School briefs: Schools closed Monday for holiday - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Education News

School briefs: Schools closed Monday for holiday

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Posted: Sunday, January 17, 2010 12:29 pm | Updated: 3:48 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

There is no school on Jan. 18 for Martin Luther King Jr./Civil Rights Day.

Schools closed Monday for holiday

There is no school on Jan. 18 for Martin Luther King Jr./Civil Rights Day.

Gilbert board to meet Tuesday

The Gilbert Unified School District governing board will meet 7 p.m. Jan. 19 for a work study session at the district’s community education building, 6839 E. Guadalupe Road, Mesa. Board members will discuss the district’s vision and goals. Agenda information: (480) 497-3300 or

Q.C. board to meet Tuesday

The Queen Creek Unified School District governing board will meet 6 p.m. Tuesday at the district office, 20740 S. Ellsworth Road. Board members will discuss participation in the Race to the Top initiative, decide whether to approve the Newell Barney Junior High School course description book for the upcoming school year, and listen to presentations for student of the month and employee of the month. Information: (480) 987-5935 or

J.O. Combs selects superintendent

Gayle Blanchard, a former principal and longtime employee in the Gilbert Unified School District, was named superintendent of the J.O. Combs Unified School District on Wednesday night.

She will start as superintendent July 1, replacing Jan Langer.

Langer is retiring after 30-plus years in education, the last 13 years in J.O. Combs.

“It’s one of those things that evolves as you move through the educational career,” said Blanchard, 47, of Gilbert. “I’m thrilled and honored.

Blanchard has been in J.O. Combs for a year and half as a human resources director and then as assistant superintendent.

She had worked in the Gilbert district since 1984, when she started as a fourth-grade teacher at Pioneer Elementary School. Her last job in Gilbert was as principal of Neely Traditional Academy for three years. She was also the principal of Harris Elementary School for seven years.

Higley district hosting freshman nights

The Higley Unified School District is hosting Future Freshman Nights and high school campus visits for eighth-graders and family members.

Higley eighth-graders should attend the upcoming freshman nights at their designated high schools. The students will learn about freshman classes, both required and electives, take tours of the campus, and learn about extracurricular activities and clubs.

Williams Field High School will host its Future Freshman Night at 6 p.m. Thursday in the auditorium, 2076 S. Higley Road, Gilbert.

Higley High School will host its night at 6 p.m. Jan. 26 at the Higley Center for the Performing Arts, 4132 E. Pecos Road, Gilbert.

Eighth-graders will also be driven to their assigned home high school on Freshman Visit Day for more tours and information Feb. 2-4.

For more information, call Higley High at (480) 279-7300 or Williams Field High at (480) 279-8000.

Desert Ridge hosts event for girls

Girls in fifth through eighth grades are invited to the Sharing Healthy Experiences Forum from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Desert Ridge Junior High School, 10211 E. Madero Ave., Mesa.

A fun-packed day of live music and interactive experiences relating to teen and 'tween’ girls will be offered and lunch will be provided.

Materials and presentations will be available in English and Spanish.

Highlighting the event will be “tween” triplet kickoff band TripleFirrr , keynote speaker Ali Vincent from “The Biggest Loser” television show, and local music talent Jonnie and Brookie Allen, who were recently voted Radio Disney’s Next Big Thing.

The cost is $10 for students, or $15 for students and a parent.

To register, visit

Information: Susan Cadena, prevention coordinator for the Gilbert Unified School District, at (480) 545-2181 or

Hearing on Mesa boundary changes Thursday

The first public hearing on boundary changes for the Mesa Unified School District will be 6 p.m. Thursday in the governing board room at the Curriculum Services Center, 549 N. Stapley Drive.

The community committee will discuss proposed changes to the Washington, Crismon and Lincoln elementary schools in light of the district’s plan to turn Alma Elementary School into a Franklin school, which does not have boundaries. Students currently at Alma will be able to stay at Alma or attend one of those three schools based on the new boundaries.

The governing board will also discuss changes to Carson, Rhodes, and Mesa junior high schools to include the Powell Junior High boundaries. Powell will close as a school in May and reopen as a community learning center. A second boundary meeting will be Jan. 28. The committee’s recommendations will go to the governing board for final approval in February. Information: (480) 472-0223.

Red Mtn. choir, orchestra to perform in N.Y.

Red Mountain High School’s La Camarata choir and chamber orchestra are raising funds to travel and perform in New York City in March.

The group was invited to perform at Carnegie Hall as well as the St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, based on their achievements in regional competitions.

La Camarata is directed by Joseph Johnston and the Chamber Orchestra is directed by Ryan Berkseth. About 90 students are planning to make the trip. Anyone interested in helping the group can contact

Mesa board picks ’10 president

The Mesa Unified School District governing board last week choose Dave Lane as its new president for 2010. Lane is in the fourth year of his first term on the board. Steve Peterson, entering the second year of his first term, was elected board clerk.

EVIT hosting open house Jan. 30

The East Valley Institute of Technology, 1601 W. Main St., Mesa, will hold its annual Tech Fest open house Jan. 30 for the community to learn more about the campus.

The school provides technical and career training to students from about a dozen East Valley school districts. During the event, visitors can see a crane simulator in the construction department, receive manicures or haircuts from cosmetology students or taste food prepared by culinary students.

The event begins at 9 a.m. with a scavenger hunt. Question-and-answer sessions will take place at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.. It ends at 1 p.m. For information, see or call (480) 461-4000.

Chandler board selects ’10 president

The Chandler Unified School District governing board choose Annette Auxier to continue to serve as president for 2010. Barb Mozdzen was elected vice president. Auxier was first elected to the governing board in 1998. Mozdzen began her service last January.

Chandler school earns Safeway award

Chandler’s Hull Elementary School recently earned $2,462.77 from Safeway’s 10 Percent Goes Back to Schools program.

The school was one of the top 200 earning groups nationally. As one of the top 200, Hull has received an additional $1,000 from Safeway, for a total of $3,462.77.

Open house for Christian school set

An open house for San Tan Christian Academy, a newly created sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade middle school, will be 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Jan. 21. The school will open in the 2010-2011 school year in partnership with Chandler Christian School, 501 W. Flint St.

The two schools will have separate boards, though they will be located on the same property. Information:

Chandler school tours offered

Chandler Traditional Academy-Goodman, 2600 W. Knox Road, offers tours of the campus on the first and third Thursdays of every month, barring a holiday or school break.

Tours run through March. The next tour will be 3:15 p.m. Jan. 21. Contact the school office at (480) 812-6900.

Preschool registration begins Feb. 16

Online registration for 2010–2011 tuition-based community preschool in the Chandler Unified School District will begin Feb. 16.

The first step requires parents to set up an account and select a program online at The second step, to be completed beginning April 12, is to bring immunization records and a birth certificate to the school.

Programs are available two, three or five days a week for children who turn 4 by Dec. 31, 2010. Information: (480) 812-6780.

Kindergarten entrance testing to begin

The Chandler Unified School District is starting early kindergarten entrance testing for children who turn 5 after Aug. 31 and before Dec. 31. Information: (480) 812-6780 or

Reading Challenge under way

Several East Valley schools are participating in this year’s Reading Challenge. The winning school, to be determined by the average number of books students read, will earn $15,000.

This is the fourth year of the contest that was created to encourage literacy among school-age children in Arizona. The East Valley schools will compete against schools in Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff. From Jan. 6 through March 31, students from participating elementary schools will compete to read as many books as they can.

For a complete list of participating schools and regular updates on the contest’s progress, visit

Schools directory available

The 2010 Schools, Etc. directory is now available. It is an annual guide produced by Raising Arizona Kids and provides a comprehensive list of private schools, charter schools, and school districts in Maricopa County.

This year, the directory includes preschools and post-secondary schools. Information:

A.J. district considering school closings

Public hearings will be this week in the Apache Junction Unified School District about the possible closures of Gold Canyon Elementary School and Thunder Mountain Middle School.

The first meeting will be 6:30 p.m. Jan. 19 at Gold Canyon Elementary School, 5810 S. Alameda Road, Gold Canyon. The second meeting will be 6:30 p.m. Jan. 20 at Thunder Mountain Middle School, 3700 E. 16th Ave. Information: (480) 982-1110, Ext. 2005.

E.V. schools closed for holiday

No classes will be held Jan 18 in the Mesa, Chandler and Apache Junction unified school districts in observance of Martin Luther King Jr./Civil Rights Day. District offices will also be closed.

Education briefs run on Sunday. To submit an item for Gilbert and Queen Creek schools, send information to Hayley Ringle at

Apache Junction, Chandler and Mesa school briefs are compiled by education reporter Michelle Reese. Contact her at or (480) 898-6549.

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