JO Combs’ superintendent reports in for October

Gayle Blanchard is the superintendent of the J.O. Combs Unified School District in San Tan Valley.

Gayle Blanchard is the superintendent of the J.O. Combs Unified School District in San Tan Valley.



J.O. Combs Unified School District Superintendent Gayle Blanchard reported the following news for the school district in September and October:

•Jess Furman, Combs High School math teacher, and Chris Combs, system specialist, were selected as a local Hero of Public Education as part of the Arizona School Boards Association’s statewide HOPE campaign. Heroes of Public Education represent public figures who advocate the many needs and challenges in Arizona’s local public schools. Heroes of Public Education possess super-powers in their own way that positively impact the lives of students. Ms. Furman and Mr. Combs were to be recognized at the Oct. 20. ASBA Pinal County Meeting. It is always a pleasure to see people who truly want to make a difference in our school community. The school district appreciates all that Ms. Furman and Mr. Combs have done for its students.

•On Oct. 10, the Combs High School Marching Band performed at Northern Arizona University Band Day where it received an “Excellent” rating to qualify for the State Marching Festival. The band also took all captions, which includes music performance, visual performance, general effect, percussion and auxiliary. Congratulations to all of the marching band members who performed and band director Julie Trent. The State Marching Festival for Division III is scheduled Saturday, Nov. 7, at McClintock High School in Tempe. See our website for details.

•Ellsworth Elementary in partnership with the Combs Community Education Department hosted the first annual San Tan Valley Home, Garden, Health and Lifestyle show on Saturday, Oct. 17. Attendees could enjoy gardening demonstrations, live performances and visiting with local vendors.

•Community Education’s Combs Kidz celebrated Lights On Afterschool on Oct. 22 at all program sites. This national event brought awareness to the importance of quality after school programs and the correlation to student academic and social success.

•Combs Middle School baseball and softball teams for qualifying for the playoffs. Combs’ Cougar baseball team finished the regular season with a record of 8-2, and Lady Cougar softball team finished the regular season with a record of 7-3. Baseball coach David Mills and softball coach Robert Peterson led the Cougars to play for the championship title on Oct. 3 at Apache Junction High School.

•Combs High School swim team state qualifiers Jarren Heiken, Joshua Haynes, Domenic Mazza and Levi Smith are eligible to participate in the Division II State Meet at Skyline Aquatic Center, 845 S. Crismon Road in Mesa. Prelims are scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 6, and finals are scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 7. For additional information, please refer to

•During the months of September and October, Pinal County Health Department visited Ranch Elementary for the following healthy prevention programs: Healthy Hand Washing, You and Me Tobacco Free and Healthy Fruits and Veggies. Ranch students loved the interactive programs.

•Simonton Elementary recently wrapped up its Love and Logic parenting series. The series was open to the entire community and families from multiple campuses attended. Simonton plans to offer the series again next fall at no cost to the community.

•The notMYkid program is taking place at Combs Middle School with the generous financial support of the San Tan Valley Substance Abuse Coalition. Seventh-grade students will attend two sessions: substance abuse and internet safety. The goal of notMYkid is to inspire positive life choices by educating the community about the consequences of destructive youth behaviors. Through these presentations, the hope is to increase awareness of the challenges students face, provide information and offer resources to support the success of the school community.

•Harmon Elementary celebrated Grandparents’ Day with a special luncheon. Grandparents traveled as far as from Florida to attend this event with their grandchildren. Grandparents and grandchildren enjoyed taking a picture with a wonderful background and picture props provided by PTSO. Thank you to our Harmon teachers Ms. Hessler and Ms. Flynn for assisting with this event. Thank you to Ms. Hargis and Ms. Dunne, PTSO officers, for taking pictures.

•On Sept. 29, the fifth-graders at Simonton Elementary participated in Junior Achievement’s BizTown in Tempe. Simonton partnered with the national nonprofit, Junior Achievement, to deliver lessons on the free market economy, personal finance, and creating business plans. Students applied for specific jobs and created business plans that were carried out during the simulation in real time at BizTown. Students dressed for success on their outing and came back with a memorable learning experience.

•Harmon Elementary celebrated what makes students special and unique with their annual Differences Week. Each day during the last week in September, students were encouraged to dress in a color that supports awareness of different challenges some students face. This year, Harmon highlighted autism spectrum disorders, attention-deficit disorder, traumatic brain injury, epilepsy and sensory issues. Students had an opportunity to learn about these differences and participated in activities that helped them better understand how students with these unique challenges may learn differently.

•Combs High School varsity football team defeated Coolidge 35-17 on Oct. 9, which was the annual family football night. Combs Middle School and Harmon Elementary had the highest percentage of attendance at this game and will be the recipients of a special pep rally put on by the high school students.

•Combs Middle School Student Council has begun the process of having an active presence on the school campus for the 2015-16 school year. Mrs. Cotton, language arts teacher, will be serving as the moderator for the council this year. Recently, the campaigning and election process took place for class officers. A number of students did an outstanding job of participating in this process. CMS would like to commend all of the candidates who had the courage to campaign for an office and wish the officers well as they prepare to do their work within their school community. This year’s officers are: Kassandra Barraza, president; Kymber Miller, vice president; Karlyn Curwin, secretary; and Melody Borjon, treasurer.
•Combs Traditional Academy hosted its Fall Scholastic Book Fair the week of Sept.14, along with Muffins with Mom, Grandparents Read-A-Thon and Parent-Teacher Conferences. All events were well attended and the Book Fair will contribute much needed primary books to CTA’s library.

•Harmon Elementary held its book fair Sept. 14-18 with great success. Students, parents, grandparents, staff members and community members took advantage of the opportunity to purchase books at the library or online. Harmon’s librarian, Mrs. Bishop, set the bar high with a goal of $3,800 in total sales and the goal was exceeded by over $900. Proceeds from the book fair will go directly back to Harmon students.

•Ranch Elementary’s Monster Mash Book Fair was a huge success. The students loved participating in the Recycled Monster Art Contest. The book fair raised $2,700. Ms. Laufer, Ranch librarian, can’t wait to purchase new books for the library. The book fair was held in conjunction with parent-teacher conferences.

•Combs Middle School’s book fair generated sales in excess of $1,000. Congratulations to Mrs. De Leon and her library staff for a very successful book fair. Plans are already underway for the spring book fair which will be held in the spring of 2016.

Editor’s note: For more information about the J.O. Combs Unified School District, visit its website.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment