The Premier District of Choice

May 2019

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Welcome to the last edition of CUSD News for the 2018-2019 school year, 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!

NOTE: Translate and High Contrast buttons are available at the bottom of this page.

Night of Special Recognition, Spring 2019

The Governing Board and Superintendent Dr. Camille Casteel honored students, staff, and volunteers at the District Night of Recognition on April 17 at the Chandler Center for the Arts. The Santan Junior High jazz band, led by Michael Hancock, provided entertainment, Hamilton High JROTC presented the colors, and Maggie Nicoll of Riggs Elementary sang the National Anthem.

Open Enrollment, Kindergarten and Preschool Registration in progress

The Chandler Unified School District is a premier district of choice. Academic achievement is a high priority in the district as evidenced by test scores which exceed state and national averages. We pride ourselves on providing outstanding educational programs at all grade levels. Chandler Unified School District offers free, full-day Kindergarten, and is an open enrollment district. Click here to find out how to enroll in Chandler Unified School District.


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

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Senior Highlights - Class of 2019

Chandler Unified School District graduates are second to none! Click here to check out our impressive seniors from the graduating class of 2019. (Senior highlights will continue to be added to this link throughout the month of May.)
CUSD Seniors are second to none!

Seven 2019 A+ Schools of Excellence Named in CUSD!

Arizona Educational Foundation named seven CUSD schools A+ Schools of Excellence™. ACP Erie, Basha Elementary, Chandler High, CTA Freedom, CTA Independence, Ryan Elementary and Shumway Leadership Academy learned April 8 that they were named Arizona Educational Foundation A+ Schools of Excellence™ for 2019. This makes 93 times that CUSD schools have earned A+ Schools of Excellence or U.S. Blue Ribbon awards since 1983, more than any other district in the state.

Additionally, Chandler High has earned the award a record nine times, more than any other school in Arizona.

Shumway Leadership Academy

Five CUSD Schools selected as Project Lead The Way Distinguished Schools

Hartford Sylvia Encinas, Conley, Andersen Elementary, Sanborn and Basha High have been recognized as a Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Distinguished Schools for providing broad access to transformative learning opportunities for students through its Launch PLTW programs. These four elementary schools join 214 elementary schools across the U.S. to receive this honor and Basha High is the only high school in Arizona to receive this award for the second year in a row.

Whether designing a car safety belt or building digital animations based on their own short stories, PLTW Launch students engage in critical and creative thinking, build teamwork skills, and develop a passion for and confidence in STEM subjects. We would like to thank Intel for their generous support of this program over the years through monetary donations and classroom volunteerism. It is because of them, we are able to offer this program. Congratulations to these five schools!

Project Lead the Way

CUSD Honored as Top School District by

Chandler Unified is honored to be named the top district in Arizona by We are proud to serve students in Chandler, Gilbert and Queen Creek. We are grateful for the dedication and hard work of our students, staff, families and communities. Click here for their list of the top school districts in Arizona.

State Wrestling Champions Hail from Chandler Unified

Six athletes from Chandler Unified won individual titles at the AIA State Wrestling Championships in Prescott February 8-9. In the first-ever girls wrestling tournament, Stefana Jelacic of Chandler High (118 pounds) and Jennifer Curry of Hamilton High (160 pounds) won individual championships. Because girls wrestling is classified as an emerging sport, an official team title was not awarded, but the Bears accumulated the most points of any school. CUSD had four individual state champions among the boys. Zach Espalin of Chandler High (113 pounds), Alex Rodriguez of Basha High (126 pounds), Joe Carey (pictured above right) of Basha High (182 pounds) and Nathaniel Deasey of Chandler High (220 pounds) brought home medals. In Division I, Hamilton placed fourth, Chandler fifth and Basha eighth as teams. Casteel placed ninth in Division II.
Stefana Jelacic

Hamilton Advances in International Public Policy Forum Competition

Hamilton High - Hamilton High School students, under the direction of Dee Sillanpaa, have advanced in the International Public Policy Forum (IPPF) debate competition – and remain eligible to win a $10,000 grand prize and an all-expense paid trip to the IPPF Finals in New York City.

CUSD Student Councils Recognized as Outstanding

Both the Chandler High student council, under the direction of Michael Gray, and ACP Erie student council, under the direction of Britni Michaelson, won the Arizona Association of Student Councils (AASC) State 2018-2019 Outstanding Council of Distinction award for their leadership development, activities, service projects and traditions.
ACP Erie Student Council

CUSD Students Shine in the City of Chandler’s Creative Expression Competition

Chandler Unified had several winners throughout the district in the City of Chandler’s Creative Expression Competition. Winners will be presented with an award and a cash prize for the school at a future city council meeting. Click here to see copies of the entries.


5-8 Category:

9-12 Category:


K-4 Category:

5-8 Category:

9-12 Category:

Inaugural Chandler Innovation Fair a Success

The first Chandler Innovation Fair (CIF) was an incredible success. More than 3,500 students were represented at the event, with over 5,000 people in attendance. CIF featured interactive STEM booths. Every CUSD school and most CTE programs were represented. CTE had a car show, computer science challenge using Microbit/Microbots, engineering boat races, culinary cooking demos, a sports medicine tape-off and quiz bowl, and a digital photography competition. Superintendent Camille Casteel was a keynote speaker and helped award more than 100 students for their science fair projects during the cornerstone event, the Hamilton Invitational Science and Engineering Fair (HISEF). Additionally, special awards were given to innovative projects in all event categories presented by Intel, Waymo, the City of Chandler, Grand Canyon University, Northrop Grumman, StateFarm, and SRP. The Chandler Innovation Fair wouldn't have been the success it was without the teachers, students, families, and community support. A special thank you to everyone involved.

Click below to check out our amazing student winners:

Three CUSD Schools Lauded for Civic Engagement

Basha High, Chandler High and Hamilton High were lauded recently for civic engagement. At an awards ceremony in March, the Arizona Department of Education designated Basha High an Arizona Civic Engagement School of Excellence, Chandler High an Arizona Civic Engagement School of Distinction, and Casteel High as an Arizona Civic Engagement School of Merit.

Auxier Elementary earns Lighthouse school status

Auxier Elementary - Auxier Elementary was named a "Lighthouse" school. The Leader in Me Lighthouse certification is a highly regarded recognition for outstanding achievement. Lighthouse Certification is evidence that Auxier has produced outstanding results in school and student outcomes, by implementing the Leader in process with fidelity and excellence. It is also evidence of the extraordinary impact that the school is having on staff, students, parents, and the community.

Basha and Chandler High Schools Named 2019 "Lead to Feed" Certified Schools

In March 2019, 38 middle and high school teams from across the nation were selected as winners of the seventh annual Lead2Feed Challenge earning grants for their team's nonprofit of choice. Through the Lead2Feed Student Leadership Program, students develop 21st century leadership skills and project based learning standards.

  • Basha High Early Childhood Education students developed and implemented a service learning project to bring art lessons to over 400 students at Bologna Elementary every quarter during the 2018-2019 school year. The Lead2Feed Student Leadership Program awarded a $500 charitable grant based on the outstanding work of the Basha High students. Mrs. Alexander and her students presented the check to the principal, Dr. Padilla, and students at Bologna Elementary.

  • Two Chandler High teams won $500 grants as part of the seventh annual Lead2Feed Challenge. The Chandler Crusaders (Early Childhood Ed classes) won $500 for the Chandler CARE Center. The Chandler Education Bandits (Paloma Ramirez, Victoria Seeman, and Lisette Meza) won $500 for Yuda Bands.

Shumway Awarded Arizona Exemplary Title I Program

Shumway Leadership Academy - Shumway was one of three Arizona Schools to earn the Arizona Exemplary Title I program award from the Arizona Department of Education:

“The school vision included providing an exceptional education for all students through nurturing individual greatness via purposeful, rigorous instruction and a focus on student leadership development. The mission is to provide a collaborative environment focused on the development of innovative leaders with strong character while ensuring learning for all.”

Four CUSD High Schools, Junior High Excel in State Pom, Cheer Competitions

Casteel High - Casteel Pom, coached by Rylee Sammons, won the AIA State Championship in Division II Pom small category for the second year in a row. The team demonstrated courage, character and commitment all throughout their season and it paid off.

Basha High - Basha High cheer team won the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) State competition in Division I Varsity Coed Cheer Small. Additionally, the Division I Varsity Coed Cheer Small and the Division I Varsity Dance Large team won at the Arizona State Cheer and Pom competition

Hamilton High - Hamilton Dance Company Varsity Jazz, and Varsity Hip Hop and the Hamilton Cheer Pomline, Varsity Pom (small), won state titles at the Arizona State Cheer and Pom competition. It was Hamilton's sixth straight win in the jazz competition.
Perry High - Perry High won the AIA cheer competition in Division I Varsity Cheer Large squad. This was the school's first state cheer championshop. In addition, the freshman "show cheer" team won at the Arizona State Cheer and Pom competition.
Santan Junior High - Santan Junior High cheer teams won the U.S.A. Championship in Anaheim, California in the "Show Cheer Advanced" and the "All Girl Stunt" team categories. The girls set goals and made them happen through determination and hard work.
Santan Junior High - Santan Junior High's Cheer team, coached by Chalene Baxter, Heather Kochanski and Dustin Santoni, won the State Championship for the fifth time in a row in the junior high division. They won in the “All Girl Stunt” team and “Show Cheer Large” categories.

Elementary Choral Festival

Chandler Unified School District - Twenty-one schools participated in the CUSD elementary choral festival at the Chandler Center for the Arts last week. Megan Vogus, choir teacher at Basha Elementary was key in organizing the event. This festival is a long running tradition music teachers at the elementary level have established to provide choir students with a chance to enrich their choral experience. The students attending were able to perform onstage at the Chandler Center for the Arts, work with a clinician on rehearsal techniques, learn choreography for a final performance, and sing in groups with students from other schools. They saw a performance done by several choirs from Perry High School, encouraging students to continue with choir at the secondary level.

Hamilton's Quizbowl team Wins Arizona Championship

Hamilton High - Hamilton High School’s Quizbowl Team, coached by Ed Anderson, wrapped up another spectacular season by finishing as Arizona Quizbowl State Champions on March 23. This team will compete for the 2019 High School National Championship Tournament (HSNCT) for the third straight year which will take place in Atlanta from May 24th to May 26th. Congratulations to all team members: Sherry Wang, Sreeharsha Lakamsani, Aditya Mehta, Sarah Zhang, Shawn Victor, Arthur Wang, Marco Pimentel, Arjun Gadiyar, Michael Chen and Omkar Arasaiah.
Hamilton Quizbowl Team

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Arizona Science and Engineering Fair

Although Chandler Unified educates only about 3% of the students in Arizona, CUSD students took home one third of the state’s Senior Division Best of Fair award-winning projects at the Arizona Science and Engineering Fair (AzSEF) held at the Phoenix Convention Center from April 4-5, 2019! Best of Fair winners from the Senior High Division go on to compete at the prestigious Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), which will be held in Phoenix this year from May 12-17, 2019.

AzSEF is the science and engineering fair for the state of Arizona and is managed by Arizona Science Center. AzSEF brings together hundreds of science fair first-place winners from across Arizona to compete for thousands of dollars in prizes and scholarships.

Click here to see the details about our fabulous schools and Science and Engineering Fair award-winning students.

Eight CUSD AzSEF Best of Fair (Senior Division)

winning students move on now to compete at the prestigious

International Science and Engineering Fair May 13-17:

  • Hamilton High - Abby Liu, Thalia Liu and Ella Ai won 1st Place in Senior Division: Biomedical and Health Sciences (BMED) and an AzSEF Grand Prize for their project titled Identifying Key Pathways/Mechanisms for the Generation of Pancreatic Beta Cells by Transdifferentiation of Acinar Cells: A Novel Treatment to Diabetes.

  • Hamilton High - Aris Zhu and Shreya Tripathi won 1st Place in Senior Division: Earth and Environmental Sciences (EAEV), the Association for Women Geoscientists award, Arizona Stockholm Jr. Water Prize and an AzSEF Grand Prize for their project titled Biochar Filtrate: A Novel Approach to Aqueous Lead Ion Absorption.

  • Hamilton High - Mindy Long won 1st Place in Senior Division: Embedded Systems (EBED) and an AzSEF Grand Prize for her project titled A Smartphone-Based, Point-of-Care Iron Sensor Utilizing Colorimetric Techniques.

  • Hamilton High - Shaun Victor won 1st Place in Senior Division: Microbiology (MCRO) and an AzSEF Grand Prize for his project titled Investigating the Role of G3BP in Poliovirus Induced Stress Granule Formation.

  • Perry High - Aidan Powers won 1st Place in Senior Division: Engineering Mechanics (ENMC) and AzSEF Grand Prize for his project titled How to Build a Ground Effect Vehicle.

Hamilton Girls Basketball Wins State

Hamilton High - Hamilton High's girls basketball team captured its second state title in four years Tuesday night by defeating Xavier College Prep of Phoenix, 45-33, in the 6A championship game at Wells Fargo Arena. The Huskies, under the direction of coach Trevor Neider, wrapped up a 26-5 season with nine straight wins, capturing the Premier Region title along the way.

Elementary Athletes Compete in Track and Field

Approximately 600 student-athletes turned out April 1 for the third annual Chandler Unified School District Elementary Track and Field meet at Perry High’s John Wrenn Stadium. Students advanced to the finals by competing in qualifying meets at local junior high schools. Parents and students arrived proudly wearing their school attire. Riggs Elementary captured the girls and boys team titles. Thank you to Boosterthon and the Chandler Education Foundation for sponsoring the event.

Click here for a photo album of the event.

ACP Oakland, Fulton Vex Robotics Teams Qualify for World Championships

Arizona College Prep - Oakland Campus - At the state championship, APCO teams 7830K and 7830C won the state tournament championship and team 7830A won the state excellence award. The three teams then traveled on to Louisville, Kentucky to compete at the VEX Worlds Competition. Congratulations to Sarah Gonzalez, Dylan Banhart, Grace Bui, Arhan Sankhla, Rahil Shah, Vishwa Annamalai, Doer He, Azeem Khan, Kabir Sahai, Michelle Chen, Ian Darcy, Noel Lockman, Andy Ma, Jocelyn Miao, and Coaches Kim Meyer and Carlie Moss.

Fulton Elementary - Robotics students Michael Stahl, Hannah Rahamim, and Cayden Thompson, coached by Lori Ruff, competed in the Arizona State VEX IQ Championship Elementary Division where they placed second to qualify to compete in the VEX World Championship Tournament in Louisville, Kentucky.

Basha Claims FCCLA State Awards, Heads to Nationals

Basha High - Basha students traveled to the FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America) State Competition in Tucson with 1,200 students from around the state. Every student placed either first or second in the state in their event category, earning a total of 11 GOLD medals and 1 SILVER medal! They will represent CUSD and AZFCCLA in Anaheim, CA at the FCCLA National Competition this summer.

Congratulations to Basha FCCLA State winners:

  • Sara Alexander - GOLD medal in Environmental Ambassador, Junior
  • Sebastian Dees and Neely Mack - GOLD medal in Chapter Service Project, Occupational
  • Kristina DeSantiago - GOLD medal in Promote and Publicize, Senior
  • Christina Jepsen and Lily Jensen - GOLD medal in Chapter in Review, Senior
  • Lewis Alexander, Elia Lopez, and Tanner Parvin - GOLD medal in National Programs in Action, Senior
  • Ella Kattelman - GOLD medal in Focus on Children, Senior
  • Rachel Colombo - GOLD medal in Environmental Ambassador, Occupational, and
  • Jared Alexander - SILVER medal in Interpersonal Communications, Junior

Chandler FCCLA Wins State

Chandler High - Chandler High Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) received seven gold medals for seven participants at FCCLA State Competition. The students worked so hard this year on their leadership projects, and six are headed to Nationals in Anaheim, California. Congratulations to Ariana Garcia, Lisette Meza, Paloma Ramirez, Marissa Palmerin, Valerie Valdez, Stevie Garcia, Yoana Katahoka, and their teacher Mrs. Christy Herndon!

Perry Theatre Takes State

Perry High - After competing in the Arizona Thespian Festival and the Central Arizona Festival for Theatre, Perry Theatre, under the direction of Shawna Marquis, won the state championship! The AIA Central Region Championship for the school year is determined by point accumulation throughout the year from State and Regional competitions. Honors include the 2018-2019 State All-Star Ranking, All-State School (top ranked program in the state for participation in Theatre Events within Arizona) and Gold Honor Troupe.

Basha High and Santan Junior High Winterguards State Champions

Basha High, Santan Junior High - Basha High winterguard groups Indoor Percussion Ensemble and Winter Winds, and Santan Junior High's Indoor Percussion Ensemble won state championships on March 29-30 at Arizona State University.

Hamilton Academic Decathlon State Champs

Hamilton High - For the first time in Hamilton history and after a nail-biting competition with the top two teams separated by only 9.1 points, our Academic Decathlon team won STATE and represented the Husky Nation at NATIONALS in Minneapolis at the end of April! Congratulations to the 2018-19 Hamilton STATE CHAMPIONS: Jake Nance, Aris Zhu, Jasmine Sun, Zuzia Stechly, Emma Keegan, Navaneeth Unnikrishnan, Emily Jefferson, Melina Chabolla, and Tyler Thornton.

At the international competition, Hamilton's team competed against 72 other teams from the US, the UK, and China. The Huskies made CUSD and Arizona proud by placing 3rd in the “Super Quiz Division 1” and 4th overall in the nation in Division 1 (7th overall at the international level).

International Competition Individual medals

  • Jake Nance: Bronze OVERALL, Gold in Science, Silver in Language and Literature, Silver in Music, Silver in Art and Bronze in Math
  • Jasmine Sun: Gold in Art, Silver in Interview, Bronze in Science, Bronze in Social Science and Bronze in Speech
  • Zuzia Stechly: Gold in Interview, Silver in Art and Bronze in Music
  • Emily Jefferson: Bronze in Lang and Literature
  • Melina Chabolla: Bronze in Interview

Casteel High School Band and Ensemble win the Gold

Casteel High - The Casteel High School Symphonic Band and Symphonic Percussion Ensemble, under the direction of Drew Eary, traveled to Chicago, Illinois to participate in the 2019 Heritage Music Festival. They earned first place wins with Gold and Silver Ratings.

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Santan National Plant Mash Up Contest Winner

Santan Junior High - Nathan Groenwold, seventh grader at Santan Junior High, won the runner-up prize for the National Plant Mash Up contest sponsored by Scholastic Books. He combined two plants into a hybrid, drew it, and explained the properties it has that will benefit others. Nathan won a $250 gift certificate to buy online Scholastic Books. Rhea Steyer, English Language Arts teacher, will also receive $500 to purchase Scholastic books for her language arts classroom thanks to Nathan.

Ethical Cadet Scholarship Winner from Basha High

Basha High - Basha High JROTC Cadet Emma Nelson is one of nine state-wide to receive a $1,000 scholarship from Salt River Project (SRP) and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) as part of the inaugural BBB Ethical Cadet Scholarship program.

Chandler High Athlete #1 ranked wrestler in U.S.

Stefana Jelacic, Chandler High junior and #1 ranked wrestler in the U.S., defeated #2 Vayle-Rae Baker (Benton, Pa.) as part of the NCAA Fan Festival held between sessions of the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Pittsburgh, PA on Saturday, March 23. Stefana is pictured with Coach Vidal Mejia.

CTA Humphrey student wins Regional Spelling Bee

Chandler Traditional Academy - Humphrey Campus - CTA Humphrey sixth grader Zakk Bolton won the regional spelling bee competition on Friday, Feb. 22. He won in the 26th round with the word "Sasquatch."

Junior Olympic Fencing Gold Medalist from CUSD

Chandler Online Academy, Hamilton High - Chandler Online Academy/Hamilton High School student Luke Linder won the 2019 Junior Olympic gold medal in Junior Men's Sabre Fencing. He is the #1 ranked cadet in the country and represented the United States at the Cadet World Championships in Torun, Poland in April.

Goodman Student Winner in Martin Luther King Contest

Chandler Traditional Academy - Goodman Campus - CTA Goodman second grader Bjorn Sinha is a winner in Arizona State University's 2019 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Contest. ASU received more than 1,950 entries this year. The theme, "Find Your Voice," inspired creative artistry from students throughout the state. Way to go, Bjorn!

Santan Junior High Art and Essay Contest Winner

Santan Junior High - Seventh grader Alex Coles won the Phoenix Suns and Southwest "Heart of Freedom" Essay and Poster Contest. By winning this year's Phoenix Suns & Southwest Airlines "Heart of Freedom" Art and Essay contest, he and one parent won an all-expense paid trip to Houston, Texas.

Two CUSD Students named Flinn Scholars

The Flinn Scholarship is a highly competitive, merit-based scholarship with a value that exceeds $120,000. Flinn Scholars thrive in the classroom and maintain purposeful involvement in extracurricular activities. They assume leadership roles at their high schools and in their communities. Find out more about the Flinn Scholarship Program here.

Chandler High - 2019 Flinn Scholar Anna Iverson has maintained a 4.6 GPA while participating in soccer, drama, and student council. Additionally, she volunteers with a number of outside agencies. She will attend the University of Arizona next fall to study nursing

Basha High - 2019 Flinn Scholar Katie Pascavis teaches younger students and leads community service efforts in 4-H and National Honor Society. She spreads her passion for STEM as a Basha Chief Science Officer and member of the Science is Fun and Girl STEMpowerment programs. She will attend Arizona State University Barrett Honors College majoring in Mechanical Engineering.

Chandler High State Champ Heads on to Nationals

Chandler High - Kable Moore, Chandler High freshman, became the Trampoline and Tumbling State Champion in three events: Level 5 tumbling, Level 8 double mini and Level 8 trampoline. Kable's scores on double mini have earned him a spot at Junior Olympic Nationals in July.

Payne Basketball Champion

Payne Junior High - Payne student Barron Silsby made 24 out of 25 shots at the Region 7 Elks Hoop Shoot Championship in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 9 and is now a four-time state champion in his division! Barron then went on to compete at the national competition in Chicago in April.

Hamilton Student national 1st place winner in LEED Dream Home Design

Hamilton High - Hamilton High school student Sophie Aprotosoaie-Kardos, under the direction of instructor James Flannery, won first place in the national LEED Dream Home design contest. She was awarded a laptop for her design.
1st Place Winning Design by Sophie Aprotosoaie-Kardos

Casteel Senior placed in Top 10 at International DECA Competition

Casteel High - Senior Sam Perez placed in the top 10 in the “Professional Selling” category at the International DECA competition in Orlando, Florida last week. He competed against more than 200 students from around the world. Additionally, he was the only student in CUSD to move onto finals, and one of about 15 students from Arizona to make it to the top 10.

AJHS Student Named City of Chandler Student of Year

Andersen Junior High - Andersen Junior High student Cole Stockstad was selected by the Mayor's Committee on Disabilities as the Chandler Student of the Year. Every year, the Committee selects students who have demonstrated outstanding achievements in the Chandler special needs community for their hard work and contributions. Cole was honored by the mayor at a ceremony at the Chandler City Council Chambers on March 11.

Cole has received dozens of Chandler Special Olympics medals, participating in basketball, soccer, track and swimming. He plays clarinet in the school band and is an active member of student council, book club and anime club. He enters the school’s talent show each year, last year winning 3rd place. Cole is also a #StopBullying advocate and an advocate for himself and others with disabilities.

Speech and Debate State Champions from CUSD

  • Arizona College Prep - Erie Campus - In the AIA State - Division II Speech and Debate competition, Natasha Zimmerman won the state championship in the Original Oratory category, and Parsa Amini won in the Lincoln Douglas Debate. Natasha and Parsa are both coached by Norm Rumsey.

  • Hamilton High - In the AIA State - Division I Speech and Debate competition, Aatmik Mallya, under the direction of Gina Meade, was named state champion in the Lincoln Douglas Debate. Aatmik also won awards at the Arizona National Speech and Debate Association District Tournament and in the National Speech and Debate Association District Tournament. The Hamilton Speech and Debate team also won Sweepstakes plaque, First place.

Hamilton Scholastic Art & Writing National Award Recipients

Hamilton High - Grace Zhang received two Regional Gold Keys (1st place) in the 2019 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards for her Poetry submissions titled Musings on the Pledge and Color Me. Grace was also awarded a Silver Medal in Poetry at the national level for Color Me.

Hamilton High - Kaitlyn Zhang received two Regional Gold Keys (1st place) in the 2019 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards for her Mixed Media submissions titled When Will Freedom Come? and Innocence. Kaitlyn was also awarded a Silver Medal in Mixed Media at the national level for When Will Freedom Come?

Basha AMS Student Fosters Cyber Bullying Awareness

Basha Accelerated Middle School - Out of more than 1,200 entries in the 2019-2020 Kids Safe Online Cyber Security Awareness Calendar contest, Basha Accelerated Middle School student Isabel Estrada was selected to be in the 2019-2020 Arizona Cyber Security Calendar.

Interactive Media and Game Design Winner from Chandler Early College

Chandler Early College - Theodore "Teddy" Ruth, student studying Information Technology and Engineering Careers (iTEC) at Chandler Early College, recently competed in the Interactive Media and Game Design Competition at the SkillsUSA Arizona Championships. He and his partner from EVIT (East Valley Institute of Technology) took first place in the state. In June, both now move forward to compete at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference competition in Kentucky.

Galveston Wins First Lego League Robotics Contest

Galveston Elementary - Congratulations to Alonda Barocio, Ester Jimenez, Emanuel Jiemenz, Angelo Fimbres, Gregorio Hernandez and Jesus Gutierrez of the Galveston Team All-a-bot-it sponsored by Dana Shaw, First Lego League Robotics Competition winners at the 2019 Chandler Innovation Fair.

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Chandler High School Receives Athletic Honors

Chandler High - Congratulations to Mr. Jim Culver who was selected as the A.I.A. (Arizona Interscholastic Association) Premier Region Athletic Director of the Year. Chandler High was also awarded the A.I.A. 6A Premier Region Sportsmanship Award.

Basha Elementary Teacher Awarded Silver Apple

Basha Elementary - Basha Elementary fifth grade teacher Beth Northrop was recently named a Silver Apple award recipient by AZfamily. Beth has provided tutoring for student, Kameron Sherman, for two years as he received treatment for his first and second battle with cancer. As a two-time survivor herself, Beth Northrop has forged a life-long relationship with the family.

CUSD Community Education Receives State Recognition

Chandler Unified School District - Director of Community Education Steve Hewitt was named the Arizona Community Educator of the Year by the Arizona Community Education Association in April. Congratulations also to CTA Independence Kids Express, which was named the Program of the Year and Janella Flores Rodriguez, Kids Express worker at Hancock Elementary, who was named the Program Line Staff - Rookie of the Year.

Sports Hall of Fame Inductees from CUSD

Basha High, Chandler High and Hamilton High - Chandler Sports Hall of Fame recognizes four from CUSD. Lance Michel, athletic trainer and sports medicine teacher at Hamilton High, will be among four people from CUSD inducted into the Chandler Sports Hall of Fame. The 15th annual induction will also include Hamilton High grad and current Los Angeles Dodger Cody Bellinger, Chandler High product and current Seattle Seahawk Dion Jordan and Basha High grad and current minor leaguer in the Arizona Diamondbacks system Jamie Westbrook.

Auxier Principal Recognized by County as Exemplary

Auxier Elementary - Auxier Elementary Principal Tony Smith was surprised on May 2 with the news that he was named a 2019 Exemplary Principal by the Maricopa County School Superintendent’s office. His staff pulled him outside with the “ruse” that there was snake needing to be chased away.

Click here to watch the Facebook video.

Tony Smith, Auxier Principal

National Coach of the Year Finalist from Perry High

Perry High - Lerina Johnson of Perry High School is a finalist for the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Coach of the Year. She is one of eight finalists from across the nation. Lerina was nominated by her state peers.

Santan Junior High Teacher National Math Presenter

Santan Junior High - Santan Junior High eighth grade teacher Megan Jeffers was selected as a presenter at the National Excellence in Mathematics Conference at Chandler-Gilbert Community College on March 2. She is the only non-collegiate presenter selected. Megan will be presenting to at least 70 teachers in two different sessions on how to integrate tools/technology into lessons.

Chandler German Teacher Southwest Teacher of Year

Chandler High - Mrs. Melanie Mello, Chandler High German teacher, has been selected as the Southwest Conference on Language Teaching 2019 Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Mello recently competed against twelve other candidates from other southwestern states in Fort Worth, Texas and ultimately was selected as the Southwestern States Teacher of the Year Representative. Melanie is one of five finalists who will compete for the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages National Teacher of the Year Award this November in Washington, DC.

Bologna Teacher Selected for We the People Institute

Bologna Elementary - Bologna Elementary fifth grade teacher Sundra Nickerson was chosen as one of 15 applicants in Arizona invited to attend the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution Arizona Summer Institute.

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The Si Se Puede Foundation announced the Educator of the Year Award winners for 2019. They were recognized at the Annual Educators of the Year Awards Dinner on April 13 at the Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino.

Kathy English

Hamilton High - Congratulations to Hamilton teacher Kathy English who was named a Si Se Puede Foundation Educator of the Year winner for 2019. Kathy, an English Language Development teacher, earned her master's degree in English as a Second Language (ESL) from Arizona State University in 2005, and a degree in elementary education in 2003. Prior to that, she studied at Illinois State University, where she attained a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science.

Deb Mitchell

Chandler High - Congratulations to Ms. Deb Mitchell who was named a Si Se Puede Foundation's 2019 Educator of the Year. Deb has been at Chandler High for seven years, though she has been in education 34 years. Deb has a passion for helping students realize their full potential. She approaches students’ education with an open heart and earnest desire to help them see what they can accomplish. Not only does she guide students in the classroom, she introduces them to outside resources, gets them involved in the community, and pushes them to be productive and prosperous citizens.

Margie Chamalbide

Chandler High School - Congratulations to Mrs. Margie Chamalbide, winner of the Si Se Puede Foundation's 2019 Champion for Education award. Margie been at Chandler High for the last 10 years and has served in the district for 39 years. Every single day Margie can be overheard encouraging a student to meet his/her educational goals in high school so that they may pursue higher education. Statements such as “what you do now here will determine what your future will hold,” “I can’t wait to see what you accomplish when you finish your college education,” “you absolutely HAVE to go to college to ensure your and your family’s future” are heard every day as she works with students.

Katie Shaffer

Willis Junior High - Congratulations to Katie Shaffer who was named a Si Se Puede Foundation Educator of the Year winner for 2019. Katie is an English Language Learner teacher at Willis Junior High. She received her Master's Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Michigan in 2005. Katie also has an undergraduate degree in Management Information Systems. She has taught in CUSD for many years, primarily working in early education, but she made the move to Willis Junior High in 2018.

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School Program Highlights

Biophysics Pipeline to ASU Established at ACP Erie

Arizona College Prep - Erie Campus - FLINN foundation has provided ACP Erie and ASU a grant of $5,000 to fund a collaborative effort to create a pipeline for biophysics students from K-12 schools to ASU, the first program of its kind. Mrs. Rachna Nath is working with Dr. Abhishek Singharoy at ASU to create a biophysics chapter at ACP Erie. Students in the program will be able to access ASU computers remotely and work on designing computer models of molecules.
ACP Erie Students presenting at Conference about Biophysics Pipeline

Andersen Junior High ThinSat Launched!

Andersen Junior High - Northrop Grumman (previously Orbital) launched the Antares rocket last week. Andersen Junior High was the only school in Arizona selected to participate in the ThinSat Program, guaranteeing them a spot on this rocket launch. The rocket will release the satellite to orbit Earth for five to ten days, collecting data on atmospheric pressure, temperature, velocity, altitude, and UV light. Students in Joe Badala's class launched prototypes on a helium balloon on campus to collect low atmospheric data. Gearing up for this rocket launch, students conducted a series of these launches, tethering some balloons and releasing others. They also sent a prototype on a weather balloon.

Watch the launch here: NASA-TV Wallops video website: Antares Launch, April 17, 2019

ThinSat from Andersen Junior High launched

Basha Elementary Media Club Studies Journalism

Basha Elementary - The Media Club of Basha Elementary visited the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism in downtown Phoenix.
Basha Media Club at Cronkite News

Haley Drama Club Performs Seussical!

Haley Elementary - The Haley Drama Club put on a great performance of Seussical Jr. and were featured on Fox 10 News.
Haley Drama Club presents Seussical, Jr.

Schools Celebrate Read Across America, Literacy Week, Cultural Days and More!

Andersen Elementary - Andersen Elementary celebrated Character Day for the beginning of literacy week in March. Kindergartners dressed the part!

Hull Elementary - Hull students engaged in lots of Read Across America activities during the first week of March to celebrate reading. Click here for the Hull Read Across America Celebration photo album.

Elite Performance Academy - CTA Humphrey/Elite Performance Academy held a "Dental Health Awareness Assembly" in February. The students had fun learning all about dental health.

Conley Elementary - Conley hosted its first International Day on March 28. Students performed song and dance, created artwork inspired from around the world, and researched and presented different nationalities. Conley families proudly displayed their cultures and stamped student passports. The richness of Conley's diversity brought students, staff, and the community together!

Garden Club at Hancock

Hancock Elementary - Patty Chambers' gardening club at Hancock Elementary is learning how to grow their own vegetables. Most recently, their crop consisted of radishes and lettuce.

San Marcos Preschool Learns to Eat Healthy

San Marcos Elementary - San Marcos preschool and pre-K classrooms received a visit from the Arizona Health Zone to learn about the benefits of eating healthy veggies. They had a chance to create art with the veggies and taste their veggie creations.

"Secret Agent" Test Detectives at Weinberg

Weinberg Elementary - Weinberg third graders in Juli Harpole's class were "Secret Agent Detectives" for testing. They created "clue" briefcases to help them remember how to find the clues in the AzMERIT test!

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Chandler Youth Volunteer of the Year from ACP Erie

Arizona College Prep - Erie Campus - ACP Erie junior Elaina Ashton was recognized by the City of Chandler at the Chandler Center for the Arts on February 7 with the "Youth Volunteer Award" for her efforts related after-school STEM programs through the YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs, and Girl Scout teams to name a few. She also serves on Governor Ducey's STEM advisory council as the Chief Science Officer.

Student Council Convention Benefits Chandler Family Advocacy Center

CUSD student councils convened Friday, February 15 to show off their spirit and celebrate the hard work to benefit the Chandler Family Advocacy Center. The schools collaborated to raise nearly $13,000. The theme this year was "Leaders Tell a Tale."

Click here for a photo album of the event.

Leaders Tell a Tale

Santan Junior Service Club Assists Foster Children

Santan Junior High - Santan Junior High's Service Club partnered with the #LoveUp Foundation to collect hygiene supplies for foster children. They collected more than 2,000 donation items and were able to pack more than 150 bags to give to foster children.

CUSD Bus Driver starts Community Book Drive

Chandler Unified School District - Tonya Lawson, CUSD bus driver, recently collected books from the community to have for all the kids on her bus route. Her original intent was to motivate the kids to behave, but it has turned into a huge gift for the kids, encouragement and recognition to them all. She stated the rewards are working well, it is especially heartwarming to see the older kids read to the younger kids.

Hamilton Gala Benefits Homeless Families

Hamilton High - Hamilton High's one-in-four benefit gala on February 8 had approximately 120 attendees from Hamilton, local businesses and the Chandler community. The gala was held at a private residence and raised funds for the Hamilton High homeless fund, which exists to provide students and their families with financial and crisis support intervention and resources.

Tarwater Student Wins Youth Echo Award

Tarwater Elementary - Sixth grader John Davis received the 2019 Youth Echo Award presented by DMB Community Life and Eastmark Subdivision. This award is given to outstanding youth that have dedicated their life to helping others. In addition to receiving a certificate, John received donations (lemon juice, cups and sugar) towards his annual lemonade stand. Profits from the stand will be donated to a local non-profit organization. Thank you, John, for your dedication to helping others in our community!

Jacobson 6th Graders "Walk for Wells"

Jacobson Elementary - Students from Mrs. Gahn's 6th Grade class participated in a "Walk for Wells" event! Each student walked three miles while carrying a gallon of water. After a semester long unit about learning about the impact of water on the lives of all people and the effects that culture and social norms can play in the shaping of one's identity, the students were inspired to create a fundraiser. The students wanted to raise enough money to help provide access to wells and clean water for the people of South Sudan. So far, Gahn's Gorillas have raised over $500!

CUSD Director Participates in Rotary Polio Effort

Terry Locke, director of Community Relations, recently traveled to ejidos (communal farming land) outside of Caborca, Mexico with Rotarians from five states to provide polio plus vaccinations to children under the age of 5.

"I Ran 4 Ira" Fundraiser Successful at Riggs

Riggs Elementary - Riggs staff recently participated in the "I Ran 4 Ira" event at Seville Country Club. This fun 5K walk/run and pancake breakfast event supports 3rd grade Riggs' student Ira Hamilton. The funds help to pay for Ira's intense 3-4 week therapy camp at the VIP Neurorehabilitation Center in California. The Riggs community is "Ira Strong." Over $20,000 were raised this year -- enough for Ira to attend her specialized therapy AND have enough funds to fulfill special grant requests to help other kids as well.

Ryan "Project Linus" Donates Blankets for sick children, trauma victims

Ryan Elementary - For the fifth year in a row, Ryan Elementary 6th grade classes teamed up and collected over $300 to buy fleece blanket kits. They made 62 blankets to donate to Project Linus. This organization gives new, homemade, blankets to children who are sick or who have experienced trauma.

CUSD Relay for Life Teams raise over $33,000 for American Cancer Society

Several CUSD teams participated in the Relay for Life of Chandler to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Overall, CUSD teams raised more than $33,000. Notably, the two Payne Junior High students and alumni, with the help of Big-O Tire, were able to raise more than $16,000! (That's the 3rd highest amount raised out of 40 teams.) Additionally, Carlson Elementary raised $7,829, Riggs Roadrunners raised $4,171 and Casteel High school staff raised $2,255.

Click here to see the list of all the teams and amounts raised.

Payne Junior High's Amazing Relay for Life Team

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Partnerships Spotlight

Community Partnerships - Spotlight on For Our City Chandler

Part of what makes Chandler Unified School District great is our partnerships with so many outstanding community organizations that inspire, involve and impact our students, staff and district. In this issue of CUSD News, we recognize and celebrate these valuable partnerships with a spotlight on Four Our City Chandler.
For Our City Chandler began its mission ten years ago based on the idea that all of us working together can do more than each of us working alone, and with less duplication of efforts and overlap. From Operation Back to School and holiday drives to the ChangeUp Campaign, the City of Chandler works in collaboration with businesses, nonprofits and faith-based groups to leverage resources and serve Chandler residents in need.

Chandler Unified School District is grateful and proud to partner with For Our City Chandler annually to host the biggest back-to-school donation drive for Chandler students in need. Chandler K-12 students can receive backpacks filled with school supplies, clothing, information on free after school programs, giveaways and more. This year's Operation Back to School will be held on July 20 at Chandler High School, from 6:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Scroll down to Upcoming Events for all the details, or click here for a flyer in English and Spanish.

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Upcoming Events

Open Enrollment, Kindergarten/Preschool Registration


Register now for Summer Break CUSD Community Education Intersession Camps.

May 6-10

National Teacher Appreciation Week

May 7

National Teacher Day

May 8

National School Nurse Day

May 18

Teen lifeline sticker placement on CUSD buses

CUSD Auxiliary facility at Perry High School

8 - 10 a.m.

CUSD C.A.R.E.S. (Connect Act Receive Empower Serve)

Student Wellness Initiative

The Department of Counseling and Social Services in collaboration with Chandler Education Foundation and BSN Sports and CUSD community members will be placing Teen Lifeline information on all school buses to support access to help for our students. Come show your support for our students and place stickers on the inside of our buses!

Address and Map:

CUSD Auxiliary facility at

Perry High School
4871 S. Key Biscayne Dr.
Gilbert, AZ 85298

(All parking in the SW corner parking lot)

Interested? Click here for the Facebook Event.

Class of 2019 - Graduation Ceremonies

May 23

Hill Learning Academy - ICAN Graduation Celebration
Chandler Center for the Arts

Ceremony starts at 5 p.m.

Chandler Early College Graduation Celebration

Chandler Gilbert Community College Pavillion

Starts at 6 p.m.

Hill Learning Academy - Main Campus Graduation Celebration

Chandler Center for the Arts

Ceremony starts at 7 p.m.

May 28

Chandler Online Academy Graduation Celebration

Chandler Center for the Arts Recital Hall

Starts at 6 p.m.

Perry High Graduation Celebration

Wells Fargo Arena, ASU

Starts at 6 p.m.

May 29

Hamilton High Graduation Celebration

Wells Fargo Arena, ASU

Starts at 2:30 p.m.

ACP Erie Graduation Celebration

Chandler Center for the Arts

Starts at 5 p.m.

Basha High Graduation Celebration

Wells Fargo Arena, ASU

Starts at 7:30 p.m.

Chandler High Graduation Celebration

Austin Field at Chandler High

Starts at 8 p.m.

Casteel High Graduation Celebration

Joel Wirth Stadium at Casteel High

Starts at 8 p.m.

OPERATION Back to School Chandler, For Our Students

July 20

Chandler High School

6:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.

The biggest back-to-school donation drive for Chandler students is back this year! Chandler K-12 students in need can receive backpacks/supplies as well as, shoes, uniforms, socks and underwear (as they last). Additionally there will be information on free after school programs and giveaways!

Please use this checklist to ensure you are prepared July 20:

  • I will bring a previous report card or enrollment form to confirm
  • attendance at Chandler schools OR I will bring a current utility bill to confirm Chandler residence.
  • My child/children will be present at event.
  • Parents/Guardians should bring some form of ID for themselves as well.

Online applications for free or reduced priced meals for the FY 19-20 school year will be available - with staff available to assist. Visit for more information.

Organized by: AZCEND, CARE Center, Chandler High School, Chandler Unified School District, Fans Across America, CrossRoads Nazarene Church, Chandler Neighborhood Resources, ICAN, East Valley JCC, Goodwill, Chandler LDS Church, Gear-up Promotions, Matthew's Crossing Food Bank Chandler Service Club, Maricopa Intergrated Health Systems, Shear Outreach and Salvation Army

July 23 (Tuesday)

First Day of School for Students

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Your Many Choices in Chandler Unified