Governing Board Honors Sunnyslope Vikings

Sunnyslope Achievement Above All Recipients Celebrated at Annual Event
Posted on 02/20/2020
Sunnyslope HS Student Council and Board Member Patti Hussey

February 2020 – The Glendale Union High School District’s Achievement Above All events celebrate the top teacher, student, student group, support staff employee and volunteer from each high school that exhibit outstanding leadership and exceptional accomplishments.

Sunnyslope High School’s 2019-2020 Achievement Above All event took place at the recent meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 19, where the GUHSD Governing Board and Sunnyslope High School Principal Jonathan Parker acknowledged the recipients for their achievements.

 Achievement Above All Teacher Recipient: Sheila Novak

As a Sunnyslope High School graduate, Mrs. Novak has strong ties to the community. After graduating high school, she attended Notre Dame and completed her finance degree. Shortly after, she attended Arizona State University and earned her Master’s Degree in Secondary Education. Mrs. Novak finally returned to Sunnyslope High School to pursue her teaching career in 1995.

Over the past 25 years at Sunnyslope, Mrs. Novak has taught several subjects including Freshman-Senior English, Read 180, Honors English 1-2, AP Literature & Composition, Education Professions and ELL. In addition, she served as the Language Arts Department chair, Future Educators of America sponsor, Vikingtown advisor and Freshman Transition Committee member.

Not only is Mrs. Novak heavily involved on campus with her students, but she also supports her fellow colleagues and friends.

GUHSD Curriculum and Instruction Coordinator Ceily Erie said, “I don’t have a sister, but I feel like I always have a work sister in Sheila. In a sea of talented and hard-working teachers, you are a treasure.”

Sunnyslope High School Language Arts Teacher Patty Bohmaker added, “Sheila Novak is one of the finest teachers I’ve ever known or will know. It has been my honor to work with Sheila.”

In her spare time, Mrs. Novak enjoys reading, writing and baking.

Governing Board Member Susan Maland and Sheila NovakSheila Novak

Achievement Above All Student Recipient: Blayke LeTarte

Blayke is a generational Sunnyslope High School student, as both of her parents are involved on campus with teaching and coaching. Growing up, she spent an abundant amount of time at Sunnyslope and once she reached high school, she paved herself a path for success.

“In her four-year window as a student at Sunnyslope, she distinguished herself with a stellar academic performance, a fabulous athletic career, and an infectious generosity that enriches every endeavor to which she contributes her considerable skills,” Sunnyslope High School Principal Jonathan Parker said.

While taking rigorous academic courses and maintaining an impressive transcript, Blayke found herself as captain of the volleyball team where she won not one, but two state championships. Additionally, she performs with advanced dance and serves as a partner athlete with Sunnyslope’s Unified Sports teams.

Several of Blayke’s teachers acknowledged her for her kindness and leadership on campus.

“Blayke is kind, thoughtful, humble and genuine. She really is every teacher's dream student,” Bohmaker said.

Sunnyslope High School English Teacher Leah Clark also said, “I admire Blayke’s kindness. She treats every person with dignity, respect and love. This is the Sunnyslope way, and she sets a positive example for all her peers.”

After graduation, Blayke will attend Grand Canyon University and will major in elementary education.

Governing Board Member Susan Maland and Blayke LeTarteBlayke LeTarte

Achievement Above All Student Group Recipient: Student Council

With 24 student members, teacher Leah Clark leads Sunnyslope High School Student Council. The group’s purpose is to promote Viking pride and to make an inclusive environment on campus through fun, engaging activities including spirit weeks, school dances, sports assemblies, flag raisings and much more.

The team also participates in the Arizona Association of Student Councils’ annual conventions. Most recently, the group won the award for ‘Council of Distinction’ for their level of spirit and commitment to their school.

Sunnyslope Principal Jonathan Parker credits the team for all their effort during and after school events.

“However, apart from the enormity of their efforts as spirit leaders, this group also claims honorable ambassadors and dutiful servants, leaders willing to do the thankless tasks so that others may enjoy the spotlight,” Parker said. “After the adrenaline of an assembly wanes or the music at a spirit lunch fades, these students don their gloves and grab the nearest trash can to quietly clean up after the event.”

Every Friday, Sunnyslope Student Council cleans the entire school campus as well, hoping to beauty the environment for all students. In addition, they organize community service events and fundraisers for local and national charities including the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society and JDRF.

The group has a goal to continue to strive to create an inclusive community of leaders on campus, and increase their participation in outreach activities.

Governing Board Member Patti Hussey and SHS Student CouncilStudent Council

Achievement Above All Support Staff Recipient: Todd Blutter

Todd has served GUHSD in a number of capacities over the past several years. He first worked at Moon Valley High School for six years as maintenance 1 and assistant facilities supervisor before landing in his current role as Sunnyslope High School’s Facilities Supervisor, where he has worked for the past four years.

As facilities supervisor, Todd is in charge of managing the routine care of all the facilities and maintenance of Sunny High School. This school year alone he has tackled many tasks including campus-wide installation of LED lights and cameras, roofing projects and reconstruction of the auditorium.

On campus, Todd ensures to meet the needs of all staff and students, and serves them as best as he can.

Sunnyslope High School Teacher and Coach Erin Knight said, “Todd works tirelessly for us. When we let him know what we need, he makes us feel like our requests are his top priority.” She added, “When I see him on campus he always has time to stop and ask how things are going. We are very fortunate to have him each and every day.”

Outside of work, Todd’s interests include spending time with his family and friends, off-roading and playing sports.

Governing Board Member Patty Kennedy and Todd BlutterTodd Blutter

Achievement Above All Volunteer Recipient: Deb Hinds

Deb has volunteered her time at Sunnyslope High School for the past eight years, beginning as a freshman football parent. Since then, she has played a part in several clubs on campus including theater, speech and debate, and band. Now, she currently serves as the president of the band booster club.

Deb has also been a dedicated volunteer with helping organize fundraisers, band camp dinners, and banquets, chaperoning countless field trips, and promoting tax credit pushes.

Sunnyslope Band Director Steve Alguire mentioned that Deb warmly welcomed him as the band director two years ago and helped him with his transition to his new role.

“Even with 10 years of previous experience, changing band directors can be very hard on students and parents because they built such a bond with their previous teacher over four years,” Alguire said. “Deb gave me a chance and I feel like because she did everyone else followed suit. She loves this band, and what it has done for her two kids. She is a ‘band mom’ to all students.”

Deb’s most memorable experience while volunteering is when her daughter, Jennifer Butler, thanked her in her senior speech for being there for her during her four years in band. 

Apart from volunteering, Deb enjoys learning about geology, attending musicals and exercising.

Governing Board Member Pam Reicks and Deb HindsDeb Hinds

Congratulations to Sunnyslope High School’s 2019-2020 Achievement Above All recipients!

Excellence: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow #WeAreGUHSD