Independence High School Recipients Shine at Achievement Above All Event

Governing Board Highlights Independence Achievement Above All Recipients
Posted on 01/16/2020
Haley RubioJanuary 2020 – Glendale Union High School District’s Achievement Above All events highlight selected individuals from each high school that exhibit outstanding leadership and exceptional accomplishments. This time, the GUHSD Governing Board honored one teacher, student, student group, support staff employee and volunteer from Independence High School on Jan. 15. Each recipient received an award for their ongoing commitment to the district and their school’s community. 

Achievement Above All Teacher Recipient: Haley Rubio

Before joining Independence High School, Haley Rubio received her Bachelor’s Degree in History and Secondary Education from Arizona State University, and completed her Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Grand Canyon University. She then started her career at Independence High School where she currently teaches U.S. History and A.P. Government. 

Impressively, last year was Mrs. Rubio’s first year teaching the A.P. Government class and her students earned the highest success rate on the A.P. test out of the whole district. 

In addition to her success in the classroom, Mrs. Rubio has reached great achievement as the coach of the Independence Spirit Line. Since being under Mrs. Rubio’s leadership, the team has advanced to the state playoff competition for the past two years in a row. 

Independence High School Principal Rob Ambrose acknowledged Mrs. Rubio for her work ethic and commitment to student success.

“We are all very proud of the work she has done to make Independence a better place for our students,” Ambrose said. 

Governing Board Member Susan Maland and Haley Rubio Haley Rubio

Achievement Above All Student Recipient: Ruby Hernandez-Gama 

Ruby Hernandez-Gama is a well-rounded, successful senior student at Independence High School. Her favorite subjects to study have been biology and chemistry. She also received the honor of November Rotary Student of the Month this school year due to her academic achievements.   

While she does excel academically, Ruby also has been active in several sports, clubs and activities during her high school career. Ruby credits two specific activities that she participated in that have shaped her into the person she is today. 

The first is helping students compete in Special Olympics, where she has advanced to the state competition with her partner. The second is her involvement with clubs Anytown and Unitown, in which she has graduated as a delegate. 

With her academic accomplishments and involvement in extracurricular activities, she has been a prime example of what a successful student looks like.

“Ruby is an exceptional student who exemplifies the best characteristics of what it means to be an Independence Patriot,” Ambrose said.

After graduation, Ruby plans to attend Arizona State University to pursue a career in nursing. 

Governing Board President Pam Reicks and Ruby Hernandez-Gama Ruby Hernandez-Gama

Achievement Above All Student Group Recipient: Independence Patriot Band 

The purpose of the Independence Patriot Band is to help others embrace the love of music. Lead by Independence Teacher William Meldrum, the band and its 50 members provide entertainment on campus and at community and sporting events.

Some samples of events where they have performed at this school year are local elementary schools and the Glendale Hometown Christmas Parade. 

Another activity that the Independence Patriot Band participates in is music competitions and festivals across the state.  

“It has become common for the IHS marching band to receive spirit awards and notoriety for being supportive and encouraging to all of the other musicians when they attend festivals and competitions,” Ambrose said. 

This school year alone, they came in first at the Verrado Marching Band Competition for best percussion, general effect, and music and visual performance. In addition, they placed first at the Ironwood Ridge Marching Band Competition for best color guard and general effect. They also qualified for Arizona Band and Orchestra Directors Association (ABODA) State Semifinals for the fourth year in a row. 

Independence Patriot Band’s plan for the future is to continue to share their love for music and performance with audiences all over the state. 

Governing Board Member Patty Kennedy and Independence Patriot Band Independence Patriot Band

Achievement Above All Support Staff Recipient: Leslie Navarrette Aguilar  

Leslie Navarrette Aguilar first began working at Independence High School as a special education instructional assistant before landing in her current role as the receptionist. 

Around campus, Leslie is known to be endlessly helpful and encouraging to her peers and students.

Independence Teacher Jennifer Perry said, “She demonstrates the essence of this award by consistently going above and beyond. She is a strong advocate for the needs and well-being of the students.” 
Leslie volunteers a great amount of her time to the students who are involved in softball, Unified Sports, Special Olympics and Unitown. 

“She has been an amazing asset to the students with special needs at Independence High School,” Ambrose said. “Outside of the school day, she coaches softball, she supports our Unitown program, and she works extra duties at events after school.”

Leslie is currently in the process of receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education. She hopes to continue in the district as a special education teacher after graduation. 

Governing Board Clerk Patti Hussey and Leslie Navarrette Aguilar Leslie Navarrette Aguilar

Achievement Above All Volunteer Recipient: Rosa Manzolo

As a former Independence High School student and member of the Independence Patriot Marching Band, Rosa Manzolo is very passionate about giving back to students. 
“Volunteering, especially with the IHS marching band, is important to me because it's a way for me to give back to my community,” Manzolo said. “Independence High School helped shape the person I've become today, so volunteering is my way of showing my gratitude to this school and its band program.”

Rosa dedicates hours of her time ensuring that the members of the band give great performances on and off the field. 

One of her most memorable experiences with the band was seeing them perform their first halftime show of the 2017 season.

“This was the first year I volunteered with Mr. Meldrum and the band. Seeing them perform through the lens of a volunteer and seeing how much effort and passion they'd play and march with brought me back to the years that I was a member of this band,” Manzolo said. “This moment brought everything full circle to me.”

In her spare time, Rosa enjoys spending time with her family and her two dogs Booker and Curry. 

Governing Board Member Patty Kennedy and Rosa Manzolo Rosa Manzolo

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

Excellence: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow #GUHSDExcellence #WeAreGUHSD