PXU Newsletter September 2023
Welcome Back, PXU Family!
Now that we have a month of the 2023-2024 school year completed, we are excited to share incredible news from across the District. We are proud of our accomplishments over the past month, and are hopeful for the good news that is to come this year. Let's make history together this year, PXU Family!
Bioscience Ranks High Nationally and Locally in U.S. News Best High Schools List
Bioscience High School earned high national and local rankings in the 2023-2024 U.S. News Best High Schools list. Here are the rankings Bioscience earned from U.S. News:
- #359 in National Rankings
- #14 in Arizona Schools
- #10 in Phoenix, AZ Metro Area High Schools
- #1 in Phoenix Union High School District Schools
Congratulations on this huge accomplishment, Bioscience! Click the button below to see the full U.S. News page on Bioscience's rankings:
Phoenix Coding Academy Alumni Complete Apprenticeship Program at Kudelski Group
Phoenix Coding Academy has partnered with Kudelski Security to provide an apprenticeship for Coding students over the last four years. Two of their graduates, Noemi Caballero and Parker Horejs, spoke in Washington D.C. as part of a celebration by the U.S. Dept. of Labor recognizing Kudelski for their success with the European high school apprenticeship model to Phoenix and Coding Academy. Recently, Kudelski, alongside Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs, hosted a reception to celebrate the two of them for being the first individuals to complete this apprenticeship program. They have been offered jobs with the company starting at a little over $100K annual salary.
Congratulations to Noemi and Parker! We are so pleased to see our alumni accomplishing amazing things in college, career, and life post-Phoenix Union.
Melody Khayduangta Among Top 15 Arizona Teacher of the Year Candidates
PXU would like to congratulate Melody Khayduangta, math teacher at Cesar Chavez, for being among the top 15 candidates for Arizona Teacher of the Year. She was awarded Special Recognition as a quarterfinalist. We are proud to have incredible representation on a statewide level!
Melody Khayduangta, a highly accomplished international educator with 19 years of experience teaching math, prioritizes student-centered learning, tailoring pedagogy to individual needs and fostering engagement, collaboration, and inclusivity in the classroom. She teaches statistics and geometry at Cesar Chavez High School, Laveen, Arizona. She holds a Certificate in Teaching Mathematics, a Master of Arts in Teaching Mathematics from Philippine Normal University, and a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Education from Bulacan Agricultural State College.
Ms. Khayduangta's dedication to excellence garners recognition and awards. She was named Palo Verde's Campus Teacher of the Year in 2019 and was a semi-finalist for Teacher of the Year in the Tucson Unified School District. Her exceptional work earned her a nomination for the EOS Education Innovative Educator Leader award in her first year at PXU Phoenix Union High School district.
Beyond her teaching role, Ms. Khayduangta actively leads the Advisory Steering Committee and the Geometry Professional Learning Community while contributing to two clubs and four committees. Expanding her leadership, she moderates the Teaching and Learning Framework course in PXU, aiming to impact more educators, building on her previous roles as a TREC Tucson Regional Educator Collaborative teacher leader and Community of Practice facilitator at Tucson. She significantly contributes to education, fostering growth and resilience among educators.
Ms. Khayduangta's passion for education, expertise, and extensive experience have earned her recognition for exceptional contributions, dedication, and impact on students and educators. She has become an invaluable asset, solidifying her influential status through a commitment to excellence.
US Senator Mark Kelly Visits The Academies at South Mountain
Strive for Less than Five: National Attendance Awareness Month
September is National Attendance Awareness Month! As you know, at the beginning of the year PXU launched our Strive for Less than Five campaign encouraging our students to have less than five absences each semester. We also launched the Strive For Five campaign at Phoenix Digital Academy, to promote online class engagement five hours, five days a week each quarter. Since the launch of both campaigns, we have seen amazing things happening at each campus. Both students and parents/guardians have received a variety of information about our attendance expectations and new initiatives. Keep up the good work!
This month, we ask our staff to heighten attendance awareness efforts and continue to remind students and parents/guardians how important it is to attend school and be present each day. You can find many attendance tips, tools, and resources on the Attendance Works website: https://www.attendanceworks.org/.
Thank you for your ongoing support and all you do for our beautiful and incredible students.
PXU recently launched a safety tip line for non-emergencies. This hotline is completely confidential, and a way for students, staff, families, and the community to communicate to the District regarding safety on our campuses. If you see something, say something. Dial 602-764-SAFE (7233) to report any safety non-emergencies.
Cyndy Tercero Receives Profiles of Success Community Leadership Award
Cyndi Tercero (pictured above), Family and Community Engagement Manager and one of PXU's District-wide Employees of the Year was selected as a recipient of the Profiles of Success Community Leadership Award from Valle del Sol. She will be honored at an event on September 15. Congratulations, Ms. Tercero!
Click the button below to read more about Ms. Tercero's award and the ceremony related to it:
Chavez Hosts the AASC Spirit Leadership Conference
Cesar Chavez High School recently hosted the AASC Spirit Leadership Conference (pictures above) and had schools from across the district and state in attendance. The Conference was a huge success and Chavez did an incredible job representing our district through this event. Congratulations, Chavez Student Government!
Dr. Wendy Truvillion Attends World Athletics Championships in Budapest
Dr. Wendy Truvillion (pictured above) recently made the trip to Budapest, Hungary to serve as a United States Event Manager for the World Championship team. While there, she was in charge of managing athlete check-in, supervising athlete practice sessions, and event day management at the warm up track.
Congratulations on this amazing opportunity, Dr. T! Thank you for representing us well.
North High School Alum Abdi Nur Competes at World Athletic Championships
North High School Class of 2017 Alum Abdi Nur won First Place in the National Track and Field Championships and recently competed at the World Athletic Championships in Budapest, Hungary. Abdi got his start on the North High School Cross Country Team.
What incredible international representation! Great job, Abdi! Click the button below for Abdi's statistics at the World Athletic Champtionships:
Kennett Ho Interviewed by ABC 15
Kennett Ho, Senior in the Maryvale Gifted and Talented program, was recently interviewed for his participation in a coding program. He is currently interning with Coding in Color to run hackathons and encourage other students of color to explore STEM fields.
Click the button below to view the ABC 15 interview with Kennett.
Alhambra Hosts Refugee Resource Fair
Alhambra High School recently hosted a successful Refugee Resource Fair in connection with the IRC. They had nearly 30 vendors present and roughly 250 visitors utilizing the resources available. They even had ELD students present assisting with translations. Congratulations on the successful event, Alhambra!
Cesar Chavez Drumline Performs at Fiesta Bowl Kickoff Luncheon
As the team over at the Fiesta Bowl prepares for their season, they had the pleasure of viewing the Cesar Chavez Drumline's (Pictured Above) performance at their Kickoff Luncheon. The Chavez Drumline helped get the attendees excited for the season, and received much praise in the process.
Congratulations, Chavez Drumline!
Central's Global Studies Program
After being suspended by COVID, Central High School’s Global Studies Program is set to resume its international hosting and travel (Picture above). Central will host five students and one teacher-chaperone from Kotogaoka High School in Himeji, Japan. Central and Kotogaoka have had a sister school relationship for nearly thirty years.
While they are here, the Japanese students and teacher-chaperone will visit Sedona, Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon, and the Musical Instrument Museum. They will also work and interact with Japanese language students at Central and Fairfax.
A group of Central students will go to Himeji sometime in Spring 2024 to enjoy their sister school’s hospitality.
Betty Fairfax RESPECT Mural
On May 31st, professional artist Lalo Cota added the finishing touches to the Fairfax RESPECT Mural. The project transformed a large dull gray wall at the student drop off area to a beautiful and inviting mural that the school, community, and district can be proud of. Fairfax Key Club, Beautify the Valley Squad, and teachers (Debbie Kunes, Jeff Kunes, and Candace Greene) are responsible for organizing this amazing event/creation. Visual artist, Lucretia Torva, contributed her talent and time.
Fairfax students, faculty, community volunteers, Laveen Kiwanis, and Beautify the Valley Squad started the mural and created kindness cards for local shelters and removed trash along 59th avenue with the City of Phoenix Street Adoption. Fairfax Advanced Art students (Ayanna Cruz Martinez, Jhyromy Silva, Raheek Aljnabi, and Rosie Garcia) contributed a huge amount of time and effort in the completing of the mural.
Trevor G. Browne's Auto Tech Program Statistics
Trevor G. Browne's Auto Tech Program had incredible statistics for the 2022-2023 school year. They were among the top 30% of programs in the state. See above for their stats. Congratulations, TGB Auto Tech! We cannot wait to see how you perform this year.
North High School International Baccalaureate Summer Spotlights
Mr. Michael Perry, International Baccalaureate Program Director, put together an incredible feature of what some of the IB learners at North were up to this summer. Click the button below to see what the learners were doing:
Striving to create Students who are ready for College, Career, and Life has been Sergeant First Class (Retired) Daryl Yost's mission for that last 12 years as a JROTC Instructor at Maryvale. For the past two summers, SFC Yost voluntarily conducted a 4-week JROTC camp in July for incoming Freshmen. This year, a total of 30 students attended, including Cadet leaders, who volunteer their time to be assistant instructors (pictures above).
The camp provides an opportunity for students to bond, connect to the Panther Nation and learn new skills that will give them a head start when school begins. Students learn introduction to leadership, drill and ceremony, and receive one-on-one mentorship by their squad leaders. The camp concludes with an award ceremony with parents and family members in attendance, followed by a reception in the JROTC building. SFC Yost's self-less service has inspired many students throughout the years, and he has earned great respect from his peers and leaders alike. PXU Superintendent, Ms. Thea Andrade mentioned his name during our convocation for SY 23-24 as a "warm demander" and he really fits squarely into that category of educators.
Metro Tech Alumna Paulina Garibay Jaquez's RoboSub Competition Success
Metro Tech alumna Paulina Garibay Jaquez (pictured above), an engineering student at ASU, recently finished competing in the Global RoboSub competition. Her team, The Desert W.A.V.E., a team consisting of all women engineers, just finished 1st in the United States and 4th globally. She outreached to Metro Tech to inform them of her good news and let them know how crucial Metro Tech was in her success post-high school. Congratulations, Paulina! We are very proud of your achievements.
PXU Students Play on Arizona Diamondbacks Nike RBI Team
The Arizona Diamondbacks Nike RBI team traveled to Seattle Washington for the RBI West Regionals and won the Championship vs. the LA Dodgers RBI to earn a spot in the RBI World Series in Vero Beach Florida. In Dodgertown, the AZ Dbacks made it to the semifinals before losing to the Houston Astros RBI. The AZ Dbacks RBI team consisted of all PXU student-athletes from various schools.
The roster is listed below:
- #2 Jose Escalante Alhambra
- #3 Adolfo Pacheco Chavez
- #6 Xavier Lopez Chavez
- #7 Jesus Reyes Maryvale
- #9 Brandon Ramirez Alhambra
- #11 Brian Munoz North
- #12 Paul Robles North
- #13 Francisco Murrieta Alhambra
- #16 Angel Aguilar North
- #21 Robert Sahuaqui Chavez
- #23 Daniel Alaniz Fairfax
- #24 Kevin Montes Fairfax
- #34 Angel Valenzuela North
- #44 Jesus Encinas Maryvale
- #99 Jaidan Tafoya Chavez
- Armando Tellez Fairfax
- JD Ramirez Camelback
Congratulations to all of our athletes and our coaches!
Britny Delp and Milt Johnson Among ASU Impact Corps Members
Britny Delp and Milt Johnson from Bioscience High School were selected and celebrated as members of ASU's Impact Corps this summer. The ASU Impact Corps is a group of teachers making a meaningful impact on their students and communities. Their Center has identified a group of public high schools in AZ whose graduates go on to achieve high rates of successful outcomes in specific subject disciplines in Arizona’s universities. ASU invited the teachers in these subjects at these schools to join the ASU Impact Corps. ASU Impact Corps members are from public high schools of all types in Arizona and represent bright spots in our state’s public high school system.
Read more about the ASU Impact Corps and what they have completed by clicking the button below:
Maryvale Students Selected to Join NEEL Honor Society
Maryvale High School had six students during Spring 2023 that were selected to join the National Education Equity Lab Honor Society for being among the top scholars in their College-In-High School class. The students are as follows:
- Andrew Elzalde, Poetry in America: Foundations of American Literature at Arizona State University, Top 10%
- Annalie Espinoza Salcido, Poetry in America: Foundations of American Literature at Arizona State University, Top 5%
- Jesus Lopez, Poetry in America: Foundations of American Literature at Arizona State University, Top 15%
- Dayanara Miranda Reyes, Poetry in America: Foundations of American Literature at Arizona State University, Top 20%
- Rhenea Moraza, Poetry in America: Foundations of American Literature at Arizona State University, Top 20%
- Jeremiah Pardo, Poetry in America: Foundations of American Literature at Arizona State University, Top 20%
Congratulations to them for their achievement!
Strive for Less than Five/Strive for Five Hours, Five Days a Week
On July 25th, Student Liaisons from across PXU (pictured above) participated in their annual school year kick-off event at Phoenix Coding Academy. The day was filled with going over several new PXU attendance initiatives, including the Strive for Less than Five absences per semester (most campuses) and Strive For Five hours, Five days a week (Phoenix Digital) attendance campaigns. Student Liaisons from Central, Alhambra, Betty Fairfax and Cesar Chavez trained their team members on updated resources Student Liaisons use to monitor student attendance, make connections with students and families, and of course dropout prevention work. The team also welcomed Aresenio Manuel, Medical Magnet Manager at Alhambra High School, who presented attendance campaign specifics.
Student Liaisons work tirelessly to prevent chronic absenteeism. Some of their interventions include student check-ins, parent/guardian phone calls, attendance contracts, and home visits if needed. Student Liaisons also collaborate with Student Support Team members to try and get to the root cause of why a student is not coming to school, so that the student and/or family can be connected to appropriate resources. One thing’s for sure, the work of attendance does not solely fall in the hands of Student Liaisons, rather it should be embraced by a village of stakeholders. Student Liaisons look forward to helping our students Strive for Less than 5 absences per semester, or Strive For 5 hours, 5 days a week this year!
Gifted and Talented/Maryvale Students Participate in Civics Matters Arizona
This summer, eight GTA/Maryvale students (pictured above) participated in Civics Matters Arizona, an annual civic engagement initiative for students across the state. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for young Arizonans. It engaged them in interactive civics lessons in the classroom, a schoolwide essay contest about making a difference, and—for the contest winners—an incredible, all-expense paid summer trip to Washington, DC, on the Arizona Cardinals team plane! Students from several schools in the district as well as over 200 students from around the state of Arizona, were joined by Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs and met with U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema to hear about civic participation and engagement.
Camelback High School Teacher Joins Research Team with Earthwatch Institute
Lauren Hubert, a science teacher at Camelback High School, joined an Earthwatch research team for a 9-day expedition in Lake Tahoe, Nevada to help scientists understand how climate change is affecting caterpillars. Lauren Hubert was part of an Earthwatch Teach Earth USA Fellowship Program. From July 1-9, Lauren Hubert served as Senior Fellow to a 12-person team of Earthwatch volunteers from the United States for the “Climate Change and Caterpillars in Nevada” project. The research team was led by Dr. Lee Dyer and other researchers from the University of Nevada – Reno. “I came home from my Earthwatch expedition feeling a whole new sense of connection to the natural world, a fresh understanding of climate change and the need to act now, and a renewed enthusiasm for the way I think and learn about science” said Lauren Hubert.
Climate change is dramatically visible in the reduced populations of Lepidoptera – butterflies, moths, caterpillars – and shifts in the balance of food webs between caterpillars, the plants they eat, the parasitoids that use them as hosts, and their predators. The survival of each species of Lepidoptera depends on how specialized its diet is, changes in the chemistry of its food source, the use of pesticides in the area, and habitat loss due to human encroachment. As temperatures remain warmer for longer into the fall, some varieties of Lepidoptera are moving uphill to higher elevations, and some are exhibiting changes in their reproductive cycles. In any ecosystem, there’s a fine-tuned balance between producers and consumers and the timing of their life cycles. Warming climates and dramatic climate events are messing with this balance. This threatens the existence of some of our most-loved Lepidoptera, such as the Monarch Butterfly. Why should your care? Butterflies are primary pollinators for many herbs and vegetables, including those in the sunflower, mint, legume, and carrot families.
During the Nevada project, the Earthwatch fellows helped collect both caterpillars and in-flight butterflies and moths from various sites. Equipped with “beat-sheets” and sticks, butterfly nets, vials, and cameras, the fellows collected, processed, fed, and documented a variety of Lepidoptera, plus plant populations and predatory insects. Over the course of a week, the volunteer efforts of these 12 teachers contributed to a half-dozen separate research projects.
Enjoy the Teach Earth volunteers’ blog at: https://earthwatchcaterpillars.weebly.com/
“I never imagined I could take part in real climate science data collection like a real scientist,” said Lauren Hubert. “I was thrilled to capture pictures of the caterpillars, moths, and butterflies we collected, as well as our beautiful surroundings. I can’t wait to integrate it all into my classroom lessons and share what I learned with my community.”
Earthwatch is an international environmental nonprofit whose mission is to engage people in scientific field research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment. Earthwatch projects connect people with scientists worldwide to empower them with the knowledge they need to conserve the planet. You can read more about Earthwatch, and support or join an expedition at: www.earthwatch.org
PXU Family Helping Those in Need
On July 31, Mary Queen Bihasa, math teacher at Maryvale High School, was involved in a motor vehicle accident, making her unable to attend the first two weeks of her class. Her educator mentor, Mr. Beau Newton, helped her set up her classroom amidst her recovery so that she can have a refreshing and successful start to her teaching at Maryvale. She is back in the classroom and in a comfortable environment with her students thanks to Mr. Newton. Here at PXU, we support each other during times of need, and this is a perfect example of that.
PUFE Mini Grant Application Now Open
The Phoenix Union Foundation for Education Mini-Grant application process is now open and will conclude on Monday, October 9, 2023. Please visit https://foundation4education.org/what-we-do/mini-grants/ or see the above flyer for more details.
Foundation mini-grants are designed to support teachers, student committees, administrators, and all District employees in developing, improving, or expanding opportunities for PXU students to learn and excel. Awards support innovative programs that increase interest and academic achievement in all areas. Grants for District-wide initiatives are available between $300 to $1,500. Individual schools or programs can apply for $300 to $1,000.
If you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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).
We encourage you to share with your networks and encourage students to seek out the resources that ElevateEdAZ provides!