Achievement Above All - Apollo High School

Achievement Above All - Apollo High School
Apollo High School Principal Sue Maland Introducing Student of The Year Philip Conte

Philip thanking the governing board

Governing Board President, Ian Hugh presenting Philip with his award

Student of The Year – Philip Conte

Ranked 6th in his class, Philip is an outstanding student.  He has straight 1’s in his classes, most of which are honors or AP.  It should be emphasized that although he loves English and history, he really excels in art. 

Last spring Philip set a record in the Congressional Art Contest because his art actually placed 1st, 2nd and 5th, and his 1st place drawing is currently hanging in Washington DC in the capitol.  In our recent GUHSD art show Philip’s batik won first place, and at the Arizona state fair he won 3 exceptional merits.  He was also the 2010 Cave Creek Film and Arts Festival winner.

His art teacher Barbara Dahlstedt comments, “Most students need four years to complete an A.P. portfolio, but Philip completed his by his junior year.  This year, Philip will complete a portfolio containing 24 pieces of art in one year. I use Philip's artwork every day as a reminder to students to reach for excellence and innovation.  His work ethic and skill will take him as far as he can imagine.”

In addition to academics, Philip chooses excellence in his extra-curricular choices.  He is incredibly involved in a variety of activities which showcase his many talents.  To name a few, he is the vice president of the student body at Apollo, an Eagle Scout, a swimmer and tennis player for Apollo, and a cultural dancer.

Finally, Philip chooses excellence in his character.  As a very active member of the student council, Philip is truly a role model for students at Apollo.  He has a wonderful sense of humor, an amazing work ethic, and a very positive outlook on life.  In his bio he mentions that “high school has been so much fun.  You really do get out of it what you put in.  When you have relationships between the students and faculty, like we have at Apollo, everything is great—the best four years of my life. But I am ready and prepared to move on.”  This really sums up why Philip is such an extraordinary young man—he will move forward with rich experiences from his school, his family, and his community. 

In the future, Philip plans to go on a mission for his church and then attend BYU to study Graphic Design or advertising.

Teacher of The Year Niya Gima

Governing Board member Pam Reicks presenting Niya with her award 

Teacher of The Year – Niya Gima

Niya is from Columbia, Missouri where she graduated from high school and then, the University of Missouri. Her undergrad degree was in business administration with a minor in women’s studies.  Then, she got her master’s in human relations and her post-bachelor's in education.  Not only has Niya taught at Apollo, but she began her teaching in Okinawa, Japan, where her father was born.  With such a diverse educational background, you can see why Niya offers so much to our school.

Niya is an excellent teacher who brings history alive for her students.  Occasionally, she has brought in guest speakers, one of those being her father, who can give first-hand information about life during World War II in Okinawa.

But Niya is not only a studious, serious teacher; she really has an artsy, theatrical side too.  Niya comes alive on stage.  She appeared last fall in our student-faculty improv night impressing everyone with her quick witted responses.

Niya characterizes excellence in her school involvement, too.  In addition to being the social studies department chair, the PLC team lead, and detention monitor, she is the sponsor of the Cultural Awareness club and very involved with Hawktown.  Niya is a well-respected leader on our campus. A listener and a thinker, she leads her department in a very positive direction with a non-judgmental, kind, and unassuming manner. 

Sue Maland introducing Support Staff of The Year Shannon Szkotnicki

Shannon thanking the governing board.

Governing Board member Rick Fields presenting Shannon with her award 


Support Staff of The Year – Shannon Szkotnicki 

Originally from Michigan, Shannon received her BA in psychology from the University of Michigan and her Master's in social work from ASU.  Before coming to Apollo, Shannon worked with teens in residential treatment centers, and she also spent one year in Biloxi, Mississippi, doing hurricane recovery work.

Shannon is an absolutely fabulous social worker and truly represents “Choose Excellence” for Apollo.

During September, Shannon had a total of 393 contacts with students and their families; in January she had 269 contacts.  Those are amazing numbers and indicate that Shannon works very hard to ensure our students are getting the help they need.  The majority of her contacts involve providing direct emotional support for a variety of concerns including family conflicts, relationship issues, and stress management.  She also provides support to parents, including calling parents to discuss concerns, facilitating family meetings to help parents understand the emotional issues their children are experiencing, and responding to phone calls from parents for assistance.  Furthermore, she has 8 separate support groups that she meets with each week.  Shannon is indispensable on the Apollo campus.

In addition to being Apollo’s social worker, Shannon coaches cross-country and is very involved with our Hawktown program.  She has held Parenting classes for our parents and evening sessions with our students. 

Governing Board member, Vicki Johnson presenting the girls basketball team their award 

Student Group of The Year – Girls Basketball

The past two years have been very successful for the AS girls’ basketball players. Last year they were the state runners up in the Division 4A-I tournament.  This year with a record of 21 wins and 5 losses, the Lady
Hawks are ranked 4th overall in the 4A I division and they are the Western Sky region champions.  Promise Amukamara is the region player of the year and the Apollo coaches were honored as the coaching staff of the year. 

Ms. Susan Prado, the varsity coach, has worked very hard to emphasize the importance of character on her team.  The ideals of "Victory with Honor" have guided this team throughout the season, and we congratulate Ms. Prado for her positive leadership.