Superintendent’s Message: Dr. Debbi Burdick , Cave Creek Unified School District

Dr. Debbi Burdick , Superintendent, Cave Creek Unified School District

In these unprecedented and difficult times, here is some good news to celebrate. Please join me in congratulating the Cactus Shadows High School Graduating Class of 2020! Here is our Falcon Class of 2020, By the Numbers:

  • There are 426 grads — 216 females and 210
  • 67 were in our CS eLearning Program and 3 were early graduates.
  • 169 have been with us from kindergarten.
  • Their combined GPA is a 3.33 on a weighted scale and the highest is a 4.875 — Congrats Valedictorian Billy Mullenmeister for your effort and accomplishments! And, congratulations to Salutatorian Elizabet Cave and Colin McConnon, a National Merit Scholar Finalist.
  • 10 seniors had perfect attendance up to Spring Break and the school closure.
  • 33 seniors participated in the Superintendent’s Challenge, accruing 6926 hours of community service in four years. 25 seniors completed the Challenge. Senior Maya Bellowe had the most hours over her four years for a total of 516 hours.
  • 342 grads are going to college and 8 to the military to serve our country. 6 will be attending other types of schools. 1 is moving onto an apprenticeship and 13 onto Career Education. 12 students will move onto the world of work and 8 are taking a gap year.
  • 24 seniors received the CCUSD Seal of Bi-literacy and 39 will receive the State Seal of Bi-literacy.
  • They have been awarded over 11.5 million in scholarships to date.
  • 18 of our senior student athletes have signed letters of intent.
  • And the Class of 2020 is very ready for college, already graduating with college credits:
    • 16 seniors achieved the Advanced Placement Capstone Diploma
    • 13 seniors were in the International Baccalaureate program;
    • 8 seniors were in Paradise Valley Community College’s Early College Program;
    • 4 attended EVIT—the East Valley Institute of Technology;
    • Over 4 years, 767 took Paradise Valley Community College Dual Enrollment courses;
    • They took 1394 Advanced Placement courses in 4 years;
    • And, took 1401 Career and Technical Education courses.

Best of luck and the warmest congratulations, Cactus Shadows Falcons, Class of 2020!


To contact Dr. Burdick, call 480.575.2000. For more information on the Cave Creek Unified School District, visit ccusd93.org.

Young Artists and Authors Showcase: ‘One World: Out of Many, We Are One’

Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation’s first online exhibition, Youth Artists and Authors Showcase “One World: Out of Many, We Are One” will continue through July 31.

Members of the Scottsdale Sister Cities Association (SSCA) serve as citizen ambassadors, creating networks and partnerships with eight sister cities around the world. Their Young Artists and Authors Showcase encourages Scottsdale teens to express the SSCA mission through original artwork and literature.

This year’s theme is “One World: Out of Many, We Are One,” and the organizers shared this backdrop to the exhibition: “In these times of uncertainty, isolation and disruption, our communities struggle to maintain positive connections and optimism. Our friends and colleagues in sister cities around the world seem further away than ever. More than ever, we see the urgency for our nations to work together in harmony, lifting each other up, encouraging compassion, and defining resiliency.”

This year’s theme, “One World: Out of Many, We Are One,” asks students to “explore creative ways that we create peace through people-to-people interaction. In what ways can different nations come together during a time of physical separation? We turn to our creative youth and their forward-thinking ideals to hopefully bring us closer to a unified world.”

SSCA says that it aims to promote peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation — one individual, one community at a time.

The exhibition is organized in conjunction with Scottsdale Artists’ School. To view the exhibition, visit scottsdaleartslearning.org and click on the “Exhibition” link.

Carefree’s Peterson and Crane Appointed to MAG Committees in June

L-R: Carefree Mayor Les Peterson; Carefree Vice Mayor Jim Crane

The Town of Carefree announced in late June that, “in an effort to strengthen its working relationship with other municipalities and more effectively represent the interests of Carefree residents in important regional matters,” it has increased its representation within in the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) organization.

At the June 24 meeting of the MAG Regional Council, Carefree Mayor Les Peterson was appointed by the membership to the Executive Committee of the Council. In addition, Carefree Vice Mayor John Crane was appointed by the membership to the MAG Economic Development Committee.

MAG is a council of municipal governments and tribal entities that serves as the regional planning agency for Maricopa County, including the neighboring urbanized areas in Pinal County. MAG provides regional planning and policy decisions in areas of transportation, air quality, water quality, economic development and human services. A separate Committee is assigned to each of these areas, under the overall leadership of the MAG Regional Council.

The MAG bylaws summarize the purpose of the organization: “The Maricopa Association of Governments is based on the principle that cities, towns, counties, and Indian Communities, which are closest to the people, should exercise the basic initiative and leadership and should have the primary responsibility for addressing those local problems and needs which require action on an area-wide or regional basis.”

For additional information about the role and purpose of MAG, visit azmag.gov.

Puppy Luv: Helping Homeless Pets Off the Streets and Into Loving Homes

Puppy Luv Pet of the Month: Meet Poppy!

Poppy is a 1-year-old Rottweiler/Australian Shepherd mix. The team at Puppy Luv shared that Poppy “loves being with people and is one of the sweetest dogs we have! She has the cutest little dock tail and she always looks like she’s smiling!”

If you are interested in adopting sweet Poppy, call Puppy Luv Animal Rescue at 480.525.1007.


Puppy Luv Animal Rescue is a no-kill, foster based animal rescue located in Cave Creek. Its mission is to help homeless pets off the streets and into loving homes, while encouraging spaying and neutering.

“We wish to educate the general public on animal rescue, care and over-population of county shelters all over the United States,” says director Gwen Ware. “All of our animals are in private foster homes and are adopted through a unique one on one ‘play-time’ at their foster home or at a weekend adoption event. This allows for a more personalized experience with your family and potential new best friend”

“Our fosters are most qualified to answer any questions regarding the animals. They give you a sneak peak into what the pet will actually be like in your home, instead of a scary shelter environment.”

The nonprofit dog rescue, which has been open for a little over three years, focuses on rehoming puppies and adult dogs as well as taking in medical cases and pregnant moms.

“We believe that no pet should be left behind, so we are a strict no kill rescue,” Ware shares. “We also love to help and give back to our community in any and every way possible.”
During restrictions due to the coronavirus, Ware says that residents who wish to make donations for either resale or donations for the rescue can do so with easy contactless donation drop offs at the Puppy Luv Flea Market location, 7171 E. Cave Creek Road.

To learn more about Puppy Luv Animal Rescue call 480.525.1007 or follow them on Facebook or Instagram.

Save the Date: Annual Urban Fruit Tree Program Kicks Off Sept. 12

Urban farmer Greg Peterson, founder of The Urban Farm, has been growing fruit trees for over 40 years in the Valley and offers education on the best techniques for successfully growing fruit trees in the desert.

“Education is at the core of all that we do,” says Peterson. “Each year we begin the fall season with a kick-off event that teaches people how to successfully purchase and grow fruit trees that are climate appropriate for the low desert.”

Recent food system challenges have shown how essential a reliable local food supply is for individuals as well as for our communities.

The Urban Farm Fruit Tree Education Program aims to provide a support system for beginning backyard farmers and fruit growers. Peterson makes full use of his contacts and resources to obtain a selection of seasonally and climate appropriate fruit trees, bushes and vines. The key to success for any fruit grower

is experience — and The Urban Farm has plenty of that to share.

The 2020 challenge facing The Urban Farm is hosting classes while maintaining appropriate social distancing. Instead of holding a live in-person Kick-off event, this year it will be a live online event consisting of a full course of learning opportunities, several Q&A sessions and the event’s traditional giveaways.

A day’s worth of education translates into a wealth of fruit growing empowerment for the beginning and semi-novice fruit grower. The event will feature expert advice from grower Tom Spellman from Dave Wilson Nursery along with Peterson hosting interviews sharing multiple real-life examples of success from here in the Valley.

With the advantage of current online technology, participants will be able to join classes and access course work from the comfort of their own home. Fruit tree education continues throughout September, October, November and early December with free webinars and potentially some in person classes around the city.

The Urban Farm accepts preorders for its selection of deciduous (apples, peaches, apricots, plums, figs, grapes and berries) and citrus trees (lemons, limes, oranges, etc.). The program offers special Early Bird pricing and bundling deals through Nov. 7. Pick up of trees will begin in October for citrus trees, and in January for deciduous trees.

The 21st annual Urban Farm Fruit Tree Education Program will take place Sept. 12, kicking off at 9am. For more information on The Urban Farm, visit urbanfarm.org or follow them on Facebook: facebook.com/theurbanfarm.

FOREVER FAMILIES: Meet Damone — A teen needing someone on the sideline for him

By Clint Williams, Aid to Adoption of Special Kids

Damone is a teen for all seasons — football season, basketball season, track season.

Damone, 14, is a multi-sport athlete who thrives in the world of competition, says John Hicks, a child specific adoption recruiter with Aid to Adoption of Special Kids (AASK).

“He enjoys the routine and structure that sports gives him,” says Hicks, adding that sports give Damone the motivation to do well in school.

Damone runs track, specializing in sprints, and plays football, but his favorite sport is basketball.

“What I like about basketball is jumping and moving around,” the soft-spoken Damone says. “I’m really good at dribbling.”

But, he knows he can get better and is willing to work hard at it.

“I like people coaching me,” Damone says. “I like getting coached.”

When he isn’t playing sports, Damone says he likes to get lost in a book.

“I like reading books, especially the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books,” he says.

The perfect forever family for Damone would include a mother and a father to serve as a strong male role model.

“Like any athlete,” Hicks says. “Damone needs a good coach and a good cheerleader.”


For more information on children eligible for adoption, call Aid to Adoption of Special Kids (AASK) at 602.930.4900 or visit aask-az.org.

Southwest Wildlife Discovery Series: The Tiny Kit Fox — A True Desert Fox

By Marcia Sawyer, Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center docent

Maybe you have seen this little fox running through the desert at dusk — if so, consider yourself lucky indeed. Although the kit fox is not strictly nocturnal, it usually comes out of its den at dusk to hunt for food and therefore isn’t seen very often.

The relatively shy but curious kit fox (Vulpes macrotis) is the second smallest canid in the world (the Fennec fox from Africa being the smallest), weighing only 4–5 pounds as an adult and growing to 12 inches in height. These foxes can be found in desert areas from southern Oregon south into Mexico, preferring mostly flat, sparsely vegetated areas for their homes.

With its long bushy, black-tipped tail and large ears, the kit fox is well-adapted to the low desert areas it inhabits. Those large ears, which allow them to hear prey that is underground, serve another useful purpose as well. Their ears help the kit fox dissipate heat to keep it cool. Its mottled gray, white and tan color helps it blend in with its surroundings. Kit foxes even have extra fur on their paws and between their toes — yet another dual-purpose characteristic. That extra fur protects their paws from the hot desert ground and helps muffle the sound of their footsteps while they are hunting. Amazingly, the kit fox does not need water to survive. Although it will occasionally drink water if available, the kit fox gets most of its hydration from the food that it eats! What a perfect desert specimen!

So, what does a kit fox like best when it is dining? Leaving its cool den to hunt in the evening, its favorite food is the kangaroo rat, but it also eats rabbits, pack rats and other mice, lizards, small birds and even plants and seeds.

The kit fox has a range of a few miles. Not content with a single home however, it will have several dens within that range. The entrances are narrow (to keep coyotes out) and there are multiple entrances and exits to each den. Tunnels within their dens can be 9–18 feet long! The kit fox rotates between its dens, both to get away from fleas and to keep coyotes from finding them easily.

Kit foxes are solitary except during mating and while raising their families. Babies are born in April and May, with dad bringing food for mom in the den while she nurses the newborns. By 5 months of age, the babies are ready to go out on their own, find their own areas and dig their own dens and start the life cycle all over.

While it may be pure luck to see a kit fox in the wild, Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center in Scottsdale has some resident kit foxes who would love it if you came to visit. Make your plans by registering for a tour at southwestwildlife.org.


Photos courtesy of Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center

PVSchools to Host Virtual Job Fair July 9

For the 2020–21 school year, the Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVSchools) is looking to hire certified full-time and part-time teaching positions, as well as employee support professional positions, including bus drivers who are paid based on K–12 driving experience.

PVSchools will hold a Virtual Job Fair Thursday, July 9, from 10am to 1pm.
Prior to the job fair, applicants may explore the district’s school sites and departments, view current vacancies, share their employment interests directly with administrators and apply for positions.
During the job fair, applicants may view vacancies, share their information, apply for positions, attend live meeting rooms with administrative teams and may be selected to participate in personal interviews.

To learn more about open positions and available benefits, visit pvschools.net/jobfair.

Cave Creek Mayor Issues Emergency Proclamation Restricting Use of Consumer Fireworks in the Town

Today, Cave Creek Mayor Ernie Bunch issued a proclamation declaring an emergency due to fire dangers and restricted the use of permissible consumer fireworks in the Town.  The Town had already prohibited firework displays since the Town Code bans them once the fire level reaches”High,” and the Town’s fire level is currently at “Extreme.”

The Proclamation is in effect from 5pm today, June 30, through 11:59pm, July 6.

Read the proclamation here: https://www.cavecreekaz.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=460.

Nearly 700 Students, 30 Teachers Displaced Due to Metrocenter Mall Closure — Phoenix Conservatory of Music seeking interim and permanent space

Phoenix Conservatory of Music (PCM) announced June 20 that its nearly 700 students and 30 teachers will be displaced due to the permanent closing of Metrocenter Mall on June 30. PCM learned of the closure Friday, June 19. The organization has used the space for its school and music studios since 2011. According to the press release, PCM must vacate the premises by July 15.

Executive director Regina Nixon says that while unexpected, this transition has been something the organization has been expecting given the state of the mall in recent years. At present, PCM is functioning virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so operationally it can continue to serve its students.

The school says that it plans to return to normal in-person operations as soon as it is safe to do so, but in the interim, it needs to find a place to store musical instruments and classroom/office equipment; and ultimately, a permanent home for the future.

Its basic and immediate needs include 6–10,000 sq. ft. of space with classroom, performance and office areas, ideally — but not limited to — the City of Phoenix boundaries. PCM is looking for a partner who is willing to donate in-kind facilities to support our nonprofit educational mission. PCM is a 501(c)(3) organization.

In addition, the school will need logistical help to facilitate a move at the end of June.

Base needs include:

  • 4–6 Lesson Rooms (approx. 80–100 sq. ft. each)
  • 4–5 Music Classrooms (approx. 400–600 sq. ft. each)
  • 1 Parents/Student Waiting Area (approx. 2 sq. ft. each)
  • 1 Large Admin Space (or two classroom sizes)
  • 1 Private Office or 1 classroom space dedicated as an office
  • Storage (2 classroom spaces or 500-plus sq. ft)
  • Access to Restrooms
  • Ability to install phones and internet
  • Access to performance space preferred

PCM added, “In addition to this, we are needing to raise monies to help us with this unplanned move. We have a go fund me page set up.”

For additional information about PCM, visit pcmrocks.org.

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