Apollo Achievement Above All Recipients

Governing Board Honors AHS Achievers

January 2016 – The Glendale Union High School District Governing Board honored Apollo High School’s Achievement Above All recipients on January 20. The special event recognizes distinguished members of Apollo, including volunteers, teachers, support staff, students and student groups.

Achievement Above All Teacher Recipient:

Toni Cook was named Apollo’s Achievement Above All Teacher recipient. She came to the district 23 years ago after serving with the Army Reserves in Texas. Her first role on the campus was as a social worker. Once she received a master’s degree in counseling, she transitioned to the position of counselor.

Apollo Principal Brooke Parsons said Mrs. Cook’s impact on the campus is influential and long-lasting.

“She will do anything for kids. Currently, she co-sponsors Best Buddies, a club she expresses total love for,” Parsons said. “Toni feels like a superstar when working with the special-needs and the general-education population.”

In addition to counseling and sponsoring many different clubs on campus throughout her tenure with Apollo, Mrs. Cook has also coached the varsity softball team with Sue Prado.

“Every minute of the day, there is someone needing her assistance … [she] has been the consistent moral backbone of Apollo High School, fighting the good fight for each and every person she comes in contact with. She brings genuine concern, happiness and joy to all of us,” Prado said.

teacher 1  teacher 2

Achievement Above All Student Recipient:

Apollo senior Michelle Coen is in the top 1 percent of her class, with a weighted GPA of 4.97. She is very busy on the Apollo campus, participating in a variety of clubs and sports.

Ms. Coen is a Link Crew leader, helping students transition from middle school to high school. She has been a Girl Scout for 12 years and she has volunteered at hospitals and for local soup kitchens. She participates in Math Club and recently took first place in the American Mathematical Society Math Competition at Arizona State University.

She also played softball and basketball her freshman and sophomore years at Apollo.

A math- and science-minded individual, Ms. Coen plans to attend MIT to become an epidemiologist.

Her Advanced Placement biology teacher, Cristi Davis commended Ms. Coen for her desire to give of her time and talents to her fellow students.

“She was available every day before school for any student that might want to be tutored. She was driven and had a fabulous work ethic. She helped everyone all the time in all her subjects, even though she was taking four A.P. classes,” Ms. Davis said.

student 1  student 2

Achievement Above All Support Staff Recipient:

If there’s one person who knows Apollo’s campus inside and out better than anyone else, its Assistant Foreman Mark Hebert.

Mr. Hebert was awarded the Support Staff Person of the Year award and recognized for his more than 23 years of service to the school.

Principal Parsons referred to him as a “walking blueprint” and a dedicated employee who is known to rise to the call of duty no matter the time of day or night.

“As the assistant foreman, he wears many hats, such as opening the campus every morning and disarming all buildings before the staff arrive,” she said. “Mark has a lead-by-example attitude with our maintenance crew. He has come in at all hours of the day and night, week or weekend, to repair, manage, or help with the needs of the crew and the school. His devotion to Apollo and his job is unmatched.”

“This campus is very lucky to have a person like Mark, and I am forever grateful to have an assistant like Mark,” said Kris Alford, campus foreman.

support 1  support 2

Achievement Above All Student Group Recipient:

The international, student-led Key Club was named the Student Group Achievement Above All recipient this year.

It is sponsored by Krystal Claudio and has 97 student members this year – the highest membership yet.

The group’s mission is to provide students with opportunities to serve, build character and develop leadership skills. They have volunteered at St. Mary’s Food Bank, Vineyard Church, assisted living communities and various festivals.

Ms. Claudio said club members are very dedicated and passionate about Key Club and are responsible with their duties.

President Esmeralda Ray said being a member of Key Club for three years now has been an “eye-opening experience” for her and that she never realized how many people in the community benefit from the club’s help.

group 1  group 2

Achievement Above All Parent/Volunteer Recipient:

Volunteering for the Apollo Booster Club was a way for Jennie Gessler to stay involved with her children’s activities and to give back to the community, she said. She has been involved with the organization for two years and this year decided to volunteer at the football concession stands.

“I like to be involved,” she said when asked why she wanted to join the Booster Club. “When my kids were in elementary school, I was the team mom. Being involved at Apollo has allowed me to support the school while supervising my children and leading them in a positive direction.”

She has brought some creativity to her role, said Booster Club President Gordon Penberthy.

“Something that sticks out to me about Jennie is her innovation. She created an Octoberfest Meal Deal – cheddar soup, a pretzel and a drink – in the concession stand just because she thought it would be fun,” he said. “It is very apparent to me that Jennie is providing a positive role model for her children.”

volunteer 1  volunteer 2

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

Please enjoy this video of highlights from the Achievement Above All awards presentation.