ASU Vocal Connection

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Ahmia Sillemon, a freshman at Cesar Chavez High School, has been selected to participate in this year's Arizona State University's High School Vocal Connection, a Saturday morning and afternoon event filled with workshops lead by some of the finest and most prestigious and respectable voice professors around the country.


She took time out of her weekend to immerse herself in the studies of music education. By the end of the day, she opened up to participating faculty and students in the group chat by sharing her hopes and dreams for the future.


"I want to learn how to express music to kids with disabilities because sometimes music is how they communicate and express themselves," Ahmia said. "I want to be more confident in myself too."


We are so proud of Ahmia and all of her amazing accomplishments already this school year.


According to her choir teacher, Barbara Smith, Ahmia is enrolled in Beginning Mixed Choir. She loves music and singing and is very involved in choir class. She thrives on helping other students in class making sure they are well taken care of.


She is so endearing to her classmates that she was even voted by her peers to serve as this year's Teacher's Assistant, a very important officer's position in their Choir Council.


"She is a joy to work with every day," Barbara said. "I very much look forward to working with her in the future."

Maryvale Students Had fun working on a Cultural Product Commercial

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Ms.Lagunas AP Spanish and SSS Students were able to practice their interpersonal communication skills, in the learned target language by creatively acting out commercial's skits of cultural products where students were able to involve their families in this project. They were simply #connected #creative #Learninhavingfun #MaryvaleStudents
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Central Esports Thrive In League Of Legends

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Central High School's esports team swept Arizona Lutheran Academy in 2 League of Legends straight matches. Way to go! Before the school closure, Central was ranked 2nd in the state in League of Legends and 8th in Rocket League.


Former student Jonathan Achutegui is ranked 3rd in the state, and Andrew Oriol took 1st place in a GCU tournament, winning him a scholarship worth up to $4000.


Current members shared that they hope to have Smash Bro’s Ultimate as an AIA sport in the second semester. All students can join the Central esports team.

Saving Kittens At Trevor Browne

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The Dispatch at Trevor Browne High School have a big heart and are kitten whisperers. Dispatch have saved so far nine kittens to date. The kittens will need good quality homes in four weeks. Four of the nine kittens have been adopted to awesome PXU Staff Members.
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Parties interested in adopting or seeing more of the kittens up for adoption, please contact Dispatch at Trevor Browne at ext. 48570 or send an email to badkinshoa@phoenixunion.org.

Bostrom Participates In Virtual Financial Fitness in Action

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Bostrom High School collaborated with the Arizona Council of Economic Education and hosted Virtual Financial Fitness in Action. A budgeting simulation where professionals from PayPal and undergraduates from the Women in Economics Club at the University of Arizona volunteered their time and presented seven different budgeting categories: insurance, housing, and transportation. Students then had to create a budget based on income, occupation, and family dynamics.


Six Bostrom staff members volunteered as Budget coaches to help students develop their budgets.

Maryvale Staff Promoted in U.S. Air Force

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Congratulations to Michelle Grover on her promotion to Senior Master Sergeant (SMS,E-8) in the U.S. Air Force.


Ms. Grover has served in the AF Reserve as a Security Forces specialist for 27 years with four overseas deployments. Michelle is currently the Athletic Trainer at Maryvale HS. School year 20-21 marks her 21st year with #PXU.


She has earned the respect from all of Maryvale Staff, and is especially adored among our Coaches and Athletes. She is truly deserving of this promotion, and we wish her continued success in the Air Force Reserve and at PXU.

Wholesome Moments In PXU

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Cyndi Tercero | District Family and Community Engagement Manager


"Mr. Kenneth Whitley, Math Teacher and Robotics Sponsor at Carl Hayden, has been dropping off weekly contributions to the Falcon Family and Community Resource Center.

He did so over the summer and has continued each week, without missing a beat. I have continued to express my appreciation so early on he felt compelled to inform me that the contributions were actually coming from his mother, Pam Whitley.

I asked him to tell Mom how appreciative I was, which led to an email introduction because Mom now wanted to know specific needs to better inform her shopping trips.


Below is a quote from Mrs. Whitley’s last email:


'I am more than happy to help. I wanted to make sure that this is going to continue during the school year. I am lucky to have a son that teaches at Carl Hayden and he is more than willing to take the food to school.'


I took a photo of the items Mr. Whitley dropped off last week – please see enclosed. All of the food on the table is what a typical weekly contribution looks like. Because of their generosity, our large families receive a full-size box of cereal each week. Mr. Whitley downplays his role in the support, but I would also like to acknowledge his ongoing support.

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We have another regular supporter of the Falcon Family and Community Resource Center, Hillary Palestrant. She is connected with the Caring Coalition who is a Community Partner who supports North High School with food support.


Hillary provided organic produce and bread each week as a way to support both local farmers who no longer had a place to sell their produce while the local Uptown Farmers Market at Bethany Bible Church was closed and provide healthy and fresh produce options to PXU students and families.

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I have also enclosed what her weekly contribution included. Hillary provided weekly support beginning in April through last week.


Much like the altruistic tone of Mrs. Whitley, Hillary thanked me for the opportunity to serve.


I have been surprised by the gratitude expressed from those who have been supporting our work – While we opened the Falcon Family and Community Resource Center to serve our PXU community, it has also functioned as an opportunity for other to serve and feel good about knowing that their service will have an immediate and direct impact on our students and families.


It reminded me of a quote I have shared in the past and believe during these challenging times of COVID. Others like me have felt compelled to be of service and looking for a meaningful way to contribute. This quote sums up the reason, I believe others are so grateful for the opportunity to serve.


“When you find yourself in need of spiritual nourishment, it is in the opportunities to serve others that you will find the abundance you seek.”

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Veronica C. Fields | Franklin Police and Fire High School


"When school was first starting, I received an email from someone I had never met requesting information about AVID since she had never taught it before. I responded to her email which started some awesome collaboration. We were just starting online lessons and things were extremely daunting and overwhelming. This is the cool part. During this time, we shared numerous lesson plans to help us get started for the first few weeks of AVID. I don't know if she even realizes how much of an impact that sharing helped me during my lesson planning at that time. Us coming together in a virtual world to meet the needs of our students and creating together was really something special. I don't even know who she is. I just know her by her email and creative lesson plans. I just want her to know how much stress was alleviated and to thank her. So a big shout out to someone named Flores, Ariana Gabriell from Alhambra. #thisiswhoweare #awesometeachers"

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Christopher Rooney | Central High School


"STUGO and Spirit Week is alive and well at Central High School! The connectivity has made a world of difference in our new Freshman Connections Class.


Freshman students are starved for relationships and socialization, and the promise of student interaction has helped them to survive a tough first quarter of high school."

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Heidi Konstantopoulos | Linda Abril Educational Academy


"Saturday, September 26, Linda Abril Educational Academy had a social “distancing” gathering at the park. It was also Mr. Kemp’s Birthday."


Linda Renteria | Cesar Chavez High School


"Chavez Culinary students are 3-4 Cake Competition Winners."

Important Reminders and Events

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Did you witness a random act of kindness, experience amazing customer service, or even know about a special good news story happening somewhere in the district? Submit your good news with a photo to the Marketing Department or Jagamez@phoenixunion.org to be featured in our biweekly newsletter.