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.

Three Thousand and Counting — Area Students Unite to Donate Masks During Pandemic

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, local students are leading the charge in the battle to slow the spread of the coronavirus and making a big difference in the community.

Established in March by Cactus Shadows High School junior Angelique Cort, the AZ Mask Project focuses on harnessing the energy of a corps of volunteers to mass produce masks and provide them at no charge to critical care workers and compromised populations in the Phoenix area.

“In March, my mom [Corinne Cort] and I started sewing masks on a small scale,” said Cort. “Soon afterward we were contacted by HonorHealth whose needs were much greater. Arizona State Senator Paul Boyer learned of our efforts and expressed a need for thousands of masks. This was clearly beyond our capability at the time, so I started looking into ways to scale up the operation dramatically.”

Her search for volunteers and donors led to a partnership with Cave Creek Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Debbi Burdick, who put the word out across the district.

“Over 70 volunteers answered the call, and the AZ Mask Project was born.”

The homemade, reusable cloth masks are delivered to front-line healthcare workers, emergency responders and community organizations throughout Greater Phoenix, including Banner Health, Cave Creek Unified School District, HonorHealth, Infinity Hospice Care, Mayo Clinic and Phoenix Children’s Hospital, among others.

Cort says that the Project has special meaning to her because her life goal is to become an emergency-room surgeon. She also says that they couldn’t have accomplished this feat without the Project’s dozens of volunteers.

“The heart and soul of our Project are our generous, community-spirited volunteers,” said Cort. “Spanning the range from students to retirees and drawing from every demographic, resilient and relentless, these selfless individuals daily contribute their time, their energy, and their goodwill to make our community a better, safer, healthier place.

“Regardless of whether they cut fabric, sew masks, make pickups and deliveries, maintain our Facebook page, donate materials, or perform any of a host of other services, they quietly make a difference every day.”

Each week, Cort creates and oversees a staged fabrication process that moves materials through multiple phases of production. She coordinates volunteers, works with donors and interfaces with beneficiary organizations. Jeffrey Filer, another Cactus Shadows junior and patrol leader in Boy Scout Troop 15, proposed and implemented a robust system that enlists three Boy Scout troops (Troops 15, 323 and 3323) to fulfill the logistical needs of the project.

Every week, Patrol Leader Filer’s Scouts deliver materials to volunteers across the Valley, move partially completed masks from cutters to the next production location, pick up finished masks and deliver finished masks to beneficiary organizations throughout the Phoenix area. Together, Cort and Filer have sustained an effort that donates hundreds of masks each week, most recently surpassing the 3,000-mask milestone.

And they are not done yet. AZ Mask Project says that it remains committed to maintaining and expanding its efforts as the need exists, and Cort says that the group is continually in search of new volunteers.

“Everyone is welcome into our Fellowship of the Mask. For those who don’t sew, we welcome your help cutting fabric. We will provide the material and support you need to get started. We provide certificates of community service hours for our student volunteers. If you are already involved in making and donating masks, we are eager to partner with you.”
Residents interested in getting involved may contact Cort by email: chancecort@me.com. The Project also has a Facebook group: search “AZ Mask Project.” |CST


Photos courtesy of AZ Mask Project

Harold’s Corral Donates Nearly 4,000 Meals During Pandemic

—By Sue Kern-Fleischer

Franny Pachuca makes brisket at Harold’s for meals that will be donated to the Foothills Food Bank and Cave Creek Unified School District.

It’s been just a few weeks since Arizona reopened, lifting the “Stay at Home” restrictions put in place to help flatten the curve from COVID-19. And while Harold’s Cave Creek Corral’s dining room is open to patrons, the iconic restaurant is continuing a unique take-out program it started with the help of the Kiwanis Club of Carefree more than two months ago to help feed families in need.

In its nearly 85 years of business, Harold’s had never experienced operating during a global pandemic. But when it became clear that the highly contagious coronavirus (COVID-19) could endanger the lives of customers and staff, Harold’s shifted into crisis mode, with the goal of helping the community the popular restaurant serves.

Like restaurants across the country, Harold’s temporarily closed its dining room and began to offer curbside and take-out service. But the popular western bar and restaurant took matters a step further, soliciting the help of the Kiwanis Club of Carefree to help fund a unique program to help the Foothills Food Bank and families of the Cave Creek Unified School District (CCUSD).

Harold’s designed its take-out menu to include a unique commitment to the community: For every family-style meal ordered, which feeds four to five people, Harold’s will donate a family-style meal to a family in need through the District’s meal assistance program. Additionally, Harold’s is donating individual meals to the Foothills Food Bank.

Both Harold’s Corral and the Kiwanis Club of Carefree provided funding to start the program. Harold’s prepares the meals and the District and the Foothills Food Bank pick up the meals and distribute them.

Margaret Carver and Danny Piacquadio package meals for the Foothills Food Bank and Cave Creek Unified School District.

From March to May, Harold’s donated more than 3,500 meals, and the unique program will continue this month.

“If you would like to help with this program, you can make direct donations to the Kiwanis Club of Carefree or the Foothills Food Bank and note the donation is for Harold’s meal assistance program. Our goal is to continue to support both the food bank and CCUSD through this time of crisis. Thanks to Kiwanis Club of Carefree, Harold’s Corral and our customers, plus Shamrock Foods, we are able to provide these meals to those in need,” owner Danny Piacquadio said.

Take-out service through Harold’s is available seven days per week, with orders taken from 8am to 2:30pm. Since reopening its dining room in mid-May, Harold’s has been following CDC guidelines regarding sanitization efforts and social distancing. The dining room and outdoor patio is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner Monday through Thursday from 8am to 10pm and Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 8am to midnight.

Harold’s Cave Creek Corral is located at 6895 E. Cave Creek Rd. For more information, call 480.488.1906 or visit www.haroldscorral.com.

To learn more about Cave Creek Unified School District, visit www.ccusd93.org. To learn more about the Foothills Food Bank, visit www.foothillsfoodbank.com. For details about the Kiwanis Club of Carefree, visit www.kiwaniscarefree.org.

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 www.ccusd93.org.

CCUSD Celebrates its Outstanding Educators

L–R: Bill Dolezal (principal, Sonoran Trails Middle School), Dick Gunderson, Eric DeVore, Barbara Gunderson, Dr. Debbi Burdick.

Eric DeVore named 2019 Teacher of Year

At the conclusion of the 2018–19 school year, Cave Creek Unified School District (CCUSD) celebrated great teaching with its annual Teacher of the Year celebration. Eric DeVore, a Spanish teacher at Sonoran Trails Middle School was named CCUSD Teacher of the Year 2019. DeVore was awarded $3,000 and will complete his application for the 2019 Arizona Educational Foundation’s Teacher of the Year program.

Also recognized were honorees Kendra Frigard, third/fourth-grade combo teacher at Desert Willow Elementary, and Doni Nasr, Spanish teacher at Cactus Shadows High School. Frigard and Nasr both received $1,000.

2019 Teacher of the Year Nominees & Honorees (L–R): Leighanne Harrison (kindergarten, Horseshoe Trails Elementary School); Susan Webb (third grade, Desert Sun Academy); Barbara Magtibay (second grade, Black Mountain Elementary School); 2019 Teacher of the Year Eric DeVore (Spanish, Sonoran Trails Middle School); 2019 Teacher of the Year Honoree Doni Nasr (Spanish/Spanish Immersion, Cactus Shadows High School); Kellie Combs (fifth grade, Lone Mountain Elementary School); 2019 Teacher of the Year Honoree Kendra Frigard (third/fourth grade, Desert Willow Elementary School).

CCUSD expressed its appreciation and thanks to community members, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Gunderson, for their generous donation to financially support the CCUSD Teacher of the Year program. Superintendent

stated that, “this is one of the most important celebrations of the year in the Cave Creek Unified School District as we honor our incredible educators.”

For additional information, call 480.575.2000 or visit www.ccusd93.org.

Cactus Shadows High School Students Sweep ASU’s 2019 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Contest

Cactus Shadows High School announced that Sarah Weiss, Angela Khammo and Mikaela Morris were the first, second and third place winners, respectively, of Arizona State University’s 2019 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration contest. This year, students were encouraged to participate in the “Find Your Voice” campaign and asked to submit essays based on their own idea of “leadership through service.”

Jim Swetter, interim principal said, “I am so proud of Sarah, Mikaela and Angela. Their ‘Find Your Voice’ essays were truly inspiring and sent a powerful message. A big thank you to their teacher Christine Marsh for helping promote such a worthwhile contest. Cactus Shadows is very proud of their accomplishments!”

The Falcons were honored at the Thirty-Fourth Annual ASU Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast in this past month. The breakfast was held at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in Phoenix. Family members, teachers, interim principal and superintendent all attended the event.

Cactus Shadows English teacher Christine Marsh said, “I am inspired by the girls’ insightful essays about leadership through service and grateful to ASU for providing this opportunity for students to be recognized for their creativity and writing skills.”

Cactus Shadows High School is part of the Cave Creek Unified School District. For more information, contact Interim Principal Swetter at jswetter@ccusd93.org or visit www.ccusd93.org.

Cactus Shadows Boys Basketball Heads to State

In mid-January, Cactus Shadows High School (CSHS) Basketball head coach Zach Washut, who is a Cave Creek resident, shared that CSHS Falcons Boys Basketball is having a great season. The team was tied for first in the Region, No. 6 overall in the State, and headed to the State tournament.

“We are currently 15–2 and this is the best start in program history,” said Coach Washut. Last season we went 21–5 and reached the Elite 8 of the state tournament and have built off that momentum.”

This is Coach Washut’s eighth year coaching high school basketball and his second as head coach at Cactus Shadows. Reaching the Elite 8 in the 2017–18 season marked the second time in school history the program has accomplished 20-plus wins and made an Elite 8 run.

Of the players, Coach Washut says, “This team is senior heavy, with nine seniors. We have three guys that average 12 points or more and have a well-balanced attacking team. We’re excited to finish the season strong and make some noise in the state tournament!”

The State tournament playoff bracket will be available Feb. 6 for residents who would like to check out a game and cheer on the Falcons.

Cactus Shadows High School is part of the Cave Creek Unified School District. Follow the District on Facebook @CaveCreekUSD. Learn more about CSHS at www.ccusd93.org/cshs or visit www.ccusd93.org/page/4535 to learn more about the Basketball program.

Cave Creek Unified Education Foundation “Grants the District”

Members of the Cave Creek Youth Education Foundation and CSPress

The Cave Creek Unified Education Foundation (CCUEF) is best known for its yearly showcasing of musical talent, Rock the District, which not only grows, presents and applauds our students’ musical talents, but raises much needed dollars for our classrooms.

Last semester, CCUEF celebrated the Cave Creek Unified School District (CCUSD) teachers whose grants were funded with Grant the District and brought along members of the CCYEF (Cave Creek Youth Education Foundation) and two reporters from CSPress (Cactus Shadows High School’s award winner student-run newspaper). The annual Grant the District event has a CCUSD school bus traveling to the schools of the teachers receiving grants. Teachers and their classes are brought to the front of the school and surprised by the CCUEF Trustees who jump off the bus with a giant check, balloons and flowers. This year, a student group from Cactus Shadows High School — CCYEF, also rode the bus, along with a CS Press reporter and photographer and local dignitaries. Here are the 2018 winners:

Ms. Cardin, Ms. Taylor and Ms. Steward (Black Mountain Elementary) $2,302 for kindergarten Chromebooks

Ms. Hendrie (Lone Mountain Elementary) $2,250 for preschool

Ms. Camarasa (Desert Willow Elementary) $2,500 for El periodico

Ms. Bayless (Desert Willow Elementary) $2,268 for iPads for the art studio

Ms. Kerschbaum (Desert Sun Academy) $2,500 for “Don’t Put Your Health in a Pickle”

Ms. Stumpo and Mr. Nielson (Sonoran Trails Middle School) $1,000 for French 1 & 2 library

Ms. Lindstrom, Ms. Dahlke, Ms. Watts and Ms. D’Ambrosi (Sonoran Trials Middle School) $1,844 for Special Education Technology

Mr. Conklin, Ms. Fauss, Ms. Knuteson, Ms. Petrine, Ms. Skinner and Ms. Spiess (Sonoran Trails Middle School) $2,500 for adding technology to the Science lab.

CCUEF’s four pillars are: Classroom Supplies (including Technology); Music and the Arts; Health and Wellness; and International Learning.

Superintendent Burdick said, “CCUEF is a group of dedicated, hard-working volunteers who only want the best for our students and schools. They make sure each year that teachers have the opportunity to access additional resources for their classrooms and CCUSD is so grateful and lucky to have this small but mighty foundation supporting our mission, Inspire Excellence, through their four pillars.”

For more information on CCUEF, visit their website at www.ccuef.org.

Cave Creek Unified Superintendent’s Student Cadre Holds Blanket Drive

The Cactus Shadows High School (CSHS) Superintendent’s Student Cadre meets monthly with Superintendent Debbi Burdick and is no stranger to service projects. For two years in a row, the students have conducted a sock drive for homeless senior citizens who frequent the Justa Center in Phoenix. A Cadre member makes the flyer and monitors collection bins, which are placed at all Cave Creek Unified School District (CCUSD) school front offices, at the district office and at the Education & Community Services office.

This year, CSHS Varsity Football Head Coach Mike Hudnutt asked the players to bring socks for the drive to their year-end banquet. Thanks for CSHS Football and the generosity of the schools, district office and ECS office, Superintendent Burdick and her husband were able to deliver a SUV full of socks to the Justa Center in December.

At their recent meeting, the Cadre voted on another service project for the spring — The Santa Rose Blanket Drive. A Cadre member, CSHS freshman Madison O’Sullivan, brought this need to the attention of the Cadre back in November. This service project is asking the CCUSD community to donate new or gently used blankets to benefit the victims of the fires/mudslides in Santa Rosa, California. The service project will run from February 5 to March 1, 2018, with collection bins at all CCUSD school front offices, the district office and the ECS office.

Superintendent Burdick said, “I am so proud of this Cadre and their altruism, kindness and caring for others.”

For more information on the Cave Creek Unified School District, visit www.ccusd93.org or call 480.575.2000.

Carefree Hosts ‘Art In The Garden’ In April

Photo by Vickilyn Hussey

Education and Community Services (ECS), a department of the Cave Creek Unified School District (CCUSD) will host Art in the Garden Saturday, April 8, 8-11am.

The morning of free family art activities, literary and art contest, art exhibitions and entertainment by local school groups, takes place in partnership with the Kiwanis Club of Carefree at Carefree Desert Gardens.

“We love having the opportunity to brag about all of our ECS programs that are offered to our students and community,” says Gina Durbin, ECS director. “Art in the Garden features the amazing art and literary work of our students and community members. Our community partners are fabulous and so supportive that we want to give them the recognition they deserve at this community event.”

Scully Learning Center, Sonoran Arts League, Desert Awareness Committee, Education & Community Services, Cave Creek Museum, Desert Foothills Library, ECS Kid’s Club and Child’s Play Preschool, ECS Enrichment and Summer Programs, ECS Storytellers and Kiwanis Reads will have activities and informational booths.

Black Mountain Elementary drama, dance and chorus students, Desert Sun Academy Chorus, Sonoran Trails Middle School Chorus, Cactus Shadows High School Jazz Band, Cactus Shadows Improv Dance and Improv Drama groups will perform on stage at the Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion, while the Carefree Kiwanis serve up the “World’s Best” pancakes at their Pancake Breakfast ($5 children; $8 adults).

Arts and crafts, face painting, sand painting, storytelling, live performances by outstanding youth music, dance and theater ensembles, works by Literary and Art Contest Winners, an art exhibition by CCUSD staff and alumni, and local summer program informational displays and sign-up tables are just a few of the many attractions.

“You can participate in art activities with your kids, enjoy breakfast, be entertained with music, dance, theater and storytelling, view award winning artwork, buy artwork by students and local artists to benefit the Cactus Shadows Fine Arts Center renovation, and learn about summer camps and classes,” according to Elaine Adrian, ECS Art in the Garden Coordinator. “This is a wonderful opportunity for young children and their families.”

Carefree Desert Gardens and Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion are located at 101 Easy Street, Carefree. For more information about ECS Art in the Garden, contact Elaine Adrian at eadrian@ccusd93.org. For additional information, visit www.ecsforall.org or www.ccusd93.org.

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