The Premier District of Choice

November 1, 2018

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Welcome to the first edition of CUSD News, a quarterly eNewsletter highlighting the students, staff, schools and district honors and accomplishments that make Chandler Unified a special place, and the Premier District of Choice. We have a lot to celebrate, so please scroll down to check us out!

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We invite all families and the community to keep up to date about Chandler Unified by liking, following and subscribing below!

REMINDER: Remember to Exercise Your Right to Vote

Maricopa County Elections department polling locations can be found online here. Registered voters can cast their vote in person by providing their driver’s license, even if they did not request a mail-in ballot. Early voting sites are open NOW and will be available through election day.

Following the 2012 elections, Arizona ranked 45th in the nation for voter turnout. To combat this startling statistic, O’Connor House, the legacy project of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, has launched a new voter engagement initiative, The Great Voter Challenge.

“Roughly half of Arizona voters actually vote and that’s frightening. I hope that we can encourage every citizen to register and vote. It’s so important, and Arizona can do better on that score.”

- Justice Sandra Day O’Connor

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Knox Gifted Academy is Recognized Nationally

Knox Gifted Academy was one of 349 schools nationwide (one of only 5 schools in Arizona) to be recognized as a 2018 National Blue Ribbon School. A group from the school will travel to Washington, D.C. in November to be honored at the Capitol.

Chandler Unified Makes the Grade!

Chandler Unified School District - (2018-2019) Arizona school letter grades were announced over fall break. Chandler Schools received 26 A's, 12 B's and 4 C's. Notably, Chandler Traditional Academy - Goodman, Tarwater Elementary and Weinberg Elementary jumped from a C to an A. Overall, 20 schools improved their letter grade from last year. Congratulations, students and staff!
CUSD Grades

Chandler wins four Emmys

Chandler Unified School District - (2018-2019) Chandler Unified School District's Chandler Education Television and Community Relations program won four Rocky Mountain Emmy awards from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for the video "Battle for Arizona Avenue" and the CUSD commercial "CUSD Storybook."

  • Interstitial: "The Battle for Arizona Avenue," Gabriel Contreras, Producer; Earnest Robinson, Producer.
  • Editor - Short Form: "CUSD Storybook," Gabriel Contreras, Editor.
  • Graphic Arts - Graphics/Animation: "CUSD Storybook," Nicole Richardson, Animator; Gabriel Contreras, Animator.
  • Writer - Program (Non-News): "The Battle for Arizona Avenue," Gabriel Contreras, Writer; Earnest Robinson, Writer.

In addition they were nominated in the categories for Commercial - Single Spot and Director - Short Form for "CUSD Storybook." CUSD was the only K-12 district competing for an Emmy in an arena dominated by commercial television news and Public Broadcasting media.

Chandler Unified lauded in the East Valley Tribune's "Best of Chandler"

Chandler Unified School District - (2018-2019) Chandler Unified was lauded with the following recognitions in the East Valley Tribune's "Best of Chandler."

  • Best Public School District: Chandler Unified School District
  • Best Place to Work: Chandler Unified School District
  • Best Elementary School Teacher: CTA-Independence, Jennifer Pearce, First Grade Teacher. (Second place: Megan Maxwell, Haley; Third Place: Maria AguirreAcedo, Hartford Sylvia Encinas)
  • Best High School Teacher: Hamilton High School, Manny Palomarez. (Second place: Chelsea Snesko, Casteel; Third Place: Paula Jones, Casteel)
  • Best Mascot: Hamilton Huskies (Second place: Chandler Wolves; Third Place: Basha Bears)

Chandler Unified School District: The Choice is Yours!
CUSD is the Premier District of Choice

American Heart Association recognizes Chandler USD

Chandler Unified School District - (2018-2019) At the Board meeting on Wednesday, September 12th, the American Heart Association (AHA) recognized Chandler Unified as the number one district in Arizona and the eighth in the Western States for the Jump Rope for Heart campaign. Additionally, top teachers were recognized: Jennifer Traficano (Tarwater), David Angell (Ryan) and Grace Alvarado (CTA Goodman) on 30 years of service to AHA. They also presented a CPR kit for a high school.

AzMERIT: CUSD Outperforms Peers Fourth Straight Year

Chandler Unified School District - (2018-2019) Chandler Unified continues to outperform peers. AzMERIT results show Chandler students scored better than the state average in every grade level and subject area for the fourth straight year! The AzMERIT scores illustrate the hard work and dedication of Chandler Unified students, teachers and leaders.

Chandler Unified students:

  • Outperformed the charter average of students passing the Mathematics test on average by 9 percentage points
  • Outperformed the state average of students passing the English Language Arts test on average by 15 percentage points
  • Outperformed the charter average of students passing the English Language Arts test on average by 6 percentage points
  • Outperformed the state average of students passing the Mathematics test on average by 17 percentage points
  • Since the inception of AzMERIT in 2015, CTA-Freedom has increased their overall proficiency by almost 10% and Weinberg has increased their overall proficiency by 9%

CUSD ranked top district in Phoenix area by

Chandler Unified School District - (2018-2019) In August, CUSD was ranked as the top school district in the Phoenix area by CUSD was also one of only three districts in the state to receive an overall "A" grade, based on academics, teachers, clubs and activities, diversity, college prep and health & safety.

Additionally, all CUSD high schools earned an "A" grade and were ranked in the top 50 schools in Arizona. Furthermore, all 41 CUSD schools (that were graded) earned either an A+, A, A-, B+ or B grade, and 63% of those were an A+ or A. Wow! Note: Casteel High (with no senior class) was not graded.

Forty-two National Merit Semifinalists

CUSD had 42 National Merit semifinalists. They are among 16,000 semifinalists nationwide out of more than 1.6 million students. Semifinalists are the highest-scoring program entrants in each state and represent the top 0.5% percent of the state's senior students.

Each year, students in some 22,000 high schools enter the National Merit Scholarship competition annually when they take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) in October. In May, 7,500 finalists will be chosen to win the scholarship. We wish our students luck in becoming National Merit Scholars. National Merit ® Scholarship Program #CUSDStory

42 CUSD Students Named National Merit Semifinalists

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Perry High Girls Badminton Back-to-Back Champions

Perry High - (2018-2019) The Perry High girls badminton team won its second athletic team championship when the team defeated Corona del Sol, 5-2, Thursday, October 25. Congratulations!

ACP Erie National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists

Arizona College Prep - Erie Campus - (2018-2019) Congratulations to Susan Martin and Michael Hawkins who have been named Semifinalists in the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Competition based off of their 2017 PSAT/NMSQT scores.

Basha High National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists

Basha High - (2018-2019) Congratulations to Sophia Mirda, Aarjav Pandya and Alexander Skyriotis who have been named Semifinalists in the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Competition based off of their 2017 PSAT/NMSQT scores.

Casteel High National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists

Casteel High - (2018-2019) Congratulations to Carleigh Kendall and Christian York who have been named Semifinalists in the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Competition based off of their 2017 PSAT/NMSQT scores.

Chandler National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists

Chandler High - (2018-2019) Congratulations to Lydia Durrett, Kimberley Mar, Kale McFadden and Isha Paode who have been named Semifinalists in the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Competition based off of their 2017 PSAT/NMSQT scores.

Hamilton National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists

Hamilton High - (2018-2019) Congratulations to Jolade Adebekun, Neil Bhardwaja, Michaela Chen, Alyssa Crawford, Samihan Dani, Jeena Davidson, Dheeti Deliwala, Jonathan Dwiyono, Ruby Gao, Chaelin Jung, Angela Kan, Mindy Long, Aatmik Mallya, Anna McCarson, Shivam Mohite, Jacob Nance, Deirdre Nelsen, Nicholas Ngo, Rohan Nishtala, Emma Pudoka, Gordon Robertson, Sanjana Sarkar, Sonakshi Sharma, Abigail Thornton, Gavin Vogt, Christian Vuand Grace Zhang who have been named Semifinalists in the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Competition based off of their 2017 PSAT/NMSQT scores.

Perry High National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists

Perry High - (2018-2019) Congratulations to Grant Williams, Casey Kim, Michael Jones and Marcus Behling who have been named Semifinalists in the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Competition based off of their 2017 PSAT/NMSQT scores.

National Hispanic Recognition Scholars

Chandler High - (2018-2019) Kameron Dawson, Andres Gonzalez-Bonillas, Alexis Correa, Omar Vargas, and Kale McFadden scored in the top 2.5% among Hispanic and Latino PSAT/NMSQT test takers in our region and have been accepted into the National Hispanic Recognition Program.

Hamilton student Awarded ariZoni

Hamilton High - (2018-2019) Sophia Donnell, one of our Hamilton High's theatre students, won an ariZoni Award (local Toni Award) for Best Female Lead in a Musical.

ACP Oakland Student in Top 300 Broadcom MASTERS

Arizona College Prep - Oakland Campus - (2018-2019) Broadcom Foundation and Society for Science and the Public announced the top 300 competitors in the eighth annual Broadcom MASTERS -- the nation's premier Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) competition for middle school students. ACP Oakland student Vinay Raman (now at Hamilton High) was one of the top 300 Masters. His eighth grade project was titled Effect of Chemical Dispersant Amount on the Difference of Interfacial Tension of Oil.

Thirty of the 300 Broadcom MASTERS will be selected as finalists by a nationally ranked panel of scientists, engineers and educators on September 18, after which they will travel to Washington, DC to compete in a four-day STEM competition for more than $100,000 in awards and prizes. Finalists will participate in team challenges aimed at demonstrating mastery of 21st Century skills in each of the STEM areas, meet with government officials and showcase their projects for the public on October 20. 2018 Top 300 MASTERS

Chandler Student modeling in New York Fashion Week

Chandler High - (2018-2019) Holly Hoogstra, Chandler High Junior, was in New York during the week of September 6 modeling a designer dress from Janay Deann Designs as part of New York Fashion Week. Holly is an International Baccalaureate student with a 4.7 GPA and is involved in Yearbook and Academic Decathlon.

Perry Students Awarded an Emmy

Perry High - (2018-2019) In a ceremony on Saturday, September 22, Perry High School students Dylan Johnson, Hunter Thompson and Cooper Richter were recognized by the the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in the Rocky Mountain Emmy student production awards with an Emmy in High School Long Form: Nonfiction for their work on The Final Inning, a film documenting the Perry softball's team pursuit for a state championship. This is Perry's third consecutive year of having their sports coverage recognized by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Video: The Final Inning

Volleyball Athletes chosen to Represent Arizona

Arizona College Prep - Oakland Campus, Casteel High, Perry High - (2018-2019) Congratulations to ACP Oakland athlete Neomi Beach, Casteel High athlete Andi Nothdurft, and Perry High athlete Jaylah Moreno who were elected to represent Arizona at the USA Volleyball High Performance tournament in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Pictured left to right: Neomi Beach from ACP Oakland, Kylie Wong from Mountain Pointe, Jaylah Moreno from Perry High, and Andi Nothdurft from Casteel High. Their team placed ninth overall at the national level.

Chandler Senior named an AP National Scholar

Chandler High - (2018-2019) Cassandra Smith, Chandler High senior, has been named an AP National Scholar for demonstrating exemplary college-level achievement by taking eight Advanced Placement exams and earning an average score of 4.5.

Chandler Junior to train with National Swim Team

Chandler High - (2018-2019) Sydney Chun, a Chandler High junior, has been chosen to train with the Singapore National Swim Team. She will have the opportunity to train with Singapore's top coaches and swimmers and be provided with state of the art strength and conditioning training, nutrition, and mental training. Sydney's ultimate goal is to be able to represent her country in the Olympics and prove that "sometimes you have to be willing to take a leap of faith into the unknown to achieve your dream."

Chandler junior on Junior Olympic Water Polo Team

Chandler High - (2018-2019) Kaley Bigley, Chandler High junior, swimmer and honors student, has been selected to play on the Junior Olympic Women's Water Polo Team.

Hamilton freshman golfer represented Arizona

Hamilton High - (2018-2019) Congratulations to Hamilton freshman student Mahanth Chirravuri who represented Arizona at the 50th Hogan Cup golf tournament in Portland, Oregon August 11-12, 2018. Junior Golf Association of Arizona: Arizona Wins 50th Hogan Cup

ACP Erie junior A Leader in Science and Technology

Arizona College Prep - Erie Campus - (2018-2019) Congratulations to Elaina Ashton, ACP Erie junior, who was selected to take part in the Congress of Future Science and Technology Leaders on the University of Massachusetts campus. Way to represent ACP Erie and CUSD! SanTan Sun News: STEM-loving teen inspired by national conference

Carlson 5th Graders on undefeated World Series Championship team

Carlson Elementary - (2018-2019) Carlson 5th Graders Parker Rahn and Ryan Sanchez were part of the the Chandler Stars -- one of 32 teams that played in the 10U division of the Extreme Diamond Sports (XDS) World Series in San Diego from July 23-July 28. The Chandler Stars battled against several of the top teams in the country, finished the tournament 7-0, and are the undefeated XDS World Series Champions! XDS Baseball World Series Results

Hamilton junior took top prize in art competition

Hamilton High - (2018-2019) Hamilton junior Karina Yang took First Place and a $1,000 prize in the third annual Western Governors' Association (WGA) Celebrate the West regional art competition for her acrylic painting The Old and the Young. Her painting is currently hanging in Arizona Governor Ducey's office. More than 450 works of art from 19 WGA member states as well as Guam were entered in the competition which challenged high school students to create artwork inspired by their state. Western Governors' Association Celebrate the West Regional Art Competition website

Chandler High wrestlers gain All-American status at Freestyle Nationals

Chandler High - (2018-2019) Sophomores Nathaniel Deasey and Zachary Espalin gained All-American status at the Freestyle National Tournament this summer. Nathaniel Deasey is a National Champion and Zachary Espalin took 4th. CHS had two of only three wrestlers in the whole state of Arizona to earn All-American status.

Casteel High Students named National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholars

Casteel High - (2018-2019) Casteel High is proud to announce that Samuel Perez and Isabela Lukes are National Hispanic Scholars, scoring in the top 2.5% on the PSAT/NMSQT among all Hispanic and Latino test-takers in the region. The National Hispanic Recognition Program (NHRP) was initiated in 1983 by the College Board to identify outstanding Hispanic high school students. Each year the NHRP identifies approximately 5,000 of the highest scoring Hispanic students in the nation who took the PSAT/NMSQT during their junior year. College Board National Hispanic Recognition Program

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Chandler High Assistant Principal Honored by Board

Chandler High - (2018-2019) The Governing Board recognized Chandler High Assistant Principal J.J. Chandler Wednesday, October 17 for his heroic efforts off campus to help a student who was feeling suicidal.

PE Teacher of the Year hails from Bogle Junior High!

Bogle Junior High - (2018-2019) Arizona Health and Physical Education named Travis Anderson of Bogle Junior High the 2018 Adapted Physical Education Teacher of the Year. He was honored at an awards dinner on October 23.

Casteel teacher National Fellowship Winner

Casteel High - (2018-2019) Casteel High special education teacher Michelle Capriotti has been selected for a national teaching fellowship from Over the next year, she'll collaborate with teachers across the country to create free tools and resources to support students with dyslexia, ADHD, autism and other learning differences.

Dr. Frank Hendricsen nationally recognized

Chandler Traditional Academy - Independence Campus - (2018-2019) Principal Dr. Frank Hendricsen was recognized at the Capitol over break for his NAESP (National Association of Elementary School Principals) National Distinguished Principal status.

Meg Gianesello named ACTE Administrator of the Year

Chandler Unified School District - (2018-2019) Meg Gianesello, retired CUSD Executive Director of Educational Programs, was named by the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) as the 2018 ACTE Region V Administrator of the Year. This award recognizes administrative CTE professionals at the school, district, county, state or federal level who have demonstrated leadership in ensuring teacher and student success and have made significant contributions toward innovative, unique and effective career and technical education programs. Meg retired in May of this year. ACTE Announces Arizona Retired Executive Director of Educational Programs as National Award Finalist

Amy Komitzky Henning named Arizona semifinalist

Chandler High - (2018-2019) The Arizona Educational Foundation announced the five Ambassadors for Excellence and five semifinalists of the Arizona Teacher of the Year program Friday. Amy Komitzky Henning, Advanced Via Individual Determination (AVID) and English Language Arts Teacher at Chandler High School, was named as a semifinalist. She was honored during the awards luncheon on October 25 at the Arizona Biltmore.

Coach Shaun Aguano named in Top 10 Football Coaches

Chandler High - (2018-2019) Coach Shaun Aguano was named one of MaxPreps Top 10 High School Football Coaches with less than 10 years experience. Aguano, Wolves Head Coach since 2011, has led Chandler to three state championships in the past four years and two year-end bowl games. MaxPreps Website

Courtney Kemp chosen as IB Career Teacher of the Year

Chandler High - (2018-2019) Mrs. Courtney Kemp has been named the Arizona IB (International Baccalaureate) Schools Career Program Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Kemp works tirelessly to promote the IB Career Program, and her enthusiasm helps create a very inclusive, active learning environment. She teaches the core course for IB CP, Personal and Professional Skills, as well as IB Diploma Psychology.

Rachna Nath selected as Lemelson-MIT Excite Award winner, InvenTeam finalist

Arizona College Prep - Erie Campus - (2018-2019) Congratulations to ACP Erie science teacher Rachna Nath who was named a Lemelson-MIT Excite Award winner and InvenTeam grant finalist. As one of a select group of educators from across the country, she participated in invention education learning opportunities on a 5-day all-expense paid trip to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in June, training to lead a year-long, open-ended invention project with students at ACP Erie. Rachna hopes to make the final application to attend EurekaFest in 2019 where she'll meet and be inspired by current InvenTeams -- teams of high school students, teachers and mentors that received grants of up to $10,000 each to invent technological solutions to real-world problems. Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam initiative website

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IB students Volunteer at Project C.U.R.E. in Tempe

Chandler High - (2018-2019) IB (International Baccalaureate) students volunteered at Project C.U.R.E. in Tempe. They enjoyed the opportunity to learn about how this organization works to provide much-needed medical supplies around the world. Project C.U.R.E. website

Perry High Cheer Team assists at United Food Bank

Perry High - (2018-2019) The Perry High freshman cheer team provided community service at United Food Bank on the last day of fall break.

Freedom Student Council fundraises for Dog Rescue

Chandler Traditional Academy - Freedom Campus - (2018-2019) Student Council raised money for WOW Dog Rescue through a dress down day. Pictured left to right: Megan Jardine, Layton Bluth, Roman Sanders, Hans Chapman, MiaLani Ocampo, Garrett Nielsen, Luke Rea and Jessica Gilbert -- CTA Freedom Student Council officers.

Tarwater teacher an Outstanding Toro!

Tarwater Elementary - (2018-2019) Not only is Ms. Block a sensational sixth grade teacher at Tarwater, she is also a member of the Young Professionals Council. YPC is a governing and working council that helps to facilitate opportunities for young professionals to network and develop leadership skills. Ms. Block also works closely with the Cancer Support Community of Arizona. Thank you, Emelia, for caring about our community! You are an outstanding Tarwater Toro.

Payne Junior High students volunteering at Carlson

Payne Junior High - (2018-2019) Payne Junior High students volunteer at Carlson Elementary every Tuesday morning to tutor students in grades 3-6.

Fun Run Fundraiser and picnic lunch at Weinberg

Weinberg Elementary - (2018-2019) Mrs. Mathew enjoyed a picnic lunch with Ms. Pingel's kindergarten class. The class earned this by raising money for the annual Fun Run fundraiser. There are many more classes that will be eating with Mrs. Mathew, and she is so looking forward to the very interesting conversations with the students. Weinberg staff is very thankful for the community's help in raising funds for our school.

Basha Football players volunteer at Patterson

Basha High, Patterson Elementary - (2018-2019) Basha High football players recently read to kindergartners at Patterson Elementary's "Kinder Bear Cub" reading day.

With appreciation... Thank you, Redemption Church!

Willis Junior High - (2018-2019) Principal Jeff Delp arrived to school Monday, September 10 to find thousands of dollars worth of school supplies donated by Redemption Church. Their generosity has been a huge boost for our school's community resource room and will also allow us to support the needs of students at several feeder elementary schools.

Chandler World Language Translator Volunteers

Chandler High - (2018-2019) The Chandler High World Language department sent 30 students to Galveston and Hartford Elementary schools to translate for parent teacher conferences. These students connected with their community and demonstrated how language has the power to connect people!

Chandler Theatre performs for elementary schools

Chandler High - (2018-2019) Chandler High Advanced Pantomime and Characterization (APAC)/Company Theatre performed at CUSD elementary schools. They acted out their favorite childhood storybooks promoting a love of reading to K- 3rd graders. Bookends Fall 2019 Stories: Frog and Toad Together, Scooby Doo, Wemberly Worried, Horton Hears a Who, and Where the Wild Things Are.

Hartford fifth graders care for the flag daily

Hartford Sylvia Encinas Elementary - (2018-2019) Mr. Morales Ruan's fifth graders help our school by taking care of the United States flag every day.

Thank you, Arizona League of Enforcement Officers!

Hartford Sylvia Encinas Elementary - (2018-2019) Arizona League of Enforcement Officers (AzLEOs) donated school supplies and backpacks to our school. Thank you, AzLEOs!

Thank you to United Way and Mr. Cooper Mortgage!

Hartford Sylvia Encinas Elementary - (2018-2019) Thank you to Valley of the Sun United Way and Mr. Cooper Mortgage for adopting our school for back to school supplies!

Ryan Elementary Student Council Holds Supply Drive

Ryan Elementary, Shumway Leadership Academy - (2018-2019) The Ryan Elementary student council held a school supply drive to benefit Shumway Leadership Academy.

"Operation Back to School" huge success!

Chandler Unified School District - (2018-2019) The annual community-wide "Operation Back to School" supply event at Chandler High was a huge success. For Our City, comprised of churches and non-profit groups in Chandler, came together on July 21 to provide thousands of CUSD students with new backpacks, school supplies, shoes, haircuts and other supplies.

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Upcoming Events

November 2
Registration deadline for families for Thanksgiving assistance through the Chandler CARE Center.

November 5

Puma University at Perry High 6:30 p.m. Topic: “Cyber Safety.”

November 6

Parent Education Series at Hamilton High 6:30 – 8 p.m. Topic: “Suicide Prevention (Part 2)”

November 9

Sun Lakes Lions International Peace Poster contest deadline has been extended until November 9. (See details below.)

November 10

Chandler-Tullamore Sister Cities Cities Southwest Tea at Tumbleweed from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

November 30

Creative Expression Contest Entries due to the City of Chandler Neighborhood Resources office. (See details below.)

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Creative Expression Competition Details


Strong Communities: Building a sense of pride, understanding, and connection in your community in the face of challenge and divisiveness.


Deadline for entries: Friday, Nov. 30

Please send or drop-off entries to:

City of Chandler - Neighborhood Resources

235 S Arizona Ave.

Chandler, AZ 85225


  • Winning entries will be displayed at the Multicultural Festival on Saturday, January 19, 2019 and online at after the Multicultural Festival.
  • First place winners and schools will be recognized at a February 2019 City Council Meeting. All other winners will have their awards sent directly to their schools.

Peace Poster Contest Deadline Extended

The Sun Lakes Lions International Peace Poster contest deadline has been extended until November 9. All students who will be 11-13 years of age on November 15 are invited to participate in this year’s contest. Posters must be submitted to the student's teacher by November 9.

Contest Rules:

Artwork must be no smaller than 13 inches by 20 inches and no larger than 20 inches by 24 inches. Nothing may be glued, taped, stapled or attached to the poster. Entries cannot be laminated. The use of lettering or numbering on the front of the poster, in any language is not allowed. All artist signatures should be written on the back of the poster.

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Your Many Choices in Chandler Unified