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

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.

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:

Arizona Votes 2020 — Upcoming primary and general election information

While most residents are aware that 2020 is a presidential election year, it is also important to remember that local elections are taking place in Arizona. Here is a rundown of elections coming up in Carefree, Cave Creek, Phoenix and Scottsdale in August and November.

Town of Carefree

The Town of Carefree will hold a primary election Tuesday, Aug. 4. Voters will elect a mayor and six council members. (Any candidate receiving a majority of all votes cast at the primary election will be declared elected without running at the general election.) If necessary, the Town will hold its general election: Tuesday, Nov. 3.



Town of Cave Creek

The Town of Cave Creek will hold its primary election Tuesday, Aug. 4. The general election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 3. Offices to be filled include mayor (1 seat) and council member (6 seats).

Also, on the Town’s Aug. 4 primary election ballot is Proposition 433 — Authorization to continue the Alternative Expenditure Limitation (Home Rule Option) for the Town.



City of Phoenix

The City of Phoenix will hold the regularly​ scheduled mayor and council election Tuesday, Nov. 3. In this election, registered voters who reside in the city of Phoenix will elect a mayor and decide any ballot measure propositions referred by the City Council. Also, voters residing in City Council Districts 1, 3, 5 and 7 will elect council members.



City of Scottsdale

The City of Scottsdale will hold a primary election Tuesday, Aug. 4, for the purpose of electing a mayor and three council members. A general election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 3, to fill any elected offices that remain unfilled after the primary election. To be elected at the primary election, a candidate must receive a majority of all of the legal votes cast for that candidate’s race.



The deadline to register to vote in all August primary elections is July 6. The deadline to register to vote in the November general election is Oct. 5. To register to vote (or to update/change registration), Maricopa County residents can visit |CST

Photo: ID 27131912 © Brad Calkins |

Desert Foothills Library Continues Curbside Pickup Service

In May, Desert Foothills Library took a prudent, cautious approach to opening the library. While the library itself remains closed, following CDC guidelines in an effort to keep the library community healthy and safe, it began offering curbside pickup of materials.

This service, which began May 18, is available to all library patrons regardless of membership status. Patrons are requested to follow the steps below to request and obtain books, audio books, and DVDs from the Desert Foothills Library Collection. They may request items by using the online library catalog, or by calling the library.

Library staff said, “We’ve got lots of new titles and more on the way!”

To Request Library Materials by Phone:
Place requests for materials by calling the library at 480.488.2286 Monday–Friday, 10am–4pm, and Saturday, 10am–2pm.

To Request Library Materials Online:
Visit and click on “Search our Library Catalog.”
Click log in in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.
Log in by entering the patron barcode number, found printed on the back of library cards. Enter password and click log in.
Search for items by title, author or subject, or browse items in the collection by clicking on the “New Titles” lists on the left-hand side of the screen.
Click place request on an item and submit.
Patrons will receive an email when the requested item becomes available for pick-up.

To Pick Up Requested Materials:
Curbside Pickup is available Monday–Friday, 10am–4pm, and Saturday, 10am–2pm. Park in any library parking space.
Materials will be on a table outside the library entrance, in a bag with the patron’s name on it.
All items in the bag will have already been checked out to the patron, with a checkout slip showing the due dates for materials.

To Return Library Materials
Put all library materials in designated drop boxes to the left of the library entrance.
All materials will remain on the patron’s account for three to four days after return, to allow for a quarantine period. This is for the safety of library staff and patrons. Any overdue fees accrued during that period will be waived by staff.

Residents who have questions about this service or any of the digital or virtual services, can visit to learn more, or call the library at 480.488.2286.

Photo: ID 64880522 © Natabene |

Fantasticós Mexican Food Expands Cave Creek Operations

Submitted photo

Fantasticós Mexican Food plans to expand operations at its newest restaurant location in Cave Creek by providing a customer drive-thru and offering online ordering.

The Mexican restaurant, owned by Noe and Lorena Rodriguez, will now offer a drive-thru lane from 4–10pm every day. Rodriguez says his customers have been asking for a drive thru for several weeks.

“Our customers love to dine in, carryout and to be able to drive thru,” says Rodriguez. “We are happy that we can now provide this service to them.”

In addition, Rodriguez, who also owns restaurant in Sun Lakes and has plans for two more restaurant openings in the coming weeks, has just added online ordering to the business’s increasing list of services. Diners now can visit the website to order from their favorite location. Plans are also in the works to add new seafood items to their large menu.

Fantasticós Mexican Food is located at 6554 E. Cave Creek Rd. Hours of operation are Monday–Thursday and Sunday from 6am to 11pm; Fridays and Saturdays, it is open from 6am to midnight. For additional information, call 480.488-2055 or visit

Local Women and Girls Receive Monetary Awards from Soroptimists Saguaro Foothills

At a time when good news is sometimes hard to find, Soroptimist International of Saguaro Foothills shared the result of its annual awards ceremony, held March 10. Awards money of $11,000 was distributed to 11 deserving women and girls.

The “Live Your Dream” (LYD) award was established in 1972 and is available to women who are financially head of household with dependents, demonstrate need, and are motivated to achieve their education and career goals.

Jennifer, the LYD award winner from Glendale, was awarded $2,500.  Jennifer has been attending Phoenix College and was recently accepted to Arizona State University Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics to pursue a degree in sociology. She works full time as a fraud investigator at UNIFY Financial Credit Union. In addition to pursuing her certified fraud examiner license, Jennifer has full time care of two family members and three children. Jennifer has been selected as a finalist in the Golden West region of Soroptimist International of the Americas and will win an additional monetary award at the regional level.

This year, the organization had seven runners-up for the LYD award, each of whom received $1,000. The runners up were Caren, Ana, Primrose, Consuelo, Kat, Lois and Melissa. Caren is a navy reservist and is pursuing communications at ASU. Ana is studying accounting at Rio Salado Community College. Primrose is a student at Barrett, the Honors College at ASU.  She plans to obtain a dual master’s degree in global studies and creative writing to assist her goal of improving the lives of rural women in Sub-Saharan Africa. Consuelo is pursuing a degree as an accountant at Rio Salado Community College. Kat is a patient care assistant at Banner Health. She is presently enrolled in the nursing program at Gateway Community College and is also taking online classes at Northern Arizona University. Her goal is to become a registered nurse. Lois is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in psychology. Melissa is studying pre-med and is working to become a full-time physician’s assistant.

The Soroptimist “Young Women’s Service” award recognizes young women who make their community and world a better place through their volunteer efforts.  This program honors girls between the ages of 14 and 18 who contribute their time and energy to volunteer projects in their schools and community.  Each girl was awarded $500 along with $100 to their charity.  The award recipients this year are Maya Ochoa who volunteers at Veteran’s Heritage Project. She told the assembled audience that “what I have learned from the veteran’s I’ve worked with has been life-changing.” Jaclyn Russek, who also volunteers for the Veteran’s Heritage project, received the award: she feels her work with her charity has brought “new perspectives to how she sees the world.” Emily Spencer was the third winner, and she volunteers at Wild at Heart. She shared this quote from Ghandi as especially meaningful to her: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

The Soroptimist “Ruby” award honors women who have worked to improve the lives of women and girls through their profession and/or volunteer work.  This year’s Ruby award winner is Lee Anne Park, who leads the Extra Special Art program at the Sonoran Arts League. Park ensures children with disabilities have the opportunity to communicate and express themselves through her adaptive art program.

This year’s awards ceremony had local VIPs in attendance, including president-elect of SI of the Americas, one of five federations that comprise Soroptimist International. Also, in attendance were CCUSD Superintendent Debbi Burdick, Carefree Mayor Les Peterson and his wife, Mary, Carefree Vice Mayor John Crane, and Cave Creek Council members Susan Clancy and Kathryn Royer.

Soroptimist International is a global women’s organization working together to transform the lives of women and girls.  The organization works at the local, national and international levels to improve lives through education leading to social and economic empowerment.

Learn more about Soroptimist International of Saguaro Foothills at

Photos courtesy of Soroptimist International of Saguaro Foothills

Town of Carefree Announces Adjustments to 2020 Memorial Day Tribute

Photo: Jennifer Lynn, Any Moment Photography

On Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, the country will remember those who served and made the ultimate sacrifice for the safety of our nation. Last year, the Town of Carefree inaugurated a Memorial Day tribute in the Carefree-Cave Creek Cemetery to honor those men and women. This year, the challenges of the ongoing pandemic and associated CDC guidelines have caused the Town to modify its traditional morning of remembrance and honor.

This year, the Town of Carefree invites residents to spend part of their Memorial Day at the Carefree-Cave Creek Cemetery. (This is a pioneer cemetery. The wearing of close-toed shoes is a must.) However, the anticipated number of attendees, many of whom are of greater risk of serious illness, and the Town’s inability to offer recommended social distancing in the context of an organized program, has led them to adjust plans.

As in years past, the Tribute Riders will have marked the graves of the 41 veterans interred in the cemetery with the American flag. This year, “Taps” will be played at 8am and throughout the day guests are encouraged to walk the grounds, reflect, and pay respect to veterans. But this year, there will be no formal program. From 7:30am until 9am, face masks, gloves and hand sanitizer will be available near the entry gate, courtesy of American Legion Post 34 in Cave Creek. Guests are asked to comply with CDC guidelines.

The Town says, “It is easy to forget or take for granted those men and women who gave their lives or risked it all. Because of veterans and their selfless sacrifices, we live in prosperity and peace with liberty and freedom. To honor those veterans who have given their lives for country and to provide an appropriate opportunity for those who wish to respect our fallen veterans on Memorial Day in a setting that complies with CDC guidelines, the Town of Carefree is offering this modest, heartfelt tribute.”

For additional information, visit

Kiwanis Marketplace Thrift Store Sets Date for Reopening

Today, Sandra Carrier, general manager of the Kiwanis Marketplace Thrift Store, announced that the store will reopen to the public Tuesday, May 12, at 9am.

“We have been diligent to make sure necessary precautions are implemented to ensure the upmost of safety for all,” said Carrier, who shared a few things that have changed to keep clients and employees safe and healthy:

  • Requiring all who enter the Marketplace to wear a face mask
  • Limit the building occupancy to 35 percent of the city approved allowance.
  • Roadies will no longer enter a home to pick up donations. All donations must be placed in the garage or outside.
  • Restrooms will not be available to the public until further notice
  • Plexiglas shields have been installed at cashier stations
  • The store is marking the floor, around the cashier station, with the appropriate social distancing measures, to keep those in line safe.
  • The drop off donation process may change, so be aware when dropping off donations.
  • All received donations will go through a disinfecting process before being placed out for purchase.

Carrier asks for patience as the store moves forward and navigate these uncharted territories, adding, “Thank you for your continued support during these uncertain times. We have genuinely missed seeing you and look forward to catching up!”

For additional information, call 480.488.8400 or visit

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

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

As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has completely reconfigured not only life as we have known it, but also school as we have known it. We know that our families across the nation are adjusting to many situations, including students learning at home whether through virtual school or in some districts, packets of materials dropped off by school buses. For families with younger children, some parents may still be going to work and not able to assist with schoolwork until evenings or weekends; some parents may be working from home and also not able to help with schoolwork until evenings or weekends. Some families are dealing with illness and schoolwork may take a backseat when health is the priority. All families may feel like they are now homeschooling and stress levels for guardians and students alike are high with this new dimension of what school looks like in the 2020 pandemic.

We are also hearing from our educators that they, too, are feeling this stress and anxiety. Many of them have children themselves and are juggling preparing lessons virtually in new formats, connecting with all of their students and then also trying to guide their own children through “school at home” with school days that then seem to never end. In our “new normal,” we all need to take a breath and realize that we are all doing the best we can in this crisis. That may look different for every household depending on their own situations. Things to remember are:

  • Family health is paramount. Keep everyone in your household protected and supported, including yourself. Many have used the analogy of the putting on the oxygen mask on a plane first — then helping others. The same goes here. Keep yourself well and calm as best as you can and then help your children.
  • Pay attention to stress that your child exhibits with school lessons and expectations. When a student hits the frustration point, it is time to take a break. Take a walk with your student, have them eat a snack, do some yoga together — but don’t keep working on lessons when your student becomes stressed and perhaps you do as well. It is okay to take a break. Our teachers are masters at noticing the signs of student frustrations and then switching gears, picking up with what has become frustrating later in the day or the next day.
  • We have heard from families where parents are working out of the home or in the home, that they cannot assist their students during the “school day.” Again, this is where educators understand that parents and guardians need flexibility that fits their own family situation. Let your teachers or principals know if your household needs an alternative scenario and let them know when you can assist with schoolwork. It may be that the weekend is the time that you are able to assist with work assigned during the week.
  • Finally, although I advocate for flexibility as we move forward, I also know that trying to develop some type of a consistent schedule for “school” at home with your learners may help to keep things moving along and less difficult for guardians and students. Find a place in your home for your student that is conducive to “school” with a place to write, good lighting and a comfortable chair. Who knows, you may get the teaching bug and re-career!

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

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