GUHSD Governing Board Awards THS Achievers

Thunderbird Achievement Above All Recipients Awarded at Annual Awards Ceremony
Posted on 04/18/2019
This is the image for the news article titled Thunderbird Achievement Above All Recipients Awarded at Annual Awards CeremonyApril 2019 – The Glendale Union High School District’s annual Achievement Above All event honors a handful of individuals from each school that exhibit outstanding leadership and exceptional accomplishments. One teacher, student, student group, support staff member and volunteer are awarded for their ongoing commitment to the district and their school’s community.

This time, Thunderbird High School achievers were recognized by the GUHSD Governing Board and Thunderbird Principal Jeannie Paparella at the regular meeting on Wednesday, April 17. 

“Tonight we have the privilege to celebrate a number of individuals for ‘their commitment to excellence’ evidenced in their outstanding character and service to the students, staff and community of Thunderbird High School,” Paparella said. “As you will soon learn, their contributions have made Thunderbird a richer and more excellent place.”



Achievement Above All Teacher Recipient:  

Special Education Teacher Mike Sidebottom was awarded with Teacher of the Year. Mr. Sidebottom graduated from Thunderbird in 2006 and was heavily involved on campus, particularly in sports.

“During his time as a student, Mike was a four-year varsity track athlete and a 2006 state champion in the 4x100 relay,” Paparella said. “He also played varsity football for three years, serving as team captain and made first team all-state as a linebacker.”

After graduating, Mr. Sidebottom attended ASU, earning his bachelor’s in special education and his master’s in educational leadership. He put his degree to use as he returned to his former high school to teach. Furthermore, Mr. Sidebottom has coached track and field for nine years.

Mr. Sidebottom’s department chair Robert Falk admires his capability to build bonds with his students, whether it’s in regards to their academics or athletics. 

“Mr. Sidebottom has the unique ability to connect with students,” Falk said. “He is able to relate to them on their level. He is able to do this with all students whether in the classroom or on the field.”

Mike Sidebottom and Patty Kenndey Mike Sidebottom poses with his award












Achievement Above All Student Recipient:

Danielle Zylstra was recognized as Thunderbird’s 2018-2019 Student of the Year. With a weighted GPA of 5.071 and ranked in the top one percent of her class, Zylstra has truly shined at Thunderbird.

“Danielle is quite an amazing student,’ Paparella said. “She is a member and president of the National Honor Society and president of the Outdoors Club, orchestra and Key Club. Her daily schedule includes Orchestra and AP Calculus 3, AP Stats, AP Literature, AP Government and AP Spanish.”

On top of her busy schedule, Zylstra finds time to volunteer at a cat shelter and even tutors violin at her prior elementary school, Lookout Mountain.

Zylstra was also named a National Merit Semifinalist back in September and went on to become a Finalist, where she will be eligible for a National Merit Scholarship. 

She plans to attend Harvard University in the fall where she will study molecular and cellular biology. 

“Danielle is one of the finest students to have attended Thunderbird High School,” Paparella said. “She has made a significant contribution to the greatness that Thunderbird High has enjoyed.” 

Danielle Zylstra and Susan Maland Danielle Zylstra poses with her award












Achievement Above All Student Group Recipient: 

Thunderbird NJROTC, sponsored by Brian Bell and Glenn Shepherd, was named Student Group of the Year. The mission of the group is to instill the value of citizenship, service to the United States and a sense of accomplishment. 

The team is also committed to setting an expectation of behavior among their peers and developing leadership skills in them.

NJROTC accomplishes these goals by organizing leadership camps over the summer and putting in almost 1,000 hours of community service. 

“Around campus, their value cannot be overstated,” Paparella said. “They open all of our public events, making each occasion more dignified. These students always demonstrate the highest caliber of behavior and work ethic.”

They are involved in extracurricular activities as well that includes their academic team, drill team and color guard and physical fitness team.

NJROTC greatly contributes to the Thunderbird community and is motivated to accomplish all duties as role models on their campus. 

“They are up to any task at any time,” Thunderbird Assistant Principal of Student Services Dawn Bjork said. “No matter how big or small it is done to perfection. They do everything in such a way that exemplifies excellent leadership and character.”

Thunderbird NJROTC & Pam Reicks Thunderbird NJROTC poses with their certificate












Achievement Above All Support Staff Recipient:

Thunderbird Maintenance employee Jesus Ruiz was awarded with Support Staff Member of the Year. Ruiz has worked at Thunderbird for the past fifteen years and has done a great job as the school’s very own horticulturist. 

“His tireless efforts have made the Thunderbird campus substantially more attractive,” Paparella said. “The beautiful landscaping not only creates a lovely atmosphere for faculty and staff, but also a point of pride for the community.”

Ruiz and his nature of giving definitely does not go unnoticed at Thunderbird.

“Jesus is described by his colleagues as the nicest, most humble and most helpful person when asked to do anything,” Paparella said. “He has a great sense of what needs to done on campus and takes care of it skillfully. He is able to anticipate and fulfill needs in an incredibly timely manner.”

His years of commitment to Thunderbird’s personnel and the campus has exemplified his hard work ethic and positive impact. 

“It is easy to overlook the work that people like Jesus do on a daily basis, but I would argue that what Jesus and the maintenance department do is a huge contribution to Thunderbird High School” Paparella said. “Thunderbird is a better place because of Jesus.”

Jesus Ruiz & Andrew Pulcipher Jesus Ruiz poses with his award












Achievement Above All Volunteer Recipients: 

Arvid and Natalie Veidmark were honored as Thunderbird’s 2018-2019 Volunteers of the Year. With two teens currently attending Thunderbird and one soon to be Chief, the Veidmarks have strong ties to the school. They participate in several activities on campus, including the Chiefs Parent Association, football booster club, band booster club and much more.

“Natalie spends quite a hefty amount of time as the hospitality chair,” Paparella said. “This includes providing snacks for large events such as open house and future freshmen night and also nice meals for our faculty and staff.”

“Arvid was instrumental in the installation of lighting on the north field and other projects through the years,” Paparella said. “Now ROTC, band and soccer have a place to prepare for their competitions.”

The Veidmarks are active volunteers in their community as well. In addition to the countless volunteer hours they commit to at Thunderbird, the couple also volunteers at their church, camps and other civic organizations. 

Thunderbird is fortunate to have parents who consistently support the school’s mission to prepare students for life after high school through a quality education experience, Paparella said. 

“As principal, I am so thankful for the Veidmarks,” Paparella said. “They have become a valuable connection to the community and I know I can depend on them.”

The Veidmarks & Patti Hussey The Veidmarks pose with their award












Congratulations to Thunderbird High School’s 2018-2019 Achievement Above All recipients. #WeAreGUHSD