Sunnyslope Achievement Above All Winners Recognized

Governing Board Honors Sunnyslope Achievement Above All Recipients
Congratulations Sunnyslope Achievement Above All winners!

November 2015 – The Sunnyslope High School Achievement Above All recipients were honored November 4 during the Governing Board meeting.

Achievement Above All recognizes distinguished members of the school, including volunteers, teachers, support staff, students and student groups.

Achievement Above All Teacher Recipient:

Johnny Frias began his tenure with the Glendale Union High School District on the Thunderbird campus, where he taught English for five years and coached soccer, and track and field. While at Thunderbird he received the 2001-2002 National Honor Society Teacher of the Year award.

Mr. Frias earned his Masters degree in Counseling and a second Masters degree in Educational Interventions before joining the Sunnyslope team in 2007. He continued to coach and held dual roles in the English and Counseling departments before becoming a fulltime counselor.

Sunnyslope Principal Steve Ducey said Mr. Frias is a “loyal employee with an outstanding work ethic. He truly cares for his students and has a special passion for helping our special education students develop their future plans and opportunities.”

Described as an upbeat, positive and dependable coworker by his peers, Mr. Frias is a stable source to lean on, Mr. Ducey said.

Counseling Chairwoman Carmine Castaldo had this to say about Mr. Frias: “Johnny Frias is an amazing counselor. His dedication shows through in his collaboration with his peers and his unwavering efforts to ensure the success of his students.”

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Achievement Above All Support Staff Recipient:

Greg Fain has held his position as technology assistant for Sunnyslope since 2013. From the start of his career at Sunnyslope, Mr. Fain has been driven and dedicated to serving all of the needs of the department efficiently and effectively, Principal Ducey said.

Described as someone who has a great customer service attitude and who provides consistent and appreciated follow up and follow through, Mr. Fain is a key player on the campus.

“You can always count on Greg to expediently get technology up and running whenever there is an issue… and do so while displaying a positive attitude and a humble demeanor. He truly cares about the faculty and the staff at Sunnyslope and does everything possible to make their lives as easy as possible… even under the pressure of a large workload and numerous requests,” said Tim Matteson, assistant principal of operations and resources at Sunnyslope.

Mr. Fain’s goals for the future are to continue his studies in engineering by obtaining a degree and then growing his career in that direction.

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Achievement Above All Student Recipient:

Sunnyslope’s student of the year award went to Brent Wallace, a senior. He’s very active on the campus with his participation in school traditions, clubs, athletics and student government. He is in the top 2 percent of his class and takes a special interest in physics and engineering.

His course load includes advanced placement literature, advanced placement government and economics, advanced placement Spanish, advanced placement calculus and two advanced placement physics courses. He aspires to be an electrical engineer and has applied to eight different colleges to pursue his dream.

Over the summer, Mr. Wallace attended the Physics of Atomic Nuclei program at the University of Notre Dame and Arizona State University’s summer electrical engineering research opportunity.

“Brent is dedicated, disciplined, and a hard-working individual and team member. It has been a pleasure to watch him develop into a true and respected scholar and leader of his peers,” Principal Ducey said. “They, and we, know him to be focused, caring, humble and spirited – as well as extremely intelligent. Brent leads by example and never complains.”

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Achievement Above All Student Group Recipient:

Sunnyslope’s Gardening Club was recognized as the Student Group of the Year. Students Avalon Rosas, Jesus Pena, Norma Munoz, Madison Spencer and Jessica Barker accepted the award. The club is cosponsored by Sarah Glover and Paul Hershberger.

The Gardening Club’s mission is to increase student awareness of sustainability, to learn about companion planting, cultivating and harvesting. It also strives to increase awareness of the ability to garden at home and eat healthy foods, to assist in beautifying the school campus and to learn effective and constructive aspects of team work and team building.

This year, the club members have added additional gardening beds to the campus and partnered with the Environmental Science class to study soils and plant growth. They’ve also teamed up with community gardeners and landscapers to assist with irrigation techniques.

Faculty member Kevin Semelsberger had this to say about the club’s goals and achievements: “It’s great to see students help to better the campus in ways that will last beyond their time at Sunnyslope. The Garden Club at Sunnyslope literally brings life to the campus. The work that the Garden Club puts into making the campus come to life makes me thankful to work with students who will have such a positive effect on the world.”

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Achievement Above All Parent/Volunteer Recipient:

The Parent/Volunteer Achievement Above All award was presented to Deanna Lightowler, who is president and volunteer coordinator for the Viking Pride Marching Band Booster organization. She works closely with students, parents and the band director and believes wholeheartedly that music is a vital component in the educational environment.

She has two daughters who attend Sunnyslope and said she volunteers to lead by example.

“Watching my own daughter march for the first time as a freshman was one of my fondest memories and watching all these amazing artists march on the football field week after week during marching season and playing their hearts out and dancing and twirling flags, fills my heart with joy. Being able to make a small difference in someone’s life makes all of this worthwhile,” she said.

When Ms. Lightowler isn’t volunteering for the band boosters, she runs her own business and enjoys playing the violin, writing poetry and short stories and spending time with her family and friends.

Thank you and congratulations to each of the Achievement Above All recipients. We are grateful for your contributions to Sunnyslope High School and the Glendale Union High School District community.

Please enjoy this video of highlights from the evening.

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