Thunderbird Achievement Above All Recipients

Governing Board Honors THS Achievers
Achievement Above All winners

November 2015 – On Nov. 18, the Glendale Union High School District Governing Board honored four individuals and one student group from Thunderbird High School for their commitment to excellence. The Achievement Above All event recognizes distinguished members of the high school, including a volunteer, teacher, support staff member, student and student group.

Achievement Above All Teacher Recipient:

Chris Francis has taught special education and world history, served as an administrator, coached freshmen football, baseball and track and has spent an immeasurable amount of time assisting in extra duty when needed at Thunderbird High School. He began his career at the school in 2003 and prior to THS, taught at Mountain Sky Middle School for 11 years. He also served in the U.S. Air Force.

Mr. Francis vows to “never have a bad day” and said he is “passionate about making a difference in a student’s learning. There is nothing more rewarding when that light clicks on and the student gets it.”

Jonathan Parker, department chair and a colleague of Mr. Francis’ said, “Chris Francis enriches the lives of every person he encounters, a ripple of laughter following in his wake, a trail of smiles – a sign of his generosity and kindness. Every day, Thunderbird High School becomes immeasurably better the moment he arrives.”

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Achievement Above All Support Staff Recipient:

Ryan Wolff came to Thunderbird following internships with the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Giants; he also served as the head trainer for the Amsterdam Admirals. His role as athletic trainer on the high school campus for the past 16 years has helped students become unstoppable athletes, see their true potential and recover from injuries.

“Thunderbird athletes are fortunate to have a trainer of this caliber looking after their well-being. As principal, I can’t say enough about the value that Ryan brings to campus each and every day and well into each evening. Thunderbird is a better place because of him,” said Principal Jeannie Paparella.

Student Ann Shikles benefited greatly from Mr. Wolff’s skills after she was injured leaving basketball practice last year. She had this to say: “When I was injured, Ryan not only offered me every opportunity he could think of that would help me progress and get back out on the court, but he was a main source of encouragement. As an athletic trainer, he possesses the knowledge and compassion to diagnose, treat and overall comfort those with an injury.”

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Achievement Above All Student Recipient:

Senior Alejandro Baker is a hard worker, excels in academics and is a positive influence on the campus. He will graduate high school with 72 college credits and is in the top 1 percent of his class. Additionally, Mr. Baker is president of the National Honor Society, plays soccer and has a part time job.

He was named the school’s Outstanding Senior for the Month of August and recently was named an AP Scholar with Distinction and awarded the National Hispanic Merit Scholar by the College Board. He speaks English, Spanish, German and Arabic, has studied Hebrew and is currently studying French. Mr. Baker plans to use these skills for a career in international business.

“In addition to being in awe of his academic prowess, I have been extremely impressed with his outstanding character,” Principal Paparella said. “He has earned the respect of students, faculty and administration. By every standard, Alejandro is one of the finest students to have attended Thunderbird High School.”

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Achievement Above All Student Group Recipient:

The Wrestling team was named this year’s Achievement Above All Student Group. The team is coached by Lee Chandler and represented by multi-year state champion and now retired coach Steve Linsacum.

Since 1997, Thunderbird wrestling’s overall record is 378-74. They have amassed 102 individual section championships, 27 of which went on to become state champions. As a team, they have won 13 region championships with six state championship titles, the most recent being from 2015. They have also brought home the state runner-up title three times.

“These young men before you are all heart and soul, and passionate about competition,” Principal Paparella said. “This Thunderbird Wrestling program is made up of extraordinary young men and are wholeheartedly deserving of this recognition. We are extremely proud of them.”

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Achievement Above All Parent Volunteer Recipient:

“Thunderbird High School is truly blessed with parents and community members who consistently support our mission not only to prepare students academically for life after high school, but to help foster young men and women of character through support of the day-to-day operation,” said Principal Paparella.

Barb Hofmann, this year’s Parent Volunteer Achievement Above All recipient, embodies the true spirit of giving to the students and community of Thunderbird High School.

Mrs. Hofmann currently volunteers as the president of the Chief’s Parent Association. However, she has spent the last 13 years volunteering at Thunderbird in the capacity of a classroom volunteer, CPA member/treasurer/president, golf tournament co-chair fundraiser, grad night committee chair, cheer booster parent and in the areas of hospitality and philanthropy.

She is also an engineer at Honeywell.

“As president of the Chief’s Parent Association, she can often be seen on campus, taking care of business whether that is to hand out class schedules or to bring goodies to teachers or to help me with a project,” Paparella said. “As principal, I am abundantly thankful that Barb has given so much of herself to the Thunderbird community.”

Thank you and congratulations to all Thunderbird High School Achievement Above All winners! We are grateful for your contributions to the Thunderbird and Glendale Union High School District community.

Please enjoy this video highlighting the evening’s winners.

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