System helps Ranch Elementary students improve reading comprehension

  Students at Ranch Elementary School in San Tan Valley are improving their reading skills through the Wilson Reading System. This system of instruction was designed for elementary through 12th-grade students as well as adults who struggle with the sounds and structure of words. Through this system, students are learning word construction rules as well […]

Combs Traditional Academy science students attracted to magnets

  Fourth-graders of Combs Traditional Academy, 37327 N. Gantzel Road in San Tan Valley, have been learning about magnets, electromagnets and circuits as part of their science curriculum. They created their own circuits using wire, a battery, lights and some tape. In addition, these hard-working students continue learning about fractions and decimals in math. They […]

San Tan Valley schools receive Western Growers grant for campus garden

Two San Tan Valley schools are among 20 elementary schools in Arizona and California to have been selected to receive a $1,500 grant from Western Growers. The local schools are Ellsworth Elementary, 38454 N Carolina Ave., and Jack W. Harmon Elementary, 39315 N Cortona Drive. Both are part of the J.O. Combs Unified School District. […]

Combs Middle School students learning about the U.S. Constitution

  During the month of December, Combs Middle School students are participating in “We the People,” a Citizen and Constitution Program. Its goal is to promote civic competence and responsibility, according to a press release from Principal Laura Ridge. Students “testify” before a panel of judges acting as members of Congress. They demonstrate their knowledge […]

Harmon elementary students planning Veterans Day ceremony

  Students attending Jack W. Harmon Elementary School, 39315 N. Cortona Drive in San Tan Valley, are planning to once again honor military veterans for their service to the country.  Pictured from left, Ruby Schulte, Hayley Tibben, Emmitt Meyer, Kaden Perez and Victoria Mora prepare for next month’s ceremony. The school will host its fourth annual Veterans […]

Combs Traditional Academy to celebrate learning

year, students have worked on developing skills related to English language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and the fine arts. At the school’s annual celebration of learning, students will have the opportunity to put those skills to practice in various ways. Each grade level has students engaged in different activities throughout the evening that parents and the community can participate in and view.

Additionally, student artwork from the Art Masterpiece program will be on display in the gym and parent teacher organization will be accepting donations from the public to help fund the program for the following year.

CTA is at 37327 N. Gantzel Road in San Tan Valley. For more information, visit its website.

J.O. Combs November update provided by superintendent

J.O. Combs superintendent Gayle Blanchard released an update on the status of the district for the month of November.
The J.O. Combs Unified School District annual food drive has kicked off at all school sites with donations directly benefiting Combs families. Thanksgiving specific donations were distributed to families from Nov. 16-24. Items being accepted include frozen turkeys, hams, rolls, pies, stuffing, canned vegetables, and any other traditional holiday trimmings.

•Combs Traditional Academy and Ranch Elementary announced that three of their sixth grade students, Anissa Deel, Dinay Holmes (CTA), and Jasmyn Herrmann (Ranch), were selected as finalists in the 2015 Pinal County Attorney’s Office Anti-Drug Poster Contest. They were treated to a luncheon with the county attorney on Oct. 21 and participated in a special ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 18 at the Windmill in Florence where the Grand Prize, T-Shirt, and Bookmark winners will be announced.
•Ellsworth Elementary students and staff have been “Pinking Out” every Friday during the month of October in efforts not only to raise awareness about Breast Cancer but for cancer in general. The school sold blow pops to “Blow Away” cancer and will donate money to J.O. Combs Turkey Waddle recipient Naomi Oakes, a sixth grade student in the J.O. Combs community battling leukemia. Students and staff participated in the annual “Pink Out” photograph in which the entire school spelled out the word “Hope” and student council held up signs showing the words “Fight the fight”

•Combs High School Varsity football team qualified for the State playoffs playing Show Low. They were to travel to Show Low on Saturday, Nov. 7.

•The Combs High School marching band qualified for state competition and were to perform at McClintock High School in Tempe on Saturday, Nov. 7.

•At Combs Middle School, teachers are participating in a program called Love and Logic. For over 35 years, this approach has been used with students by educators and parents worldwide. The program teaches consequences and healthy decision making, emphasizes dignity and respect for both students and teachers, provides real limits in a nurturing way, and uses humor and empathy to build up the student/teacher relationship. Laurene Shindledecker (social worker) and Susan Lebtich (math teacher) are leading these discussions with teachers. Providing middle school students the opportunity to engage in their own problem solving and decision making is an essential skill for them as they progress in their education and in their lives.

•Harmon Elementary celebrated Red Ribbon Week Oct. 26-30 with different activities and themes each day. Red Ribbon Week began in 1985 to help students of all ages across the nation become aware of the potential pitfalls of substance abuse. At Harmon, students learn to live clean lives- taking good care of their bodies by only eating and drinking healthy items and by making sure to get plenty of rest and exercise. The various themes included: Doing drugs is just plain “backwards,” “Hats off” to healthy living, “Team up” against drugs, “Sock it” to substances, and Drugs are downright “spooky.” A special thank you to Harmon’s Social Worker Ms. Phares for organizing Red Ribbon Week.

•Simonton Elementary hosted its second annual Spooktacular on October 23. In addition to grade level sponsored games, there was an inflatable obstacle course and slides. Additionally, Simonton turned it’s orchestra room into a full-fledged haunted house. It was the hit of the event. Hundreds of people attended and had a great time sharing a great evening of costumes, candy, and fun
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•The Combs High School counseling department hosted college and career days Oct. 22-23. All juniors and seniors were able to participate in presentations directed towards post-secondary options. The event was a huge success for all involved and presented students with great information for their future.

•Ellsworth Elementary fifth graders just wrapped up their “Pumpkin Fun” project, which was presented at the annual Teach-N-Treat. Students brought in pumpkins and completed a variety of activities full of enrichment and higher order thinking. Students also demonstrated their knowledge in charting/graphing, cooperative learning, rounding decimals, and fractions. In the end everyone’s data was combined and students worked together to analyze the data.

•In October, Ranch Elementary students were treated to the “Power of One” assembly brought to them by Soren Bennick Productions. Through the sharing of real life experiences and skits presented by actors,students learned the definitions of bully, target, and bystander. Audience members were selected to participate on stage, learning the importance of providing help and safety and seeking the help of an adult when needed. The program concluded with the presentation of a large signature poster for students to sign as well as taking the “Power of One” oath. “I will not bully others. I will not stand by while others are bullied. I will report and deal with bullies whenever I see it……because I have the Power of One.” A grant from the Arizona Cardinals and the University of Phoenix provided funds to allow Ranch to continueto focus on bully prevention.

•Ranch Elementary PTO held its first movie night of the year on Oct. 23. Movie Night was held in conjunction with Trunk or Treat. Students enjoyed the movie Hotel Transylvania followed by carnival games and trunk or treating. Ms. Renee Braun, 5th grade teacher won a gift certificate for the best decorated trunk with the theme “Spooky Spider.” This event was very well attended. The next movie night is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 20.

•Harmon’s Running Club began in October with over 100 students participating in all grade levels. Students participate in games to help them learn about proper running form, the value of physical activity, and track and field techniques. Thank you to our physical education teacher, Ms. Baldenegro for overseeing the club and a special thank you to Harmon staff members and parents who volunteer their time.

•In conjunction with the J.O. Combs Unified School District Food Bank, NJHS at J.O. Combs Middle School is asking for donations to help feed hungry families in San Tan Valley. To ensure that the food bank receives necessary items to provide a full day’s worth of meals for Thanksgiving, this wonderful opportunity is being offered to all J.O. Combs Middle School students to help. For every item donated, a point value will be assigned to that particular item. The class with the most points will earn a class celebration. The food drive is November 2-12.

•At Combs High School, Ms. Munoz had pre-calculus students participate in a gallery walk for the math department. The students have been exploring how logarithms and exponents play a role in various fields of their interest and had posters around the room detailing what they’ve learned. Students from other math classes were able to walk around the room, look at the posters and ask questions. The gallery walk gave the pre-calculus students a chance to explain their learning to an outside audience and allowed other math students a peek into Pre-Calculus or applications of math.

•In honor of Veterans Day, J.O. Combs Unified School District had many school events planned to recognize the community’s veterans who have selflessly served our country. J.O Combs would like to extend an invitation to all veterans, servicemen and women to attend any of the scheduled events in order to be honored and recognized.

• Combs Traditional Academy held a Flag Ceremony at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 10 to commemorate Veterans Day. As part of the ceremony, general music teacher Wendell Porterfield will perform a patriotic song for the student body, students will recite the Pledge of Allegiance, hear a recitation of the Presidential Proclamation honoring Veteran’s Day, and observed a short readers theater performed by selected students on “What is a Veteran?”

• Ellsworth Elementary held an assembly filled with music, poems, and celebration scheduled at 1:45-2:45 p.m. on Nov. 10.

• Combs Middle School is accepted donations of new non-white socks (dark colors or tan) and new unopened toothbrushes for their community service opportunity, Sock and Toothbrush Drive for Servicemen, sponsored by National Junior Honor Society. The drive took place Nov. 2-12. The items will be sent to deployed service persons via Operation Gratitude.

• Combs High School will be sending postcards to all veterans that are family members of Combs students. The postcards, which will be used to thank veterans for their service and invite them to attend any winter sporting event for free, will be mailed Monday, Nov. 9. The postcards are designed by CHS graphic design students.

J.O. Combs schools announce students of the month for October

The J.O. Combs Unified School District continues to partner with Banner Ironwood in a Student of the Month program, which recognizes one student every month from each of its schools.

There is a selection process in place where students are recognized for the various pillars of the Character Counts Program that include Responsibility, Trustworthiness, Citizenship, Caring, Respect and Fairness. This presentation takes place each month at the regular governing board meeting.

For the month of October, Board Member Patricia Pinckard presented each student with a certificate of special recognition. A photograph was taken with the governing board and Superintendent Gayle A. Blanchard.

The following students were recognized for demonstrating the character trait of Trustworthiness:

•Megan Lucero, Combs High School, 11th grade

•Chad Moyes, Combs Middle School, seventh grade

•Aaron Goodman, Combs Traditional Academy, kindergarten

•Araithzi Beltran, Ellsworth Elementary, fifth grade

•McKenzie Watson, Harmon Elementary, first grade

•Sydney McCowin, Ranch Elementary, fifth grade

•Wednesday Moeller, Simonton Elementary, first grade

For more information, visit the school district website.

Simonton Elementary encourages student leadership

First grade students at Simonton Elementary, 40300 N Simonton Blvd, San Tan Valley, are proud to be a part of “Leader in Me” school. Students apply the seven habits daily through modeled instruction, practice, and leadership roles. They are assigned a weekly classroom leadership position. Students are also given the opportunity to fill out leadership applications for campus jobs. All students are leaders and are an important part of their school.
The students practice “Beginning with the End in Mind” by planning ahead and setting goals. They have each set personal, academic, and future goals. Students have been using Leadership Notebooks to track the progress towards their academic goals.

Ranch elementary first-graders conduct hand-washing experiment

In October, workers from the Pinal County Health Department paired up with Ranch Elementary School, 43521 N. Kenworthy Road, in San Tan Valley to teach the importance of washing one’s hands.

The health department liaison shared a short video with students about how germs are spread and how to prevent the spreading of germs. Students learned that the proper way to wash their hands is to use soap and water, scrub for at least 20 seconds and to clean in-between fingers and fingernails.

The first-grade team decided to investigate the theory of hand-washing and conducted a scientific experiment. The experiment was called “The Proof Is In the Potato.” To simulate a normal day, the students were instructed to play in the dirt and touch other surfaces. The students were then divided into three groups: clean hands, dirty hands and hand-sanitizer hands.

The clean hands group washed their hands with soap and scrubbed for a minimum of 20 seconds. The dirty hands group did nothing, and the hand-sanitizer group used hand sanitizer.

Groups were provided potato slices to touch and rub their hands on and then placed the potatoes in a labeled plastic bag. After a week, the potato slices handled by the students who did not wash their hands grew mold while the slices handled by students with clean hands showed little or no growth.