SUSD Update:
  • At its final meeting of 2018, the SUSD Governing Board deferred the hiring of the district's next Superintendent to the new Governing Board that will take office in January.   In executive session, the outgoing Board reviewed the confidential applications of six candidates elicited from the process of search firm McPherson & Jacobson LLC of Omaha, Neb. Twenty-four educators submitted applications for the post.  T he Board also discussed the possibility of extending the contract of Acting Superintendent Dr. John Kriekard, which is set to expire on June 30, 2019.  The Board left that decision to the new Board, as well.
  • At the December regular Board meeting, official farewells were extended to outgoing Governing Board Vice President Kim Hartmann and Board Member Pam Kirby.  Hartmann served on the Board for four years, Kirby for eight.  Neither ran for re-election last month.
  • Phoenix-based Orcutt Winslow will design the "next" Cherokee Elementary School.  The Governing Board selected the Phoenix architecture firm at its Dec. 11 monthly meeting.  The architect team held its first meeting with school parents, staff and neighbors on Dec. 17 to begin a collaborative design process.  The attendees worked in groups to identify an initial list of goals they would like to see achieved in the Cherokee project. On that wish list are: a unique, sustainable design; improved layers of security; indoor and outdoor collaborative learning spaces; increased natural lighting; better vehicle traffic circulation; and more multi-purpose spaces for school and community events.
  • No decision has been made on whether Cherokee will be completely rebuilt or if its pod-like structures will undergo renovations.  Cherokee was last renovated in 2001.  It originally opened in 1974.  Currently, the school provides educational, recreational and social-emotional learning experiences for 724 students, from toddlers through fifth grade. 
     Orcutt Winslow plans five more meetings with the Cherokee community before architects develop a design, which could take up to six months. Construction could begin in late 2019.  The next community meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 7, 2019 at Cherokee.  
    For more information and to join the e-mail news list to receive project updates, visit
Calling All Fall 2019 Kindergarteners!

Jan. 14-17 is your next-to-last chance to visit SUSD's kindergarten classrooms that will be ready to welcome your kindergarteners next school year.

We are excited to offer friendly and engaging learning environments for your little one.  Our teachers excel in easing their youngest students into our  friendly classrooms and helping them adjust to school-day routines.

Click here or on the little learner above to see the complete January Kindergarten Roundup schedule!


Imagine packing more than 100 instruments and uniforms for a weeklong trip  - overseas.  That's the challenge Desert Mountain High School has faced in recent weeks, all while students were studying for final exams!

It all came together, and the Desert Mountain Marching Band will strut its stuff down the major byways from Berkeley Square to Westminster tomorrow, as it takes part for the fifth time in the London New Year's Day Parade, or "LNYDP," as Londoners call it.  Should you happen to be up at 5:30 a.m. Phoenix time, you can watch or catch a re-run of the parade coverage at  On the playlist are the theme from the 1960s TV show "Rawhide," Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train" and "25 or 6 to 4" by Chicago.

The school's Orchestra is there, too, having performed at Cadogan Hall, the home of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, two nights ago.  Band and Orchestra Director Michelle Irvin says she never gets tired of sharing the British capital with students.  "America is fairly new, so when you are able to take students to a place like London and they get to see the architecture and tour the Tower of London and Windsor Castle, they gain a new cultural awareness," said Irvin. "Desert Mountain is an IB (International Baccalaureate) school, and being culturally aware is what IB is all about."

The group returns to Arizona on Thursday.



SUSD Students Snag STEM Awards

Congratulations to Mountainside Middle School 8th grader Lauren Korhorn (L) and Cocopah Middle School 6th grader Gavin Higgins (R), second and third place winners, respectively, in Chandler firm CK Valenti Designs' second annual Breakout of the Box Design & Build Challenge!

Contest entrants, more than half of them 6th - 8th grade SUSD students, were given a box of building materials and two weeks to create projects that were judged by an architect, artist, exhibitions manager and DIYer/Maker.  Lauren built a tree house and Gavin, also the event's People's Choice Award winner, built a wave machine.  

Cocopah 6th Graders to Benefit from APS/Suns Grant

Cocopah Middle School STEM  (science, technology, engineering and math)  teacher Marcia DeMuro has received a $2,500 mini-grant from Arizona Public Service (APS) and the Phoenix Suns that will help the school's 6th graders design 3D architectural models.  With the help of Hummingbird Robotics bit controllers, the student-engineered buildings will come alive and actually move.

DeMuro is one of 28 Arizona teachers whose mini-grant application was chosen by APS and the Suns this year to introduce STEM projects to the classroom in new and innovative ways.  "This partnership enables Arizona teachers to bring their creative ideas to life in ways that will inspire students to explore science and technology," said John Hatfield, APS Vice President of Communications.  "These teachers are providing students with experiences that could ignite their curiosity, and create a lifelong passion for learning."

The mini-grant recipients were recognized at a Suns game this month.


Scottsdale Mayor's Constitution Contest 

The creative skills of SUSD students were on display in Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane's 2018 Constitution Contest.  

First through 5th graders were tasked with writing a 250-word essay or creating a piece of art or a video on the topic "What the 1st 10 Amendments/Bill of Rights mean to me."  Middle school students had 500 words to express their feelings or portray in a piece of art or video the importance to American society of a constitutional Amendment of their choice.  Finally, high school students could choose to write a 1,000-word essay or create a piece of art or video that delved into their thoughts on how the U.S. Constitution safeguards individual liberty.

SUSD's Constitution Contest finalists are listed below; Grand Prize winners' names are italicized.  All of the grade 6-8 students attend Mohave Middle School; all of the grade 9-12 students attend Chaparral High School.

Grades 1-5 Art Leia Kane   (mistakenly put in this category)
Grades 6-8 Art
Karrie Sanders
Olivia Ann-Dora Gomez
Maia Castaneda
Grades 6-8 Essay
Brooklynn Potter
Jesse Potter
Dylan Dole-Vy
Elyse Hodgins
Josie Pope
Grades 9-12 Art Dana Corbo
Caroline Hudson
Madeline Lafflam
Waverly Pressel
Kara Schultz
Grades 9-12 Essay Kyle Pollen
Emily Artigue


Desert Mountain Principal Honored

"... it is refreshing to find an administrator who can see how the Performing Arts are an important part of a well-rounded school program."

With that from Arizona Thespians co-director Steve Abaroa, the principal of Desert Mountain High School, Dr. Lisa Hirsch, learned that she had been named 2018 Administrator of the Year for the organization's Central Region.  Dr. Hirsch received the award at the Arizona State Acting Festival in Phoenix last month.  Thank you for your support of the performing arts at Desert Mountain!

Make That Six

The Saguaro Sabercats won their sixth consecutive 4A state football title on Dec. 1 in Tucson.  For the second year in a row, the Cats faced Salpointe Catholic in the state championship game. Final score: Saguaro 42, Salpointe 16. It is Saguaro's 12th state title since 1995.

The Saguaro football team wins in the classroom, too, with its freshmen posting an average GPA of 3.26; sophomores, 3.32; juniors, 3.25; and seniors, 3.55.

Lastly, accolades continue to pour in for Sabercats Head Coach Jason Mohns, named one of three winners of the 2018 MaxPreps Heart & Soul of the Game contest. The competition annually recognizes three high school football coaches in eight, southern tier U.S. states who do more than draw the x's and o's for their players, but also make a difference in their communities. Congratulations, Coach!

Tax Credit Contributions Benefit SUSD Students

It's Tax Credit Time

Tax credit contributions can be made anytime throughout the school year, but must be made by April 15 (not Dec. 31 anymore) - and you get to decide which tax year to apply it to!  Anyone who pays Arizona state income tax can contribute.

Please click HERE to learn more about making a tax credit contribution to SUSD.  Students and school programs depend on you to be able to offer learning opportunities beyond those made possible by state funding.  Thank you very much, in advance!

Upcoming Events

January 1 - 4
Winter Break
January 7:
SUSD offices re-open (not schools) - Professional Development Day
January 7:
2nd Cherokee Elementary School Redevelopment Forum, 6:30 p.m., Cafeteria, Cherokee Elementary, 8801 N. 56th St., Paradise Valley
January 8:
Classes resume - Second semester begins
January 10:
SUSD Governing Board Study Session, 3 p.m., Mohave District Annex, 8500 E. Jackrabbit Rd., S cottsdale - New Board seated; 2019 Board officers elected
January 15:
SUSD Governing Board Regular Meeting, 5 p.m., Board Room, Coronado High School, 7501 E. Virginia Ave., Scottsdale
January 16:
Early Release - All grades - Professional Development
January 17:
Annual MLK Youth Voices program, 9 a.m., Saguaro High School Auditorium, 6250 N. 82nd St., Scottsdale
January 21:
Martin Luther King Jr. Day - SUSD schools & offices closed