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PXU Newsletter May 6, 2022

Happy Staff Appreciation Week!

We would like to take the time to wish each and every one of our staff members a Happy Staff Appreciation Week! We hope this week was great, and that you have had a week full of positivity and gratitude. In case you did not get a chance to view Dr. Gestson's Staff Appreciation Week message, you can view it here:
PXU - Teacher Appreciation Week

More Celebrations

In addition to Staff Appreciation Week, PXU is also proudly celebrating the following for the month of May:
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Happy National Nurses Month!

Next Wednesday, May 11 is also School Nurses Day! If you see your school nurse, we encourage you to thank them for their work.
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Happy Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!

We are also proudly celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! We appreciate the culture and contributions of all the Asian American and Pacific Islander students and staff we have District-wide!
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Happy Graduation Season!

Graduation is almost upon us, and we are so excited to celebrate the amazing Class of 2022. For the full schedule of graduations, visit PXU.org/Graduation.
Class of 2022 Website Banner

Celebrating the Class of 2022

Speaking of the Class of 2022, we had the opportunity to meet with one senior from every single Phoenix Union school to tell their story and show how Phoenix Union has prepared them for the path they are choosing to take.


Visit PXU.org/ClassOf2022 to learn about and celebrate the incredible Class of 2022!

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Another PXU Million Dollar Scholar

PXU is proud to have yet another Million Dollar Scholar this year! Shiwee Cruz (pictured above) is a senior at Camelback Montessori, and has received over 1.5 million dollars in scholarships. She is featured on PXU.org/ClassOf2022 as the senior representing Camelback Montessori. To read more about her, visit PXU.org/ClassOf2022!
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Alatorre "Tori" Hernandez Receives Full Ride Scholarship from Phoenix Suns and Helios Foundation

This week, Tori Hernandez from North High School (pictured above) received a full-ride scholarship to NAU, courtesy of the Phoenix Suns and Helios Foundation. Her story was covered by all local news outlets and she and her family were surprised with the news during the school day.


We are so proud of Tori and cannot wait to see what she accomplishes with her scholarship.

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PXU Vaccination and Testing Events Continue

We will be having another COVID Vaccination and Testing event tomorrow, May 7, at Metro Tech High School. If you would like to volunteer at this event, click here:


Click here to volunteer at the May 7 Vaccination and Testing Event


For the full schedule of vaccines and testing events, visit PXU.org/BeHealthy

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Spread the Word: PXU Job Fair May 14

We need your help spreading the word about our job fair on May 14 from 8:30am to 11:30am at The Academies at South Mountain! Share widely with your friends, family, and networks.


Anyone who would like to work at Phoenix Union and attend the job fair can apply in advance at PXU.org/Jobs.

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Sustainability Challenge Award Ceremony

On April 25, PXU Students, Staff, and our Superintendent Dr. Chad Gestson met with representatives from the City of Phoenix, including Mayor Kate Gallego, to announce the winners of the School Sustainability Challenge. We are so proud of all of our students who are involved with City of Phoenix Sustainability, and are happy to congratulate our winners:
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NRF Foundation Honors 2022 - Meet the 2022 NRF Foundation RISE Up Partner of the Year

Trevor Browne Marketing CTE Program Wins NRF Foundation Rise Up Partner of the Year Award

We are extremely proud to announce that Trevor Browne's Marketing CTE program was awarded the NRF Foundation Rise Up Partner of the Year Award. This is an amazing accomplishment, and we are so happy to have Phoenix Union represented in an amazing way.


The teacher of TGB's Marketing CTE program, John-Martin Rigsby, recently went to New York to accept this honor and represent his program.


See above for a video featuring our TGB marketing students, and see below to watch Mr. Rigsby accept the award on his program's behalf.

NRF Foundation Honors 2022 - NRF Foundation RISE Up Partner of the Year Award Presentation
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Good News from the Academies at South Mountain Academy of Science and Technology

PXU would like to congratulate the students from the Software Development Program, who all passed their CTE TSA test. Mr. Bismarck Soto's students took the test for the Java language and received the following scores: 83, 77, 75, 73, 73, 70, and 65. The minimum score to pass is 60.


SD 3-4 class is a challenging class that requires a lot of effort from the students. It also requires a lot of thinking, analysis, research, solving problems, and writing code. Mr. Soto guarantees that these students will do very well in college and in their careers if they keep applying all the knowledge and research skills they have learned.


Congratulations to Mr. Soto's students:


David Espino Perez

Jesus Galarza

Isaac Garcia

Aydan McKnight

Henry Ortega

Jade Salazar

Brandon Vargas

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Betty Fairfax Genders and Sexualities Alliance Day of Silence

Betty Fairfax Genders and Sexualities Alliance (GSA, Pictured Above), participated in the day of silence. The Day of Silence is a national student-led day of action to support making anti-LGBTQ+ bullying and harassment unacceptable in schools.


Some of the Fairfax GSA members and allies chose to take a vow of silence for the day as a way to reflect and bring awareness to those who have been silenced. During lunch, they had a solidarity circle for any students that wanted to show their support.


We are so proud of the Fairfax community for coming together for a great cause.

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Sarah Nix Featured on AZFamily

Sarah Nix, Librarian at Metro Tech High School, was recently featured by AZFamily for helping students at Metro Tech find a love for books. We are so proud to have such incredible PXU representation! Click the button below to see the news story about her:
Data Overload Presentation Video

Young Data Scientist League Bioscience Team (Data Overload) Wins Award

We would like to congratulate the Bioscience High School's Young Data Scientist League Bioscience Team (Data Overload) for winning the following award:


Best Data Science Application (Insights)

Bioscience: Health and Academic Performance


We are so proud! See Above for their video presentation, and click the button below to see the graphic PSA they created:

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Betty Fairfax DECA Competes at DECA International Career Development Conference

Betty Fairfax DECA took the team of Yareli Bermudez and Victoria Miranda (pictured above) to compete at the DECA International Career Development Conference (ICDC) in Atlanta, Georgia from April 22 to April 27.


The students competed in the Entrepreneurship Innovation Plan written event which included a presentation against approximately 140 other DECA members from around the world. They qualified for this event by competing and earning second place at the Arizona DECA Career Development Conference at the end of February. They came up with a plan to implement innovations with a spice mill—they call it the Ultra-Mill!


During the school year, approximately 100,000 of DECA’s 160,000 high school student members take part in the organization’s competitive events program, allowing them to compete for local, regional, and state titles. The competitions are designed to simulate real-life business scenarios and test students’ academic understanding and skills development. The top state winners put their talents to the test during the program’s final round of competition in Atlanta. The DECA International Career Development Conference was the pinnacle of competition where nearly 18,000 students vied for international honors. Over $300,000 in scholarships and awards were presented to students and teachers for their achievements.


In addition to competing, these students had the opportunity to expand their horizons, create connections with other competitors and be great representatives of Betty Fairfax High School and Phoenix Union. We are so proud!

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PXU Visual and Performing Arts Good News Corner

We have so much incredible news coming to us from the PXU Visual and Performing Arts department! First, they had a very successful Greater Phoenix Music Festival that was well attended. Greater Phoenix is a two-day music festival for our performing musicians, and 2021/2022 marks the 38th year of the Festival. Students prepare audition music and submit those auditions to a judge for evaluation. The judges from each section evaluate the auditions based on a rubric of musical elements, and then select representatives that meet criteria to be in the Greater Phoenix Honor High School Band, Junior High School Band, JH/HS Combined Orchestra, and High School Percussion Ensemble. Being accepted into this prestigious event is a wonderful accomplishment for the individual student, and it also brings recognition and honor to their home school.


Congratulations to these students, and to PXU VAPA!

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PXU VAPA also held the PXU One-Act Festival recently, which was an incredible opportunity for our Theatre students. The PXU One Act Festival is an annual gathering of student performers and theatre programs where the students can meet, share experiences, watch live theatrical productions, and perform. The ultimate intention is to have students grow as actors and build a sense of theatre community. Students engage in viewing and discussing a wide variety of work and have the opportunity to give and receive feedback from their peers and from other teachers from around the district. Way to go!
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The good news does not stop there. The annual PXU Student Art Show was held at Metro Tech recently and students with strengths in many areas of art were showcased and given awards. For the full list of art and artists, click the button below:
PXU Piano Horizons Festival 2022 - Individual Performers
On April 30, the PXU Piano Horizons Festival took place. The Horizons Piano Festival gives the opportunity for current piano students from PXU schools to extend beyond the classroom piano experience. Students prepare a solo or duet and are adjudicated by college piano instructors. The top performers are invited to perform at a recital at the end of the day. In addition, a sight-reading piano ensemble has been included for the students, led by Mr. Nicholas Halonen.
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The Betty Fairfax and Maryvale band programs both received high ratings at their ABODA festivals, and we are very proud of them! Click the button below to see their ratings:
Last but not least, PXU Visual and Performing Arts is happy to announce that there will be 63 PXU students receiving the Arizona State Seal of Arts Proficiency on their diplomas this year. We are so excited to know that we have so many students who not only participate in the arts, but have excelled in it. Click the button below to see the full list of students who will be receiving this honor:
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Briseis Munoz: Best Lead Female Finalist

We are proud to share that Briseis Munoz (pictured above) from Betty Fairfax High School is a finalist for the Best Lead Female category for the 2021-2022 ASU Gammage High School Musical Theatre Awards. She will audition this Saturday, May 7 for this final round.


Way to go, Briseis!

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Angel Benavides Hernandez Wins Third Place in Congressional Art Competition

North High School student Angel Benavides Hernandez's artwork – Dimensions of Life - won Third Place in Congressman Gallego’s 2022 Congressional Art Competition!


The panel of judges, and Congressman Ruben Gallego, were very impressed with his skill, attention to detail, and the overall beauty of the work.


Congratulations, Angel! See his artwork below:

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End of Year Special Olympics Event: Huge Success!

Fun games, music, activities, swag and snow cones! These were just a few of the things happening at the End of the Year Special Olympics Event held during both lunches at the Academies at South Mountain on April 27th!


Carly Bacha, Upward and Onward teacher at ASM, teamed up with Special Olympics to host this amazing event that showcased this Unified Champion School and their unified SPIRIT! The U&O interns and school partners shared some information about SOAZ and recruited for next year- staff and students both!


This event was open to all staff and students at ASM! Thank you Ms. Bacha, SOAZ, and the U & O interns for you passion and commitment to the #INCLUSIONREVOLUTION

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Arlene Purdy Selected for 2022-2023 Teacher Advisory Team

We are pleased to announce that Arlene Purdy from Central High School (pictured above) has been selected for the 2022-23 Maricopa County Superintendent Teacher Advisory Team (STAT). STAT is an initiative created by the Maricopa County Superintendent's office in 2018 with the purpose of increasing teacher voice and including classroom practitioners in discussions around education practice and policy. This team meets quarterly throughout the school year and provides valuable feedback and insight into current issues and challenges.


Teacher representatives were chosen through an application and interview process and represent a diverse cross section of school settings, geographic locations, content specialties and experience levels. Numerous applications were received from teachers across Maricopa districts and charters. Congratulations, Ms. Purdy!

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Jr. World Players of Handball Visits Carl Hayden for Clinics

The Junior World Players of Handball (JR WPH) headed to Carl Hayden to conduct clinics and ‘point play’ with the vibrant student handball community during two lunch periods, earlier this week. WPH Master Instructor, David Fink, started each of the sessions by playing hundreds of points with the kids, with each player rotating after each point. After the point play, Coach Fink provided an instructional on the serve and return of serve, court positioning, strategy, and more.


Click the button below to read Jr. WPH's article about their Carl Hayden visit!

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Sherilyn Richardson's Research Endeavors

Ms. Sherilyn (Tink) Richardson from Betty Fairfax High School (pictured above) is involved in a research project called VisChem with Miami University at Oxford, Ohio. She will be attending the VisChem Institute at Miami University July 18 - 21, then presenting at a symposium at the Biennial Conference on Chemical Education at Purdue University July 31 - August 4th. They are researching how watching videos allows students to visualize chemistry for better understanding of what happens at the atomic level.


Way to go, Ms. Richardson!

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Emma Gould Accepted to In the Footsteps of Survivors: Study Tour of Holocaust Memorial Sites in Poland and Germany

Betty Fairfax social studies teacher, Emma Gould (pictured above), has been selected as an Arizona educator for a group of 20 social studies educators to attend a 17-day tour hosted by Northern Arizona University’s Martin-Springer Institute this June. This study tour will connect survivor memoirs to actual locations and contemporary voices in Holocaust studies. This tour offers an intimate portrait of the calamities that befell Jewish people in Nazi-occupied Europe as attendees explore each location and reflect on the value and importance of integrating the Holocaust and its lessons into our school curricula. During the tour, Ms. Gould will also have the opportunity to meet and talk to European guides, curators, memory activists, and educators while visiting diverse sites.


The program will begin with the departure from Phoenix to Krakow, Poland, and end with a return from Berlin, Germany. Some sites that will be visited include Auschwitz-Birkenau, Sosnowiec and Bedzin, Blechhammer and Gross-Rosen camps, Weimar and the Buchenwald camp memorial site, and Langenstein-Zwieberge.


Safe Travels, Ms. Gould!

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We would like to share this exciting Fellowship opportunity from the Institute for Citizens & Scholars for any students or staff who would like to participate. Civic Spring is a 10-week program that offers young people (15-24) in Maricopa a $1,800 stipend to lead or support a community project this summer (June 6 – Aug 19). Fellows can apply on their own or in teams and can be affiliated with an organization or not. In addition to the stipend, Fellows will participate in virtual weekly meetings that will provide support, strengthen civic skills, build community, and expand networks. Fellows are expected to spend approx. 10 hrs. per week on their project, so it can fit around jobs, camps, vacations, etc.


The deadline for applying has been extended to 11:59 p.m. Sunday, May 8! It’s a short application that can be done on a phone or tablet. If you have questions don’t hesitate to contact Jeannemarie Halleck, Civic Spring Program Manager at halleck@citizensandscholars.org or text/call at 207-800-5017.

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Camelback Hosts Job Fair

On May 5th Camelback High School hosted a Job Fair for students and there were 19 local businesses in attendance. More than 220 students came to the Job Fair, met with the employers, and applied for jobs.


Amazing work, Spartans!

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ElevateEdAZ Helping Our Students Succeed

ElevateEdAZ and the Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation have also had career fairs for our students at Phoenix Coding Academy, Trevor Browne High School, and the Academies at South Mountain recently that were very successful and helped our students get connected with our community and their potential future employers. We are so thankful for the work they do for our students.


ElevateEdAZ is an initiative of the Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation focused on aligning classes and curriculum with workforce needs, creating opportunities for students to apply academics through work-based learning, and increasing student exposure to career pathways. ElevateEdAZ is designed as a model for Arizona schools to better integrate high wage, high demand, high skill career pathways into the K-12 education system. With College and Career Coaches already embedded at the Academies at South Mountain, Metro Tech High School, and Phoenix Coding Academy, ElevateEdAZ looks forward to providing many impactful experiences to students and educators this coming school year.


We encourage you to share with your networks and encourage students to seek out the resources that ElevateEdAZ provides!

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PXU Students Complete ElevateEdAZ Internships

Congratulations to the students above for completing their internships through ElevateEdAZ! We are so proud of the work they have done and thankful for ElevateEdAZ for helping these students accomplish great things.

Elevate EdAZ Credential Incentive Program

Industry-recognized credentials and certifications are an excellent way for students to position themselves for post-secondary success in their career field of interest. To assist with the credentialing and certification process, ElevateEdAZ is incentivizing students and teachers for attempting and ultimately receiving the credential(s) associated with their Career and Technical Education program.


See the document below for a full list of incentive information:

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Employee Wellness Support

Do you or a PXU Employee you know need any support? PXU has Health and Wellness Clinicians on staff to support our staff with difficult times. If you or a colleague are in need of emotional or mental health support, please click the link below to be directed to a form for support. A Staff Health and Wellness Specialist will respond to you within 24 hours (Monday thru Friday).



Click here to be redirected to the Employee Support Form

PXU Wellness Specialists and Dr. Gestson Featured in KQED Article

Our very own PXU Wellness program and specialists were discussed in an article by KQED recently! Click the button below to read the article:

Stay In Touch With Us!

We love hearing from you! If you have good news to share with the District, email Vanessa Herb at vherb@phoenixunion.org with your good news. Follow us on social media as well to stay updated on all the great things we have happening across the District!