PTS Rising Report

News and happenings from across Phoenix-Talent SD

Loop With the Supt., episode 2

Superintendent's message

Dear PTS families,

The end of spring break marks the beginning of the home stretch of the school year and I hope you are as excited about it as I am. It has been another whirlwind year in PTS Rising that has included, in only the last month, a big win by Talent Elementary’s Oregon Battle of the Books team, the launch of a new tutoring service at Phoenix High and an acclaimed author paying a virtual visit to Talent Middle School.

So yes, there’s a lot to be excited about, including tomorrow's visit by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden (more on that later). But first, I wanted to pass along the latest attendance numbers in light of our recent Every Day Matters push.

About 2 ½ months ago, we shared with you an alarmingly downward trend in the district’s daily attendance, which showed at the time that only 63.9% of our students attended school enough to be considered regular attenders – that is, students who have attended more than 90% of their enrolled days. A concerted effort to increase regular attendance began even before that announcement and I feel encouraged by the fact that the numbers have since improved, however slightly. In the last 60 days, 65.6% of our students have attended school enough to be considered regular attenders, including 72% at Phoenix High, 67.6% at Talent Middle School and 62.5% at our elementary schools. As a parent, I know how hard it can be to juggle multiple family appointments, activities and a job, so I’d like to thank you for helping to get those numbers up and encourage you to remember that Every Day really does matter. For proof, look no further than some of the activities mentioned above. Studies have found that absences starting as young as kindergarten lead to poor attendance and lower achievement later in life so let’s try to get those numbers back up to pre-pandemic levels, when 87% of our students were regular attenders (2019-20).

As for the visit by Sen. Wyden, it is always an honor when a state senator stops by to say hi so we are thrilled that he will be here tomorrow. Sen. Wyden will be touring Phoenix High's gorgeous new campus and facilities. After that, at 1 p.m., he'll take the stage in the Rose Street Theater for a town hall which will be attended by PHS students and staff and open and free to the general public.

As you can imagine, Sen. Wyden will be accompanied by some of his staff, and I'm proud to report that the list includes 2012 Phoenix High graduate America Silva, now a constituent services representative and field representative for Sen. Wyden.

That's all for now. By the time you read this message, we will have a little less than 10 weeks left in the 2022-23 school year. Let's finish this race like champions, PTS!

Brent Barry, superintendent

What's Happening

Family Focus

Maria Alcala, Antonio Velazquez and their family have been a part of the Phoenix-Talent School District for nearly 20 years. The mother of four children, including two former Phoenix High graduates (Liliana and Betzy Velazquez) and two current PHS students (Dereck and Elsie Velazquez), Maria has been described as a "very active and valuable parent in our district."

Currently, she's an officer on Phoenix-Talent School District's Migrant Education Parent Advisory Council, which among other things helps decide which classes and programs will be made available either after school or during the summer.

"I took the role," Maria said, "because I wanted to learn more about the education system and to help my children in their future academic ventures."

She added that it's a great way to support her fellow migrant parents that have experienced similar struggles.

"A big part of that," Maria said, "is seeing the Latinx community grow and witness their dream of their child succeed not only academically but professionally as well."

Besides their commitment to Migrant Ed, Maria and her husband Antonio (they've been married for 26 years) also volunteer at Phoenix High events in any way they can, including chaperoning and cooking for the marching band. Maria also contributes some of her remaining time to the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).

How does she find the time?

Maria said, "there is always time for your children's lives, especially when it comes to their education."

Stellar Student: Stephanie Rodriguez

Besides being an outstanding student and a third-degree black belt, Talent Middle School eighth-grader Stephanie Rodriguez has been hailed as the best office aide.

The youngest "Stellar Student" recipient so far, Stephanie plays volleyball for the Siskiyou travel team and practices Karate at America's Best Kids. She also received an iReady growth award recently in recognition of the improvement she showed in her second iReady diagnostic.

Stephanie took some time during spring break to answer a few questions.

What is your favorite school subject and why?

My favorite subject is math because it's something I can use in my everyday life and I like solving things and being helpful to others.

What is your favorite family tradition for a holiday or other special occasion and why?

My favorite family tradition is Easter because I always loved celebrating the innocence of my childhood and seeing how happy and excited kids get when getting eggs. It brings joy to my heart.

If you were in charge of the class schedule, what would you change?

If I were in charge of the schedule I would have it so we had certain classes on certain days instead of alternating days, and I would use Wednesdays for exploratories.

If you were a teacher and the kids in your class were not paying attention, what would you do?

If kids in my class weren’t paying attention I would try to make something fun and interactive but still teach them - maybe something competitive or a group project so they learn to have good sportsmanship and how to work in partners and communicate with others.

If you could spend a day with a character from a book, TV show or movie, who would you choose and why?

If I could spend a day with someone from a book It would be RUSS because he’s a very inspirational person who teaches a lot about life skills and how he deals with things and worked hard for what he wanted until he got it. He is a very funny person and I would ask so much about his life and music career.

Pride of PTS: Arica Casarotti

Arica Casarotti has been an educational resource coach for the past five years, the last three at Orchard Hill Elementary.

In an anonymous nomination form, one of Arica's colleagues described Arica as "the most incredible person I have worked with. She's so caring towards both the kids and her coworkers. She's very knowledgeable in her field and I'm lucky I get to work with her."

Here's what Arica had to say about her dream vacation, inspiration and ...Elvis.

What is your dream vacation?

My dream vacation would be to spend a month traveling around Europe, just immersing myself in all of the food and sights that each country has to offer.

What inspires you?

This question is a real stumper because I feel inspired by so many things. In short, I am inspired constantly by the people around me, my family, my students, and my coworkers.

What is a school sport or activity that you enjoy watching and why?

At the elementary level, I do not watch a lot of school sports but one of my favorite school activities to watch is recess! We have an accessible playground that ALL kids at our school are able to access and use daily no matter their mobility needs. I love seeing the joy they get out of a space that was intentionally created for all students to be able to play.

What is your first memory from school as a teacher?

My first memory as a teacher was sneaking into my classroom before the official school year had started and just really getting an opportunity to visualize and create what I wanted that space to be for my future students. I was able to spend a few days moving things in and creating a space that would support all of my student's goals. Even though it wasn't very exciting it was very meaningful to spend time planning and preparing for the students that would be arriving within a few short weeks.

What song do you know all the lyrics to?

Suspicious Minds by Elvis Presley

Kinder Launch

Wednesday, April 19th, 3-6pm

Phoenix Elementary, Talent Elementary and Orchard Hill Elementary

If you have a child who will turn 5 years old on or before September 1, 2023, then it is almost time to launch them into Kindergarten. The Phoenix-Talent School District will host Kinder Launch events at all three of our elementary schools – Phoenix Elementary, Talent Elementary and Orchard Hill Elementary – on April 19, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

If you are unsure which school your child should attend, you can view our district map by clicking here. If you are still unsure after viewing the map, please contact the district office at 541-535-1517.

At Kinder Launch, families will have the opportunity to meet the kindergarten teachers, learn about the school and pre-register their children for the upcoming 2023-24 school year. They will also receive tips on how to prepare their children for kindergarten.

Families of incoming Talent Elementary or Phoenix Elementary students that are considering registering their child for the Two-way Bilingual Immersion program at those schools should visit our TWI webpage and fill out the interest form as soon as possible because availability is limited.

Here is what you should bring to Kinder Launch:

  • Your child
  • Proof of age (birth certificate or other documents)
  • Proof of address (i.e. recent utility bill)
  • Immunization record (Oregon vaccine requirements can be found here: Eng / Spn

Important Dates

  • April 3-7: National Assistant Principals Week

  • April 10: Future Chefs National Challenge final

  • April 12: Safe Routes to School community meeting

  • April 13: Safe Routes to School walk audit

  • April 19: Kinder Launch

  • April 19: Junior Parent Night

  • April 20: PTS School Board meeting

  • April 20: PHS Freshmen vs. Families event

Flyers and other dowloadables

Big picture

Phoenix-Talent School District

Together, we shall meet the challenges of preparing responsible, creative, lifelong learners