Patriots Take Spotlight at Achievement Above All Event
Annual Recognition Event Identifies Outstanding Recipients
Posted on 02/23/2018
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Please enjoy this highlight video from the Achievement Above All event.

February 2018 – A celebration was held Wednesday, February 22, to honor the teacher, student, student group, support staff member and volunteer of the year for Independence High School. The annual Achievement Above All event is an opportunity to showcase the recipients’ contributions, talents and dedication to the Indy community.

Achievement Above All Teacher Recipient:

The Teacher of the Year, Deborah Snyder, has a taste for serving the Independence campus – quite literally. She is the school’s Culinary Arts instructor as well as an Adaptive Culinary teacher.

“With her degree from the Culinary Institute of America, and her vast experience with catering and baking, our students have received a real understanding of what it means to be a culinary professional,” Principal Rob Ambrose said. “She contributes so much to make Independence a nicer place to work. She organizes faculty lunches and creates birthday treats. She works with our special needs department so that our community-based students can have the opportunity to experience the culinary curriculum.”

“The thing I love most about teaching is that every student can walk away with something, and the fact that the something is different for each kid is fascinating to me,” Mrs. Snyder said.

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Achievement Above All Student Recipient:

The Student of the Year recipient was Emily Ramirez-Lara. The senior’s school involvement includes working as a counselor with the Unitown program, Educators Rising, marching and concert bands. Outside of school, she participates in pageants. She was crowned as Miss Teen Arizona Latina 2016 and Teen Universe 2017.

“Emily served the students at Unitown to be strong and proud of who they are,” Ambrose said. “She is described by teachers as having the ability to brighten everyone’s day regardless of circumstances, and it is rare to see a student with such a positive demeanor. It shows in everything she does and will serve her well in her life experiences.”

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Achievement Above All Student Group Recipient:

Unitown is an annual camp for students that teaches students about different problems that include bullying, prejudice, family issues, social barriers, dating violence and other topics. The purpose of the camp is to teach students how to address these issues at school in order to make positive changes in their lives, in their families, and in their community. Unitown is sponsored by Estevan Carreon and has about 60 members.

“I had the honor of joining and participating in Unitown this year,” Ambrose said. “I can tell you from first-hand experience that this activity makes a huge difference in the lives of students who attend.”

In addition to the camp, Unitown students support the National Honor Society’s Trunk or Treat program, Peer Tutoring’s spring dance, and Art Club’s Kaity’s Way event.

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Achievement Above All Support Staff Recipient:

The Support Staff Member of the Year was awarded to Title 1 Instructional Assistant Theresa Williams. Ms. Williams has worked at Independence since 2005. She has strong ties to the school; both of her sons are graduates as well as her daughter-in-law.

“Theresa is a role model for students and colleagues,” Ambrose said. “She has an incredibly positive attitude about everything she does at Independence. In the 10 years I have known her, there has never been a time when she is not the most positive person I meet on any given day. She has a fantastic work ethic and encourages students with patience, kindness, and determination.”

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Achievement Above All Volunteer Recipient:

Analy Talamante, the school’s Volunteer of the Year recipient, is also an Independence graduate.

She volunteered at Independence for the Special Olympics from 2001 to 2009 and recently served as a counselor at the Unitown camp. She has chaperoned at events like Relay for Life, field trips, competitions and sporting events.

“She is a great example to our students as someone who is a person of integrity, a person of empathy, and a person who is always willing to give back to our community,” Ambrose said.

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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.