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By Damian Lopez
Cougar News Blog

     From chefs and engineers, to neurosurgeons and chiropractors, these are just a few of the jobs students in Tammy Howard’s eighth grade advanced language arts class researched and presented, in an effort to help students get introduced to numerous fields.
     The students in this class were given a week to research their job and develop a presentation based around the field they got. The project helped students learn and develop different types of learning standards, including research, formal writing, and presenting.
     “For my job, I did a computer programmer. A computer programmer is someone who develops and programs the basic building blocks of a computer,” said Nicolas Moorhead, a student who is taking part in the project.
     Howard, a teacher for over 10 years, first started doing the project in 2005 with her seventh grade class. Instead of making web pages and short videos, as students were previously required to do, students created posters with different pieces of information about the career of their choice. Students included the job description, education requirements, average salary, and possible employers.
     “I look forward to seeing their individual creativity as they share what they have learned. Their projects are so enlightening and show their enthusiasm,” said Howard, when asked about what she was most looking forward to about the project.
     Since she has started doing the project, Howard has received numerous messages from former students saying that they are infact pursuing the career from their dream job project. She hopes that students will gain knowledge about themselves as well as their career goals, and possibly even see what other jobs are out there for them.
     “I remember being asked many times, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ I hope they develop a sense of direction as they take a glimpse of what their future could hold,” said Howard.
     Students and parents were invited to view the class’s projects on Nov. 16 in the 500 building.

StuCo joins AAJHSC

Posted: November 23, 2015 in Student Council, Trips


By Jenevieve Saidi
Cougar News Blog

     Cactus Canyon’s StuCo joined AAJHSC. Joining the Arizona Association of Junior High Student Councils will give the group a chance to attend leadership conferences and meet other students in student council.
     CCJH’s StuCo joined AAJHSC to get the opportunity to learn to become better team members and individuals and meet other people in student council around the state. Their first leadership conference was on Nov. 5 and they listened to speakers talk about becoming a better leader and how to learn from their mistakes.
     “There are workshops for advisers, which will allow me to learn from the experiences of other teachers,” said Jason Davis, the StuCo advisor. “The students get to attend workshops that help them with school spirit, leadership, community involvement, and fundraising.”
     Becoming a part of AAJHSC gives students the opportunity to see over 1,000 other kids being a part of student councils. It lets them interact with someone other than one of the 20 people they see every day at Cactus Canyon.
     “From my experience with StuCo joining AAJHSC I learned that there are councils like us around the state, eager to learn and inspire,” said Robynn VandeKrol, a student that attended her first conference on Thursday.
     In this association, Mr. Davis will be able to learn from and get tips from teachers with different experiences.
     “There are workshops for advisers, which will allow me to learn from the experiences of other teachers,” said Davis. “I’ve been the StuCo adviser for six years now and I figure new things out all the time. Having others teach me how to do it better is amazing.”
     Student Council will attend another leadership conference in February at the Talking Stick Arena.

IMG_5662By Jessica M.
Cougar News Blog

     Cactus Canyon Junior High’s softball and baseball teams both won Desert Middle School Athletic League championships this fall; thanks to all their hard work and practice.
     Both teams practiced very hard and the athletes learned many lessons for the game and in life. Playing the sport made the students more confident and taught them that winning requires a lot of serious practice and effort.
     “The girls learned how teamwork is so important in life in general, not just in softball, and that it takes hard work to get where you want to be,” says softball coach Bill Wilson.
     For the Lady Cougars, this is the fourth year in a row they have been victorious. The girls learned a lot from their experience and practiced very hard for another win this year.
     Eighth grader Lauren Powell says, “A lot of preparations went into winning the championships and going with an undefeated season such as always hustling while at practice and being serious during practice.”
     The teams will continue to be confident in what they do, while putting a lot of hard work into everything. They also gained discipline, a good work ethic, and realized how important their hard work can be. The students have impressed their coaches with their preparations, effort, and dedication.
     “Boys worked hard and I can’t wait to see them on my high school team,” said baseball coach Ramon Figueroa.
     The softball team hopes to keep their streak of wins going and their coach has confidence in the team, for next year.
     “We should be very good, next year and win it all again,” says Coach Wilson.

By Stella DeVargas
Cougar News Blog

     Cactus Canyon has started a new chapter in education by adding a reteach class for language arts.
     Reteach, which is part of the Beyond Textbooks program, is when students have the opportunity to improve their skills and get extra help with time to be successful with mastering objectives. CCJH has had a similar program for math since the 2014-15 school year.
     Students have many different learning curves, meaning teaching in a larger group is not always effective for everyone. Reteach classes help by incorporating different strategies and styles of teaching to include different types of learners. These classes are for students to develop deeper understanding in reading comprehension.
     “When data showed that there were many students not meeting standards on formatives who could use the extra time, we knew it was the right thing to do,” Meaghan Davis, the dean of students.
     The effort of language arts teachers and Title 1 support teams helped put the classes together. Objectives are chosen based on data from benchmarks and formative assessments. Every two weeks objectives may change. Seventh and eighth graders work on individual topics to benefit the grade level, so they won’t always have the same objective.
     “It takes a lot of work behind the scenes by many people,” said Mrs. Davis.
A big purpose of reteach classes is using different techniques to reach students with different teaching styles. Teachers incorporate new strategies to engage students and present information in different types so learners can learn the material in more than one way.
     “The class helped me by showing me what I missed on the test and the work sheets helped me develop what I need to know,” says seventh grader Trinity Hakenewerth.
     Reteach classes impact students by developing reading comprehension that will benefit them throughout the rest of their educational lives. To make sure this is working, staff routinely goes to professional development to create stronger teachers.
     “We are always looking for ways to improve. If we find we need to make a change we adjust accordingly,” says Mrs. Davis.

By Jaden Erschen
Cougar News Blog

     Boys soccer is underway for the 2015 season and the team is looking to make it to the championship for the second year in a row. Student athletes have been working hard this season and are ready to go out and bring another trophy to CCJH.
     Despite only having two wins in five games, many coaches and student athletes have been looking forward to being able to improve the second half of the season. Players said they have been putting in extra time to practice and prepare for the final few games.
     “I have been practicing as much as I can on my own time and at lunch,” said eighth grader James Chavez.
     Even with the team starting off not as successful as they hoped, the Cougars have the mentality to be champions. They all hope to compete well enough to enter the postseason and hopefully come out on top in the end. Coach Wayne Pirmann said he wants all players to devote themselves to playing the game. Doing so will really help all student athletes play better, if they have a passion they will pursue it and do whatever it takes to succeed.
     “I would like all players to fall in love with the game and develop a passion for playing it as well as possible,” said Coach Pirmann. “We all want to compete well enough to get into the postseason tournament. Once we get into the tournament, we would like to come in first place.”
     There are many experienced players on the team this year and many new players as well but that doesn’t stop anyone from being enthusiastic or being excited to play. Everyone on the team wants to get better and feel that with every practice they become one step closer to reaching the top.
     “Enthusiasm to play, enthusiasm to get better, some experienced players are our strengths this season,” said Pirmann.
     The 2-1-2 Cougars next play Mountain Vista at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, at Davis Field in search of their third win of the 2015 season.
     “We can do anything if we try hard enough,” said Chavez.

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Gallery  —  Posted: November 18, 2015 in Photos of the week, Yearbook

By Skylar Sosa
Cougar News Blog

     Dodgeballs, colored paper, whiteboard markers and more; these are all things different teachers are constantly needing in classrooms. To fix this problem, the PTO is going to be having different fundraisers throughout the school year. The most recent fundraiser being a clothing drive.
     PTO is a parent-teacher organization to help the school in all areas. Last year, SMART projectors were bought for classrooms from fundraising and they want to accomplish a goal such as this once again.
     “We want to see if there is anything teachers need extra in their classes to make their job easier,” Mrs. Henry, a member of the PTO, said.
     The clothing drive drop off took place at the Halloween dance, and according to teachers, was very successful. Due to this, PTO plans to have another clothing drive in the spring.
     “We chose the Halloween dance for the pick up day thinking when parents dropped off their students, they could also drop off clothes or other items,” said Henry.
     The drive was helped by Clothing Cycle, a company that collects donations and pays the school according to the number of pounds received. It then sells the clothes in secondhand shops.
     Not only is the fundraising for teachers, but it overall is for students. Without the fundraising last year, most of the SMART projectors at CCJH wouldn’t be there. PTO wants students to recognize that without events like the clothing drive, there wouldn’t be what there is today.
     “I want to see people in nice clothing,” said Nikki Hall, member of Student Council. “I think school programs like this helps make this happen.”
     The most recent PTO meeting took place on Nov. 9 and they are constantly looking for new member to be apart of the team.
     “We are looking for more members so would like any other parents to feel welcome to join,” Henry said.

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The best of the best from the Yearbook class’ assignment to use the framing element.

Mr. Davis’ Note: CCJH J2 students are again participating in the Edublogs Challenge. The Week 4 activity was about Halloween and how it is celebrated. This post contains a sampling from students in the class.

By Damian L.

     The best Halloween experience I’ve ever had was when I was in third grade and I went with a big group of friends. I dressed up as Spider-Man, and the others dressed up as different things. Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, vampires, you name it, someone one in the group was that. We went around our neighborhood, and a few others that were close.
     It was a fun night, that was until we got lost about a mile away from our homes in a maze of streets. We weren’t even supposed to leave a three block radius of our cul-de-sac, so we all called our parents, but there were so many people we couldn’t even see the street signs. After a while we started to backtrack, getting even more disoriented. Finally one of us came up with the idea to ask someone where we were. I saw a house with the lights off and thought they’d probably help if we told them we were lost, so we went over and knocked on the door.
     The man that answered the door was kind of moody as if he didn’t like the sight of a group of 10-year-old bothering him. Once we told him what we were going through he said he was glad to help. He asked for one of our parent’s phone numbers and I gave him our house phone’s number. He laughed and told my dad his address so that he could come and pick us up. When my dad got there we all piled into the truck, almost instantly my dad started to scold me for leaving and going too far away from the house. Later that night when I was getting ready for bed my parents told me I was grounded.
     Yeah, I got grounded, but it had been a crazy adventure that night, and it was also probably the most memorable halloween of my life.

By Jenevieve S.

     This year on Halloween I didn’t dress up as anything, this was also the first year that I didn’t go trick or treating. Instead my cousin and I drove around and went to book stores and haunted houses. We went to the mall for about five minutes to go into Spencer’s so my cousin could buy jewelry. When we got back to my house we were hungry so we went to Taco Bell, Walmart so we could get chocolate and pretzels, and the dollar store.
     My cousin made chocolate covered pretzels when we got home and we watched scary movies on Netflix for a few hours until we went to sleep. For some reason I also remember my cousin’s stomach growling before we went to sleep and she said it sounded like Mt. Everest. When we woke up in the morning I asked her what she meant and she told me she couldn’t remember the word ‘avalanche’ so she said that instead.
     Every year leading up to this one I would go out with a friend and we would trick or treat for a few hours, then I would go home and trade candy with my brother. My favorite costumes of mine were Alice from Alice In Wonderland when I was 9. My favorite candy on Halloween is candy corn and since we didn’t go trick or treating this year my cousin and I went to the store and bought the candy we could have gotten.

By Natalie D.

     On Halloween, I don’t dress up. I don’t like to, even though my mom and brother tease me about it. We stopped trick or treating last year and I only went with family. We would trick or treat in a neighborhood by us, and it was fun.
     A lot of years have been memorable, but last year gets the prize for most memorable. My mom and brother forced me to go out and then complained when I refused to wear a costume. I just wanted to get candy, but they said they wouldn’t let me if I didn’t at least wear something. So I grabbed a broom and we set out.
     As we walked people kept asking me what I was and I never knew what to say. Some people would give me ideas like witch or janitor. After a while, the best idea popped into my head. I was a ninja witch warrior, who was also a part-time janitor. When I would tell people this, they would laugh really hard and it never failed to make me smile. It still makes me smile and my mom still makes fun of me for it. My ninja witch warrior, who is also a part-time janitor costume is the best costume I had ever “worn,” and all it was was a broom.
     The only reason I trick or treated was for the treats. My favorite candy is probably Twix, but a close second is Tootsie Pops. My brother gave up the whole trick or treating thing as well, so my mom just gets us a bag of candy the day after Halloween and we have to share it.

Choir students sing at Chase Field

Posted: November 10, 2015 in Choir, Electives

By Natalie Delintt
Cougar News Blog

     Choir students at Cactus Canyon went to Chase Field in Phoenix to sing the national anthem for the Arizona Diamondbacks game on Sept. 12.
     Andie Chung, the choir teacher at CCJH, expected her students to learn the Star Spangled Banner in different parts and sing with people they never met before.
     “It was a big group of choral people from all over Arizona, so singing with new people was a challenge but it was a good experience for us,” said Chung.
     It took a week to practice the anthem before the choir students sang it to a stadium full of people with another group of strangers at their sides. Despite this, students and Chung alike are adamant they did a great job.
     “They did really good, they were on time, even though it was warm day, and they focused on the conductor, who was from University of Arizona,” stated Chung.
     Students also had to learn to sing into a microphone because of sound delay in the huge stadium. So, they focused on the conductor instead of the music and poured their hearts into the anthem.
     “It was nerve wracking but I knew if I messed up no one would be able to hear me because everyone else’s voices would drown me out,” said eighth grader Lexi Demery.
     After they sang, the students got to watch the D-Backs game and enjoy their glory while also learning new things about the stadium.
     “I learned that they have a sunroof,” laughed Demery.