J.O. Combs district superintendent update

Gayle Blanchard, superintendent of J.O. Combs Unified School District released the February update for the district:

•District enrollment is 4,503 students which includes Community Pre-K through Grade 12.

•Congratulations to  J.O. Combs District Spelling Bee Winners and Alternates
1st Place – Faith Powell, 6th grade, Harmon Elementary
2nd Place – Jalen Cade, 7th grade, Combs Middle School
3rd Place – Jessica Valdez, 5th grade, Combs Traditional Academy
Alternate – Derek Cisneros, 4th grade, Combs Traditional Academy
Alternate – Joslyn Sagote, 4th grade, Harmon Elementary
The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners will participate in the Pinal County Spelling Bee on Friday, February 19 at Vista Grande High School in Casa Grande.

•Congratulations to Combs High School as they have been selected as a finalist for the Education Foundation’s A+ School of Excellence Award. The A+ School of Excellence Program is a comprehensive school assessment program that celebrates outstanding schools and highlights the positive stories and successes happening in public schools every day. Being a finalist for this award is a very prestigious honor. On March 2-3, Combs High School will welcome a team of judges consisting of principals, teachers and community leaders from across the state of Arizona. Congratulations to Combs High School for their leadership and commitment to excellence.

•On Feb. 4, J.O. Combs Unified School District hosted its very first SciTech Festival at Combs High School. The Arizona SciTech Festival is Arizona’s biggest celebration of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) held annually in February and March. The state-wide festival offers a diverse array of events geared at families, students, business and civic leaders and is a grass roots collaboration of over 450 organizations in industry, academia, arts, civic, community and K-12. The District event was open to the public and science projects from each school in the district were on display as well as exhibits from local companies. J.O. Combs information technology department was on hand to perform complimentary laptop/computer clean up. There was an amazing turnout and it was exciting to see the many families in the district that came out to support the students. We cannot wait to see what our amazing students come up with next year.

•J.O. Combs Middle School has been selected to receive funding for students to attend the Education Outreach Program at the 2016 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix on May 12. J.O. Combs Middle School would like to recognize Mr. Jonathan Spray, Science teacher, for submitting the documentation that earned this opportunity for middle school students. The Society for Science & the Public, the Phoenix Local Arrangements Committee, and Intel are excited to plan this great day of hands on science learning for the middle school students.

•The Community Education Department will be hosting Combs Kidz spring camp at Ranch Elementary from March 7-14 from 6:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. for Kindergarten-sixth grade. There will be many onsite activities such as crafts, science experiments, indoor/outdoor games, and technology as well as a field trip to Peter Piper Pizza and Harkins Movie Theatre. As always, Young Coyotes for 3-4 year olds will be available as well at Ranch Elementary during the same hours. Contact Community Education at 480-987-5310 for additional information or to register.

•On Feb. 25 and 26, J.O. Combs students in grades 8 and 11 will take the newly required Civics Test. Passing the Civics Test is a graduation requirement beginning with the graduating class of 2017. Students must pass with a 60 percent in order to satisfy the requirement. Students who do not pass this time will have future opportunities to retake.

•Students at Ellsworth Elementary participated in different activities during the week leading up to the second annual College and Career Fair which was held on Friday, Feb. 5th. On Monday, students read the book “When I Grow Up” and then wrote about careers. Tuesday included the book, “Oh the Places You’ll Go” and students then completed a graphic organizer on how they can make their dreams come true of the career that they chose. Wednesday’s activity included a Thinking Map of the attributes that could help one become college and career ready. By Thursday, the students took their Thinking Maps from the previous day and wrote a poem or an essay that reflected on the importance of becoming college and career ready. On Friday, students participated in a gallery walk in the multi-purpose room where 20 different careers were presented and students had the opportunity to interview individuals representing specific careers.

• Sixth grade band members representing the J.O. Combs Unified School District have been selected to play in the All-State Band at Dobson High School on March 12.  The students selected are Trinity Muniz, clarinet; Cambri Elder, trumpet; Christian Laufer, trombone – Ranch Elementary Javier Suarez, alto saxophone; Allison Torres, flute – Simonton Elementary Parker Sigety, horn – Ellsworth Elementary Faith Powell, percussion – Harmon Elementary.

•Congratulations to Combs High School band members who were selected for the Central Region Honor Band. The students selected are: Miranda Newell, Cole Allen, Courtney Lincoln, Eric Hill, Sydney Brown, Jordyn Dawson, Ryan Baab.

•Ranch Elementary students have been participating in the “Kindness Challenge Bowl.” Using the football format to record acts of kindness, each kind act recorded equals one yard. The class with the most touchdowns will earn a pizza lunch. Ranch encourages all students to think about classmates, teachers, and other students on campus and perform as many acts of kindness as possible.

•Harmon Elementary’s PTSO hosted an annual Talent Show on Jan. 29 for students. The Harmon Talent Show included over 40 acts with students showcasing their talent in the areas of dancing, instrument playing, comedy, Karate, pogo stick ability and many more.

•Combs Traditional Academy hosted its second of three Battle of the Books Competitions on Jan. 29th. After two Battles, the team of Anissa Deel, Anjali Kok, and Kateland Williams is in the lead. The third and final Battle will take place on April 15.

•Congratulations to Combs High School drama students Alexa Kraus and Spencer Mattson for earning Superior awards at the Central Arizona Thespians Festival. Combs High School Drama also received an additional six “Excellent” awards at the competition.

•Simonton Elementary participated in the inaugural J.O. Combs SciTech Festival. Simonton had student presentations on the body systems, characteristics of magnetism, and water wheels. We are very proud of our students and their work.

•Harmon’s National Elementary Honor Society students collected new and gently used hats and gloves to donate to the J.O. Combs community food and clothing bank during the months of December and January. NEHS recognizes elementary students for their outstanding academic achievement and demonstrated personal responsibility. Through NEHS, students provide meaningful service to the school and community and develop essential leadership skills. Thank you to fifth grade teachers Ms. Smith and Ms. Reimer and sixth grade teacher Ms. Grinde and all NEHS students for their giving efforts.

•Congratulations to Combs High School athletes.
Cheerleading team took 4th place at the AIA State Spiritline championships this past weekend
Eric Davis, Antonio Bottiglieire (Boto-Leary), and Corbin Nelson for finishing in the championships at the Big 15 wrestling tournament this past weekend
Girls Varsity Basketball wins over American Leadership Academy and Arete Prep, and Junior Varsity win over American Leadership Academy
Boys Junior Varsity and Varsity Basketball wins over Show Low
Boys Freshman Basketball wins over Show Low, Florence and Blue Ridge

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