Tag Archives: Gilbert Public Schools

Kristy Yamaguchi scores gold with Greenfield Elementary students

Kristy Yamaguchi autographs books at Greenfield Elementary.

Olympic gold medalist skater Kristi Yamaguchi stole the show at Greenfield Elementary‘s recent Read-a-Thon kickoff.

Now also the author of two children’s book, Yamaguchi talked with students about her figure-skating past and her reasons for writing the books.

“When people ask how do you go from ice skating to dancing to becoming a children’s author, I tell them I’m inspired to do it for my daughters,” she said, referring to her stint on Dancing with the Stars and her 6- and 8-year-old girls. “Reading is important in our family, and we read at bedtime. I thought it would be fun to read a book Mommy wrote.”

It’s a Big World, Little Pig features a persistent, ice-skating pig named Poppy who travels to Paris to participate in the World Games. Though it may sound like Poppy and Yamaguchi are one and the same, Yamaguchi is quick to point out that is not so. “Poppy is made up,” she said. “I draw from the lessons I learned skating and my own experiences, but she is not me.”

Profits from the sale of both of her books go to her Always Dream Foundation, a non-profit, public charity whose “continuing goal is to find innovative ways to provide funding for a diverse range of programs designed to inspire and embrace the hopes and dreams of children and adolescents.”

Greenfield Elementary students filed out of the auditorium after Yamaguchi’s reading and question-and-answer session abuzz with excitement at having met an Olympic medalist. With visions of an adorable, skate-clad pig in their heads, they begin their own reading adventures. This year’s read-a-thon goal is to raise enough money to ensure a SMARTboard in every Greenfield Elementary classroom.

Information and photos submitted by Brenda Morreim, Gilbert Public Schools

Yamaguchi, now an honorary Gator, shows off the Greenfield Elementary shirt given to her by the school.


FUN photos from school: Centennial photos are still coming in!

Paradise Valley High School culinary arts teacher Patty Nadzieja and students (pictured here are Brad Reeder, Chelsea Bailey, Shayla Armstrong and Jessica Manning) celebrated Arizona’s Centennial by helping make 1,500 mini cupcakes to share with the school and staff. 

Making our state a better place in increments of 100 was the centennial assignment for students at Playa del Rey Elementary School. On Feb. 14, each grade level shared their efforts at a school-wide birthday party and assembly.

“It was amazing to see the school come together and get excited about making Arizona better,” said fourth-grade teacher Sarah Wamsley. “The energy and joy in the gym was electrifying. The 100-themed activities by grade level:

Kindergarten: learned 100 facts about Arizona
First grade: read 100 books from A to Z
Second grade: donated 100 bottles of water to a shelter
Third grade: provided 100 pairs of socks to those in need
Fourth grade: wrote 100 thank-you cards to firemen, policemen, and paramedics
Fifth grade: donated 100 books to a shelter
Sixth grade: performed 100 hours of community service

Photo courtesy of Gilbert Public Schools.

The Meridian Mustangs celebrated the Arizona Centennial with month-long activities and a “Cents-sational Centennial Celebration.” Each grade level constructed displays throughout the hallways, and an Arizona-themed best door decoration competition took place. Copper coins were placed in a giant jar and more than $500 was collected and donated to the school’s library for the purchase of new books.

On Feb. 9 parents and children gathered for the big celebration, including the Meridian choir led by Marshann Donahue and breakout sessions highlighting Arizona-themed math, reading, art and science activities. Wildman Phil of Desert Wildlife Presentations was on hand to share some native animals with the groups. In addition, nearly 300 students took the Lost Dutchman’s Physical Challenge, which meant performing actions in 10 different areas of Arizona, such as 10 ski jumps in Flagstaff, 10 steps across the London Bridge in Lake Havasu, or 10 steps across the White Mountains in Pinetop.

Meridian choir presentation. Photo courtesy of Gilbert Public 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.

Friday FUN photos from school

Some very excited fourth grade students at Parkview Elementary had a great time creating pizza masterpieces with the Dysart Unified School District‘s Roving Chef.

Photo courtesy of Dysart Unified School District.

Quartz Hill Elementary School students got into the Thanksgiving spirit. Front row (from left): Grace Noel, Peyton Morris, Eva Dwyer, Madeline Schmitt, Brynley Ashton, Alex Bose. Back row: Ella Barr, Lia Hendricks, Nixon Lesueur, Madison Layton, Misbah Mahmood, Makayla Simmons, Emily Gillette, Karlee Crandall, Brady Riggs. Quartz Hill is part of the Gilbert Public Schools district.

Photo courtesy of Gilbert Public Schools.

New Vistas Center for Education held a “Handy Helpers Fair” that allowed preschool and kindergarten students to interact with a variety of East Valley professionals — including an aerospace engineer, a karate instructor, a car dealer, a zookeeper, a nurse, a Zumba instructor and a fireman. The fair was part of the school’s “Lemonade Lane” Extended Curriculum Program. New Vistas is a private school in Chandler, offering preschool-grade 6 from August through May and preschool through high school June through August.

Photo courtesy of New Vistas Center for Education.

Kindergarten students dressed up as saints for an All Saints Day Mass at St. Agnes Catholic School in Phoenix.

Photo courtesy of St. Agnes Catholic School.

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

Friday FUN photos from school: Going Greco-Roman

Photo courtesy of Gilbert Public Schools.

Third-graders at Val Vista Lakes Elementary School in Gilbert recently completed a study of ancient Greece and Rome. Students learned about the many ways these civilizations influenced United States government and society, with contributions to democracy, art and architecture, as well as the Olympics and the Roman legacy of representative government, which influenced our country’s Founding Fathers.

Students studied Greek philosophers, including Socrates, and Roman political and military leaders, including Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar. In celebration of these ancient cultures, the unit culminated with students wearing togas and eating traditional food. Val Vista Lakes is located at 1030 N. Blue Grotto Dr. in Gilbert and is part of the Gilbert Public Schools district.

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

Friday FUN photos from school: A lesson in keeping promises

First the cute little baby pig...

Finley Farms Elementary Principal John Maas is a man of his word. He challenged his students to sell more than 650 Entertainment Books at $30 each during a recent fundraiser for the school’s parent-teacher organization (PTO). He promised that if they reached their goal, he would kiss a pig.

The students topped out at 730 coupon books, raising more than $10,000, which will be used for technology at the 950-student school.

Maas kissed two pigs at each of three assemblies, proving to his students that promises made, are promises kept.

Finley Farms, part of the Gilbert Public Schools district, is located at 375 S. Columbus Dr. in Gilbert.

...then the real porker!

From the looks on their faces, it seems the students may not have believed that Maas would actually do it. All photos courtesy of Gilbert Public Schools.

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

Neely Traditional Academy’s hand-made dolls bring comfort and joy

Comfort dolls created by the lunch-time knitting club.

Two days a week,  Neely Traditional Academy teacher Brenda Koerselman gives up her lunch hour to teach knitting to eight to 12 students.

“This is part of my community outreach,” she says. “We relax as we knit and create many useful items to share with those less fortunate.”

Cindy Jarvis with some of the Ugandan orphans who received comfort dolls.

That outreach went global in April, when Koerselman’s friend Cindy Jarvis went on a trip to Africa in April with Hope 4 Kids International. The knitting club sent 12 dolls with her to be distributed at a Ugandan orphanage.

Each of the comfort dolls was specially crafted, and the knitters put a lot of time and care into personalizing their dolls. As the dolls were distributed, Jarvis took photos of each child who received a doll. When Jarvis returned home, Koerselman printed a copy of the photo for each knitter, showing their comfort doll in the hands of its new owner.

Neely Traditional Academy is located at 321 West Juniper Ave. in Gilbert.