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Jim Grieshaber at Board Meeting

Grieshaber named CTE Administrator of the Year

Jim Grieshaber, Director of Career and Technical Education (CTE) at Dysart Schools, was named the CTE Administrator of the Year by the Association for Career and Technical Education of Arizona (ACTEAZ).

This award recognizes ACTEAZ administrative CTE professionals at the school, district, or state level who have demonstrated leadership in ensuring teacher and student success and have made significant contributions toward innovative, unique, and effective career and technical education programs. 

Mr. Grieshaber has been instrumental in growing the understanding of CTE with district leadership. He continuously meets with site administrators to communicate opportunities for growth with programs and provides feedback on student and program performance data. Grieshaber has worked to implement programs and support CTE teachers through professional development, networking opportunities, and ensuring CTE programs have the equipment and resources.

Mr. Grieshaber is constantly evaluating programs, as well as community needs by attending Think Tanks, city council and workforce meetings, community business events, and networking events with industry partners. His involvement creates partnerships with local businesses and valuable internship opportunities for students.  

“Jim is an integral part of Dysart’s identity,” shared Dr. Shelley Isai, Interim Assistant Superintendent of Education Services at Dysart Schools.“ He has worked diligently over the years to build robust programs that ensure students have options after high school and are college and career ready.  No individual is more worthy of this award than Jim Grieshaber.”

Grieshaber has worked in the district for more than twenty years serving as an elementary teacher, high school teacher, assistant principal and principal.  He previously served as the Arizona Council of Occupational/Vocational Administrators (ACOVA) president which provides mentorship to other CTE Directors around the state.

The vision of ACTEAZ is to grow and promote CTE at local and national levels and provide members professional and leadership growth opportunities, creative ideas and statewide networking, access to local and national companies for products, career applications and community outreach.

08/10/2022 Direct Link

Shadow Ridge Educators Rising students Halle Feltner and Rhys Davis along with advisor Andrea Haser and chaperone Landon Earls pose for a photo in front of the White House in Washington, DC.

Educators Rising Students attend National Conference

Shadow Ridge High School Educators Rising students Halle Feltner and Rhys Davis recently participated in the Educators Rising National Leadership Conference held June 20-24 in Washington, DC. 

Each student qualified to attend the National Conference after competing at the State Leadership Conference held in Tucson this past spring. Halle Feltner placed second in STEM Lesson Planning and Delivery in which she designed, taught to third graders, and reflected on with the judging panel. 

“The National Educators Rising Conference was a great opportunity for students to compete with others from across the Nation,” said Andrea Haser, Shadow Ridge Educators Rising advisor. “They also connected with future educators and listened to great speakers at opening/closing and breakout sessions. The location of the conference in Washington D.C. also offered additional learning experiences as we toured parts of the nation's capital city.”

Educators Rising Arizona is a Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSO) for students participating in Education Professions that is dedicated to ensuring that the future is full of high quality educators starting in high school. Educators Rising Arizona provides students with the opportunities to take what they learn in their Early Childhood Education and Education Professions classes and apply them in relevant, scenario-based competitions at the annual State Leadership Conference. Educators Rising Arizona also offers professional development opportunities and practical applications for students who aspire to enter the teaching profession by providing them with engaging breakout sessions centered around best practices and leadership development.

Education Professions is a Career and Technical Education (CTE) program offered at Shadow Ridge High School that prepares students for employment or post secondary opportunities in the education field. The program provides instruction in education career choices, education structure and systems, theory, pedagogy, developmental stages, learning styles and methodology. The program also provides interactive experiences with students at different age levels, in a variety of content areas in educational environments.

07/18/2022 Direct Link

Supreme Court Summer Institute Teacher Group

Mountain View teacher attends Supreme Court Summer Institute

This summer, Emily Allen, 8th Grade Social Studies Teacher at Mountain View School, was invited to attend the Supreme Court Summer Institute (SCSI) in Washington DC by Street Law and the Supreme Court Historical Society. 

SCSI provides student centered learning strategies to teach both landmark and current court cases. Sixty teachers were selected nationwide from a competitive application process focused on teaching philosophy and implementation in the classroom. 

As an attendee, Emily increased her understanding of the Supreme Court, met resource experts (including clerks, lawyers who participated in famous cases, and the Solicitor General), and added engaging strategies to her educator toolbelt. 

“My favorite takeaways were a conflict deliberation structure and breakdown of different aspects of Supreme Court cases in various activities,” shared Allen. “These strategies will put students at the center of the classroom as they discuss, evaluate, and create arguments about the rights of citizens and the actions of the government.”

Street Law's mission is to advance civic and law related education to empower all people to positively transform their world.  Since 1995, over 1,500 social studies educators from across the country have come together for the Institute.

07/14/2022 Direct Link

Anthony Taddei

Taddei named Community Champion

Anthony Taddei, Dysart Schools Federal Projects Specialist, was selected to receive the Friends of FosterEd Community Champion Award. This award recognizes, promotes, and celebrates professionals who advance the academic and social success of students experiencing foster care in Arizona’s education and child welfare systems.

The award was presented at the Virtual Student Success Awards and Recognition Ceremony. Anthony was nominated by Sandra Preciado from the Friends of FosterEd and was recognized for his belief in the power of empathy and collaboration.

“Anthony has continuously shown up to provide support for students in foster care with an empathic lens,” shared Preciado. “His actions prove he values strong collaboration among the various systems students are engaged with.”

Friends of FosterEd is committed to creating a reality where all system-involved youth graduate from high school with the widest array of possibilities for their future. They initiate and facilitate multiple state and regional collective impact campaigns, partnering with teams of state and local leaders, students, and families to build measured progress toward a shared vision for improving the educational conditions and opportunities for young people.

07/13/2022 Direct Link

Ashlynn Luzier

VVHS graduate wins InvestWrite competition

Ashlynn Luzier, a recent graduate from Valley Vista High School won first place in the state InvestWrite competition. InvestWrite is an extension of the Stock Market Game that students participated in during Economics class over the course of twelve weeks each semester.     


Students invested a hypothetical $100,000 into the stock market to try and make the most money possible. After competing in the game, students had a chance to reflect on what they learned from the game and apply it to an essay prompt: taking what you learned from the stock market game, how would you invest 100,000 dollars to cause the most growth over the next 30 years?    


Ashlynn invested in Blue Chip stocks such as Amazon, Apple and Microsoft and then put money into a US Treasury Bond and then a mutual fund.     


“I would like to apply what I have learned by doing my own personal investing,” shared Ashlynn in her essay submission. “Investing this money would help me pay for things such as my books and on-campus living expenses at college next year. It will also help me to build healthy financial habits and prepare for my future.”   


Ashlynn will go on to represent Arizona in the national competition.   


InvestWrite is a program of the SIFMA Foundation offered exclusively to teachers and students participating in The Stock Market Game and builds a bridge between classroom learning and the real world.    


The SIFMA Foundation is dedicated to fostering knowledge and understanding of the financial markets for individuals of all backgrounds. Drawing on the support and expertise of the financial industry, the SIFMA Foundation provides financial education programs and tools that strengthen economic opportunity across communities and increase individuals’ awareness of and access to the benefits of the global marketplace.

06/29/2022 Direct Link

Savannah Leone honored at a Governing Board Meeting

SRHS Student honored with Kindness Award

Savannah Leone, a 2022 graduate from Shadow Ridge High School received the Youth Kindness Achievement Award from the Be Kind People Project.  


Recipients are chosen based on how their kindness and leadership skills have been demonstrated among their peers and celebrates young people who shine in their communities.


Savannah received the honor at a recent Be Kind People Project awards ceremony for an event she hosted at Shadow Ridge.


You Matter Week was a school-wide celebration throughout campus built on the idea that everyone matters and no one is alone.  The event brought all students together to show that everyone should be seen and be heard.  Student names were written on cards throughout the halls and student and staff hosted “Ted Talks” to share how they’ve grown in their journey in life.


Savannah was recognized at the May 25 Governing Board meeting and shared an excerpt below from her acceptance speech. 


“I live life embracing my strengths so that I can fulfill my individual purpose. I undoubtedly believe that my responsibility on this earth is to make a difference and change lives. I’ve made it my mission to make sure everyone feels loved and included and that they belong.” 


Throughout her high school career, Savannah participated in various activities including soccer, cheer, football, tennis, student council, best buddies program, lacrosse and dance.  Savannah will attend the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University to study sociology and criminology.   


The Be Kind People Project® (BKPP) is a public 501 (c) 3 non-profit dedicated to providing students with comprehensive youth development programming that effectively uses a positive approach.

06/22/2022 Direct Link

Mikela Cooper

Valley Vista’s Mikela Cooper Invited to Tryout for Greek National Team

Valley Vista High School alumna Mikela Cooper has been invited to attend tryouts for the Greek U18 National Basketball Team, beginning on July 4. Cooper graduated from Valley Vista High School last month, and played varsity for the school’s five-time state championship girls basketball team for the last four years. 


“Playing for the Greek National Team has been a childhood dream,” said Cooper. “I always wanted to represent Greece on a national level… I’m extremely honored and grateful to be considered and given an opportunity to try out for the U18 National Team.” 

 ooper has strong roots in Greece, and her family actually lived in Chalkida, Greece for a brief time to assist her grandfather who was experiencing health issues. While there, she played club basketball and met some coaches from the Greek Basketball Federation. Since returning to the U.S. in 2018, Mikela has kept in touch with them and they have provided her continued feedback and guidance on her development as a basketball player.   


Cooper played power forward and shooting guard for Valley Vista High School, which was recently named the 2022 Arizona Republic Girls Team of the Year. In 21-22 she was selected for the 6A All Conference 1st Team. In her senior year, she averaged 13.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 2.6 steals per game. In December 2021 Cooper committed to play women’s basketball at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts.

06/21/2022 Direct Link

Volunteer assisting in the classroom

Volunteer Opportunities

Dysart Schools have many opportunities for the community to assist schools in providing an amazing educational experience to each and every student. Volunteers help to enrich children’s learning opportunities, provide individual attention to children who need one-on-one assistance, promote a school-home-community partnership for quality education, provide staff members with more time to work with students, and assist staff members and support personnel with non-instructional tasks.

Where is Help Needed?

  • Classroom and teacher support 
  • One-on-one student assistance 
  • Event help (preparations, setup, operations, tear-down)  
  • Guest speakers (experts or retirees in various fields) 
  • Front office assistance

How to Become a Volunteer:

  1. Review the volunteer handbook and complete the volunteer application at Dysart.org/Volunteer 
  2. Make an appointment for your volunteer orientation 
  3. Coordinate your schedule through the school office 
  4. Put on your volunteer badge and have fun!

Who Should Apply to Volunteer?

Anyone who cares about children and education is a potential volunteer. Parents, grandparents and community members 18 years of age or older who want to make a difference in the lives of children and support educators are encouraged to apply to become a volunteer with Dysart Unified School District. Volunteers are welcome in all of our schools and prior teaching experience is not necessary.


Learn more or apply here.




06/02/2022 Direct Link

School lunch

School Breakfast and Lunch

Dysart Nutrition Services ensures that students at all schools have fresh, wholesome and nutritious breakfast and lunch options to support their education and focus in class. Learn more about Nutrition Services at Dysart.org/Nutrition. Menus and nutritional information may be viewed at Dysart.Nutrislice.com.

Apply for Free and Reduced Meals

Beginning July 1, 2022 the USDA is returning to income eligibility guidelines for free or reduced meals. All families should complete a Free and Reduced Lunch Application at SchoolCafe.com to help maintain school funding and make sure that qualified families receive this and other benefits. Only one application is required per family, and may be completed at SchoolCafe.com.

How to Add Meal Funds to an Account

Cash and checks are accepted for meal purchases, or families may utilize SchoolCafe.com to prepay for meals online, view their balances, or place restrictions on purchases. Online payments take 24 hours to post to student accounts.  

Meal Prices 

  • Elementary Lunch $2.60, Reduced $.40, Adult $3.50  
  • Elementary Breakfast $1.25, Reduced $.30, Adult $1.75  High School Lunch $2.85, Reduced $.40, Adult $3.50  
  • High School Breakfast $1.25, Reduced $.30, Adult $1.75 

A la carte and snack items are available for purchase on each campus, and additional meals are available for an added charge. Parents are always welcome to dine with their child, but please be sure to call in advance and check-in at the school office. Adult meals may be purchased for $1.75 for breakfast or $3.50 for lunch. 

06/02/2022 Direct Link

teacher working with students in a classroom

Employment Opportunities in Dysart

Dysart is the largest employer in both the cities of Surprise and El Mirage with over 2,700 employees. Dysart Schools offer highly competitive salaries, full benefits and an inviting school-year calendar with holidays and weekends off for most positions. 

With a wide-variety of positions ranging from groundskeeper, to mechanic, to office staff, and teachers, we’re always looking for great people to join our Dysart team!

Current High Need Areas: 

  •  Bus Drivers and Aides
  •  Childcare and Preschool Aides
  •  Paraprofessionals
  •  Behavioral Technicians 
  •  Speech and Language Pathologists 
  •  Special Education Teachers 
  •  Math Teachers 
  •  Science Teachers 
  •  ASL Teachers 
  •  Health Services Assistants 
  •  Crossing Guards 
  •  Maintenance Workers and Plant Managers 
  •  Social Workers

Check out our current openings at Dysart.org/Careers and apply today!

06/02/2022 Direct Link

adult on laptop

Stay Informed on the Parent Portal

The Parent Portal is a great tool to stay informed 24/7 about your child’s academic progress. Grades, attendance, assignments and more are viewable in real time online or via the app, Campus Parent. A single login allows parents with multiple students to access information for all of their children in one place. Learn more at Dysart.org/ParentPortal.

Update Your Communication Preferences and Contact Info

To make sure that we can keep you informed in emergency situations, please ensure that your contact information is current in the Parent Portal. You are also able to adjust your communication preferences (phone, text, and/or email) at Dysart.org/ParentPortal or on the Campus Parent app to ensure you are getting the various message types in the way that you would like. Remember that if you select more than one type of communication per category, you will receive the message multiple times via each of those avenues.

06/02/2022 Direct Link

Huda Clemens from Western Peaks Elementary School poses at a recent Diamondbacks game

Three Educators honored by the Arizona Diamondbacks

Three Dysart Schools teachers were recently named D-backs Most Valuable Teachers in STEM by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Huda Clemens from Western Peaks Elementary School received the honor along with Canyon Ridge School teachers Stefanie Lump and Lacey Merritt.

This recognition supports ten outstanding educators monthly from April through August and provides an opportunity to showcase the state's teachers and acknowledge their commitment to students for going above and beyond.  

Below are excerpts from each nomination letter.

Huda Clemons was nominated by Lisa Garon. “She certainly deserves to be recognized for all her extra time, patience and desire to help students become better in the area of STEM,” shared Garon. 

 “Mrs. Clemens is our iExplore teacher and also runs an after-school Robotics Club.  Since she designs and records the morning announcements for our building, she engages our students in those so they can be a part of the process.” 

Stefanie Lump was nominated by Justean Palmer. “Mrs. Lump inspires students on a daily basis as she teaches STEM to her 5th graders,” said Palmer.

 “She supports all the teachers at Canyon Ridge with their Scientific Process, giving them ideas for STEM buckets with kindergarten classrooms and unique STEM projects with the upper grade levels. Her students build STEM projects monthly and she is our main contact for the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE): A World in Motion program where retired engineers from General Motors provide valuable presentations to our students.

Lacey Merritt was nominated by Justean Palmer. “Lacey Merritt is a remarkable STEM educator and leader,” shared Palmer.  

“Being the Instructional Coach on campus, I see the dedication she has put into building our STEM program from attending workshops to teaching what STEM truly means, supporting teachers in the Engineering Design Process and challenging the students' thinking at Canyon Ridge. Her students thrive through her hands-on STEM projects that push their understanding of the human body to building structures that withstand a hurricane, all while being able to utilize the design and redesign process.”

The educators received a $1,000 classroom grant courtesy of the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation and Honeywell.  Additionally, the educators received tickets to a recent Diamondbacks game and on-field recognition.  They will be considered for the Most Valuable Teacher of the Year, which includes a $5,000 classroom grant and on-field recognition. 

05/25/2022 Direct Link

Valley Vista High School students pose with their awards at a recent FBLA competition

CTE students earn honors at state and international competitions

It was a busy season for Career and Technical Education (CTE)  students throughout the district who competed at state and international level in the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), and SkillsUSA state conferences, and the Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) International Career Development Conference.

The FCCLA State Leadership Conference was held on March 28-30, 2022 in Tucson, Arizona.  The competition allows students to compete in over 30 different events, meet the current State Executive Council and State Officer Candidates, qualify for the National Leadership Conference in San Diego, and network with members across Arizona.  

Valley Vista High School students received the following recognitions: Olivia Black earned a gold medal and a perfect score in Chicken Fabrication, Megan Gatz and Sierra Painter both won silver in Culinary Arts, and Joselyn Villegas won bronze in Food Innovations.

FCCLA offers members the opportunity to expand their leadership potential and develop skills for life - planning, goal setting, problem solving, decision making, and interpersonal communication - all necessary within the home and workplace. FCCLA is unique among youth organizations because its programs are planned and run by members.

The FBLA State Leadership conference was held on April 4-6 in Tucson, Arizona. The event gives students the opportunity to advance to the national conference, compete in a variety of competitions, participate in workshops, and run for state office for FBLA. 

Dysart High School students Jared Wilson, Ryan Maisano, Bryan Naiuli, Damien Cordero, and Devonte Reed placed in the top five for Parliamentary Procedures. Valley High School students Lilly Smith and Raven Cardosi placed second in 3D Animation.

FBLA inspires and prepares students to become community-minded business leaders in a global society through relevant career preparation and leadership experiences.

Students from all four district high schools competed in the SkillsUSA State Competition hosted April 19-20, 2022 in Phoenix.  This event is the premier showcase for Arizona’s trade, technology and service high school and college students. This annual championship features over 75 skills and leadership competitions that determine who will represent Arizona at the national SkillsUSA Championships.  

Gage Fuentes from Dysart High School earned the Silver medal in Auto Tech Basic.  Several students from Shadow Ridge High School earned medals including Jordyn Jones who earned a gold medal in T-Shirt Design and a Silver medal in Advertising Design.  Alysa Horton received a gold medal for Stage Coach Interview Skills.  Zachary Hampton and  Joseph Holm earned second Place Web Development & Design.  Jacob Bacome and Brian Bucsi won gold in 3D Visualization, and Tyler Winter and Tyler Cain won a bronze medal in Additive Manufacturing.  Willow Canyon High School students Allison Kotzbauer, Eli Hernandez, and Morgan West won gold in Career Pathways Showcase: Arts and Communication and the club was named a gold Chapter of Excellence.

SkillsUSA is a Career and Technical Education partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. SkillsUSA provides quality education experiences for students in leadership, teamwork, citizenship and character development by building and reinforcing self-confidence, work attitudes and communications skills. A nonprofit national education association, SkillsUSA serves middle-school, high-school and college/postsecondary students preparing for careers in trade, technical, and skilled service (including health) occupations.

Students from Dysart High School, Shadow Ridge High School, and Willow Canyon High School competed in the DECA International Career Development Conference (ICDC) on April 23-26 in Atlanta, Georgia.  The event allows students to compete with more than 10,000 DECA students from across the country.  Students participated in the Emerging Leaders Series in order to attain 21st Century Skills in the areas of collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity.  Students also network with hundreds of representatives in the college and career exhibits as they plan for their future.

Shadow Ridge High School student Jamie Springer was a top ten finalist in Project Management Community Awareness event, and Noah Axelson, Lily McDaniel, Kloey Garcia earned 6th place in the Virtual Business Restaurant. 

Irene Silva, Bethanie Lopez-Draeger and Servando Lopez from Dysart High School won a gold medal in the Small Business Enterprise Food Operations Competition.  Dysart High students Lorenzo Roman and Dawn Jones took fourth place in the Business Law and Ethics Competition. 

DECA is a premier student organization that supports the development of marketing and management skills in career areas such as hospitality, finance, sales and service, business administration, and entrepreneurship.  DECA is one of the many Career and Technical Education (CTE) opportunities offered to prepare students for the academic and vocational skills necessary to successfully enter the workforce. Learn more at dysart.org/cte.

05/19/2022 Direct Link

HOSA students from all four district high school pose for a photo at the state conference.

HOSA students compete at State Conference

Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) students from Dysart High School, Willow Canyon High School, and Shadow Ridge High School competed in the HOSA State Leadership Conference held in Tucson March 30 - April 1. 

HOSA is a student-led organization that seeks to empower students to become leaders in the global health community, through education, collaboration, and experience. The HOSA State Leadership conference provides students the opportunity to use the skills they have learned in their Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses and apply them to a competitive events program. 

Students had the opportunity to compete in multiple different events, participate in workshops, and network with current healthcare professionals as well as other students from across the state. 

Congratulations to the following students for their achievements in their respective events. 

Willow Canyon student Alyssa Morris placed second in Medical Terminology, Tyrah Davis placed fifth in Prepared Speaking, Kenna Moore placed fifth in Medical Law & Ethics, Hailey Amos placed fourth in Nursing Assisting, Kristin Anderson placed third in Human Growth & Development, and Melody Holland, Kenna Moore, Lauren Buseman, Elizabeth Wood and McKenna Moreno placed top eight in the Anatomage Competition. In addition, Kennedy Wilson and Isabella Buoscio qualified for the International Leadership Conference for their performance in the Healthcare Issues event. 

Dysart High School student Lindy Pottle placed first in Medical Reading, Maeve Shapera, Charity Sumner, Amaya Menjivar, Denice Calderon, Alyssa Blandford, and Alicia Parra placed first in MRC Partnership, Eden Mussleman, Sarah Weller, Victoria Mather, and Dora Mazariego placed third in Medical Innovations, Shayne Vasquez and Makenzie Maloof placed fourth in Medical Innovations, Abbigail Kizer and Ruben Jimenez placed fifth in Health Education, and Lane Vazquez Luna placed fifth in Epidemiology. Additionally, Marisol Trejo, Alejandro Arevalo and Briana Torres received the Barbara James Service Award, and Lane Vazquez Luna and Lindy Pottle were the recipients of HOSA scholarships in the amounts of $500 and $2,000. Overall, Dysart High School had 17 students qualify to compete in the International Conference.

The HOSA International Leadership Conference will take place on June 22-25, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee. 

HOSA is a student-led Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSO) specifically for students enrolled in CTE programs. The mission of HOSA is to promote career opportunities in the healthcare industry. HOSA provides a unique program of leadership development, motivation and recognition exclusively for secondary, postsecondary and collegiate students interested in a career in health care. 

04/29/2022 Direct Link

Photo of Dysart District Office Building

SPED Records Available for Review

The Dysart Unified School District is preparing to destroy archived special education records from the 2017-2018 school year and will begin this process in October, 2022. Special Education records, including placement records, referrals, evaluations, testing data, etc. are maintained for four fiscal years after a student’s final enrollment in a special education program.  Final enrollment in a special education program is defined as the last day a student is enrolled in a special education program and is no longer receiving services. Parents, guardians, or eligible students have the right to review and/or receive a copy of these records before September, 2022. Individuals that would like to review records should contact ess.records@dysart.org or 623-876-7198 prior to September, 2022. 

04/15/2022 Direct Link

Students from west Point and Sunset hills pose in front of the city of surprise council meeting.

Students recognized by Friends of the Surprise Libraries

Students from West Point Elementary School and Sunset Hills Elementary School were recently recognized for being named finalists in the annual Friends of the Surprise Libraries Bookmark Contest. Each year, Friends of the Surprise Libraries invites local sixth through eighth grade students to participate and create bookmarks depicting reading and literacy.  First place, honorable mention, and a Mayor’s Choice Award are selected in each grade category. The following Dysart students were selected as finalists: 

  • First Place - Grace Luu (6th grade, Sunset Hills) and Layla Calico (8th grade, West Point). 
  • Honorable Mention - Kayla Krise (6th grade, West Point), Isabella Jordan (7th grade, West Point), and Kayla Patnod (8th grade, West Point). 
  • Mayor's Choice Award - Audrey Howat (8th grade, West Point)

Each student was recognized and presented a plaque with their winning bookmark, as well as a monetary award at the April 5, 2022 Surprise City Council Meeting. 

Friends of the Surprise Libraries is a non-profit organization supported by local citizens who volunteer their time to promote local Libraries, literacy and reading programs. They are dedicated to supporting the local community by sponsoring various programs, school grants, and providing gifts and donations to public libraries and literacy organizations.

04/08/2022 Direct Link

Future student educators pose for a picture.

Educators Rising students place in state competition

Congratulations to the Shadow Ridge High School Educators Rising students who participated at the Educators Rising State Leadership conference hosted in Tucson March 28-30th. 

Ten Shadow Ridge students attended the event and competed in a variety of competitions related to teaching. Halle Feltner took third place in Lesson Planning and Delivery with her 5E STEM Lesson. Rhys Davis also placed in the top ten for Researching Non-Traditional Teaching Careers. Both have earned a place in the National competition this June in Washington D.C. 

Educators Rising Arizona is a Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSO) for students participating in Education Professions that is dedicated to ensuring that the future is full of high quality educators starting in high school. Educators Rising Arizona provides students with the opportunities to take what they learn in their Early Childhood Education and Education Professions classes and apply them in relevant, scenario-based competitions at the annual State Leadership Conference. Educators Rising Arizona also offers professional development opportunities and practical applications for students who aspire to enter the teaching profession by providing them with engaging breakout sessions centered around best practices and leadership development. 

Education Professions is a Career and Technical Education (CTE) program offered at Shadow Ridge High School that prepares students for employment or post secondary opportunities in the education field. The program provides instruction in education career choices, education structure and systems, theory, pedagogy, developmental stages, learning styles and methodology. The program also provides interactive experiences with students at different age levels, in a variety of content areas in educational environments.

04/06/2022 Direct Link

Girls soccer players pose with certificates

All District Boys and Girls Soccer Team

Dysart Schools held their annual All District Boys and Girls Soccer Team Award presentation to recognize and celebrate the extraordinary student athletes who displayed excellence in the 2021-2022 season. First Team, Second Team, and All Academic Team athletes were selected from Valley Vista, Shadow Ridge, Dysart, and Willow Canyon High Schools, as well as a Player of the Year.

All District Girls Soccer

1st Team
  • Kiara Sanchez- DHS 
  • Brooke Williams- DHS 
  • Estrella Chavez- DHS 
  • Mia Lohr- SRHS 
  • Kayleen Laramee- SRHS 
  • Sophia Konieczny- SRHS 
  • Logan White-SRHS 
  • Kambria Steele- VVHS 
  • Ellie Silva- VVHS 
  • Lauryn Rodgers- VVHS 
  • Isabella Pineda- WCHS 
  • Grace Brown-WCHS 
  • Katelyn Nylen- WCHS
2nd Team
  • Briana Arellano- DHS 
  • Karolina Quinonez- DHS 
  • Jennifer Rocha- DHS 
  • Ajaless Blackman-DHS 
  • Alanna Zepeda- DHS 
  • Olivia Arratia Rivera-SRHS 
  • Mikayla James- SRHS 
  • Izzy Blaco- SRHS 
  • Sophia Bohon- SRHS 
  • Kendyl Lopez- WCHS 
  • Katzibe Villalobos-WCHS 
  • Lexi Williams- WCHS 
  • Olivia O’Neal-Kervick- WCHS
All Academic Team
  • Danielle LeMoine- DHS 
  • Lesli Arredondo- DHS 
  • Sophie Konieczny- SRHS 
  • Izzy Blanco- SRHS 
  • Madisyn Yazzie- VVHS 
  • Kambrie Steele- VVHS 
  • Kendyl Lopez- WCHS 
  • Madeline Buoscio- WCHS

Player of the Year:  Paige Garcia- WCHS 

All District Boys Soccer

1st Team
  • Mauri Ortiz- DHS 
  • Caden White- DHS 
  • Ethan Clark- SRHS 
  • Dominic Calandra- SRHS 
  • Jacob Engwall- SRHS 
  • David Flores- DHS 
  • Gabriel Engwall- SRHS 
  • Aidan Murray- SRHS 
  • Daniel Benitez- VVHS 
  • Aldhair Valenzuela Rodriguez- WCHS 
  • Oscar Mendez- DHS 
  • German Cervantes- DHS
2nd Team
  • Kaeden Skawski- VVHS 
  • Luis Esparza- VVHS 
  • Bryson Wilke- WCHS  
  • Caden Bott- SRHS 
  • Eric Orozco-Zavala- DHS 
  • Jackson Servais- VVHS 
  • Camden Fleming- SRHS 
  • Justin Suarez- VVHS 
  • Macuna Patterson- WCHS 
  • Tiesen Cudmore- SRHS 
  • Domink Bormann- VVHS 
  • Dezmon Valdivia- DHS 
  • Eli Anderson - SRHS
All Academic Team
  • Caden White- DHS 
  • Angel Rocha- DHS 
  • Abdullah Hasan- VVHS 
  • Daniel Benitez- VVHS 
  • Bryson Wilke- WCHS  
  • Devin Seay- WCHS 
  • Dominic Calandra- SRHS 
  • Aidan Murray- SRHS

Player of the Year:  Agustin Orozco, Jr.-DHS

04/01/2022 Direct Link

Shadow Ridge cheer team poses with a first place state championship banner.

Cheer and Pom win big at State and Nationals

Congratulations to the three Dysart Unified School District schools that earned top honors at state and national competitions.  During the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) State Cheer Competition held on March 12, 2022, Shadow Ridge placed first in the Coed Cheer 1-2 Division, Willow Canyon High School second, and Valley Vista High School earned third.  

The Coed Cheer category included a two minute and 30 second routine broken up into two elements – one minute of a crowd leading cheer, one minute and 30 seconds of music. Teams performed stunts, tumbling, jumps, and a dance during music sections and focused on a variety of coed skills, including coed partner stunting. 

Additionally, Willow Canyon High School Pom placed sixth at state in Division 2 Pom.

The pom routine incorporated dance based skills such as turns, leaps and jumps and focused on strong and precise motions, team synchronization and visual effects. 

Willow Canyon High School had two recognitions at the USA Spirit Nationals, held in Anaheim California.  The Cheer team earned first place in the Small Coed Show Cheer Advanced category making this a back to back win for the program. Additionally, the Wildcat Pom team earned second place for the Small Song/Pom Intermediate category. 

03/31/2022 Direct Link

Girls basketball players pose with their certificates

All District Boys and Girls Basketball Team

Dysart Schools held their annual All District Boys and Girls Basketball Team Award presentation to recognize and celebrate the extraordinary student athletes who displayed excellence in the 2021-2022 season. First Team, Second Team, and All Academic Team athletes were selected from Valley Vista, Shadow Ridge, , and Willow Canyon High Schools, as well as a Player of the Year. 

All District Girls Basketball 

1st Team
  • Jennah Isai- VVHS  
  • Mikela Cooper- VVHS 
  • Destiny Lunan- VVHS 
  • Olivia Arvallo- VVHS  
  • Chloe Lobmeyer- WCHS 
  • Talia Dial- DHS  
  • Kelsey Ericksen- SRHS
2nd Team
  • Makayla Ramirez-WCHS 
  • Leilani Soto- WCHS 
  • Mia Martinez- WCHS 
  • Rachel McClanahan- SRHS 
  • Geneva Holman- DHS 
  • Torah Dial- DHS 
  • Qeirnin Acevedo- VVHS 
All Academic Team
  • Mikela Cooper- VVHS  
  • Jennah Isai- VVHS  
  • Nevaeh Henson-  WCHS 
  • Mia Martinez- WCHS  
  • Halle Bryan- SRHS 
  • Rachel McClanahan- SRHS 
  • Lieyla Albino- DHS 
  • Talia Dial- DHS

Player of the Year:  Jennah Isai 

All District Boys Basketball

1st Team
  • Darius Anderson- DHS 
  • Eli Flemming- DHS 
  • Aadem Isai- VVHS 
  • Dwayne Porter- VVHS 
  • Luke Arington- SRHS 
  • Pike Tancil- WCHS 
  • David Bright- WCHS
2nd Team
  • Tate DeBoer- WCHS 
  • Aidan Carino- WCHS 
  • Bryce Hanson-WCHS 
  • Tyren Gibbs- SRHS 
  • Dallas Marker- VVHS 
  • Clayton Werner- VVHS 
  • Nigel Anderson - DHS
All Academic Team
  • Pike Tancil- WCHS 
  • Anthony Wheatley- WCHS 
  • Nigel Anderson- DHS 
  • Vincent Torres- DHS 
  • Brenden Kohne- SRHS 
  • Rocco Bonini-SRHS 
  • Aadem Isai- VVHS 
  • Clayton Werner- VVHS

Player of the Year:  Pike Tancil

03/30/2022 Direct Link

DECA students pose for photo at the state conference.

DECA chapters thrive at State Conference

The Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) chapters from Dysart Unified School District’s four high schools competed in the Arizona DECA State Career Development Conference in Phoenix this past month. Students had the opportunity to network with over 2,200 peers from around the state while competing in one of 50 unique business competitions. Additionally, students also had the opportunity to visit with Arizona’s top colleges, top businesses, and learn first-hand how to be ready at any level, for any career. 

Willow Canyon High School received Gold Certification in Retail Operations and Gold Recertification in Food Operations for their School Based Enterprise (SBE). Willow Canyon students Braxton Vinson and Ryan Carter also received fifth place in Team Decision Making, Entrepreneurship. 

Dysart High School received the State Affiliation Chapter Award, Gold Diamond Society Award, and the Gold School Based Enterprise Recertification Award. Several students were also finalists in their events and received a top 10% medal for their written exams including Clayton Williams (Principles of Hospitality and Tourism), Servando Lopez (Food Marketing Services), and Lorenzo Roman (Business Administration and Management). Dawn Jones and Lorenzo Roman also placed fourth in the state in Team Business Law and Ethics, and have qualified to attend the International Conference. 

Shadow Ridge High School had nine students place in their events, with several more students receiving test medals. Stephen MacKellar, Jamie Springer, Noah Axelson, Kloey Garcia, and Lily McDaniel received first place in their events with Stephen MacKellar and Jamie Springer also placing first overall. Additionally, Meghan Crisan placed second overall, and Krystina Dunham placed fourth overall. Shadow Ridge also received SBE Gold Certification, and have qualified to send several students to the International Conference. 

Valley Vista High School had seven students compete and received Bronze in the Chapter Community Service Competition and received the DECA Rising Star Award. 

The DECA International Career Development Conference will take place April 23-26, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. 

DECA is a premier student organization that supports the development of marketing and management skills in career areas such as hospitality, finance, sales and service, business administration, and entrepreneurship.  DECA is one of the many Career and Technical Education (CTE) opportunities offered to prepare students for the academic and vocational skills necessary to successfully enter the workforce. Learn more at dysart.org/cte.

03/22/2022 Direct Link

Convergence Indoor Percussion students post with a 1st place plaque.

Convergence Wins First Place

Congratulations to the Convergence Indoor Percussion group who kicked-off their competitive season with a first place win at Buckeye Union High School.  Convergence Indoor Percussion is a competitive indoor percussion ensemble consisting of students from high schools in the Dysart Unified School District.

The large group of 28 students from Shadow Ridge, Valley Vista, and Willow Canyon high schools performed portions of their 2022 show: "Sleep Tight Sandy" and earned an impressive score of 76.80 at the competition. Congratulations to the following students and coaches:

Students

Brandon Jones, Bass Drum (SRHS) 

Colten Mullins, Bass Drum (SRHS) 

Claire Hoffman, Bass Drum (WCHS) 

Brayden Hodge, Bass Drum (SRHS) 

Andrew Mekhail, Bass Drum (WCHS) 

Andres Barrera, Snare Drum (VVHS) 

Jeremiah Johnson, Snare Drum (WCHS) 

Tristan Edelman, Snare Drum (WCHS) 

Tyler Otero, Snare Drum (WCHS) 

Alex Bodine, Tenors (WCHS) 

Zachary Woodworth, Tenors (WCHS) 

Charles Green, Cymbals/Visual (WCHS) 

Corbin Comber, Cymbal/Visual (WCHS) 

Hayley Dunham, Cymbals/Visual (SRHS) 

Princess Jones, Cymbals/Visual (WCHS) 

Austin Woodworth, Visual (WCHS) 

Robyn Potter, Visual (WCHS) 

Brianna Carley, Marimba (WCHS) 

Maili Esquivel, Marimba (WCHS) 

Eli Hernandez, Vibraphone (WCHS) 

Julia Cody, Vibraphone (WCHS) 

Jose Cortez, Xylophone/Glockenspiel (WCHS) 

Steven Shade, Xylophone (WCHS) 

Alexander Jayme, Synth (WCHS) 

Dylan McCarter, Guitar (SRHS) 

Zoe Falkenberg, Malletkat (WCHS) 

Austin Templeton, Drumkit (WCHS) 

Jackson Reese, Rack (WCHS)

Coaches

Michaela Rademacher - Executive Director 

Stephen Goodman - Director 

Vincent Molina - Snare Tech 

Kyle Clouser - Bass Tech 

Mason Burris - Tenor Tech 

Cody Mullins - Front Ensemble Tech 

Kalob Clouser - Audio Tech

Based out of Willow Canyon High School, these students meet after school twice a week to practice their show and hone their musical abilities. The ensemble competes in the Independent A Class for the Winterguard Arizona (WGAZ) circuit and performances are evaluated on music and visual elements, and their ability to effectively communicate a storyline.

03/15/2022 Direct Link

Canyon Ridge leadership pose for a photo with a certificate

Canyon Ridge Students Receive Awards from Arizona DAR

Canyon Ridge School, in partnership with the Arizona Daughters of the American Revolution (Arizona DAR) - Agua Fria chapter, recently recognized the seventh grade team for participating in the 2021-2022 National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) History Essay Contest. Middle level learners, their teachers, and community guests recently gathered for an awards assembly and to honor student Charles Riley III who won first place in the contest on the chapter level. He received a special award and a prize. His outstanding work will now advance to the Arizona DAR state level competition. More than 100 additional learners that submitted a contest entry were presented with a certificate of participation for their efforts.

The theme of the annual contest involved the one-hundredth anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. Each student generated a thought provoking historical essay of 600 words or more that highlighted the importance of the national monument. The essay prompt required a combination of historical facts, patriotic perspectives, and fictional characters. Learners performed internet research to determine the design, construction and purpose of the tomb. They also included facts from their study of the First World War in social studies class and the creative writing techniques and conventions provided during Language Arts instruction.

“The students did wonderful work and were so creative,” stated Arizona DAR - Agua Fria member Shirley Staggs. “They really had a great grasp of the prompt and the importance of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.”

“Each year our collaboration with Canyon Ridge School gets better and better,” stated Arizona DAR - Agua Fria Regent Twila Lobitz. “The seventh grade team has demonstrated great creativity and a genuine sense of patriotism.”

02/28/2022 Direct Link

Football players pose with their certificates.

All District Football Team

The Dysart Unified School District held their annual All District Football Team Award presentation to recognize and celebrate the extraordinary student athletes who displayed excellence in the 2021 season.   Athletes were selected by district coaches from Valley Vista, Shadow Ridge, Dysart, and Willow Canyon High Schools.

  • Coach of the Year - Coach Stangler - Willow Canyon 
  • Player of the Year - Xereque Parham - Willow Canyon 
  • Offensive Player of the Year  - Anthony Garcia - Shadow Ridge 
  • Defensive Player of the Year - Jaelin McCullen - Valley Vista

First Team Offense

  • QB - Micah Hendricks - Shadow Ridge 
  • RB - Meven Obregon - Valley Vista 
  • RB - Brady Ferris - Willow Canyon 
  • WR - Isaac Yates - Shadow Ridge 
  • WR - Micahel Clymer - Dysart 
  • WR - Mikel Henderson - Valley Vista 
  • WR  - Blaise Nelson - Valley Vista 
  • Flex - Robert Grier - Shadow Ridge 
  • OL - Julian Laborin - Dysart 
  • OL - Xavier Silvas - Dysart 
  • OL - Logan Getejanc - Shadow Ridge 
  • OL - Matt Spurlin - Willow Canyon 
  • OL - Jaden Lay - Valley Vista

Second Team Offense

  • QB AJ Crespin Valley Vista 
  • RB Tryston Oliver Dysart 
  • RB Marquez Smith Willow Canyon 
  • WR  Donovan Williams Willow Canyon 
  • WR Anthony Ordaz Valley Vista 
  • WR Matin Strong Valley Vista 
  • WR Reyes Navarro Dysart 
  • OL Joseph Hill Willow Canyon 
  • OL Deon LaGuardia Valley Vista 
  • OL Devon Odom Valley Vista 
  • OL Colton Allen Willow Canyon 
  • OL Will Prince Shadow Ridge

First Team Defense

  • DL - Josiah Gardiner - Willow Canyon 
  • DL - Roy Dillard Valley - Vista 
  • DL - Di’Juan Curtis - Shadow Ridge 
  • DL - Xavier Silvas - Dysart 
  • LB - Dominick Jewell - Willow Canyon 
  • LB - Ismael Gamez - Dysart 
  • LB - Brody Lindemann - Valley Vista 
  • LB - Jacob Cano - Shadow Ridge 
  • DB - Daunte Williams - Willow Canyon 
  • DB - Carter Price - Valley Vista 
  • DB - Austin Rhodes - Willow Canyon 
  • DB - Michael James - Valley Vista Long Snapper - Preston Tucker - Valley Vista

Second Team Defense

  • DL - Layton Sleight - Willow Canyon 
  • DL - Julian Laborin - Dysart 
  • DL - Preston Tucker - Valley Vista 
  • DL - Ashton Broemer - Shadow Ridge 
  • LB - Braxton Vinson - Willow Canyon 
  • LB - Filamoni Lauina - Shadow Ridge 
  • LB - Andrew Zacek - Valley Vista 
  • LB - Jonah Flowers - Valley Vista 
  • DB - Michael Clymer - Dysart 
  • DB - Rocco Bonini - Shadow Ridge 
  • DB - John Keenan - Valley Vista 
  • DB - Trey Luna - Shadow Ridge 
  • Long Snapper - Layton Sleight - Willow Canyon

Kicker

  • 1st Team - Bryson Wilke - Willow Canyon 
  • 2nd Team Chase Tornberg - Shadow Ridge

Punter

  • 1st Team - Bryson Wilke - Willow Canyon 
  • 2nd Team - Carter Price - Valley Vista

Kick Return 

  • 1st Team - Blaise Nelson - Valley Vista 
  • 2nd Team - Robert Grier - Shadow Ridge

Punt Returner

  • 1st Team - Donovan Williams - Willow Canyon 
  • 2nd Team - Michael James - Valley Vista

12/13/2021 Direct Link

Dysart Safe Logo, Think Safe, Act Safe, Be Safe

Important Safety Reminders from the Superintendent

Dysart Parents and Guardians,

Greetings! As you are aware, there have been incidents of violence against schools around the country, and threats against schools locally. The recent school shootings are tragic, and I pray every day that our students will be safe from such attacks. 

Please be assured that Dysart Schools have a robust safety plan to prevent/prepare for a range of safety events (Dysart.org/Safety). Additionally, Dysart appreciates the extraordinary work by local police who assist with the safety of our students and staff. All threats to Dysart Schools are taken seriously and are reported to the police. 

Recently, there has been an increase in threats against schools, as well as false reports and fabrications of potential threats, all of which are thoroughly investigated by the police using advanced threat assessment protocols. I need your help to prevent future school disruptions, and to help students understand the serious legal consequences of making threats against a school. 

Please discuss these important points with your children:

  1. Immediately share with a responsible adult information that could be considered threatening to you or our community. This could be a parent, teacher or school staff member. 
  2. Threats and rumors should never be forwarded or shared online, because doing so impedes and prolongs police investigations. Students involved will be disciplined and/or arrested. 
  3. Making threats or falsely reporting a threat to a school is extremely serious. These acts are a crime and a violation of our student handbook. Dysart has zero tolerance for threats against schools. Dysart will involve police and pursue criminal charges to the fullest extent of the law. If you become aware of an immediate threat, please call 911.  Otherwise, call law enforcement non-emergency lines to report potential threats towards our schools or the community in Surprise (623-222-4000), El Mirage (623-933-1341), or Maricopa County (602-876-1602). 

Another option for reporting school safety issues or concerns is through the Dysart Safe Schools Hotline (623-876-7009) or online at Dysart.org/SafeReport. Additional information, resources, and school safety tips can be found on our website at Dysart.org/Safety. 

Our teachers, social workers, counselors, administrators, students and parents are all vital to identifying and assessing potential threats. We all have a responsibility to be vigilant and should strive to prioritize the safety of our community. It is our sincere desire to ensure our campuses are a safe place for students and employees, and we appreciate your help in this effort.  

Respectfully, 


 Quinn R. Kellis, Ed.D. 

Superintendent 

Dysart Unified School District

12/08/2021 Direct Link

Student with magnifying glass

Child Find Informational Meeting Dec. 8

The Dysart Unified School District Exceptional Student Services Department will be hosting a meeting for families to learn about the Child Find Process on Wednesday, December 8, 2021 from 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM in Training Room 2 at the Dysart Unified School District Support Facilities Building located at 13825 W. Desert Cove Rd., Surprise, AZ 85379.  The meeting will cover Child Find and the types of services the district is able to provide to families who reside within Dysart district boundaries or have chosen homeschool or to attend a private school within our district boundaries.

We welcome you to come learn about the Child Find process and specialized services the District is able to provide at no charge.  Child Find is a service that offers free developmental screenings for children aged 2 years 9 months through 21 years who may have suspected delays.  Free screenings and/or diagnostic evaluations help determine those children who may be eligible for special education services. 

12/01/2021 Direct Link

Choir students pose for photos.

Students named to All State Show Choir

Congratulations to the talented students who were selected for the All State Show Choir by the Arizona Choral Educators. More than 400 students from high schools around Arizona auditioned on November 6 to be a part of the 60 member All State Show Choir at Horizon High School. A total of eight Valley Vista High School students and one alternate will represent the Monsoon including:

  • Kelly Romero (6th Chair Alto) 
  • Desi Jones (9th Chair Alto) 
  • Samira Doxie (11th Chair Alto) 
  • Maddie O’Brien (14th Chair Alto) 
  • Daniel Alger (13th Chair Tenor) 
  • Enrique LeDoux (3rd Chair Bass) 
  • Luke Lundberg (5th Chair Bass) 
  • Cian Horner (11th Chair Bass) 
  • Andrew Estrella (5th Alternate Bass)

Additionally, two students from Willow Canyon High School will serve as alternates:  Aidan Ramirez (Bass Alternate) and Aaron Mittelstadt (Tenor Alternate).

The Arizona Choral Educators (ACE) is a constituent group of the Arizona Music Educators Association (AMEA) which serves the needs of elementary, junior high, high school, and collegiate directors throughout Arizona. AMEA was established in 1939 as a cooperative effort of music educators. Since that time, the association has become affiliated with The National Association for Music Education (NAfME). 

11/30/2021 Direct Link

Scheduled Power Outtage

Scheduled Network Maintenance

Due to a maintenance update, the power at the Dysart District Office will shut down starting at 5:00 PM on Friday November 19, 2021 for approximately six hours. This outage affects the following district systems:

  • All district websites & servers
  • All district phone systems
  • All district intranet or internet connection
  • Power will only be shut down at the Dysart District Office, but this outage will affect our network at all sites district wide
  • The District Office lobby will close at 4:00 PM in preparation for the power outage

Our Information Technology Department is scheduled to have everything operational by 10:00 PM that same evening. Components that do not power up appropriately may result in additional down time. Thank you for your patience during this time. If you have any questions please feel free to contact publicrelations@dysart.org.

11/19/2021 Direct Link

Desert Financial Credit Union Fiesta Bowl Charities Wishes for Teachers Graphic

Six Teachers receive Fiesta Bowl Grants

Congratulations to six Dysart Unified School District teachers who received Wishes for Teachers grants from the Fiesta Bowl Charities.  

The Fiesta Bowl organization saw that many teachers spent their own money to enhance their classroom experience and developed a program to aid teachers in that effort. As a way to support, celebrate, and honor Arizona educators, teachers are invited to fill out an online application detailing their school and classroom’s individual wish.  The following Dysart teachers were recognized and will receive a $2,500 grant courtesy of the Fiesta Bowl Charities and Desert Financial:

Eric Bennett from Shadow Ridge High School plans to purchase programmable devices and equipment for STEM projects. 

Alexandria Cox from Riverview School and Amanda Johns from West Point Elementary will both use the funds for new seating options for students to promote a better learning environment.

Roxanne Lopez from Mountain View School wishes to purchase updated technology supplies to participate in district and state robotics competitions.

Melissa Reagan from El Mirage Elementary School will utilize the funds for sensory materials in her Special Education classroom to encourage more hands-on learning.

Andrew Woolridge from Surprise Elementary School will use the funds for additional materials and supplies for science experiments.

Created in 2016, the Desert Financial Fiesta Bowl Charities Wishes for Teachers program grants classroom wishes to teachers across the state of Arizona.  All wish recipients become part of the Fiesta Bowl family and can participate in community events throughout the year. This year, recipients are invited to the Guaranteed Rate Bowl on December 28, 2021 to be honored at the game during halftime.  Additionally, teachers are invited to the 50th Annual Desert Financial Fiesta Bowl Parade to walk alongside the Fiesta Bowl Charities Wishes for Teachers bus with fellow recipients.  In its five years, Wishes for Teachers has granted over $3.7 million to Arizona teachers, impacting 300,000+ students at 400 schools across the state.  Fiesta Bowl Charities strives to enhance organizations that contribute to the success of their communities through youth, sports and education and charitable giving.

11/09/2021 Direct Link

Front of the Dysart district office

DSB Live Showcases New Mobile Production Trailer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 10/29/21

The Dysart Unified School District’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) department and Dysart Student Broadcasting Live (DSB Live) showcased a new mobile production trailer that will allow the DSB Live program to expand their livestream event operations.  The district recently hosted a showcase to unveil the new equipment. Students demonstrated how to use the equipment, students performed and CTE programs were highlighted. Guests were able to watch first-hand as students used the mobile production trailer and equipment, including a LED sports desk.

Through DSB Live, the Dysart Unified School District provides live stream broadcasts of school events free of charge to the community. DSB Live is student-driven and student-produced. Students in grades 9-12 at Dysart’s four high schools (Dysart HS, Shadow Ridge HS, Valley Vista HS, and Willow Canyon HS) learn, develop and run every aspect of the show, including operating state-of-the-art cameras and TriCasters, creating commercials, being sound technicians, producers, graphic operators, on-field reporters, and color commentators during sports broadcasts. 

Nearly 150 students are currently involved in DSB Live productions through their campus. New this year, students can choose to participate in DSB Live as an Internship and earn ½ high school credit per semester. 

Going into its second year, DSB Live covers a variety of academic, arts and athletic events throughout the year. A full schedule of events is available at Dysart.org/DSBlive. 215 livestream events were produced last year, in DSB Live’s inaugural year.

The DSB Live program compliments the media pathways in Dysart’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) program, but is open to any student.  The DSB Live program is sustained through sponsorship and donations.  For more information on participation, sponsorship or donation opportunities, please contact Brian Yoder at 623-256-5062 or brian.yoder@dysart.org.

Media inquiries should be directed to renee.ryon@dysart.org or 623-876-7196.  

For More Information

15802 N Parkview Place, Surprise

10/29/2021 Direct Link

Principals from El Mirage and Cimarron Springs pose with cleaning donations.

County School Superintendent supports schools

A big thanks goes out to the Maricopa County School Superintendent, Steve Watson who donated 60 packages of Lysol wipes to Cimarron Springs Middle School and El Mirage Elementary School.  Both school principals got a tour of the Maricopa County School STEM Resource Center and a meet and greet with Steve Watson.  

The Office of the Maricopa County School Superintendent supports schools through the three main priorities:

  • Amplifies teacher voice through advisory teams, feedback and teacher retention projects. 
  • Elevates the teaching profession by telling the stories of great teaching, recognizes those that are doing great work, and provides opportunities for teachers to extend their talents beyond the walls of their classroom.
  • Provides resources and creates relationships with organizations looking to support education and connects them with Maricopa County schools and teachers. The resources curated are intended to support educators to teach with creativity and autonomy.  

Learn more at https://schoolsup.org/.  

10/26/2021 Direct Link

Logan MacDonald, Choir Director at Willow Canyon High School, poses with students in his classroom.

Willow Canyon Teacher named Educator of Distinction

Logan MacDonald, Choir Director at Willow Canyon High School, was recently selected as a Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction by the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS).  This honor recognizes exemplary educators whose passion and devotion inspire their students to grow and develop as scholars, leaders and citizens.

Each year student members of the NSHSS are invited to nominate the educator who has made the most significant contribution to their academic career for the Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction Award. 

MacDonald was nominated by Alexa Felix, a Willow Canyon High School senior and NSHSS member who has been in his choir class for all four years of high school. “Mr. Mac has taught me to be confident in who I am and to push forward through anything that comes my way,” said Alexa. “He always shows me that I can break down any limits I place on myself. He has also created a family in our choir program that has made me excited to go to school and grow with everyone around me.”

Mr. MacDonald is in his seventh year teaching and serving as the Choir Director at Willow Canyon. The choir groups have won several accolades under his leadership including Excellent and Superior ratings for concert choir, and top five honors for show choir in competitions throughout the southwest. "I am so lucky to be able to work with such amazing students every single day,” said MacDonald.  “Any recognition really belongs to the kids and the effort they give to make Willow Canyon Choir such an incredible experience!”

The National Society of High School Scholars seeks to advance the goals and aspirations of high-achieving students through unique learning experiences, scholarships, internships, international studies and peer networks.  For more information, visit www.nshss.org.

10/15/2021 Direct Link

Big Red from the Arizona Cardinals speaks with children at El Mirage Elementary School.

AZ Cardinals read to El Mirage students

The students at El Mirage Elementary School got a very special visit from the Arizona Cardinals Milk and Cookies Program this week. Big Red, the mascot, got the students energized and ready for reading. Big Red was joined by Cardinals alumni Mark Maddox and cheerleaders Emily and Zaryn who read a selection of books to students.  The students were awarded the special assembly for perfect attendance and leadership skills.  After the reading, students enjoyed a yummy snack of milk and cookies, an Arizona Cardinals backpack, and mini football.

The Cardinals, SRP, and Albertsons-Safeway have teamed up for 19 years on the Milk and Cookies program, which supports and promotes literacy throughout Valley elementary schools.

10/07/2021 Direct Link

Lidia Goodman speaks with students about hispanic heritage month.

Cimarron Springs celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

Students, parents, teachers, and community members came together to gather artifacts to help celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at Cimarron Springs Middle School for Mrs. Trujillo’s Spanish class. Items included a variety of food, clothing, and kitchen items with historical value from different Spanish-speaking countries. Students will be researching a figure from Hispanic history and presenting a small biography on them over the next four weeks. On September 24th, students had the opportunity to view and learn about customs and traditions of Spanish-speaking countries through artifacts brought in by Mrs. Trujillo and Lidia Goodman, a former Cimarron teacher and current district volunteer and substitute.  Mrs. Goodman shared several artifacts from her upbringing in Sonora, Mexico.

National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed annually from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

09/27/2021 Direct Link

Steve Wallgren, Willow Canyon High School Theatre Teacher, speaks with students in the performing arts center.

Willow Canyon Teacher Nominated for Arts Award

Mr. Steve Wallgren, Willow Canyon High School Theatre Teacher, was named one of five finalists for the 2021 Inaugural Tancer Arts in Education Award by Act One.  The Tancer award recognizes Arizona teachers dedicated to sharing a love of the arts with their students.

Wallgren has been a teacher and educator for 18 years, including eight years teaching students in Dysart Schools, and four as the theatre teacher at Willow Canyon.  He has produced nine shows including Noises Off, Shrek, Sister Act, and the latest production, Mary Poppins.  Tickets available at https://www.onthestage.tickets/willow-canyon-theatre. Wallgren was also a finalist for the Governor’s Arts Award last year. 

The award received its name in memory of Robert "Bob" Tancer, local art advocate extraordinaire, who passed away in March 2020. Bob was an active member of the Act One board, believing in the organization's mission and working on the committee to expand the educational depth of the field trip experience.  Bob saw the tremendous role the teacher played in making the experience rich and educationally rewarding.

Act One is a nonprofit founded in 2011 to provide children in Title 1 schools in Maricopa, Pinal, and Pima counties with the opportunity to experience arts performances and exhibitions through field trips to professional theaters and museums. Act One provides meaningful arts experiences that enhance the academic and creative potential of children and families in Arizona. For more information on Act One, visit www.act1az.org.

09/17/2021 Direct Link

Luke Elementary School iExplore Teacher, Christina Tormollan pilots a plane.

Luke Teacher Takes to the Skies

Luke Elementary School iExplore Teacher, Christina Tormollan, recently got a once in a lifetime opportunity to ride in a Cessna 172Nxi aircraft for a discovery flight with the United States Air Force (USAF) Civil Air Patrol as part of the Aerospace Education Member Program.  

“It allowed me to see my school from a different perspective,” said Tormollan.  “This state is no longer just a desert but rather an oasis of opportunities!”

Tormollan flew with Major Ron Marks, a pilot in the Civil Air Patrol since 1989, who also flies as a professional pilot for FedEx.  They traveled at around 150 miles per hour at an altitude between 1,500 and 3,000 feet above the Northwest Valley.

The purpose of the Aerospace Education Member Program is to provide teachers with these opportunities so they can share it with their students and get them interested in aviation and aerospace.   Luke Elementary School will tie aeronautical opportunities into their iExplore program through a partnership with Northern Arizona University (NAU) and the Civil Air Patrol.  They will provide opportunities for students to be involved in drone technology as well as robotics and coding.  Tormollan and Luke Elementary hope these partnerships for the students will help them transition to high school with the district’s Career and Technical Education programs such as Network Technology, Engineering, and Coding.

08/20/2021 Direct Link

Ken Hicks holds his AASBO Award at the district office.

Ken Hicks honored with AASBO award

Kenneth Hicks, the Assistant Superintendent for Business Services at Dysart Schools, was recently recognized with the Bill Lovett Memorial Award by the Arizona Association of School Business Officials (AASBO) for his outstanding contribution to the organization.  

Hicks was honored at the annual conference for his dedication, service, and longevity to AASBO.  He has been an AASBO member for 23 years and continues to be a resource for AASBO and its members.  Hicks presents at annual conferences, served on several committees and boards including: the AASBO Executive Board, Education Finance Reform Group, Trust Alliance Board, Valley Schools Board, Auditor General’s School Finance Advisory Committee, ASBO International, Government Finance Officers Association and Governor’s Classroom First Initiative.  

“He is a positive and approachable advocate for Arizona public education and is a supportive member of AASBO, ” said Francie Wolfe-Baumann, Accounting Coordinator at Dysart Schools. 

The award was created in memory of  William “Bill” Lovett who served as the AASBO president from 1974-1975 and was the organization’s first Executive Director. 

AASBO is a professional organization; providing support and professional development opportunities for individuals in the field of education who provide management and services in accounting, finance, budget, food and nutrition, technology, maintenance and facilities, pupil transportation, and other support service operations.  The mission of AASBO is to promote the highest standards of school business management by providing quality training, legislative leadership, and cultivating the professional stature of its members.

08/12/2021 Direct Link

Trevor Tuttle from Willow Canyon poses at his house.

Willow Canyon student shares IB experience

Trevor Tuttle graduated in 2019 from Willow Canyon High School with a standard high school diploma and the International Baccalaureate Diploma. The IB Diploma is a rigorous two-year diploma where students are required to test in six different classes, write an extended essay, complete a course in Theory of Knowledge, and complete 150 hours in creativity, action and service. “Trevor is the typical IB Diploma candidate,” says IB Coordinator, Dr. Jason Ward. “He is the rule, not the exception. Most of our IB Diploma earners enter the university of their choice with plenty of public and private scholarships packaged with up to 24 credits that save students and their parents considerably in tuition dollars.” Dr. Ward took the time during the 2021 graduation week to sit down with Trevor and interview him as to his perceptions of the IB education he received. This interview comes two years after he graduated from high school allowing him to give an accurate and thoughtful reflection of what the IB Diploma really meant to him. 

What is your greatest memory from your International Baccalaureate education at Willow Canyon High School?

In studying for our exams, some of our teachers would hold a group study during class or outside of school. In the event where they did not, students would instead hold something together in order to study. While we were studying, we also realized that we were a little stressed and so we would joke around and try our best to enjoy that time together. The IB Program is small so most everyone is pretty close and everyone knows each other, and this even applies a bit to the relationships with teachers.

What was your favorite aspect of the IB Program? 

Looking back, I believe that the college level courses were the greatest part of the program. I learned high level material that was almost repeated to me in some of my college courses, but I also got experience in writing and taking exams at a college level. For example, the Extended Essay seemed like a huge undertaking but all of my extensive research papers that I have had to write while in college used those same skills, and since I had the experience, this was something that I did with ease. I think the CAS project was also a great aspect because it makes some of the active and social things that students want to do something that they need to do. While it is not on the same scale as a Capstone Project, it also prepares students for the Capstone Project that they will need to complete. A Capstone is a project that students complete in their junior or senior year which takes everything that they have learned in their courses, and they must apply it. For my Honors Capstone, I am in the middle of shooting a feature length documentary film using state-of-the-art equipment provided to me by the school.

What other activities did you participate in while in the IB Program?

While in the IB Program, I also participated in the National Honors Society, Willow Canyon’s Media Club, and the SkillsUSA chapter. In two of those clubs, I held an officer role. I also was involved in sports broadcasting for football and basketball.

Some may think that to participate in a program like IB, you have to give up everything else. How was your social life impacted as a result of your IB education?

IB feels like a lot of work and can be a little daunting, but while I was in the IB program, I was actually more social than before. I am not a social person but during this time, I hung out with friends a few times throughout the year, I attended both homecoming and prom, and many of the sports games. I had plenty of time to attend all the clubs I went to, and a lot of time to spend playing video games with my closest friends online after school. Currently, I created and I am running the first SkillsUSA chapter at NAU, working for the NAU Engineering College in Marketing,  all while taking 19-23 credits a semester. I have had plenty of time to go out and hang out with friends or spend time alone playing video games. Through IB, I learned how to manage my own time and workload in high school. 

My grandmother used to say “proof is in the pudding.” How did the IB diploma impact you (whether positively or negative)? In other words, was it worth it? If so, how? If not, how not? 

The IB diploma was worth it both for the credits that you can receive from taking the tests, but also for the ability to do a lot of rigorous coursework. Going into college, I received 19 transfer credits. I received two credits for English, six credits for two film classes that I did not have to take later in college, three credits for psychology, and eight credits for Spanish. As a film student with a minor in psychology, this definitely helped speed up my college career, but I also received plenty of credit for transfer classes. For example, while many people may not be studying a foreign language in college, some colleges require you to take a certain amount of foreign language. In the NAU Honors College, you are required to take two foreign language courses, something that was fulfilled by my IB credit. Another way in which IB impacted me was in regard to how much I could handle in my coursework. I know at the time, many of us were a little stressed in high school with IB, but once I got into college, my advisor told me that I was going to be taking 6 classes a week for a total of 16 credits. I told my advisor that I wanted to take 19 credits because after being in IB, taking less classes felt like I was getting it too easy. As of now, I have taken 18-19 credits a semester with ease and a 4.0 GPA in Honors. This last spring semester, I took a total of 21 credits, and this fall I will be ending my undergraduate career by taking 23 credits. Through my time in the IB Program, I learned how to manage my time, how to study effectively, and how to deal with stress, letting me take more credits than other college students around me. At NAU, I did receive the Lumberjack Scholars Award, meaning that my tuition was paid for. However, I still had to pay for housing which costs about $3600 a semester, around $1,000 in fees, plus expenses like food and school supplies. I will be graduating a year and a half earlier than my expected graduation, meaning I am saving at least $14, 000. With that being said, I do not use the meal plans on campus, saving some of the cost as well. NAU offers an IB Scholarship, but since it only covers tuition, I was not eligible since I received the Lumberjack Scholars Award. Overall, it was extremely worth it. Not only did I feel prepared for college level courses once I began my college classes, I also was told that my writing and other academic skills were a higher level than the level of classes I have taken so far. While writing research papers, I have been told that my writing reflects the 400 level or graduate level writing rather than the writing of a junior. I have also received an Honors Best Paper Award from the NAU Honors College for an essay that I had written in one of my Honors classes. In my film classes, I was with students who were touching cameras for the first time in their lives, while I was able to do everything the professor wanted without listening to the lecture. I was able to pick up important life and academic skills, skills related to specific courses like English and Film, and I was able to save thousands in the cost for my college education.

All things considered, would you do it again? Explain.

There is absolutely no part of me that could say no to this question. Knowing what I know now, I never would have doubted being in the IB Program. For a brief time, I figured that it was not going to help me as much as others talked about, but after entering college, I realized that I was instead helped more than I think most others expected. I do not think that I would have the grades, the social life, the work life, or the academic career that I currently have without that experience and time that I have spent in the IB Program.

What advice do you have for parents and students considering the IB program? 

IB feels like a lot of work and that the end-goal is hard to see at the moment, but it is worth it. You should definitely look at colleges and determine what credits you will get for passing the tests, as well as some of the liberal arts and elective courses that they may also require from students. IB prepares you for college classes in a way that puts you so ahead of the game that it is truly unbelievable. All of my teachers were extremely helpful and people who I respected and got to know a little more on a personal level. The cost can be a little intimidating but nothing compared to the cost of one semester in college. IB was definitely the greatest decision I probably made in high school and is one that has paid off so unbelievably for me.

The International Baccalaureate Program (IB) courses are offered exclusively at Willow Canyon High School and challenges academically talented students to reach high levels of achievement in a broad range of subjects and allow two different participation tracks: IB diploma and IB certificate. The International Baccalaureate Organizations Diploma Program is a demanding pre-university course of study that leads to examinations. IB schools have earned a reputation for rigorous assessment, giving IB diploma holders access to the world's leading universities. Students can apply for the IB program for their junior and senior years.  If any parent or student has questions regarding the IB Diploma, please reach out to Dr. Ward directly by emailing him at jason.ward@dysart.org.

07/19/2021 Direct Link

We Want your Feedback graphic

COVID Relief Funding Survey

The federal government has provided funding to support districts across Arizona and the nation during the COVID pandemic through the Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief Funds (ESSER). With the most recently approved funding, ESSER III, and a longer timeline for usage, we are seeking input from the Dysart Unified School District community on how the funds should be used. Please take a few moments to respond to this survey to provide valuable feedback and input, which will be used to finalize Dysart’s plan. Please provide your feedback by July 30, 2021.

06/29/2021 Direct Link

Front of District Office Building

Public Hearing, Truth in Taxation

In compliance with §15-905.01, Arizona Revised Statutes, Dysart Unified School District is notifying its property taxpayers of Dysart Unified School District’s intention to raise its primary property taxes over the current level to pay for increased expenditures in those areas where the Governing Board has the authority to increase property taxes for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2021. The Dysart Unified School District is proposing an increase in its primary property tax levy of $780,000.

The amount proposed above will cause Dysart Unified School District’s primary property taxes on a $100,000 home to be $4.81. Without the tax increase, the total taxes that would be owed would have been $0.00.

These amounts proposed are above the qualifying tax levies as prescribed by state law, if applicable. The increase is also exclusive of any changes that may occur from property tax levies for voter approved bonded indebtedness or budget and tax overrides.

All interested citizens are invited to attend the public hearing on the proposed tax increase scheduled to be held July 7, 2021 at 6:00 PM at 15802 N. Parkview Place Surprise, AZ 85374.

06/23/2021 Direct Link

DSB Live students talk at Media Camp.

Students learn the tools of the trade at Media Camp

The Dysart Student Broadcast (DSB) Summer Media Camp launched this year and opened to middle level students, completing grades sixth through eighth.  The one week camp hosted at Willow Canyon High School featured field trips to State Farm Stadium and Huntington University. Students created over 20 videos with the help of Willow Canyon High School TV Production and DSB Live instructor Ms. Alyson Titkemeyer and Mr. Brian Yoder, Coordinator of Student Broadcasting and Multimedia Productions. Sam Harris, a Willow Canyon High School junior in TV Production, was also on hand to assist students and share his experience with the program.

At State Farm Stadium students learned the technical aspects of live broadcasting. Students met with graphic designers, audio engineers and learned the gear that helps run live football broadcasts and other events at the stadium. Participants toured Huntington University to learn about the degrees offered in graphic design, animation, film, and TV broadcasting. Students were also treated with hands-on experiences creating short scenes with graduates from the school. At Willow Canyon High School, students learned how to use green screen technology, create stop-motion animations, and in-camera trick photography. 

The goal of the program is to introduce students to graphic design, animation, film, TV and broadcasting with the hope that they continue their education in those subjects in high school. 

“It was a great opportunity for middle level students to have fun and explore their interests,” said Titkemeyer.  

DSB Live is student-driven, student-produced and offers live stream broadcasts of school events free of charge to the community. Students in grades 9-12 at Dysart’s four high schools learn, develop and run every aspect of the show, including operating state-of-the-art cameras and TriCasters, creating commercials, being sound technicians, producers, graphic operators, on-field reporters, and color commentators during sports broadcasts. DSB Live’s network compliments the media pathways in Dysart’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) program, but is open to any student, regardless of if they are enrolled in CTE classes or not. Students interested in participating should contact their high school broadcasting instructor or email brian.yoder@dysart.org.  To view past broadcasts of school events including graduation, visit https://vimeo.com/dsblive

06/21/2021 Direct Link

Picture of Dana Knoebel, who was named Distinguished Administrator

Dana Knoebel named Distinguished Administrator

Dana Knoebel, Curriculum Instruction and Assessment Director for Prek-8, has recently been awarded the Arizona School Administrators (ASA) Distinguished Administrator Award. This award is presented to exceptional Arizona administrators who have exemplified dedication and leadership towards their students, staff, and colleagues. 

Ms. Knoebel was named by the ASA as a Distinguished Administrator for the Educational Services Division. She was honored for her exemplary leadership during the COVID pandemic to lead a team to write and plan lessons for teachers to facilitate online learning when our schools closed last Spring.  She implemented Dysart’s first online school for K-8 students and enrollment exceeded 3,000 students for the 2020-2021 School Year.  As one of the first districts to open for in-person instruction in September 2020, Ms. Knoebel worked with school administration and teachers to redefine what teaching and learning looked like during the pandemic. Finally, Mrs. Knoebel led teams to create a new summer school program for June and July to tackle learning loss and better prepare students for the next school year.  

Ms Knoebel has served in her current position for four years. She previously was the principal at Marley Park Elementary School for six years and the school earned an A+ Excellence in Education Award from the Arizona Educational Foundation and a 'A' label from Arizona Department of Education under her leadership.

Ms. Knoebel will be formally recognized during the ASA Summer Conference Awards Luncheon on Monday, June 14, 2021 in Tucson.

The mission of Arizona School Administrators is to promote and support educational excellence in school leadership. Arizona School Administrators seeks to honor outstanding Arizona administrators for their professionalism, dedication, leadership, and exemplary contributions to education in Arizona. 

05/27/2021 Direct Link

Group photo of The Dysart Unified School District COVID-19 Vaccine Point of Dispensing (POD) Team

Health team receives Hot Shot Award

The Dysart Unified School District COVID-19 Vaccine Point of Dispensing (POD) Team was recently recognized by The Arizona Partnership for Immunization (TAPI) with a 2021 Hot Shot Award. The Hot Shot Award seeks to recognize individuals and organizations that have gone above and beyond the call of duty during the global COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Dysart POD Team was recognized for their efforts to organize and facilitate a drive-thru COVID-19 Vaccination POD for local educators, school employees, and daycare workers in the community. The Vaccination POD was held on two dates during the months of February and March, and resulted in nearly 800 local educators being vaccinated against COVID-19. The Dysart POD team partnered with Maricopa County Public Health, Fry’s Pharmacy, the Surprise Fire-Medical and Police Departments who assisted with safety measures, and the Be Kind People Project who provided music, fun, and smiles to those being vaccinated.

The Dysart Vaccine POD team consists of Jacqueline Hoeffler, Lead Nurse; Alan Van Horn, Maintenance Administrator; Cynthia Williams, Regional Nurse; Lauree Marino, Regional Nurse; Doug Curry, Director of Transportation; Renee Ryon, Director of Public Relations; and Corey Montano, Director of Exceptional Student Services. The team was recognized during The Arizona Partnership for Immunization Outstanding Practice Cloud Virtual Awards Presentation on April 28, 2021. 

In addition, Jacqueline Hoeffler, Dysart Unified School District Lead Nurse, was honored with an Individual Hot Shot Award for her extraordinary efforts in the organization of the event, and her dedication to the health and safety of the community. 

The Arizona Partnership for Immunization (TAPI) is a non-profit statewide coalition of over 400 members that seek to foster community wellness and advocate for good public policy and best immunization practices. 

05/12/2021 Direct Link

Winterguard student pose for a photo.

Winter Guard wins state championships

The Dysart Unified School District is proud to announce that Convergence Indoor Drumline and Colorguard are the Winter Guard Arizona (WGAZ) state champions in their respective divisions.   

These groups consist of students from all over the district, but call Willow Canyon High School home for the winter season. They meet after school every week hone their skills throughout the season. Under the direction of Michaela Rademacher, and their individual unit directors, these groups have been able to clench State Championships for the 2021 WGAZ Season. 

Convergence Percussion: Percussion Independent A Class Coaches to be congratulated: 

  • Frank Angel - Music Composition 
  • Justin Angel - Head Percussion Director/Show Designer 
  • Stephen Goodman - Front Ensemble Tech 
  • Anivia Torres - Front Ensemble Tech
  • Kalob Clouser - Audio Tech 
  • Isaac Barrio - Marching Tech/Choreographer

Convergence Winterguard: Independent A Class Coaches to be congratulated: 

  • Joe and Marissa Keating - Show Design 
  • Don Morrison - Head Winterguard Director 
  • Jose Vega - Asst. Winterguard Coach 
  • Gabriel Gastilo - Winterguard Tech 
  • Katie Hohn - Winterguard Tech 
  • Emily Garcia - Winterguard Tech

WGAZ was founded to draw together the growing winter guard, percussion, wind activity, standardize rules, and provide leadership and guidance in a competitive venue.  The two-day championship event showcases more than 160 ensembles from across the state of Arizona. Member units prepare for this event by competing in at least three WGAZ sanctioned competitions through a competition season.

04/19/2021 Direct Link

Dysart Leadership Council poses with donations.

Leadership Council Covid Relief and Canned Food Drive

The Dysart Leadership Council hosted a Covid Relief and Canned Food Drive in February and  March of this year.  In conjunction with 13 district schools/sites, and community partners including Spencer’s Place, and West-MEC, 4,866 lbs of items were donated to the Valley View Community Food Bank.  These efforts will feed 4,800 families and about 20,000 people in the Northwest Valley. 

The Dysart Leadership Council consists of students from all four high schools that meet on a monthly basis to support and unify the students across the district. The council plans district-wide service projects and spirit events, presents updates to the Governing Board, and serves as an outlet and voice for their fellow students. 

03/23/2021 Direct Link

DECA students pose for a photo.

DECA students earn top honors

The Dysart Unified School District is proud to have many district high schools recognized for having outstanding school-based enterprises (SBEs) by the Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA). A school-based enterprise is an entrepreneurial operation in a school setting that provides goods and services to meet the needs of the market. SBEs are managed and operated by students as hands-on learning laboratories that integrate National Curriculum Standards in marketing, finance, hospitality and management. SBEs have been utilized by DECA advisors as an effective educational tool for over four decades to provide students with realistic and practical learning experiences that reinforce classroom instruction, enhance 21st century skill development, and prepare students for college and careers. 

The following school-based enterprises in the Dysart Unified School District achieved Gold Certification for the 2020-2021 school year:

  • The Stable at Shadow Ridge High School 
  • The Wildcat Den at Willow Canyon High School 
  • The Hot Spot at Dysart High School

These schools were among 246 other schools across the country to achieve this honor. DECA’s SBE certification program provides recognition for outstanding achievements by school-based enterprises and to motivate SBE’s to strive for excellence and growth. SBEs can be certified at three levels: bronze, silver, or gold. In order to be eligible for certification, schools must submit extensive documentation that explains how their SBE demonstrates the practice of various marketing and retail standards. 

Additionally, several district students received recognition in a variety of DECA competitions. Dysart High School had 15 teams rank in the top 25 in state for the Virtual Business Challenge with Hailey Erickson taking 1st place in the state in Accounting. Brody Fussell from Shadow Ridge qualified during round one of the Virtual Business Challenge Restaurant event, and has been invited to compete in the Virtual International Career Development Conference in April. 

Aiden Volkman and Caitlyn Walton from Shadow Ridge received 9th place in the Western region during the 2020-2021 DECA Stock Market Game. Students were challenged in this online competition with developing and managing a virtual investment portfolio of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, with the aim of increasing the value of their portfolio, while maintaining its diversity. Aiden and Caitlyn have been invited to present their portfolio during the 2021 DECA Virtual International Career Development Conference in April. 

DECA is a Career and Technical Student Organization specifically for students enrolled in CTE programs. To learn more about CTE programs in the district, head to dysart.org/CTE.

02/25/2021 Direct Link

Laurel Ruff - music teacher, Marley Park Elementary conducts students at an event.

Five Dysart Nominees in Governor’s Arts Awards

Dysart Unified School District has five teachers that have been nominated for the 2021 Governor’s Arts Awards in the Arts in Education category. A total of 27 Arts in Education nominees were submitted across the State of Arizona, and will be honored at the 40th Annual Governor's Arts Awards event on March 26, 2021, where the winners will be announced.  

Nominees from the Dysart Unified School District include:

  • Randall Badgard - music teacher, Sunset Hills Elementary School 
  • Ashley Golden - art teacher, Surprise Elementary School 
  • Preston MacDonald - choir teacher, Valley Vista High School 
  • Laurel Ruff - music teacher, Marley Park Elementary (pictured)
  • Steve Wallgren - theatre teacher, Willow Canyon High School

A volunteer selection panel of community, business and arts leaders from across the state review the nominations. Criteria for selection includes the significance of the contributions and achievements of the nominee; the range of individuals or groups served by the contributions of the nominee; and the length and degree to which the nominee is dedicated to the arts. This year, over 100 nominations across all categories were submitted.

The Governor’s Arts Awards are hosted by Arizona Citizens for the Arts (AzCA). AzCA is a nonprofit organization that acts as the eyes, ears and voice of the nonprofit arts and culture sector in Arizona – at the State Legislature, in local city halls and in partnerships with business and community leaders involved in building and supporting quality of life in Arizona. It is composed of 100 members arts organizations across Arizona and more than 5,000 individual citizen arts supporters. Learn more at azcitizensforthearts.org/governors-arts-awards/2021awards/

02/08/2021 Direct Link

preschool toddlers play with toys.

Growing Minds Adds New Toddler Class and Referral Discounts

Growing Minds Preschool is proud to offer a new toddler room beginning February 1, 2021 for one year old children. Half-day and full-day options are available with year-round hours of operation, including school breaks, from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday to accommodate working families. 

Additionally, Growing Minds is offering referral discounts for current and new families.  Each time a new child is enrolled, the currently enrolled referral family will receive a $75 tuition credit provided the student stays for at least 90 days. All new enrollments, as a result of a family referral, will have their application fee of $50 credited back after remaining in the program for 90 days.

Available for children ages 1-5, Growing Minds Preschool guides cognitive development in an environment that is fun and exciting. Creative expression and physical play is embedded in all activities, with a hands-on learning experience that ensures children will love to learn and grow.  The preschool experience advances cognitive development and cultivates social and emotional development, building respect, resilience, teamwork, optimism, innovation, and self-esteem through positive interaction with classmates and teachers.  The Creative Curriculum follows the Arizona Early Learning State Standards, allowing a child to initiate his or her own learning experience.

Growing Minds Preschool’s main campus is located at 17999 W Surprise Farms Loop S Surprise, AZ 85388. Satellite campuses are also available at Freedom Traditional Academy (16066 N Parkview Place, Surprise, AZ 85374), and Marley Park Elementary School (15042 W Sweetwater Ave., Surprise, AZ 85379). Hours of operation are 6:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., with academic time taking place from 8:15 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Visit GrowingMindsPreschool.org or call 623-876-7350 to learn more, view rates, a student handbook, or to enroll.

01/25/2021 Direct Link

Dennis Grau from the VFW presents a flag to Jim Dean.

VFW Presents Flag to District Leader

In celebration of Veterans Day 2020, Canyon Ridge School, in conjunction with Veterans of Foreign War Post 10695 in Sun City West, offered a flag folding ceremony and presentation to honor a longtime supporter of Veterans programs in the Dysart Unified School District; Assistant Superintendent Jim Dean.

The event took place at the Dysart Unified School District office in Surprise, Arizona and was attended by community members, principals, teachers, superintendents and many members of the district office staff.  The ceremony was aired live on Facebook and the flag folding was conducted by Vietnam Veterans and heroes, Mr. Dennis Grau, United States Navy and Mr. Don Burnett, United States Army. The narration and symbolic meaning of each fold of the flag was presented by Mrs. Harriett Grau of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Auxiliary.

“This symbol of our country is presented to Assistant Superintendent Jim Dean for his many years of dedication to the Veterans program in this district,” states Mr. Grau.

Mr. Dean, current Assistant Superintendent of Support Services, operated for many years as a principal in the Dysart district and served at Sunset Hills Elementary School and Canyon Ridge School, during the formative years of both schools. His affiliation and support of VFW causes, such as Veterans in the Classroom, has been consistent for over a decade.

“The ceremony today is an extension of the annual Veterans Commemoration event that we have performed at Canyon Ridge School for over ten years,” said Christopher Raso, seventh grade Social Studies Teacher. “The current pandemic does not allow us to proceed with our school-wide assembly but we could not let the day pass without honoring our Veterans, presenting them with cards and letters of gratitude from students, and providing an opportunity for the presentation of  this well-deserved award to Mr. Dean.”

Mrs. Jill Hoppe, principal of Canyon Ridge School stated, “Our Veterans have given so much of themselves to our country and continue to foster patriotism in us all.”

11/10/2020 Direct Link

Jane Malone poses with a student and assistant principal at Countryside after donating masks.

Community Member Donates Masks

We would like to take this opportunity to share our utmost gratitude with community member, Jane Malone.  Jane donated more than 300 masks to our schools.  Jane, an avid seamstress, has spent countless hours sewing and donating masks to essential workers throughout the community.  She was inspired by her nieces who both work as nurses to begin sewing masks this past March.  Since then, she produced over 1,500 masks from her home in Sun City West and sent them to neighboring districts, food and clothing banks, hospitals, grocery stores and to the organization, Dress for Success to provide face coverings to those that work directly with the community. Jane summed up her inspiration to start this selfless act with her favorite quote,   “Character is how you treat those that can do nothing for you.”  We thank Jane for sharing her talents, hard work, and kindness to keep our students and staff safe. 

10/30/2020 Direct Link

Archival photo of Dysart High School Basketball team.

Dysart 's 100 Notable Achievements

The Dysart Unified School District is celebrating 100 years of educating the community in the 2020-2021 school year. First established in 1920 as a one-room schoolhouse by Nathaniel Martin Dysart, the district has seen numerous achievements over the last 100 years. Although it is certainly not an exhaustive list, we narrowed down our top 100 Dysart Achievements below in honor of our Centennial.  

Do you know of something that didn’t make the list, but want to make sure we have it recorded for history? Let us know here.

10/26/2020 Direct Link

Jordyn Kellick, a volleyball player at Willow Canyon High School, poses for a photograph on the volleyball court.

Athlete Spotlight - Jordyn Kellick

Meet Jordyn Kellick, a senior at Willow Canyon High School, and a stand out volleyball player. Like many of her teammates, Jordyn is awaiting the opportunity to compete this season. She helped lead the Wildcats last season as one of the team captains, and is hoping for the opportunity to continue in that role this season. With many unknowns still in the air, one thing is certain, Jordyn is excited and optimistic for the chance to connect with her teammates again, whether on or off the court. 

“I’m just looking forward to spending time with everyone,” said Kellick. “We can’t really go and hang out with people like we used to. This team is like family, so I’m just looking forward to being able to spend as much time with them as I can.”

From a young age, Jordyn has always loved playing a variety of sports. However, she didn’t realize her full appreciation for them until the sudden loss of her father when she was in the 6th grade. Her father was always a crucial source of inspiration for her, and after his passing, instead of losing the motivation to play, she was able to gain new confidence in knowing that her father would want her to keep pushing and chasing her dreams. Rather than turning to more adverse means of coping, Jordyn wanted to make her father proud, and decided to keep playing and progressing in her sport. 

“Volleyball was a light in the darkness, and has helped me through a lot and helped me stay the course,” she said.

Looking back over the years, one thing Jordyn can be proud of is her resiliency and perseverance to keep going. No matter the setback, she has kept the focus and determination to continue pushing forward. Much of that she credits to the support of her family, friends, coaches, and teammates along the way. 

“I have come a long way since freshman year, and have gained the mental toughness I didn’t know I had,” she said. “I appreciate everyone who has supported me and helped me through.” 

Jordyn is looking forward with expectancy for what lies ahead. After graduating, she hopes to play collegiate volleyball while studying to become an athletic trainer. “It has always been a dream to play in college. This is my passion, and playing would be a plus to the goals I have set for myself,” she said. After college, Jordyn hopes to become an athletic trainer for a professional sports team. 

As for now, she is focused on finishing out her senior year strong, and believes in what her team can accomplish. The team came close to the postseason last year, but fell just short of a playoff spot. This year, however, Jordyn is motivated to lead her team to win the region and make it to the championships. 

“I want this to be a comeback year,” she states. “Being one of only two seniors on the team, I want to go out with a bang, and I think we can do that. Especially with the talent we have.” 

08/28/2020 Direct Link

Picture of Heather Webb and James Grieshaber

District staff recognized by ACTEAZ

Valley Vista High School Guidance Counselor, Heather Webb, and Dysart Unified School District Career and Technical Education Director, Jim Grieshaber, have recently been selected as award recipients by The Association for Career and Technical Education of Arizona (ACTEAZ). The ACTEAZ Awards recognize individuals for their accomplishments and dedication to students and to Career and Technical Education (CTE) in the State of Arizona. 

Ms. Webb was honored with the ACTEAZ Career Guidance Award for her commitment to connecting students with opportunities for success, utilizing innovation in career exploration and development, as well as being an advocate for CTE as a viable option for all students. 

Mr. Grieshaber was recognized as the Outstanding ACTEAZ Affiliate of the Year for his commitment and continuous service and support of ACTEAZ and CTE throughout the year. Mr. Grieshaber received the award in his current role as Executive Committee President of ACOVA. ACOVA is a non-profit professional association, whose mission is to build community, advocacy, and leadership for Arizona CTE Administrators, and provide them with the skills needed to successfully lead the CTE enterprise within school districts. 

The ACTEAZ seeks to grow and promote CTE at local, state and national levels by bringing together CTE Educators, Administrators and Counselors across the state of Arizona and providing them with professional and leadership growth opportunities, creative ideas and statewide networking, and access to local and national companies for products, career applications and community outreach.

07/20/2020 Direct Link

Picture of front of Dysart District front office.

MCDPH to Host free Immunization Clinic July 22

In order to prevent outbreaks of vaccine preventable disease, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends continuing to vaccinate, while following social distancing and cleaning measures. We wanted to share an opportunity that is being provided locally by the Maricopa County Department of Public Health to ensure our students are protected from vaccine preventable diseases and ready to start school when school resumes. Vaccinations are FREE, and all children from preschool through 12th grade are invited. Families with or without insurance and those on AHCCCS are welcome to attend.

The Maricopa County Department of Public Health Immunization Clinic will be held on  Wednesday, July 22, 2020 from 8 a.m. - 3 p.m. at Freedom Traditional Academy, which is located at 16066 N Parkview Place, Surprise, AZ 85374.

Families attending will be asked to:

  • Bring their own pen; 
  • Wear a mask, if possible; 
  • Bring the immunization record for the person being vaccinated; 
  • Bring the insurance card, if available; and  
  • Complete the consent form prior to visit, if possible.

In order to ensure safety at the clinic, the following practices will be in place:

  • Will practice social distancing and monitoring the amount of people in the building at one time 
  • Are asking only the person/s needing vaccine and or only one parent or guardian to accompany children. Everyone else is asked to remain outside of the building while practicing social distancing. 
  • Ask families to maintain social distancing while waiting 
  • Will clean the area and items between families 
  • Are asking families to avoid coming to the immunization clinic when you or your child is sick with COVID-19 symptoms, which may include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.

Questions should be directed to Maricopa County Public Health at 602-506-6767.

07/13/2020 Direct Link

Dysart High School student, Andrea Soliz, poses at her school.

DHS student selected as National Officer

Dysart High School student, Andrea Soliz, was recently named to the SkillsUSA National Officer Team as the Region 5 Vice President. Previously, Andrea served as the SkillsUSA Region 5 President for the State of Arizona. As a National Officer, Andrea is provided the opportunity to represent SkillsUSA and its members. National Officers serve as communicators, advocates and facilitators in a variety of leadership roles, helping instill skills and career-readiness to fellow members.

The newly elected officers were announced at a virtual recognition ceremony on June 26, 2020.  Before being selected, candidates went through a rigorous application process including written exams, essays, interviews, and a speech. Andrea is one of ten high school students from across the country selected to serve on the 2020-21 SkillsUSA National Officer Team. Being a national officer is one of the highest honors a student can achieve within the SkillsUSA organization.

Andrea is entering her senior year at Dysart High School, and is a dedicated leader on campus. She has worked tirelessly to be an advocate, role model, and mentor to fellow classmates, as well as the community. Through SkillsUSA, she has been provided with many opportunities and experiences that continue to prepare her for her future.  

SkillsUSA is a Career and Technical Education partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. SkillsUSA provides quality education experiences for students in leadership, teamwork, citizenship and character development by building and reinforcing self-confidence, work attitudes and communications skills. A nonprofit national education association, SkillsUSA serves middle-school, high-school and college/postsecondary students preparing for careers in trade, technical, and skilled service (including health) occupations.

07/08/2020 Direct Link

Picture of Dysart School District front office.

Public Hearing, Truth in Taxation

In compliance with A.R.S. 15-905.01, Arizona Revised Statutes, Dysart Unified School District No. 89 is notifying property taxpayers of Dysart Unified School District’s intention to raise its primary property taxes over the current level to pay for increased expenditures in those areas where the Governing Board has the authority to increase property taxes for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2020. The Dysart Unified School District is proposing an increase in its primary property tax levy of $15,000. A public hearing is scheduled on June 24, 2020.

The amount proposed above will cause Dysart Unified School District’s primary property taxes on a $100,000 home to be $0.10. Without the tax increase, the total taxes that would be owed would have been $0.00.

These proposed amounts are above the qualifying tax levies as prescribed by state law, if applicable. The increase is also exclusive of any changes that may occur from property tax levies for voter approved bonded indebtedness or budget and tax overrides.

The Dysart Unified School District Governing Board will be enforcing the Center for Disease Control (CDC)’s guidance to limit all public gatherings to ten people. As such, the June 24 public hearing will be held telephonically/remotely with no public, in-person attendance. Reference: Attorney Generals’ Opinion dated March 13, 2020 Re: Concerns Related to Arizona’s Open Meeting Law and COVID-19. This meeting is open to the public to listen and view at www.youtube.com/dysartusd.

All interested citizens are invited to submit public comments regarding the public hearing on the proposed tax increase scheduled to be held June 24, 2020 at 6:00 PM by emailing kenneth.hicks@dysart.org prior to 5:00 PM the day of the meeting. 

06/11/2020 Direct Link

A Growing Minds preschool student plays with legos.

Scholarship Opportunity for Preschool Students

The Dysart Unified School District is excited to announce that Growing Minds Preschool received a 3-star rating from First Things First, and attending families are now eligible to apply for the Quality First Scholarships Program. The deadline to apply is June 22, 2020.

The purpose of the Quality First Scholarships Program is to ensure that families earning 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) and below have access to quality early child care and education. Interested families may obtain the application online here.  Completed applications should be turned in at the main Growing Minds Preschool campus at 17999 W. Surprise Farms Loop S. Surprise, AZ 85388.  

Scholarship availability is limited. In order to be considered, the application and supporting documentation is due prior to June 22nd.  Families selected to receive the scholarship will be notified prior to July 1.  Those who do not receive a scholarship, but are eligible based on First Things First standards will be placed on a waiting list.

Growing Minds Preschool Summer Camp is open through July 24, and the 20-21 school year session begins July 29, 2020 and runs through May 28, 2021. Registration applications are accepted at GrowingMindsPreschool.org. Space is limited. For questions about enrollment call 623-876-7350 or email growingmindspreschool@dysart.org.

06/10/2020 Direct Link

Picture of Dr. Quinn Kellis, Superintendent of Dysart Schools

A message of peace, respect, and harmony for the Dysart community

I would like to express my sincere appreciation for everyone in our Dysart community who is committed to building bridges of peace, respect and harmony.

I am humbled by so many examples of courageous people doing extraordinary things to right the wrongs in our society; who advocate for, and who protect, our human rights; who open previously closed doors for civil discourse; and most of all, who ensure each and every individual can reap the full rewards of their education, hard work and talents.

I am saddened to think that even one Dysart student or employee has ever been victimized by hatred. We here in Dysart believe in, and are committed to, providing a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment for learning and working. If there are ways we can do better, I invite you to responsibly communicate with me so that we can work together for a better future.

The Dysart District and surrounding communities of Surprise, El Mirage, Youngtown, Waddell and Luke Air Force Base are, indeed, extraordinary places to live, to learn and to work. I stand with our diverse community to say that the work of ensuring peace and togetherness is never done - rather, it is what we, collectively, must each do every hour of every day. I wish you faith, hope and love. Faith and hope for safe and healthy times ahead, and above all, love for peace in the hearts of all.

Sincerely, Quinn R. Kellis, Ed.D. 

Superintendent 

Dysart Unified School District

06/10/2020 Direct Link

Headshots of Michael Hawkins and Jim Dean.

District administrators honored

Michael Hawkins, Shadow Ridge High School Principal, and Jim Dean, Assistant Superintendent for Support Services, have recently been awarded the Arizona School Administrators (ASA) Distinguished Administrator Award. This award is presented to exceptional Arizona administrators who have exemplified dedication and leadership towards their students, staff, and colleagues. 

Mr. Hawkins was named by the ASA as a Distinguished Administrator for the Secondary Division. Mr. Hawkins has been the principal at Shadow Ridge High School for 12 years. He has helped make Shadow Ridge a home to a community of learners that inspire student excellence. From the very beginning, this has been the foundation that served to help the school articulate their mission. He has helped lead Shadow Ridge to earning an “A” rating, as well as being named an A+ School of Excellence by the Arizona Education Foundation (AEF). Mr. Hawkins is involved in the Dysart Grading Committee, Multi Tiered Support Committee, High School Innovation Committee, Algebra Task Force, and the Dysart Site Administrators Association. He is admired on campus by both students and staff for his visibility, unwavering support, and direct association. 

Mr. Dean was named by the ASA as a Distinguished Administrator for the Education Services Division. Mr. Dean exemplifies what it means to be a dedicated, loyal, honest, and positive leader. He fully grasps the simple Dysart focus of Academics, Arts and Athletics. He also understands the full scope of public education thanks to his experience as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, principal, and now as an assistant superintendent which he has served for 10 years. He has filled his plate with strategic solutions to make Dysart the destination district for high school students. His leadership contributes to a positive student and employee climate, high morale among students, staff and colleagues, and improved educational programs. 

The mission of Arizona School Administrators is to promote and support educational excellence in school leadership. Arizona School Administrators seeks to honor outstanding Arizona administrators for their professionalism, dedication, leadership, and exemplary contributions to education in Arizona.

06/02/2020 Direct Link

Valley Vista DECA pose for a photo.

CTE students excel at state conferences

Career and Technical Education (CTE) students from Dysart Unified School District high schools recently competed in state competitions including the SkillsUSA Regional Conference hosted in Phoenix, and the Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) State Career Development Conference also hosted in Phoenix. 

The following students competed in the Region 5 SkillsUSA Arizona Conference and received honors in their respective categories. The students' achievements have qualified them for the SkillsUSA Arizona Championships taking place in April. 

Shadow Ridge High School

  • Gold Medal Architectural Drafting: Jordan Johansen 
  • Gold Medal 3D Visualization and Animation: Andrew Valdez and Sean Enouen 
  • Gold Medal Advertising Design: Ryan Enouen 
  • Gold Medal American Sign Language: Madeline Deffinbaugh 
  • Silver Medal 3D Visualization and Animation: Krystine Poore and Makayla Schuler 
  • Silver Medal Advertising Design: Anna Schneider 
  • Silver Medal Job Interview: Alysa Horton 
  • Bronze Medal 3D Visualization and Animation: Anthony Salamanca and Dawson Zaucha 
  • Fourth Place Advertising Design: Micah Fischer  
  • Fifth Place Advertising Design: Riley Janovsky 
  • Seventh Place Advertising Design: Cassidy Dato

Willow Canyon High School

  • Silver Medal American Sign Language: Markus Alvarado  
  • Silver Medal Chapter Display: Ariana Peterson and Isaac Barrio 
  • Silver Medal Opening and Closing: Zydes Diggs, Ekemini MbekAnako, Joshua Dethlefsen, Malachi Delgado, Jessany Bramblett, Eyani Watkins, and Jaxon Magee  
  • Silver Medal Audio Radio: Sarah Tuttle and Tyler Tuttle

The following students receive honors at the DECA State Career Development Conference, where they competed against over 2000 high school students from across the state. 

Valley Vista High School 

  • Elite Member Executive Awards: Caroline Dors and Angel Cabrera 
  • Elite Member Director Awards: Jordan DeLaro, Audrey Jimenez and Hailey Amos 
  • Chapter Awards: Elite Chapter Award, Diamond Society Gold, Century Chapter, Membership Campaign - Thrive Level, and Promotional and Community Service Campaigns - Thrive Level  

The Membership Campaign, and Promotional and Community Service campaigns have earned Valley Vista four spots for students to attend the International Career Development Conference in Nashville, Tennessee in April. 

Shadow Ridge High School

The following students received honors in their respective categories, and have qualified to compete at the DECA International Career Development Conference in Nashville, TN. 

  • First Place Overall: Emma Belanger, William Fussell, Austen Cucci, and Shane Rath 
  • Third Place Overall: Paige Kelly and Zoe Classen 
  • Fourth Place Overall: Mercedes Joyce  
  • Elite Member Award: Serenity Senft, William Fussell, Ryan McDaniel, Shane Rath, Bryson Fussell, Cole Summers, Cole Callister,  Katelyn Smith, Zoe Classen, Meghan Crisan, Julianne Meyer, and Stephen MacKellar  
  • Finalist: Austen Cucci 
  • International Competition Qualifier: Bryson Fussell, Cody Kobus, and Nicole Glaba

03/06/2020 Direct Link

Coronavirus Graphic

Important Health Message

Dysart Parents and Guardians,

We understand that there is much concern regarding the Coronavirus and its potential impact on schools. Please be assured that the safety of our students and staff is always our top priority. 

The Dysart Unified School District and each of our schools work closely with the Maricopa County Health Department regarding all potential health issues on a regular basis. Dysart takes direction from the Maricopa County Health Department on any public health issues that impact our schools and community. At this time there are no confirmed cases of Coronavirus in our district. Should any concerns arise regarding the Coronavirus, or any other community health issue, we would take immediate action to ensure the safety of our students and staff.  

Because protection from all respiratory viruses is similar, this is a good time to review strategies we can all use to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, such as the flu:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 
  • Stay home when you are sick, and keep sick children home as well. 
  • Cover your cough or sneeze, then immediately discard any tissues. 
  • Clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces such as keyboards, phones, or door knobs.

Dysart Unified School District staff take these precautions at our schools in order to ensure a healthy learning environment for students.

We continue to work closely with public health officials and will keep you updated with any developments that could impact our schools. Thank you for partnering with us to ensure the health and safety of our students and campuses.

02/27/2020 Direct Link

Willow Canyon DECA students pose with medals from their region 8 conference.

DECA chapters excel at Region 8 Conference

The Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) chapters from Dysart Unified School District’s four high schools competed in the Region 8 Career Development Competition in Phoenix this past month. The competition allows students to compete in various business and marketing events and are aligned with national curriculum standards and industry validated.

Shadow Ridge High School found success in several events and took home a total of 33 medals including 15 test medals, 13 first place medals, and five overall first place recognitions. “It is a great opportunity for students to practice or experience competing for the first time before the state conference,” says Shadow Ridge advisor, Ms. Fussell. 

Willow Canyon High School received  their best test scores in recent years, with eight test medals, six role play medals, and three overall medals. 

Dysart High School received nine  medals. Dysart High School DECA advisor Ms. Palombo says of the event, “This event is great for new members as this is the only time they get to really identify how a role play event functions and to experience it for the first time.”

Valley Vista High School received six  medals total, including two role play medals and three  overall medals. “This is usually the first competition of the season and for our new members this event gives them an idea of what competition is like, what to expect, and how to prepare,” says Valley Vista advisor, Ms. Urban. 

The students will represent their school at the DECA State Career Development Competition later this month and compete against over 2,000 students from across the valley.

DECA is a premier student organization that supports the development of marketing and management skills in career areas such as hospitality, finance, sales and service, business administration, and entrepreneurship.  DECA is one of the many Career and Technical Education (CTE) opportunities offered to prepare students for the academic and vocational skills necessary to successfully enter the workforce. Learn more at dysart.org/cte.

02/11/2020 Direct Link

Willow Canyon's Spiritline poses with their trophy and first place banner at the state championships.

Spiritline teams qualify for Nationals

All four Dysart Unified School District cheer and pom teams competed at the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) Spiritline State Championships on February 1, 2020 at Chase Field in Phoenix.

  • Willow Canyon High School received first place in Division II Pom, and third place in Division II All Girl Group Stunt.  
  • Shadow Ridge High School received second place in Division I-III Small Coed Cheer. 
  • Valley Vista High School  took second place in Division I-III Partner Stunt, and fourth place in Division I-III Small Coed Cheer.  
  • Dysart High School received second place in Division I-III Large Coed Cheer. 

The talented student athletes from all four schools will compete on the national stage February 14-16, 2020, in Anaheim, California at the USA Spirit Nationals. 

02/07/2020 Direct Link

The Dysart District Governing board poses with their ASBA Total Boardmanship Award.

Governing Board recognized by ASBA

The Dysart Unified School District Governing Board has been recognized for earning the Arizona School Boards Association (ASBA) Total Board Boardsmanship Award. The award is granted to a board when at least a quorum of members has attained the level of a Certificate of Boardsmanship, with the remainder of the board having earned the Certificate of Orientation to Boardsmanship following the attendance of ASBA’s New Board Member Orientation. The following Governing Board members were recognized: Dawn Densmore, Jay Leonard, Christine A.K. Pritchard, Traci Sawyer-Sinkbeil, and Jennifer Tanner.

01/10/2020 Direct Link

Football players pose for a picture with their all-district awards.

Dysart recognizes All District Football Team

The Dysart Unified School District held their annual All District Football Team Award presentation to recognize and celebrate the extraordinary student athletes who displayed excellence in the 2019 season. 

First Team, Second Team, and All Academic Team athletes were selected from Valley Vista, Shadow Ridge, Dysart, and Willow Canyon High Schools.

First Team

Offensive Line  

Isaiah Mercado, Shadow Ridge; Kindric Picklesimer, Willow Canyon; Jaden Lay, Valley Vista; Jack Chappelle, Shadow Ridge; Abel Aguirre, Dysart

Tight End  

Andrew Shahan, Shadow Ridge

Quarterback  

Kaiden Lansford, Shadow Ridge

Running Back  

Michael Clark, Shadow Ridge; Aiden Cunningham, Valley Vista

Flex  

Darvon Hubbard, Willow Canyon

Wide Receiver 

Liam Kelleher, Valley Vista; Makai Obregon, Valley Vista; Zachary Sutton, Shadow Ridge

Defensive Line  

DaryOn Lee, Valley Vista; Jaelin McCullen, Valley Vista; Joseph Semien, Willow Canyon

Linebacker  

Casey Lowe, Shadow Ridge; Trevor Kinnee, Willow Canyon; Trenton Foster, Valley Vista; Joseph Schindewolf, Dysart

Defensive Back  

Makai Obregon, Valley Vista; Jonathan HagEstad, Willow Canyon; Houston Mitton, Shadow Ridge; Ruben Falcon, Dysart

Flex  

Jeremiah Ruiz, Valley Vista

Special Teams Kicker 

Josh Hubbs, Willow Canyon 


Punter 

Josh Hubbs, Willow Canyon 


Returner 

Henry Brown, Valley Vista

Second Team

Offensive Line  

Michael Lyon, Shadow Ridge; Garrett Sutliffe, Valley Vista; Christopher Stoica, Shadow Ridge; Kevin Urbina, Dysart; Greg Gregory-Bey, Dysart

Tight End  

Carson Allcock, Valley Vista

Quarterback  

Burt DeLay, Valley Vista

Running Back  

Jacob Thurman, Shadow Ridge; Henry Brown, Valley Vista

Flex  

Ezekiel Alfonso, Valley Vista

Wide Receiver  

Prince Zombo, Dysart; Daunte Williams, Willow Canyon; Isaac Yates, Shadow Ridge

Defensive Line 

Israel Nolasco, Dysart; Carson McNutt, Shadow Ridge; Austin Mather, Dysart; Dylan Jones, Shadow Ridge

Linebacker  

Vernon Thompson, Valley Vista; Hayden Ortiz, Shadow Ridge; Josiah Meek, Willow Canyon; Anthony Salamanca, Shadow Ridge

Defensive Back  

Trenton Givens, Valley Vista; Tommy Thompson, Valley Vista; Isaac Yates, Shadow Ridge; Zachary Sutton, Shadow Ridge

Flex  

Josiah Gardner, Willow Canyon

Special Teams Kicker 

Angel Balderrama, Valley Vista 


Punter 

Gabriel Silvas, Dysart  


Returner 

Jonathan HagEstad, Willow Canyon

All Academic  

Makai Obregon, Valley Vista; Christopher Stoica, Shadow Ridge; Jesus Izaguirre, Dysart; Jonathan HagEstad, Willow Canyon; Hugo Soto, Willow Canyon; Joseph Schindewolf, Dysart; Jayden Jackson, Shadow Ridge; Aiden Cunningham, Valley Vista

Honorable Mention 

Justin Hernandez, Shadow Ridge; Andrew Sullivan, Valley Vista

Players of the Year 

Andrew Rumary, Valley Vista; Josh Cano, Shadow Ridge

12/06/2019 Direct Link

Dysart District volleyball players pose for a picture with their awards.

Dysart Recognizes All District Girls Volleyball Team

The Dysart Unified School District held their annual All District Girls Volleyball Team Award presentation to recognize and celebrate the extraordinary student athletes who displayed excellence in the 2019 season. 

First Team, Second Team, and All Academic Team athletes were selected from Valley Vista, Shadow Ridge, Dysart, and Willow Canyon High Schools.

First Team  

Aliyah Moore, Valley Vista; Alina Nunez, Valley Vista; Abby Allen, Shadow Ridge; Elana Vargas, Willow Canyon; Neeley Eves, Shadow Ridge; Kailin Katena, Valley Vista; Anabelle Gregory, Shadow Ridge; Charlize Ziehmer, Shadow Ridge.

Second Team 

Maliyah Spencer, Willow Canyon; Madeline Davis, Shadow Ridge; Rylee Brown, Valley Vista; Kirstane Lopez-Draeger, Dysart; Gloria Moye, Shadow Ridge; Hailey Neumann, Dysart; Madilyn Heinle, Valley Vista; Maddox Richtmyre, Willow Canyon.

All Academic  

Hailey Neumann, Dysart; Aliyah Moore, Valley Vista; Kristy Salazar, Shadow Ridge; Tristen Turlington, Willow Canyon; Madeline Stein, Willow Canyon; Mikayla Cook, Shadow Ridge; Jordan Deal, Valley Vista; Hope Sumner, Dysart.

The All District Teams showcase the continued growth of athletics in the Dysart District, as teams exceed expectations. In the 2019 season, Valley Vista won the 6A Southwest Region, and Shadow Ridge followed in second place, qualifying both teams for the state playoffs.

12/04/2019 Direct Link

Thespian students pose for a picture at festival.

High School students honored at Thespian Festival

Thespian groups from all four high schools in the Dysart Unified School District attended the Arizona State Thespian Festival held at the Phoenix Convention Center on November 15th and 16th.  The event featured numerous productions presented by high schools throughout the state. Students also participated in a variety of workshops led by theater professionals from around the country.  

Dysart High School brought 15 students to the festival who learned valuable skills through workshops and collaborated with other Thespians from around the Valley. The Demons competed in the One Act competition with the production, “Acme Studios,” a comedy involving a radio studio from the 1940’s. Dysart earned three Superior recognitions and were in the top ten of all of the One Act productions. 

Shadow Ridge High School theater students were among 47 schools competing in the Thespian Festival. The Stallions received a Straight Superior recognition and the highest score of the festival.  Additionally, the group was named Chapter Select and are invited to take their One Act, “Anatomy of Gray,” to the International Thespian Festival in Bloomington, Indiana this summer. Along with the Superior One Act, the Stallions were recognized as a Gold Honor Troupe for the third year in a row and ranked as a State Superior rated program. These accolades are based off of school involvement, community engagement and service, and scores received through One Act and Individual Event competitions throughout the year.

Valley Vista students from the Intermediate/Advanced acting class traveled to the Thespian Festival and competed in the One Act competition, attended workshops, and participated in the interview and scholarship portion of the event.  The Monsoon received an Excellent recognition in the One Act competition and were ranked a Silver Honor Troupe for the amount of productions, events, competitions, and activities the students participated in last year. Additionally, Sofia Rios, was able to present her Technical Theater portfolio to potential colleges and universities, and was called back for interviews at several post- secondary schools. 

Willow Canyon thespians presented their One Act entitled, “I Don’t Want to Talk About It,” and received a Superior rating from all three judges.  Additionally, the Wildcats took third place in the state.

Arizona Thespians is a group of teachers, students, and professionals who are dedicated to promoting theater education in our schools and community through teamwork, diversity, gratitude, and accountability. Arizona Thespians are affiliated with the International Thespian Society and the Educational Theater Association. Over the last three and a half decades, Arizona Thespians have provided services to over 70,000 adolescents and thousands of educators.

11/26/2019 Direct Link

Kristy Salazar, a national merit scholarship semifinalist, poses for a picture with Shadow Ridge leadership.

Students recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Program

The Dysart Unified School District is proud to recognize three extraordinary students for the 64th National Merit Scholarship Program.  The National Merit Scholarship Program honors individual students who show exceptional academic ability and potential for success in rigorous college studies.  

Kristy Salazar, a senior at Shadow Ridge High School, was named one of approximately 16,000 Semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program. The nationwide pool of Semifinalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state on the 2018 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT).  These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $32 million that will be offered next spring. To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. From the approximately 16,000 Semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the Finalist level, and in February they will be notified of this designation.

Kristy is undecided in her college plans but is considering Arizona State University, Columbia University, or the University of Notre Dame.  She has a strong interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and is considering a major in Aerospace or Environmental Science.   

Aidan Johansson, a senior at Shadow Ridge High School and Brian Lunn a senior at Valley Vista High School, were both named Commended Scholars. Commended students represent more than two-thirds of the approximately 50,000 high scorers on the PSAT/NMSQT and receive Letters of Commendation in recognition of their outstanding academic promise. Commended Students are named on the basis of a nationally applied Selection Index score and some of these students do become candidates for Special Scholarships sponsored by corporations and businesses.

Aidan Johansson, a senior at Shadow Ridge High School, poses with leadership after being named a Commended Scholar.
Brian Lunn, a senior at Valley Vista High School, poses with leadership after being named a Commended Scholar.

Aidan is applying to several schools including Princeton, Harvard and the Michigan Institute of Technology.  He has a strong interest in Science pathways. 

Brian Lunn applied to West Point and received a Letter of Assurance this fall for a recommendation and cadetship from the United States Military Academy.

The mission of National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) is to recognize and honor the academically talented students of the United States. NMSC accomplishes its mission by conducting nationwide academic scholarship programs. The enduring goals of NMSC's scholarship programs are:

  • To promote a wider and deeper respect for learning in general and for exceptionally talented individuals in particular 
  • To shine a spotlight on brilliant students and encourage the pursuit of academic excellence at all levels of education 
  • To stimulate increased support from individuals and organizations that wish to sponsor scholarships for outstanding scholastic talent.

10/08/2019 Direct Link

Heather Casey and Sharon Beard pose for a photo with the district governing board and superintendent for being named hometown heroes.

Dysart teacher and volunteer named Hometown Hero

The Surprise Independent, in partnership with Fellowship Square Surprise, recently hosted the Hometown Heroes awards ceremony, to recognize residents for their achievements and important contributions to the Surprise Community. The Dysart Unified School District is honored to have two nominees recognized as Hometown Heroes within the community. 

Heather Casey, a teacher at Willow Canyon High School, was selected as a Hometown Hero of Surprise in the Educator category. Ms. Casey was nominated by Willow Canyon staff for her leadership, advocacy, and commitment to students. Ms. Casey has been with the district for fifteen years as a visual arts teacher at Willow Canyon, and has been an exceptional leader and mentor to her students over the years. Several of her students have taken home recognition at local art shows, and have even contributed to city art murals and contests within the Surprise community. In addition, Ms. Casey assists in curriculum writing and revision, serves as a mentor to new teachers, and serves as the district High School Visual Arts lead. In addition to her leadership on campus, Ms. Casey donates to local animal shelters and dog rescues, and is an advocate for Ovarian and Breast Cancer research, volunteering her time to support those affected and help raise funds for research. 

Sharon Beard, a dedicated district volunteer, was nominated and selected as a Hometown Hero of Surprise in the Volunteer category. Mrs. Beard was nominated by Asante Preparatory Academy teacher, Rachel Kelley, where she currently donates her time assisting students. Mrs. Beard first began volunteering in the district with students at Thompson Ranch Elementary School, Surprise Elementary School, and Ashton Ranch Elementary School. In addition to volunteering her time in the classroom, Mrs. Beard serves as an educational surrogate for the Dysart district representing children in foster care and group homes. Prior to volunteering with the district, she enjoyed volunteering with students at the Desert Botanical Garden, and the Del Webb Hospital daycare for hospital employees. “Working with children is my joy and I am sure it keeps me young at heart!” says Mrs. Beard. 

Ms. Casey and Mrs. Beard, along with family, and friends, were invited to attend the Hometown Heroes Luncheon Celebration, on Wednesday, September 25th. The event was held at Fellowship Square, Surprise, and featured an awards ceremony where each recipient was honored for their achievements. 

The Dysart Unified School District is appreciative of the leadership and commitment both Ms. Casey, and Mrs. Beard have shown towards our students, and are honored to have them as a part of our extraordinary team.

09/26/2019 Direct Link

Dysart Safe: Think Safe, Act Safe, Be Safe

Power Restored

UPDATE: 9:38AM Power has now been restored.  All schools will resume as normal. 

A power outage in the region has affected Freedom Traditional Academy, Ashton Ranch Elementary School, Countryside Elementary School, and the District Office.  We are working with the power company to assess what happened and a timeline.  Please check the district website and social media for the most up to date information.  An update will be posted by 9:45am.

09/06/2019 Direct Link

Students in Arizona Coyotes gear pose for a photography.

PE teachers “Raise the Pack” with Arizona Coyotes

Physical Education (PE) teachers across the district recently participated in a training through the Arizona Coyotes as a part of their “Raise the Pack” Street Hockey Program. As a part of this training, each teacher received curriculum on introducing students to the sport of hockey in their PE classes. The teachers received proper instruction on skills, athletic warm-ups, simple drills, as well as options for more advanced drills and lesson plans to implement over time. In addition, the Arizona Coyotes gifted each school with equipment including hockey sticks, street hockey balls, nets, and reversible jerseys for the students to utilize. The implementation of the new hockey curriculum into PE classes will seek to encourage sportsmanship, an active lifestyle, and a broader understanding and enjoyment of the game of hockey for all students. 

The Arizona Coyotes, in partnership with the National Hockey League (NHL) and National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA), developed the “Raise the Pack” Street Hockey Program for local valley school districts to implement hockey curriculum into their physical education classes, in an effort to grow hockey to exponential levels.

09/03/2019 Direct Link

Dysart Safe: Think Safe, Act Safe, Be Safe.

Important Safety Reminders from the Superintendent

Dysart Parents and Guardians,

As we start a new school year, we are asking you to partner with us to keep our Dysart students and campuses safe and secure. Unfortunately, there have already been some stories in the media about school threats this year, and we are hoping to stem this issue with your help.


As a fellow community member, I ask you to please:

  • Have a discussion with your child(ren) about the importance of immediately sharing information that could be considered threatening to our community with a responsible adult. This could be a - parent, teacher or school staff member. 
  • Make it clear to your child(ren) that online threats and rumors should not be forwarded or shared, because doing so impedes police investigations. 
  • Discuss with your child(ren) the seriousness of making threats toward schools, and remind them that there are a number of charges that can be filed against students – including felony offenses.

If you become aware of an immediate threat, please call 911.  Otherwise, call law enforcement non-emergency lines to report potential threats towards our schools or the community in Surprise (623-222-4000), El Mirage (623-933-1341), or Maricopa County (602-876-1602). 

Another option for reporting school safety issues or concerns is through our Safe Schools Hotline (623-876-7009) or online via Dysart Safe Report at Dysart.org/SafeReport. Additional information, resources, and school safety tips can be found on our website at Dysart.org/Safety. 

Dysart is proud of our relationships with local law enforcement agencies, and works collaboratively with them to ensure the safety of our students and staff.  We all have a responsibility to be vigilant and should strive to prioritize the well-being of our community. It is our sincere desire to ensure our campuses are always a safe place for our students, and we appreciate you partnering with us in this effort. 

Respectfully, 

Quinn R. Kellis, Ed.D. 

Superintendent 

Dysart Unified School District

08/16/2019 Direct Link

Dr. Kellis speaks with administrative staff.

New Assistant Principals Join Dysart Schools

The Dysart Unified School District is excited to welcome new assistant principals to our campuses. New assistant principals for the 2019-2020 school year are as follows:

  • Guadalupe Alejos, Assistant Principal - Dysart Elementary School 
  • Sarah Barkley Rosenthal, Assistant Principal - Luke Elementary School 
  • Thom Luedemann, Assistant Principal - Willow Canyon High School 
  • Erin McRae, Assistant Principal - Shadow Ridge High School 
  • Amy Miles, Assistant Principal - Mountain View School 
  • Gina Ostlund, Assistant Principal - Valley Vista High School 
  • Danielle Parnell, Assistant Principal - Thompson Ranch Elementary School 
  • Kaseylyn Romero, Assistant Principal - Kingswood Elementary School 
  • Kara Sehr, Assistant Principal - Marley Park Elementary School 
  • Jillian Strong, Dean of Students - Ashton Ranch Elementary School

Earlier this month we welcomed our new principals to the campuses. Click here to view a list of new principals for the 2019-2020 school year.

07/25/2019 Direct Link

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