By Kenzie Surratt
Cougar News Blog

     CCJH introduced a new study skills this quarter, Greek mythology, with eighth-grade science teacher Regan Roach. Students in her class focus on major Greek gods and the stories behind them.
     The purpose of the class is to learn about major players in Greek mythology, such as Zeus and Poseidon. Students watched two movies near the beginning of the quarter, Clash of the Titans and its sequel Wrath of the Titans. They are also in the midst of reading The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. Mrs. Roach helps the students learn about the conflicts and resolutions in the fantasies.
     “I would expect that the students either learn more about Greek mythology or that they will learn how to help others,” said Mrs. Roach
     Many students in the class had prior knowledge in Greek mythology, or knew the basics of it. There were also some students who had studied the characters and their adventures on their own, while there’s also classmates where this is their first lessons on the topic.
     “I knew that Zeus was the main god and that there are a lot of gods,” said student Carole Altherr. “I (have) learned a lot more about the family of Zeus.”
     Mrs. Roach got the idea for the enrichment elective from a language arts teacher. Students primarily chose the class because they were interested in the subject.
     “I chose this topic because it was something that I knew very little about and felt that it would be an awesome way for us to learn together,” said Roach.

By Pauline Harner
Cougar News Blog

     Next year’s Cactus Canyon yearbook editors will be going to Scottsdale, Arizona on June 1 and June 2 to visit the Lifetouch Yearbook Workshop.
     With the difficult job being placed in front of the students, this will give them a head start to just jump right in and start helping other students.
     “The workshop is an opportunity for the students who will be next year’s editors to learn more about making a yearbook and being a leader in the classroom,” said yearbook adviser, Jason Davis.
     Last year’s yearbook editors also went on this trip, tell me what they did.
     “I had a great experience and I left with many new ideas including cutouts, gatefolds, and many more,” said eighth-grader Cameron Krueger.
     This year the yearbook editors and advisers will be going to the Lifetouch workshop so they can get a jumpstart on the 2015-2016 yearbook. They hope to be designing the theme, design a cover, and figure out the overall style and layout of the book. They also finished the ladder of the yearbook, which is the outline of the pages that tells staff members what content goes on what page.
     “Basically we hope to accomplish everything we can to make the overall experience of creating the book less stressful and more enjoyable for others during the school year,” said seventh-grader Rosellen Hansing.
     Each year the yearbook staff tries to add something new and original to the book to capture what happens at Cactus Canyon in a creative way.hopes they will be able to learn something new to make the book special to students and yearbook members.
     “Last year, we got to collaborate with students and advisers from other schools,” he said. “It’s always helpful to see what other people are doing because if you like it, you can steal it.”

By Alaya Walton
Cougar News Blog

     There is an additional dimension beyond what is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as infinite as time. It lies between the boundaries of literature and comprehension, and plays as the summit of proper knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area called the Book Fair Zone.
     The second book fair of the year was held in the library May 4-8 and would not had been possible without proper materials and preparation. Many of Cactus Canyon’s students and staff had been working hard to make the book fair as great as it could be.
     “There are many little steps that are taken up to the time of the book fair, and Scholastic does an excellent job of outlining all the things that need to be accomplished in materials they provide,” says Jennifer Cameron, CCJH’s librarian.
     Cactus Canyon’s student council had also been a big part of the preparation for the book fair.
     “We make decorations for the book fair,” says Vice President Angel Meeks. “When she has a theme, we create decorations that correspond to the theme.”
     “After the decorations were made, we all at once went in the library to put them up,” says representative Marissa Gregory. “We also put the books on the bookshelf and set up the stands.”
     In addition to the focus on setting up, the book fair preparation seemed to be educational for many of StuCO.
     “It was a lot of collaborating with people,” said Meeks. “It’s nice helping out the librarian because she does a lot of work as it is.”
     “We mostly learned responsibility because if we were to not do it, the book fair wouldn’t be properly prepared,” said Gregory. “We also learned organization when we were responsible for everything being in its place.”

By Pauline Harner
Cougar News Blog

     Eighth-graders at Cactus Canyon will be having a promotional dance on Friday, May 15. It will be from 7-9 p.m. at the Multi-Generational Center. The purpose of this dance is to show recognition to students for their achievement.
     The PTO believes in all of the eighth-graders, and all of their successes. They also believe that all of their hard work should be rewarded.
     “I hope that students will therefore bring this concept into the future with them,” said PTO president, Dena Kimble. “Working hard pays off and does not go unnoticed.”
     This is a “formal” dance, meaning girls should wear a dress and boys should wear slacks and a nice shirt. It’s prom. No ripped jeans or jean shorts, but girls can wear dressy shorts.
     “I think that it’s more formal than the other usual dances the school has had,” said eighth-grader Stephany Gomez.
     PTO has been planning this celebration for a couple of months. There will be food, drinks, cupcakes, a DJ, and decorations. Tickets will be available the night of the dance as well as up in the office with Ms. Jodi for $10.
     PTO hopes students will purchase tickets by Wednesday because it would really help have a head count for food purchase.
     “I expect to see people having a good time and dancing,” said eighth-grader Ravyn Fairchild. “I don’t think there will be anything different about the dance.”
     This event is not a fundraiser and should be cost-neutral, meaning the PTO won’t be making any money nor losing any money.

By Wyatt Hutchinson
Cougar News Blog

     The Apache Junction Unified School District wanted to change by making schools adopt a four-day school week because they are trying to help keep the quality teachers that they have.
     Whilst competing with Mesa and other school districts, the decision was made to help AJUSD compete with neighboring schools by changing up the usual week by cutting out Fridays from every school week.
     The district needed to cut about $3 million dollars from the budget, which was largely accomplished by closing Superstition Mountain Elementary School.
     The goal of the four-day week is to save money for the school district while keeping all sports and extra activities, and retain and attract the quality teachers that it has and needs. Research shows that a four-day week does not affect student achievement in the classroom.
     “The district has been researching the four-day school week for awhile. The district has looked into other school districts that have gone to the four-day school week and looked at the pros and cons to it,” said Principal Courtney Castelhano.
     The four-day school week was going to cut class time for the students, but AJUSD has already developed a solution to that problem by adding 43 minutes to the usual school day.
     “The time budget affects the school schedule and class time by attracting students to my school and retaining quality teachers that I already have,” said Mrs.Castelhano.
     Since Apache Junction cannot compete with other school districts money wise, cutting Fridays will cut down gas costs for buses, cut electricity costs, and it will also cut costs that are spent on food for students.
     “The goal is to save money through transportation costs and utilities reductions, also the four-day school week could provide a benefit for school employees which may attract and retain quality teachers to work with our students,” said Castelhano.

By Skylar Sosa
Cougar News Blog

Cactus Canyon eighth graders are blasting off with a new project creating rockets to demonstrate Newton’s Laws of Motion.
     Science teachers Ms. Wyatt and Mrs. Roach wanted to plan an informative, but fun way to teach their students about Newton’s Laws of Motion. With the end of the school year approaching, the teachers wanted to assign a casual, relaxed project that would make the end of the school year enjoyable, but still something students could gain information and knowledge from.
     “Rockets are a great way to test your engineering skills and the ability to work with a person to design something great,” said Joe Pomeroy, one of the eighth grade students.
     The project is assigned in all classes and students will be working on it for the remainder of the school year. Wyatt and Roach have assigned this assignment in the past, which have all been successful and they are expecting this one to be just as helpful.
     “Because of my past experiences with rockets, I think students will be excited to build and launch their rockets,” said Mrs. Roach, an eighth grade science teacher.
     Students will be working in groups and will be building the rockets out of paper and tubes. The goal of the assignments is to show how sections of the rocket can be affected by external forces and how the laws can be applied and showcased on the object. The rockets purpose is to display how basic items can be changed or impacted by Newton’s laws. Essentially, the rocket is just a device that the teachers are using to interest students in the subject but is still allowing students to learn in an exciting, creative way.
     “The rockets are fun but sort of frustrating because the supplies aren’t cooperating. It really does teach us to have patience though,” said Danessa Shaw, a student working with the rockets.
Teachers are expecting the overall project to be a useful tool and something that students can obtain a better overall understanding of the laws and something that will make the end of the year an entertaining and pleasurable experience.

PTO to host year’s final events

Posted: May 7, 2015 in PTO

By Jessie J.
Cougar News Blog

     Cactus Canyon’s PTO is holding an end-of-the-year dance from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, May 7, to celebrate the end of the school year.
     Tickets will be $6, but the dance is not a major fundraiser for the group.
     “PTO believes in celebrating a successful year and likes to do something special and fun for our students,” said president Dena Kimble. “We don’t expect to raise a lot of money, the event is all about the kids.”
     PTO is going to be selling all sorts of things from food to games, pizza, drinks, glow items, and is going to have glow face painting and games.
     “Our theme is (a) black light dance, so we will have black lights and glow-in-the-dark neon things,” said Kimble.
     Since this is the last dance at CCJH for eighth graders, it is bittersweet for some students.
     PTO also plans on having a promotion celebration event next week.
     “PTO will be having a special eighth-grade promotion dance from 6-9 p.m. Friday, May 15, at the Multi-Generational Center. It will be formal,” says Kimble.

By Riley Duncan

     Scholarships have given so many young adults the chance that their parents were never able to provide for them. Central Arizona College loves giving young adults that chance, which is why they are offering all 2015 spell graders a two year tuition free ride to CAC.
     CAC has been offering this to CCJH spell out graders for 15 years now, and hundreds of students have taken advantage of this opinion offer.
     There are prerequisites, though. For example, the student must live in Pinal County, graduate from a high school in Pinal County, maintain at least a 2.75 grade point average, and  have at least 20 hours of community service over the four years of high school.
     “The point is to help students who might otherwise be unable to afford college get a head start on a degree program,” said Assistant Principal Joyce Gingrich.
     Some students haven’t decided on what they would like to major in at a four-year university. Two years at CAC will give students general classes that most universities will require and will also give them an associate’s degree. An associate degree can help students find employment and with college acceptance.
     “It provides two years of tuition-free college.  For students who are still deciding on a major, this allows them to take basic courses required at most colleges and universities at no cost.  In turn, they can leave CAC with an associates degree,” said Gingrich.
     This will mainly help students who have parents who can’t afford to send them to all four years of a university. About 100 of Apache Junction High School’s seniors are taking advantage of this opportunity, which is about one-third of AJ’s seniors.
     “We don’t have a lot of money, and it will help my dad pay for only the last two years of college instead of all fours years,” said eighth grader Jordan Pacheco.

By Harrison Talbott
Cougar News Blog

     The Raging Readers Book Club is on its way to a science adventure on May 1. The club will be holding a field trip for its members that will take them to Phoenix.
     Book Club advisers Sheryl Anderson and Lisa Smith want to show their students how important science is in their lives. Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Anderson decided that the Arizona Science Center would be the best place to take them.
     “This field trip is to provide a rich learning experience, support science standards, and create excitement for learning science through the hands-on exhibits and activities provided by the science center,” said Mrs. Smith.
     The science center trip will be free to attend for book club members who have completed reading “I, Q Independence Hall” by Roland Smith. Members are also required to participate in Book Club fundraisers in order to attend the trip.
     “All the money comes from the literacy fair held and the generous money from our leaders,” said Book Club member Nathaniel Candelas.
     The field trip has been planned since the beginning of the 2015. There have been several Book Club trips that have occurred throughout the year. The group has gone to the Renaissance Festival.
     “I have been looking forward to this trip since I found out about it at the beginning of the year,” said Candelas.
     The Book Club students will be representing CCJH at the science center and are expected to be on their best behavior.
     “I hope the students reading the novel and going to the science center will see that science is a very important part of our everyday lives, even when we don’t always realize it,” said Mrs. Anderson.


By Jessica Conrad
Cougar News Blog

     Cactus Canyon’s Journalism II class recently won Best Group Blog in the Edublog Awards. This is the Cougar News Blog’s second year of winning an Edublog award.
     The award was announced on the Edublog Awards website in December. The blog was one of the 24 finalists and one of the hundreds of contestants who were nominated.
     Instructor Jason Davis strongly believes that his class earned the award. The Journalism II students have been working hard at gathering facts, doing interviews, and writing the best stories they could write.
     “Our staff has most definitely earned the awards. In four years, we’ve written over 400 stories and the overwhelming majority are better than what would typically be expected from junior high writers,” explains Davis. “We take pride in doing good work and I think it’s nice that the work is recognized.”
     The blog has won one additional Edublog award last school year. It was for being the Best Class Blog. The J2 class was also a runner-up for Best Group Blog. According to Davis, the blog was nominated by several people.
     “It feels great to win two school years in row. It’s always an achievement to win something that you work really hard on,” said eighth grader, Alaya Walton.
     Davis said by winning the awards it builds a culture of high expectations. Many students have been in his Journalism classes since the start of their seventh grade year. These students take a leadership role in the class and try to train the newer students. They try to build the program and do as well, or better than the groups before, all according to Davis.
     “I think knowing that we have been recognized for our work helps build a culture of excellence and positivity. Students come into to J2 and they know that I not only expect good work, I’m used to getting it,” explains Davis. “Students that have been around for a while take on a leadership role and train the next group. It’s pretty cool.”
     All because of their hard work, Davis and his students believe that they will continually be recognized for their work. The blog, as well as Davis and his students, have been mentioned on several education-related blogs because of the work they do.
     “I think if we continue to produce high-quality writing and telling interesting stories, we will continue to be recognized for our work,” said Davis.