By Jessica Conrad
Cougar News Blog

     Students might have noticed a new addition sprouting recently on campus. A new garden has been placed in the planter right in front of the office.
     The garden was planted by Mrs. Dolle and a few students in her grief group.
     “It’s a memory garden,” explained Dolle. “Our grief group wanted to think of a nice way to remember loved ones we have lost.”
     The planter was already empty and ready to be filled. Dolle had bought all of the supplies they needed including the petunias and snapdragons they had planted in the planter a few days prior. Fixing up the planter took about two or three days, according to Dolle.
     “After looking at some pictures of different flowers, my group and I decided we liked those flowers the best for the garden,” said Dolle.
     Dolle and her students had really enjoyed the garden. They say it helps them think about their loved ones and how happy they made them.
     “I think the garden is a really good thing,” explains seventh grader Mareena Fick. “Normally when someone dies, you think of dark things. But, when you look at the garden, it’s very colorful and lets you remember that everything will be OK.”

By Alaya Walton
Cougar News Blog

     Nothing is better than a good old-fashioned fairy tale once in a while, but what if you could read a new kind of fairy tale? Many students took advantage of a great opportunity when author Marissa Meyer, who writes futuristic versions of fairy tales, came to visit Cactus Canyon.
     Meyer, author of the Cinder series, came CCJH on Feb. 2 to give a presentation on her childhood and how she became a writer. Her presentation inspired some of the audience, like eighth grader Clarissa Wilson.
     “It was really interesting how she explained how she started writing in her childhood,” she said. “I was interested in her presentation because it sort of connected to me in a sense.”
     Because of Ms. Meyer’s visit, Wilson also has some great ideas for writing.
     “As a student, her presentation makes me want to become a writer because she has gone through the same as me,” she says. “For instance, I’ve been trying to write some of my own books but I don’t have something to connect together, but when she came she gave me a good idea of what to do.”
     Many of the students seemed to be interested in her and they were willing to give her their attention.
     “They were very attentive or engaged,” said librarian Jennifer Cameron. “They asked pertinent questions.”
     “She was talking about how she’s trying so many different things,” said seventh grader Elexis Toro. “It was really interesting to notice how hard it is to write the books.”
     The Cinder series is a science fiction retell of classic fairy tales. It is said to be a futuristic version of the Disney princesses.
     “The Cinder series is about young girls who are either too perfect or part robot,” said Wilson.
     Cameron hopes the visit will encourage CCJH students to read the Cinder series and similar books.
     “Hopefully, with the mix of old fairy tale and the use of new technology and ideology students will seek out similar books and expand the types of genres they are willing to read,” said Mrs. Cameron.

By Cassie Wallace
Cougar News Blog

     James Gibson, an eighth grade social studies teacher at Cactus Canyon has a new enrichment class, Study Skills Reading. The study skills classes are made to give students more motivation and interest in learning. The main goal of the new reading class is to draw students in and get them to read more often.
     Some students read independently, but there are other options for less motivated readers, including audiobooks and class sets for reading in groups. Mr. Gibson reads the same book as the group and offers support.
     Mr. Gibson hopes to encourage students who read a lot, as well as the ones who don’t.
     “People can be encouraged to read in a variety of ways,” said Mr. Gibson. “Encouraging people to read is essential in our age group. The hope is that the students find the time spent in class fulfilling, not just a time to talk and hangout with friends.”
     The class will go on until next quarter and,allows students to take different classes and have different experiences. Mr.Gibson expects that the students will take on knowledge of how reading is an “empowering activity,” and use it later in the future.
     “Often people allow themselves to be pulled into a novel or a short story through the power of imagination, the ‘take-away’ from reading is limitless,” said Mr.Gibson.
     Mr. Gibson’s reading class is an opportunity to read, and get extra reading points for the “Book Wars” program, which gives students prizes at a specific amount of AR points.
     AR points help teachers target and understand where the student’s reading level is, and if they need extra help or if they need to read different material.
     “I like this class, I think it gives students a little more time to focus on AR goals, which some students actually do care about,” said Kylie Cann.

By Emily Rutkowski
Cougar News Blog

     Cactus Canyon Junior High has been shooting its way through girls basketball season and have started off the season with 4 wins and 2 losses. The Cougars are tied for second place in the Desert Middle Schools Athletic League.
     Coach Kim Grant expects the team to work hard, learn to play better as a team, and hopefully win the championship and take their second consecutive title.
Coach Grant said the basketball team has competitive this year in the league, and has still has high hopes for the season.
     “I think we will be competitive in the league and our goal is to win the championship, but there are other good teams out in the league,” said Coach Grant.
     The team practices after school every day until 5 p.m. and is looking on to improve its skills. Seventh grader Brooke Gordon says the team has improved since the beginning of the season.
     “Since day one we have been working better as a team, and our dribbling and shooting skills have improved a lot,” said Gordon.
     The Cougars travel around Pinal County for their games on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The DMSAL playoffs will be Saturday, March 7, at Coolidge High School.

By Elijah Q.
Cougar News Blog

     The Leo Club set up a game night on Friday, January 23, to recruit new members for the group at Cactus Canyon.
     James Gibson, an eighth-grade social studies teacher, threw a game night inside the 500 building and had the members set up games like Clue, Apples to Apples, and Headbands. There was also music and refreshments for the people who attended the event.
     Mr. Gibson said he hoped more seventh graders would join this year.
     “I have no set number,” said Mr. Gibson. “But we have difficulties in middle school getting opportunities to help because of transportation and students not being old enough.”
     Anybody could come to the event but to enter students would need two non-expired pop-top cans of food, which were going to be donated to Project HELP. They also wanted to raise awareness for the local need of food.
     “The Leo Club is a community of hard-working students working toward helping the society,” says Leo Club member, Natalie Erb. “I believe that the the event was a great outcome.”
     The Leo Club started was started by Lions Club member and school board member, Mike Weaver. He wanted to start a junior-high group to help the community, so he asked the principal, Courtney Castelhano, who put Gibson as the director of the group.
     Gibson plans to throw another event to recruit more kids.
     “I wish new kids would join the club,” said Mr. Gibson. “I want the group to be student run and the events build friendships that can help us in life.”

By Natalie D.
Cougar News Blog

     Eighth graders at Cactus Canyon have been flying into history in a new way this semester in John Leal’s new study skills class.
     Leal’s new comic book class is a popular one with 36 students and the class is learning about the history of comic books and how they have been influenced by or influenced historical events. They are also learning about the first comic books, how comics are made, and, of course, the superheroes.
     “I expect my students to take away all the components of a comic book and be able to explain how they may influence comics,” said Mr.Leal.
     Students will continue this class until the end of the quarter with their new knowledge of comic books and favorite things from the class to share.
     “My favorite part of the class was learning about the superheroes,” said Aysaiah Aguilera.
     The students are learning about topics such as the first woman and first African-American portrayed in a comic book during times when women and African-Americans were not treated as equals to white men.
     For example, Wonder Woman was the first woman DC Comics published in 1941 when women were expected to work mostly in their homes. Marvel also featured African-American superheroes in the 1950s when Blacks were still experiencing segregation and racial injustices in the United States.
     “My favorite thing to teach has been the history of comics and how they have influenced historical events,” said Leal.
     Even though this class is only continuing till March, students say they would take this class again to learn more and bring friends along.
     “I would take this class again because I like learning about superheroes and recommend this class to a friend,” said Aguilera.

By Pauline Harner
Cougar News Blog

     Cactus Canyon has a new class taught by Katy Wilson. The class is Lifetime Fitness, which explores the self as well, as how the mind works. Students will be learning about mental illnesses, stress management, nutrition, and physical fitness.
     Ms. Wilson brought the curriculum with her from Lake Oswego School District in Oregon. This class is also about making positive lifestyle choices and Ms. Wilson stresses a positive, yet challenging environment
     “I am health certified and have taught this class for five years in the state of Oregon,” said Wilson.
     “In my fourth hour I mostly learn about life, about what we should and shouldn’t do, and that exercise is really good for your body,” said seventh grader, Esmeralda Cruz.
     Lifetime Fitness became a class when Mr. Hulsey, who taught Spanish classes, was moved to Apache Junction High School, which resulted in people transferring to this new elective as a replacement.
     A few ways to learn about the things covered in the class are watching movies and discussing true stories that are relevant to the topic. One activity they’ll be doing comes from “Rules of the Red Rubber Ball,” a book by Kevin Carroll.”
     The red rubber ball activity is a project where students tell their “what inspires me” story and it helps them discover their talents, gifts, aspirations, interests, and hopes. It is very personal and powerful. They have to create a box that describes them and make it have pictures from magazines and words that describe them.
     “We are going to make a box and decorate it, the decorations are all about us, we might be putting our future projects in there, as well,” said eighth grader, Matthew Martinez.

Jaydlyn Jones is at CCJH this year after a year of homeschooling. (Photo by Sami Groneberg)

Jadelynn Jones is at CCJH this year after a year of homeschooling. (Photo by Sami Groneberg)

By Michele D.
Cougar News Blog

     Some may not know but there are students at Cactus Canyon Junior High that haven’t always gone to a public school. There are a handful of students that previously been home-schooled. One of those is Jaydlyn Jones.
     After a year of homeschooling, she decided to go to public school because she missed her friends, despite some of the problems that made her leave public school in the first place.
Jones prefers Cactus Canyon because she knows people and missed friends that she hasn’t seen since the last time she was in public school. She prefers to have the time with her friends and the motivation from the teachers.
     “What I miss(ed) is the interaction with teachers and my friends,” said Jones
     Jones said there are some pros and cons about both schools.
     “A con about public school is that people bully, but then a pro about public school is that you have the interaction with your friends,” said Jones. “A pro about online school is that you are in the comfort of your own home and you can wake up when you want to.”
     Jones grades seem to be better here at Cactus Canyon than they do when she was homeschooled.
     “(During) homeschool, I didn’t have very good grades because I would just get too lazy, but here I have so many people to support me and I think I do better here gradewise,” said Jones.
     In general, students that have been home schooled seem to be quick learners, according to teachers, but don’t always seem as social as other students.
     “Usually they are more reserved and less talkative in class,” said eighth-grade teacher Regan Roach. “The homeschooled student tends to be an independent worker and normally prefers to keep it that way.”
     According to Mrs. Roach, homeschooled students aren’t any different from the kids that attended public school.
     “I don’t see any difference in students who were homeschooled versus those in public school in following procedures,” said Roach. “From my experience, students want there to be procedures and they want to know what they are. This makes everyone feel secure.”


By Haley M.
Cougar News Blog

     Seventh- and eighth-grade social studies teacher, Sheryl Anderson is back at it again with her signature eBay project.
     The eBay project is a yearlong activity that teaches students, measurement, customer service, profit and loss, and also supply and demand.
     “One day I found a beautiful globe for $15. When we looked it up on the Internet, it cost $1,000 brand new,” says Anderson. “Later, I thought this would be a good way for students to earn money for something fun.”
     Students and Anderson go to Goodwill, a store where shoppers can find used things for half of the normal price, they then buy interesting objects, bring them back to the class and they sell them online for more than what they bought it for at Goodwill.
     “They can bring stuff from their own shopping experiences, they research identical items that have sold, they weigh and measure the item for shipping,” says Anderson. “(They) keep track of profits and costs on a spreadsheet, photograph items for the listing.”
     “What I have taken out of this project so far is how to put stuff onto eBay and checking if the objects are well enough to sell on eBay,” says eighth grade student Corie Haro. “I like to work with people on this project and using the computer to put stuff up and I also like getting things accomplished”
     In addition to academic learning, the eBay project also makes students aware of real-life opportunities they may come across.
     “I want them to be aware of opportunities that may present themselves in places that they don’t expect,” says Anderson. “Also, they could have really cool stuff for a lot less money if they are ready to go on a “hunt.”
     This is not the first year Ms. Anderson has done this project. This time she has improved her skills for selling and technique since last year.
     “We started earlier in the year,” says Anderson “I brought in some stuff for the kids to use as listings right away.”

StuCo Vice President Angel Meeks paints Mario and Peach to decorate the Loving Legends Valentine's dance on Feb. 12.

StuCo Vice President Angel Meeks paints Mario and Peach to decorate the Loving Legends Valentine’s dance on Feb. 12.

By Rose H.
Cougar News Blog

     Love is in the air at Cactus Canyon and with the annual Valentines Day dance approaching, it’s not surprising to see why.
     This year’s Valentines Day dance has a unique theme, “Loving Legends.” The dance will be showcasing this theme through artwork of famous couples throughout history, created by Student Council. Examples of these couples are Romeo and Juliet, Jack Skellington and Sally, Elvis Presley and Priscilla, and so forth.
      “I want everyone to see what my class and I created to make everybody’s night legendary,” said Matt Martinez, Student Council representative.
     Students will be able to expect the usual DJ and MC from previous dances, as well as the same enjoyment and fun atmosphere.
     “We’ll have the same DJ and MC combo that we’ve had at other dances, which everyone seems to really enjoy,” said Jason Davis, Student Council adviser. A new aspect that this dance will be featuring is an optional dress code, which is “Dressy Casual.” This has been highly requested by students for a few years. Students are encouraged to wear nicer clothing, although it is not required and not formal or semi-formal clothing.
      “Students can show up in shorts, flip-flops, and an old Spider-Man tee shirt if they want,” said Mr. Davis. “But, many people choose to dress up for the Valentine’s dance, so this is a good guideline.”
     The dance will be held Thursday, Feb. 12, in the gym and cafeteria. It will be from 5:15 7p.m., however students are urged to purchase tickets before hand to be able to attend 15 minutes early. These will be sold during lunch. Students who are going must also have been in attendance earlier in the day.
     Student Council is very excited for attendees to join them and hope everyone has a grand time.
     “When it comes down to it, what makes a good dance is a cool atmosphere, good music, and a lot of junk food to eat,” said Mr. Davis. “The people that like those things can expect to have a good time.”