March 2017 – Independence High School’s best of the best were celebrated March 15 at the Achievement Above All ceremony. The annual event honors a teacher, student, staff member, student group and volunteer who have stood out as excellent examples of service to the school and community.
Achievement Above All: Teacher
Amye Godfrey is the kind of teacher whose students return to see her years after they have graduated from the school. She has taught piano and choir for 21 years at Independence High School and is “without a doubt, one of the most beloved teachers at our school,” Principal Rob Ambrose said.
“She makes connections with students that last a lifetime,” he said. “Every time we have a concert or musical event at Independence, there will be several former students of varying ages who show up to the performance just to make contact and reconnect with Amye.”
An avid hiker, traveler and quilter, Godfrey said she her classroom is a sanctuary where students learn.
“She reminds me that she believes in me and that I should believe in myself,” student Bianca Ramirez said. “That random act of kindness generates the confident personality I have toward struggles and fear.”
Achievement Above All: Student
Bianca A. Ramirez is an active and involved student on the Patriot campus, as well as performing at the top 1 percent of her class. In addition to being the most recent Rotary Student of the Month, Bianca is a member of National Honor Society, La Familia Club, the Glendale Flash Running Club, and Varsity Cross Country.
She performs in the school musicals and was the 2015 Directors Award recipient for choir.
She will be part of the first generation from her family to attend college; she has received a Lumberjack scholarship to attend Northern Arizona University, where she plans to study social and behavioral sciences.
Achievement Above All: Student Group
The Boys Varsity Soccer Team, consisting of 22 members and led by Head Coach Sergio Gomez and Assistant Coach Jonathon Garcia, is this year’s Student Group of the Year. Gomez and Garcia are Independence alumni.
The team has had a phenomenal year, participating in the AIA Division 5 Union Region. They won the Region Championships two years in a row; they have also advanced to the final four of the AIA State Tournament two years in a row.
More than half of the team’s members lead on the Independence campus as well through the IHS Elevate Club, a faith-based group that shares motivational and inspirational messages to help students live an elevated life.
Achievement Above All: Support Staff Member
Maria Andazola is a graduate of Independence High School and this year’s Support Staff Employee of the Year. She is the face of Independence, greeting students, staff and parents as they come onto campus every day. As the receptionist, she is the voice of the school. She also coaches the freshman junior varsity volleyball team.
“I am always proud to be able to recognize Independence alumni because it reinforces that we are doing great things there,” Ambrose said in his introduction of Andazola to the Governing Board members. “She is always willing to help out with anything that is going on in the front office. She knows how busy the offices are and will always pitch in when things get busy.”
Prior to becoming the front desk receptionist, Mrs. Andazola spent five years as an instructional assistant in the community based program. She is now pursuing a degree in occupational therapy from Ashworth College.
Achievement Above All: Volunteer
If there is a need, Volunteer of the Year Tiffany Jenkins is there to fill it. She assists the volleyball team throughout the year.
Ms. Jenkins runs the concession stands, takes pictures of players at every game, and has found a unique and special way to make the end of year banquet one to remember for the team.
“She made the end of the season banquet special by preparing ceramic pieces for the girls to paint and keep as remembrances of the season,” Ambrose said. “The girls had tremendous fun doing that and the artwork they created was beautiful. It was a wonderful touch.”
Ms. Jenkins does not have a direct connection to Independence High School, Ambrose said.
“The most inspiring thing is that she does it just because she wants to give something of herself,” he said. “She just wanted to find a place to give of herself.”
Thank you and congratulations to each of the Achievement Above All recipients. We are grateful for your contributions to Independence High School and the Glendale Union High School District community.
Please enjoy this highlight video from the Achievement Above All event.