Achievement Above All - Washington High School

Achievement Above All - Washington High School
Jim DeBusk thanking the Governing Board

Governing Board President, Ian Huge presenting Jim with his award

Teacher of the Year- Jim DeBusk

Jim is a third generation Phoenix native. Jim is a graduate of Sunnyslope High School. From there he attended Scottsdale Community College and Grand Canyon University to obtain his bachelor of science in music education. He recently finished his master's in educational leadership through Northern Arizona University.

Jim is always ready with a joke or a story. He is also the first to see the humor in just about any situation. His wit encourages everyone at Washington to be happy every day. 

Jim is involved in everything! Choir and media productions are a given because he teaches them, but he also assists with community events and musicals.  He also poduces videos for every purpose under the sun. As a media productions teacher, he has had to put together a full studio on a shoestring budget and managed to make it work.

Jim is open to suggestions for improvement, and he is not afraid of change.  As long as the change will improve conditions for student success, he is typically the first to lead the charge.

Jim is department chairperson for fine and performing art, and this is quite an eclectic group of individuals. He is able to walk a fine line which keeps them on track, helps them to make decisions, and builds leadership among the team members.

Jim also sings with the Sonoran Desert Chorale and plays trombone and sings with a group called Groove Inc. 

Chris thanking the Governing Board

Governing Board member, Pam Reicks presenting Chris with his award 

Support Staff of the Year – Chris Stempel

After graduating from Thunderbird, Chris continued his education through Arizona State University. 

Chris’ day job is as an instructional aide with the English Language Learners program.  In these classrooms, he assists with the read 180 program and with a variety of language learners.  One of his classroom teachers, Kim Means listed these traits that she truly admires in Chris:

  • He helps students EVERY single morning before school.
  • He is ALWAYS on time, professional in dress and manners, and completely dependable.
  • He is extremely organized, and keeps our READ180 program running smoothly.
  • He is wonderful SUBSTITUTE when I have to be out for mentoring purposes.
  • He takes INITIATIVE to see what needs to be done and does it. 
  • He has a terrific working relationship with both the students and the teachers in our department.
  • He is quiet, but has a great sense of humor.

Chris also speaks Japanese and hopes to go to Japan to teach English.  WHS’s Japanese teacher, Nicole Olson, has this to say: “My students are always very impressed when Mr. Stempel steps into my Japanese class and converses with me in perfectly fluent Japanese and then walks out.  Sometimes he even writes some Japanese characters on my board and then leaves.  The students are so impressed and baffled that he can speak Japanese. For a while I even had my fifth hour convinced that Chris IS Japanese!”

hat’s Chris’ day job.  At night he plays drums in a band, sings with the Orpheus Male Chorus, and works with the WHS student rock band.

Washington High School Principal introducing Yuri Bonilla

Governing Board member Rick Fields presenting Yuri with her award

Student of the Year – Yuri Bonilla

Yuri is an exceptional student.  She has a 4.3 honor point average and is ranked in the top 5% of her class.  In addition to multiple honors courses, she has taken the following advanced placement classes:  Spanish, Calculus, Physics, Government, Biology and US History.  Additionally, she participates in Phoenix College’s Achieving College through Education (ACE) Program.  This program is specifically designed to help students make a smooth transition from high school to an accredited community college, with the plan to move on to a university to complete a bachelor’s degree. Throughout two years, ACE students take classes on the Phoenix College campus in order to experience and acclimate to a college environment. Yuri takes classes throughout the summer and every Saturday during the fall and spring semesters. Upon graduating from high school, Yuri will have earned up to 24 transferable college credits.  Her obvious commitment to her own education is admirable.

Because she just isn’t quite busy enough, Yuri is also involved in several clubs and activities on campus.  She is the president of interact and a member of student government, science club, garden club, national honor society and national Hispanic honors society.  Jill Green, Interact sponsor, states "What impresses me most about Yuri is not only her commitment to serving her community but her ability to convince others to jump on the volunteer bandwagon."

Yuri is also noted for her kindness.  She always lends a helping hand, and she has a positive attitude that is infectious.  Jeff Parsons, Stugo Sponsor, states, "Yuri has one the biggest hearts of any person that I have met.  She works tirelessly.  She is always the first there and the last to leave.  She never complains, and she is selfless when giving of her time."  

Yuri, like Mr. DeBusk, is an amazing Washington representative, and we are proud to recognize her.

Governing Board member Patty Kennedy presenting the Garden Club with their certificate

Support Staff of the Year – Garden Club

Garden Club has several sponsors:  Joe Hummel, Jon Miller and Linda Holsapple.

The goal of garden club is to combine special education and general education students in a project which benefits the school and the community. This group has turned into one of the busiest clubs on campus.  They started off by planning and installing a small garden on the east side of our campus.  It has now blossomed, literally, into a huge garden!  The students and sponsors are continually starting new plants, planting them in the garden and harvesting the crops. The students also benefit from an experience that urban kids don’t often get.  By learning to garden they gain an appreciation for what goes into making food available, and they learn all about plant life cycles.  Besides the garden by the gym, this group also worked with the art club to create a ram shaped topiary.  This topiary beautifies the area between the 200 and 300 buildings and was a labor of love. These gardens are now a point of pride for all who visit the campus.  Garden Club understands that a beautiful school environment builds campus pride, and they are not afraid to get their hands dirty while improving the campus.