Photo by Kaileah Goucher

Photo by Kaileah Goucher

By Raylan J.
Cougar News Blog

Cactus Canyon’s softball season is underway. The school tryouts were Aug. 11, the final cuts were Aug. 19. A gathering of 35 girls tried out, and only 21 girls made the softball team.
The Cougars, have been undefeated for two years and haven’t lost in six games this season. Coach Bill is a strict coach, and many girls, can get their feelings hurt, and the exercises done can be difficult, but it’s just the best for the team.
“What made it difficult to make the softball team this year is that Coach Bill is a very strict coach, so you have to be listening or else he won’t think you’ll be ‘cut-out’ for the team,” said eighth-grader Alyssa Decino.
Coach Bill Wilson said Cactus Canyon’s team has always been strong at batting. Fielding is good, but batting has always been the speciality.
“Hitting is the team’s best aspect, and we need to continue to work on our pitching in all aspects of the game, so we can improve the girls attitudes, to continue to grow together as a team and work together, so we can be very good,” Wilson said. “Also, so we can win the tournament and league, and be undefeated at the end of the season again.”
To help reach the goal of another league title, softball players practiced before hand for the season, by…., such as going to the batting cages, playing catch with their friends, or just doing stretches.
“I have been preparing for the season by going to the indoor batting cages with my friends,” said eighth grader Maegan Smith. “And just throwing around a softball from time to time with my closest softball friends.”
The Cougars have been undefeated for two years and haven’t lost yet this season. The last game is Sept. 30 at home against Maricopa Wells. The league championships will be this Saturday Oct. 4, in Coolidge.

By Maddie Chilson
Cougar News Blog

This year, the NJHS members at Cactus Canyon are going to try something new to raise money.
NJHS members will be selling VIP tickets to staff and students for $1 each. The tickets are for a chance to watch a CCJH sporting event on a couch while being served all the snacks they can eat. NJHS members are hoping to raise enough money to pay off most of the Disneyland trip that will be taking place at the end of the school year.
“We have no set expectations for the amount of money we raise,” said Ms. Howard. “We are just hoping to earn some funds since we have lost the majority of our funding resources.”
The purpose of the VIP tickets is for students to be able to be catered to at their advantage. Once a ticket is purchased, it gets put into a drawing. The VIP tickets are beneficial in two ways. One being that it’s going to help raise money for the trip and parents won’t have to pay for everything out of their pockets. Two, because kids will be served popcorn and soda while sitting on a couch watching a game with two friends of his or her choice.
“I bought a ticket, and I hope that I’m able to get drawn,” says eighth grader Wyatt Bradford.
The first drawing for the VIP tickets has already occurred, and the winner was Mrs. Cindy Wilson, a seventh grade teacher.
“We sold 10 tickets but hope to do better as students learn more about becoming a VIP,” said Ms. Howard.
The VIP tickets and other fundraising should help raise enough money for the kids to be able to take a two-day trip to Disneyland and do a leadership program with the Disneyland staff.
“I think this is a cool way to earn money,” said Bradford.
For the first game, a couch was borrowed because they do not own one currently. In the future, Ms. Howard and Ms. Reesor, the NJHS directors, hope to do more fundraisers, possibly a chili supper.
“I will be looking into buying a couch so we will not have to borrow one in the future,” said Ms. Howard.

By Zoey Lopez
Cougar News Blog

It’s that time of year again when Cactus Canyon has its annual food drive to help a AJUSD organization called Project Help. Project help is an organization that only help kids and parents in the AJUSD school district, not just with food, but they help with clothes and school supplies and other items that would be useful to those people.
Last year, the Cougars hit it off by bringing in the trophy for having the best drive among the AJUSD schools. Student Council, which organizes the drive, are asking for food donations during the week of Sept. 22-26.
“It makes me proud to work at school that has so many kids that want to help and make a difference in the community, when we band together one or two donations at a time we can really make a difference,” said StuCo Advisor Jason Davis.
Student Council members will be visiting the science classrooms at the end of each day to collect the donations. They sort it out and count the points based on what was donated. The most difficult job is to sort out the expired food. They can’t send it to Project Help if it is expired. Council members prefer quality food over quantity. They don’t want 700 cream corn or green beans; they would rather have 200 cereal boxes and peanut butter and jelly.
“I don’t know anyone that gets home from school and has a can of creamed corn as a snack or just wants green bean for breakfast,” said Mr. Davis. “We are more about the quality of the food not the quantity.”
“I think we can keep the trophy if we bring in good quality food,” said StuCo member Mystique Frigerson. “It’s not just about the quantity, but the quality. If we keep that up, I can almost guarantee another win.”
Student Council made a list of the food students are able to bring in. Cereal is worth four points; peanut butter, pasta sauce, and condiments are worth three; jelly and pasta are worth two; and soup and canned meat are worth one. Any expired donation takes one point away from the total. The grade-level team with the most points will get cookies.
Student Council will be going around at lunch to remind everyone about the food drive.

PRIDE program enters second year

Posted: September 22, 2014 in Cougar PRIDE

By Sandy Meyer
Cougar News Blog

Cactus Canyon Jr. High is starting its second year of the PRIDE matrix and the staff of the school hopes that the students will see that having these set of expectations makes the school better.
The PRIDE program lays out a set of expectations for all students and rewards them for doing the right thing. The staff of CCJH is always reminding students of the expectations and has the PRIDE matrix on the walls all over the school. The school is hoping they can get the PRIDE matrix in the back of the students minds so they remember what is expected from them to make this year better than last year. The staff hopes that reinforcing it will have students make it a part of their school life.
“There should be no surprises,” said Assistant Principal Joyce Gingrich.
The school uses PRIDE paws,which are cards that the staff gives to student for doing what they are supposed to do and following directions. After students get their PRIDE paw they turn them into the office for prizes and awards.
Students say they think the PRIDE paws makes them want to follow the et expectations more than if they didn’t have the incentives.
“I do think the PRIDE paws helps students want to follow the pride matrix,” says eighth grader Allannalenn Lindstrom.
The PRIDE matrix has not changed at all from last year, but this is only the second year so there might be updates in the future. The staff is trying to do better with reinforcing the PRIDE matrix this year than they did last year.The staff just wanted the students to know there are rules wherever they go in life and thats why they started the PRIDE matrix last year.
“We hope that our students will start realizing that life is about expectations and that there are understood expectations they will have to follow throughout life, no matter the situation,” said Mr.Cantrell.
Cactus Canyon plans to keep the PRIDE matrix for the following school years and keep the PRIDE paws. The staff plan to keep improving the PRIDE matrix. The school plans to keep reinforcing the PRIDE matrix and having the student know what to expect in their future life.
“I believe the matrix is now a permanent part of CCJH,” said Mrs.Gingrich.
The CCJH choir sang the national anthem at Chase Field before the Diamondbacks game on Sept. 12. (Photo submitted to the CNB.)

The CCJH choir sang the national anthem at Chase Field before the Diamondbacks game on Sept. 12. (Photo submitted to the CNB.)

By Shea W.
Cougar News Blog

Last Friday was the day the Cactus Canyon choir performed their version of The Star Spangled Banner at Chase Field in Phoenix. This whole performance has been practiced numerous amounts of times.
The choir class went to the Diamondbacks game Ms. Chung conducted her students as they sang the national anthem with students from four other schools before the game.
“I’m involved in the American Choral Director’s Association and I was able to attend the summer conference,” said Ms. Chung. “The Diamondbacks representative was there so I got to know about this wonderful program.”
The choir students had to pay $16 or $25 to participate in this event. The students who bought tickets were the only students who get to go.
Ms. Chung said the team uses a different version of the song than the choir already knew.
“We had to learn a new version of the Star Spangled Banner than the version we already knew,” said Ms. Chung. “Students had to relearn and reteach themselves and you know it’s hard to fix an old habit.”
Ms. Chung’s choir has been practicing up till this day. Last year, Cactus Canyon’s choir went to the state fair and performed in front of many people.
“We have to be loud in volume and have to train ourselves to be louder, so the people in the stands can hear us,” said eighth grader Alexus Hart.
The choir is also preparing for its first concert of the year on Sept. 304. Ms. Chung is hoping that many Cactus Canyon students will attend this event, which will be at the Apache Junction High School, at 6 p.m., in the PAC.
“I hope to have more confidence in myself especially in front of millions of people,” said Hart.
Photo by Sami Groneberg

Photo by Sami Groneberg

By Pauline Harner
Cougar News Blog

Members of the Cactus Canyon volleyball team are spiking their way through their first volleyball camp that started Sept. 3. Mrs. Roach is doing volleyball camp to let seventh- and eighth-grade girls improve their volleyball skills.
The camp goes from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays in the gym. They have games every Friday. This is to help the girls learn to be better and is another way for the girls to try to be on a sports team.
“From volleyball camp I have improved a lot,” said eighth grader Kennedy Bishop. “My coaches have helped me mainly on my serving and making sure the ball goes over the net.”
The coaches are Mrs. Roach who coaches the A team, and Mr. Gibson who coaches the B team.
“I want them (the players) to learn the fundamentals of volleyball, improve their ability to play well, learn to be part of the team, and work together to accomplish a common goal,” said Mrs. Roach. “We are focusing on passing, serving, setting, and hitting.”
This volleyball camp provides the girls with extra help to make the volleyball team.
“I think this will benefit the team because if students do participate in the camp and then try out for the volleyball team, they would already have some experience and have a better chance at making the team,” said eighth grader Lucia Kimble.

By Erik Lundquest
Cougar News Blog

Seize your hunger by buying all kinds of cookie dough throughout this month. This isn’t just ordinary cookie dough, instead it’s a one- way ticket for Cactus Canyon Junior High’s advanced band to travel to Disneyland in California.
This is where the marching band will perform numerous song numbers around the streets of Disneyland In March. But without selling cookie dough the trip won’t happen.
“I have high expectations for this fundraiser because I know that my students are super determined to go to Disney,” said band director Aimee Vining.
Cookie dough will go on sale Sept. 5 and end Sept. 17. The cookie dough prices will range from $15 to $16 for several kinds of cookie dough and other treats. Orders will be in place as long as they are ordered before Sept. 17.
Students will perform multiple times around the park and on their free time they will get to let loose and enjoy the magic of roller coasters and other rides around the amusement park. The students breakfast, dinner, hotel rooms, and tickets for Disneyland will all be paid for with the money raised.
The cost of the trip from Arizona to Disney is $6000 which is no walk in the park.
“Giving people our all is the thing our band does best,” said eighth grader Rosalyn Arriola.
“I believe we will sell all the cookie dough and raise the $6,000 for the trip,” said eighth grader Claire Albertsen.
The money raised will go mostly to the transportation of the trip. Some of the money will go to scholarships to help students pay for the trip.
The two-day trip will happen on March 27 for the returning band, jazz band and orchestra from last year. The first day are the performances and the second day is the laid back day. “I’m so stoked and ready for this trip, it wish it would happen earlier,” said eighth grader Shane Scoffin.

By Logan D.
Cougar News Blog

Cactus Canyon is booking up a new school year with Beyond Textbooks, a new program to bring out the best of Cactus Canyon.
Beyond Textbooks is a program that originated in the Vail Unified School District in Vail, Ariz. Essentially, BT is a program to maximize student achievement. It tells teachers what objective to teach, how long to teach it, and offers optional resources to help teachers find the best way to teach it.
When teachers go onto the curriculum site for their specific grade, they are presented a curriculum calendar and resources to help students master each objective. The calendar is the same for all teachers of a subject, but teachers can provide instruction in their specific style, that way teachers don’t have to be uncomfortable while teaching.
BT is an organized program, but teachers need to know if their students are understanding what they’re teaching. That’s where the common formative comes in. The common formative is a small, five-question test given usually at the end or beginning of the week. Its purpose is to see if the student has a grasp on the subject. If the student gets a four or five out of five then they have passed their formative and they’ve mastered the subject. If students get a three or less then they have to go to reteach, which is where students go if they have not mastered the subject. Teachers then get more one-on-one time with the student. After the lesson has been retaught, the student will retake their formative to see if they have mastered the subject yet.
“The BT framework will help get students the help and support they need with math and language arts,” said Principal Courtney Castelhano. ‘Students will be given weekly formatives to check for mastery. If students need more help, they will receive it during Study Skills time with objectives they need more help with. If they did well on the weekly formative, then students will receive an enriched Study Skills involving a variety of subjects.”
One reason BT improves schools who use it is connection. The teachers at CCJH can see what other teachers across the state are doing in their classrooms. Other teachers can post what lessons were a success or failure in their classroom Teachers at CCJH are utilizing these tips from other successful teachers to improve their own students and give them a better chance at success.
“Cactus Canyon adopted the Beyond Textbooks program as another tool for us as educators to better educate the students that come to this school and prepare them for high
school,” said math teacher Jeremy Seaman. “The program provides many useful tools, examples, and resources from other teachers around the state that we as educators here can use in our own classrooms.”
Cactus Canyon adopted BT partly because the school’s rating is at a C. CCJH wants to be better than a C, and some schools who have adopted the BT program have gone from a D to an A. AJUSD believes that the framework will help with student success. BT keeps everything organized,which helps make everything easier for both teachers and students. It is a very strict program and it uses Common Core standards.
“BT gives students more responsibility over their learning by knowing how they did on their weekly formative and receiving more help if they need it,” said Castelhano. “Students can feel successful over their learning by knowing exactly how they do every week in each of their core classes.”
BT helps teachers by breaking down everything that going to be taught, it will help improve Cactus Canyon and make each and every one of the students productive.
“The whole district adopted Beyond Textbooks because it helps to keep everyone organized and at the same place,” said eighth-grade math teacher Marla Aehlert. Also, other districts that have used Beyond Textbooks have had great results.”

By Alyssa F.
Cougar News Blog

Eighth graders are starting the school year off right with NJHS. Qualifying Cactus Canyon eighth graders are getting papers filled out for the National Junior Honor Society.
The new advisers Miss Ressor and Mrs. Howard have exciting things planned ahead, but the students will still have high academic expectations like always.
“Putting in the extra effort pays off in the long run for their education,” said Miss. Reesor.
The NJHS advisers have more things planned to keep the students busy for the school year.
Mrs. Howard and Miss Reesor have things planned for the year like the Disneyland trip, fundraising, and community service.
“We would hope the students gain a sense of accomplishment, character, and leadership skills,” said Mrs. Howard.
This year is going to be different from the other years of NJHS. Some things will stay the same like the meetings, the officer positions, etc. but, they plan to raise money by having a V.I.P section at the sport games which is very different from other years. However, they will not be able to have the breakfast bar due to new Smart Snacks rules.
Students that worked hard and got an “A” average in their seventh grade year were invited to participate in NJHS.
“I have learned that working and being dedicated can pay off, I can get opportunities such as this one,” said Angel Meeks.
Some NJHS students take an extra step to not only get in to NJHS, but to do other after-school programs. They join in activities such as the Leo Club where they do community service and Best Buddies where they interact with kids and make friends.
There will be an induction ceremony for new members on Wednesday, Sept. 10, in the PAC at Apache Junction High School.
“I’m really glad to be in NJHS; it seems interesting and fun to do,” said Jessica Conrad.
Photo by Kaileah Goucher

Photo by Kaileah Goucher

By Hannah Wolfe
Cougar News Blog

Cactus Canyon Junior High is swinging back into baseball season. The new coach for the Cougar baseball team, Allen Liebau, has many of goals for this season, but his ultimate goal is to bring his team together and win the championship.
After opening the season with a win over Mountain Vista, players on the team say that they think the team will do well this season, but they do have some strong parts and things they need to work on.
“The strongest points of our team at this moment are defense and leadership,” said Coach Liebau. “We have a lot of returning players that have a strong leadership role on the team. But, team needs to come together as a team and work toward the common goals.”
While a winning season is important, the coach said he especially wants his Cougars to improve as players and people.
“They will learn how to work together to achieve a common goal, how to be a better teammate and how to enjoy playing baseball,” said Coach Liebau.
A total of 37 athletes tried out this year, with 17 making the team when tryouts took place Aug. 11 through Aug. 14. The team has been practicing throughout the week since. Liebau expects the returning baseball players to be role models that lead the team toward success.
“My favorite part about baseball season is that I get to do what I love, and also help the team that I love win,” said eighth grade student John Christensen.
Games will start at approximately 4:15 pm. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Home games will be played at Apache Junction High School’s baseball field, and visiting games will be played at different middle schools around Pinal County.