Category Archives: Middle schools

Fun photos from school: Centennial celebrations at Gilbert Public Schools

Seventh-grade students at Desert Ridge Junior High in Mesa were given the assignment to come up with creative ways to commemorate Arizona’s 100-year birthday. Projects ranged from 100 flags in front of the school to a quilt made by students to 100 acts of kindness.

Julie Rainwater’s class re-created the Arizona state flag in a desert setting using the five C’s: cotton, copper, climate, citrus, and cattle. Another project was to complete 100 acts of kindness.

Left to right: Samantha Schuelke, Rylee May and Fatima Rahim.

Collin Coyle-Brinkmeyer stands in front of a sign labeled with the 100 good deeds students had done in the last month.

The main hallway at Carol Rae Ranch Elementary in Gilbert showcased an enormous centennial paper quilt with 702 squares designed by students and other centennial posters and projects. The PTSO provided 10 birthday cakes so everyone could have a piece.

Carol Rae Ranch Principal Geane Flournoy and fourth-graders (from left) Caitlyn Strauss, Xavier Rollier, Abrey Huso, Kent Garner and Spencer Holt.

Meridian Elementary preschool classroom kicked off its study of Arizona’s desert with a visit from Wildman Phil of Desert Wildlife Presentations. He showed the children a variety of native reptiles and desert dwellers, starting with scorpions and tarantulas and moving up to lizards, king snakes and tortoises. The children were able to hold and touch most of the animals as they learned about their habitats and diets.

The highlight came when Phil brought out a giant python named Patches. Although the python isn’t native to Arizona, the children were fascinated with her enormous size, and the fact that it took the entire class to hold her.

Students in Gwynne Fullmer’s preschool class holding Patches the python. From left: Logan Kirshman, Jazelle Leavitt, Sayanette Gomez, Annabelle Betush, Neve Portnoy, Daenon Davis, and Madisyn Davis.

All photos courtesy of Gilbert Public Schools.

Want to see your school’s FUN photos featured? Send digital images and descriptions to: editorial@raisingarizonakids.com.

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City of Xiwang takes first in Future City

Veritas Homeschoolers won 1st place in the regional Future City Competition at the finals on Saturday, Jan. 28.

Front row: (from left) Jesse Friedman, Cambrie Hickman, Rachel Fisher, and Timothy Graunke. Back row: (from left) Guest speaker Randii Wessen, Ken Ekstrom and Mary Ann Ekstrom.

Students Jesse Friedman, project manager, Cambrie Hickman, Rachel Fisher and Timothy Fraunke  created the City of Xiwang – City of Hope in Taiwanese – an island off the coast of Taiwan in the year 2162. Their display included a monorail-type system with light up balls that moved around the perimeter of the city, a marina complete with fish inside and an entire underground view of systems and energy sources.

The students were guided by engineer mentor Ken Ekstrom and teacher and sponsor Mary Ann Ekstrom, who said the kids learned a lot through their participation in the competition.

“At this point we will begin preparing for the national competition by rethinking some of the questions they were asked by all the judges, considering other questions that may be raised or asked and talking with several energy experts,” Mary Ann said in a press release.

For the competition, each student group was required to write a 1,000-word essay describing their use of an alternate energy source that would generate electric power for their city without depleting natural resources. They then gave a presentation to judges.

Link to full essay

Required to use an alternate energy source, these students chose to use hydrogen boron fusion or HB fuse. The students also explained how solar power is used for energy and light. Rooftop gardens are aesthetically pleasing as well as practical for absorbing heat and all extra energy is sold to China through an underwater cable. They also say the city also has “smart buildings” equipped with advanced communication systems and an extensive amount of night life and activities.

Veritas homeschoolers were asked, “Why use solar, wind, geothermal, biofuels and fusion as energy sources?” To this they replied that these were all readily available and could be used as backups if an energy source failed.

Garden Lakes Elementary won 2nd place, Canyon Breeze Elementary were 3rd, Colonel Smith Middle School received a 4th place award and Orangedale Junior High won 5th place. Pictures of the 2nd through 5th place winning groups were taken by volunteer and pro-photographer John Jacoby, and can be seen in his online gallery. — Amy Vogelsang

The Future of our cities in students’ hands

On Saturday, Jan. 28, middle school students competing in the 15th Future City Competition in Arizona will bring their finished models to be judged, hoping to move on to the national competition in Washington, D.C. during National Engineers Week.

Navajo-generating-station-alex-e-proimos

The Navajo Generating Station is a coal-fired plant outfitted with millions of dollars of technology to clean its emissions. Future City challenges students to find solutions to our electrical needs while conserving resources and protecting the environment. Photo: Alex E. Proimos, Flickr.com.

The Future City website says the competition “encourages middle school students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) by presenting a set of technical challenges over a four-month season that each three-student team must address, culminating at regional finals in January.”

The technical challenge this year is to “choose one alternative energy source and design a way to generate electric power for your city that does not deplete natural resources and has limited impact on the environment.” No easy task when our gadget-centric lifestyle demands constant, inexpensive electricity.

The three-student teams work with a volunteer engineer who guides them through the process, which includes a research paper and the city model. The competition is open all middle school students through their schools. The Future City Arizona website has resources for students and teachers as well as the volunteer engineers necessary for the project.

BASIS Schools to open north Phoenix campus

BASIS Schools, Inc. will open a new Phoenix location for the 2012-13 school year. The Arizona State Board for Charter Schools approved the new campus at its meeting yesterday.

BASIS schools have gained national recognition for accelerated curriculum and extraordinary student achievement results. Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report and The Washington Post all named BASIS Tucson among the top 10 high schools in the nation and BusinessWeek named BASIS Scottsdale the #1 Arizona [High] School for Overall Academic Performance. The schools were featured in the 2009 documentary “Two Million Minutes: The 21st Century Solution.”

BASIS currently operates schools in Chandler, Flagstaff, Oro Valley, Peoria, Scottsdale and Tucson.

BASIS Phoenix will serve students in grades 5 through 10 in its first year of operation, the 2012-13 school year. The school will add one grade per year until it becomes a 5 -12 campus in the 2014-2015 school year. While a specific site for the new campus has not yet been determined, BASIS representatives are working to secure a location in the north Phoenix area.

“We have had incredible success opening schools in Arizona and we have every reason to believe BASIS Phoenix will follow in the footsteps of its sister schools,” says Nick Fleege, new school development director for BASIS Schools. “Last year we opened three new Arizona campuses – BASIS Chandler, BASIS Flagstaff and BASIS Peoria. We completed construction on time and exceeded enrollment expectations at all three locations.”

“We are so pleased to be able to extend our academic program to students in Phoenix,“ says Sheri Pierce, new schools curriculum director for BASIS Schools. “With the mature BASIS schools earning top spots in national rankings, our goal now is to offer that same great education to more students in Arizona and beyond.”

Registration for the 2012-13 school year will begin in January 2012. Details will be announced to members of the BASIS Phoenix Interest List via email as that time approaches. Add your name to the list by visiting basisschools.org and clicking “Sign Up.”

Friday FUN photos from school: Festival Foothills Elementary

Second graders at the West Valley's Festival Foothills Elementary School meet Zion.

There were plenty of wide eyes and dropped jaws at Festival Foothills Elementary this week, as students enjoyed a visit from the Phoenix Zoo‘s Zoomobile.

Students in preschool through fifth grade participated in the zoo’s Predator and Prey Presentation, a chance to get up close and personal with the likes of snakes, scorpions and hedgehogs.

Face to face with Bernie the hedgehog.

Zookeeper Carrie Flood brought each creature around to meet the kids face to face. Students were asked to consider whether the species was predator or prey, based on its features. They decided Turbo the Turtle was prey and learned that Zion the king snake — a predator — eats rattlesnakes!

They met a cactus beetle and Bubbles, the whip scorpion. They learned that Bernie the hedgehog is a small but ferocious African predator who completely terrifies his prey.

Students “were very excited to have the Zoomobile visit this year,” says Principal Christina Strauss. “This is just another example of how Festival Foothills Elementary is providing exciting opportunities for its students despite tough economic times.”

Festival Foothills Elementary is a K-8 school located at  26252 W. Desert Vista Blvd. in Buckeye, 10 miles west of Surprise. It is part of the Wickenburg Unified School District.

Festival Foothills opened in January 2008 as a K-5 school, and has grown to include a preschool and middle school. One-third of the student population comes from neighboring communities through open enrollment.

The Phoenix Zoo offers two outreach programs, Zoomobile and Zoo to You, that align with Arizona Department of Education Academic Content Standards.

Want to see your school featured next Friday? Send your FUN photos to: editorial@raisingarizonakids.com.

Zookeeper Carrie Flood shows Turbo the turtle to Anthony Morales.

Tesseract launches first senior class

Back-to-school time had added meaning for the Tesseract School’s seniors, who will be the first graduating class since the school expanded in 2008 to include a middle and upper school campus.

Tesseract’s seniors will start the year with their “All Work and All Play College Prep Retreat,” hosted by Prescott College. During the retreat students will participate in events designed to strengthen their senior-class bond and guide them through some final steps in the college admissions process, such as writing college essays, refining résumés, checking the status of college applications and continuing to work toward their senior-year goals.

“Being part of the inaugural high school class has been a powerful experience, especially looking back and seeing all we have accomplished,” said Sam Anderson, a 12th grader who has attended Tesseract since preschool. “During my entire experience at Tesseract I have learned what it means to truly be a part of, and participate in, a unique and caring community with an amazing global perspective.”

“It is a wonderful experience to see the board’s vision of offering a preschool through 12th-grade program come to fruition,” said Nigel Taplin, head of school. He credited trustees, parents, donors, volunteers, faculty and staff for seeing that vision through.

Tesseract has been educating Valley students in preschool through eighth grade since 1988. The high school was part of the school’s strategic plan and a response to Tesseract families wishing the school’s innovative curriculum and student-centered approach could extend through high school.

In early 2007, the capital campaign to raise funds to build a new campus for Tesseract’s middle school and the new high school was launched and Chris LaBonte, Tesseract’s founding director of high school, was brought on board to lead the high school and develop a curriculum that was a natural extension of the school’s mission and philosophy to prepare students for the challenges of a more interconnected and complex world.

“It has been, and continues to be, an amazing experience to be involved from the ground up in developing a high school program for Tesseract,” said LaBonte. “Tesseract has such a strong curricular foundation; we all wanted to create a rich, deep program that further promoted the development of intellectual curiosity and critical thinking, as well as prepared students to excel in college and beyond, in a thoughtful and meaningful way that the students could truly connect with as individuals.”

Tesseract School is a non-profit, independent private school for students in preschool through grade 12. Campuses are located in Phoenix and Paradise Valley. 480-991-1770 or tesseractschool.org.

BASIS opens Chandler campus

BASIS Schools will celebrate the opening of a new campus in Chandler tomorrow with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at which Gov. Jan Brewer will speak.

The BASIS Chandler campus will offer a rigorous curriculum for fifth through 10th grade students this August, expanding to fifth through 12th grades by the fall of 2013.

BASIS has been operating charter schools in Arizona for a decade. The school’s first two campuses opened in Tucson and Scottsdale, and both have received top national rankings by such publications as Newsweek, BusinessWeek, US News and World Report, and the Washington Post. A third campus in Oro Valley opened last year.

The ceremony commences at 9 a.m., and will take place at the new campus, located at 1800 E. Chandler Boulevard.

Seating is limited, so RSVPs are required for the event. To reserve a seat, call 480-289-2088 or email arwynn.gilroy@basiseducation.net. — Sadie Smeck