By Elisabeth H.
Cougar News Blog

     Cactus Canyon Junior High School is doing a thing called reteach to help students get the extra help they need in a certain subject.
Students take a test after an objective has been taught and those who need more time to master the standard get it during their Study Skills time. Reteach has helped many students master objectives they might not have learned before.
     “I want my students to have a better grasp of the math concepts that they didn’t score as well on the first time,” said math teacher Marla Aehlert.  “I hope that they will see reteach as a valuable tool to help them accomplish them.”
     In all there are seven teachers doing reteach, four teachers in eighth grade and three teachers  in seventh grade.  The students are able to see alternative ways to learn the material in a smaller less distracting setting.
     “They are able to focus more and receive the assistance they need to earn better grades,” said eighth-grade math teacher Jeremy Seaman.
There have been some adjustments to reteach since it’s a new program, but overall it’s been successful in getting students extra help. For example, students who don’t need reteach take classes like cooking, CSI, or modern warfare.
     “I also like the fact that students who do not need reteach are allowed to sign up for interesting enrichment classes with the other teachers,” said Mrs. Aehlert.  “It’s not just boring study hall. I wish it would have been like that when I was in junior high a long time ago.”
The math teachers have a shared document that has all of the students’ scores for the whole grade level.
     “We filter out students who earned a score of four or five, and the remaining students will need reteach,” said Mrs. Aehlert.
Some teachers teach different in reteach than in different classes to help them understand the material better.
     “Sometimes we do,” Mr. Seaman said. “We expose the students to alternative ways to think about or solve the problems.”
     Students have found reteach helpful for learning better.
     “I am grateful for reteach because it has really helped me improve on my math a lot,” said eighth grader Angel Meeks.

Student Council is selling tickets to the Halloween dance during lunch.

Student Council is selling tickets to the Halloween dance during lunch.

By Michele D.
Cougar News Blog

     The Zombie Prom or Prombies dance is coming up on Thursday, Oct. 30, and some things have changed. There are higher price and different ways of getting in.
     The price for entering the dance has been raised from $5 to $6.50 due to the higher prices of the MC and the DJ.
     “Our dances have been $5 for almost five years and, due to rising costs, we are no longer able to raise the fund we used to,” said Student Council adviser Jason Davis. “We had a different DJ at the first dance than we’ve had before and our package includes an MC, who stays on the floor and encourages participation among the students. We got a lot of positive feedback about that, but it does cost us more money.”
     Student Council is also doing something different by selling tickets instead of paying at the door for admission. The tickets will be sold outside of the cafeteria every day until the dance and when students buy the ticket they will their name and ticket number recorded so it can be check at the door on the day of the dance.
     While costumes – especially zombies – are encouraged, there are some rules. There are no masks or weapons allowed to be included in the costume.
     Student Council members hope the people understand the price increase.
     “I think that the raising of the price was a good idea because we are spending a little bit more for the MC and DJ,” said eighth grade representative Mystique Frierson. “I think the selling of tickets will help, since its something that we don’t normally do.”
     The dance will be from 5:15 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 30 in the CCJH gym and cafeteria.

PTO to hold clothing drive

Posted: October 17, 2014 in Fundraisers, PTO, Technology
By Hannah Wolfe
Cougar News Blog
     Cactus Canyon Junior High’s Parent Teacher Organization is holding a clothing drive fundraiser on Oct. 25 to help purchase new learning equipment for classrooms.
     A company called the Clothing Cycle will weigh and pick up clothes that have been donated. They accept used clothing, backpacks, fabric, bedding, hats, curtains, stuffed animals, belts, towels, etc. They pay 15 cents per pound.
     Dena Kimble, the president of the PTO, decided to do this type of fundraiser for two particular reasons. Number one, there’s no cost to the parents or the PTO, and the PTO is paid for every pound collected. Number two, it’s a green fundraiser, which makes it good for the environment.
     Items that cannot be reused will be recycled, like the rubber on the bottom of shoes.
     The money raised will go to the school for technology to help students in the classroom.
     “The money raised will go towards purchasing Interactive Smart Projectors for classrooms to improve classroom learning, instruction and participation,” said Kimble.
Anyone who brings in over 50 pounds of clothing gets a chance at having a pizza party with some Arizona Cardinals football players, and whoever brings in the most pounds of clothing gets a cash prize.
     Donations will be accepted from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 25, in the CCJH parking lot.

The staff of the Cougar News Blog is participating in this year’s Blog Action Day. Each year, bloggers from around the world post about issues like the environment, poverty, and climate change. This year’s issue is inequality. Following a class discussion about ways people receive unequal treatment, students chose a topic to write about from their own personal knowledge and experience. Students were given almost no direction for this assignment, so what you read is entirely the ideas from the minds of 13- or 14-year-old eighth graders. For more information, visit

Racial Inequality

By Abriann Rios Pineda

     Racism has been around for a really long time. Even after the Jim Crow Law was passed. Jim Crow Laws are racial segregation laws made in 1876. That only stopped African-Americans from having to be separated from white people, and hate crimes from being committed. People mostly think of white people and African-Americans when they hear the word racism or racist, or when they are having a conversation about it. It also involves Chinese and Japanese in other parts, all over the world.
     Racism still is around. I think it exist more at schools. Students in class get made fun of because of what color they are or what their race is. It also happens on the bus and at after school events. Aside from it happening at school between students, it happens at restaurants where the waiters and waitresses don’t want to serve a person because of their race. It also happens at libraries, stores, and attraction sites.
     Some people say “not to be racist or anything, but…” and then they will say something to that person that makes him/her feel uncomfortable. Maybe that person feels like they were being racist to him/her. The situation could be as simple as that, or another example that’s even more simple is a family is being stared at with an unpleasant look from a family that is a different race dressed more different and look different.
     I’ve been in this situation before and I’ve seen others in this situation. I feel that for someone to act like that with another human being is very hateful because they are a person too. It makes me think what if you were that person being made fun of or looked at in a way you don’t want to be looked at. I would feel really uncomfortable, and that’s why I don’t like racism or could ever act like that.

Age, Race, and Gender

By Aysaiah A.

     Everybody is the same whether you are a different race, gender, age. It does not matter because we are all human beings, but most people around the world don’t notice that. Some people don’t know that we are all the same as them.
     Racism is one of the most biggest factors of inequality. People around the world still are against another race. From the 1700’s to the 1960’s people were racist against African Americans. They thought that they were aliens, that they were not human but they are. Racism is not illegal but it should be.
     Age is not really a big factor in inequality, but it still counts. An older person (per say an employee) could be treating a younger employee less favorably because of his age. This happens all the time. Young people treat older people less favorably because of their age. Young people (per say a teenager) can act like a complete jerk to older people. They could say “Oh, they are too old to even hear what we are saying” or things even worse.
     Gender is another factor of inequality. People of different genders are being discriminated against also. An example would be a man wanted to buy a car for $30,000. Then a woman wants to buy one but the car dealer raises the price just because she is a girl. Women are mostly being discriminated against in Iran. Women are not allowed to show skin or else they with get beaten by their boyfriend or husband. Women are humans too. This should not happen but it does.

Read the rest of this entry »

By Michele D.
Cougar News Blog

Cactus Canyon is changing the way it raises money due to the new Smart Snacks law. This new law is intended to help students be healthier, but it will mean some changes for CCJH clubs. It took effect in July 2014 and is affecting schools all over America. Smart Snacks has been helping students make healthier choices for their school food, but it is changing things for the library, Student Council, and other organizations that raise money for Cactus Canyon.
This new law has been a big difference because those groups sold some snacks that weren’t meeting the standards of Smart Snacks, but the money from those snacks was used to help them stay on their feet financially.
“For Student Council, we are losing a lot of money,” said StuCo adviser Jason Davis. “We were always able to sell the snacks we had left over from dances after school and we made several hundred dollars that way over the course of the year.”
Under the law, snacks sold at school have to be 200 calories or less, while a la carte lunch item must be 350 calories or less and contain 35 percent sugar or less. There are also rules for saturated fat and sodium.
The drinks are limited to plain water, lowfat or nonfat milk or natural milk alternatives, and some fruit and vegetable juices.
The Smart Snacks rule doesn’t apply to foods or beverages from home, birthday parties, off-campus fundraisers, athletic events, school plays, or items sold after school hours (30 minutes after school).
Some students may be affected depending on if what they purchase at school. The new law is designed to help students with making smarter choices while being more active and energetic. However, not all students like it.
“Personally, I dislike the new rule. It may be healthier, but not all that tasty,” said Kylie Cann.
Student Council and Jennifer Cameron, the CCJH librarian, are searching for new ways to raise funds.
“I’m in Student Council, and it makes it a lot harder to raise money without junk food,” said eighth grader Erik Lundquest.
“In the past some snacks were sold as a fundraiser to purchase books for the library,” said Mrs. Cameron. “So far the additional snack that I have are Cranberry Almond Thins.”

By Sami Groneberg
Cougar News Blog

     Best Buddies and Leo Club are two of the many clubs at CCJH. Both are starting on their second year and looking to make to try new things.
Desirae Davis is the teacher who started the program Best Buddies at CCJH. The program helps students that sign up get to know other students and talk with them and to learn how to become a friend.
     There is also the Leo Club that is run by James Gibson. Leo Club is for a group or students that like to serve the community by volunteering.
     “Leadership and service to others, these are really important traits that help people with all aspects of life,” said Mr. Gibson. “It is also very fulfilling to other who are in need.”
     Leo Club plans to take a trip to help clean a summer camp for kids with disabilities. They will be going on an overnight outing and it will be lots of sweat and hard work, but very rewarding for the students.
     On Nov. 29 Best Buddies will be participating in the Buddy Prom. Buddy Prom is through Best Buddies Arizona for all chapters in the state.They also will be participating at the Friendship Walk and raise money to support Best Buddies.
     Best Buddies meetings and events are bi-monthly. Students in the club sometimes will go to lunch with their buddy, see them between classes, or before school. They also see them at their events. The last party they had was carnival themed. Buddies could get glitter tattoos, do art projects, and different activities.
     Mr. Gibson was approached by the Gold Canyon Lions Club about starting a Leo Club which is for a group of junior high or high school students. He started to the club at CCJH last year and this will be the second year of Leo Club. This year some things are going to be different.
     “I am really allowing the students to run and organize the club,” said Mr. Gibson.
     Best buddies helps students with intellectual developmental disabilities to have students without disabilities come in and hangout with them sometime during the day.

By Theresa VanPelt
Cougar News Blog

Mrs. Howard’s advanced class worked for about a week on a project about what they wanted to become as an adult, then presented their project to the public on the night of September 16.
This project, the Dream Job project, allowed students to research what they want to be when they get older. This included all the pros, cons, pay rate, hours, and many other details about the job, and to see why they they want it and if they still do after finding all this information. After they completed this, they made a poster board from the information they gathered.
“It was fun to figure out all of the different things we could be and also to see what our classmates would want to be,” said eighth grader Marissa Gregory.
The project has not had many changes over the almost 10 years that teacher Tammy Howard has been doing it. This year the only changes that were made from last year was the time of year it was done and the addition of figurative language. This addition improved the quality and creativity of the projects.
“I did make a change this year that I will incorporate again next year,” said Ms. Howard. “I will continue to include the figurative language piece.”
This taught the students how to research and organize the information that they later put on their poster boards. They also won extra credit for being voted for in the categories of most creative, which went to Hermance Luff and Erik Lunquest. Luff’s presentation was also named most original, most organized, and best overall. Most informative went to Bryce Maloney and best figurative language went to Lucia Kimble.
“My favorite part of the project was all of the project,” said Luff. “But I really liked seeing all my classmates posters and seeing what they came up with, and the winning part too.”

Anthony Easterday shows off a fruit pizza he made during a CCJH cooking class. (Photo by Kaileah Goucher)

Anthony Easterday shows off a fruit pizza he made during a CCJH cooking class. (Photo by Kaileah Goucher)

By Jessica Conrad
Cougar News Blog

Cactus Canyon is cooking up some enrichment activities for eighth graders. The new program is giving students an opportunity to learn forensics with CSI and even cook some healthy snacks while learning about nutrition in the body.
The 30-minute enrichment class is a part of the Beyond Textbooks program and happens during the students’ Study Skills time. The time gives students a chance to do more productive, yet educational activities. The enrichment includes a creative writing class, a World War II class, and a class that teaches about life as a pirate.
Some classes have been doubled due to a lot of students wanting to join the activities. For example, eighth-grade science teachers Regan Roach and Candice Wyatt will both be teaching CSI classes, with each having about 40 students in class.
In the CSI enrichment, students will be learning what forensic science is, doing a fingerprint, handwriting, and blood spatter analysis. They will also be doing a crime-scene clean-up.
“I want my students to learn to love learning,” said eighth-grade science teacher Regan Roach. “By offering different types of lessons, I am hoping that students will be more engaged in the lessons.”
Another class that is offered is a cooking class taught by Lisa Smith. This class has about 40 students also. In the cooking enrichment, students will be learning about calories, the new food pyramid called My Plate, and how to read nutrition labels. Every Friday they will be having a cooking day and will make different types of recipes like fruit pizza, grilled cheese, and a red, white, and blue trifle dessert. Two of the recipes they are preparing require no baking and the third they will be using waffle irons to grill bread.
“I expect my students to be able to increase their knowledge of food and cooking techniques,” said Mrs. Smith. “I love to watch cooking shows and try new recipes all the time. I wanted to share this passion with the students.”
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.


Three cool places to visit in Phoenix

By Hannah Wolfe

     There is a huge amount of places to visit in Phoenix, AZ. But, there aren’t as many places you can visit year round. For example, Chase Field, the Diamondbacks baseball stadium is a very cool, fun place to visit is Phoenix. However, it’s only open during baseball season.
     Three places I would highly recommend would be the Phoenix Zoo, the Arizona Science Center, and last but not least the Hall of Fame Museum of Firefighting. I recommend the Phoenix Zoo because it’s a place full of fun, animals, and other wildlife. It’s great atmosphere allows all kinds of people to feel welcome. It has lots of areas where you can buy drinks and snacks. There are a couple cafe’s scattered around the zoo too.
     I would also recommend the Arizona Science Center. It’s an inspiring 4-story building filled with lots of science exhibits. There are 350 exhibits that are hands on. Workers at the Arizona Science Center teach and entertain visitors about science. There are lots of educational activities and science programs including, summer science camp, Adult’s Night Out, thematic events, Stroller Science pre-school programs, and the Science on Wheels outreach program.
     In addition, I would also suggest the Hall of Fame Museum of Firefighting. This the biggest firefighting museum chronicles in the history of the profession and commemorates fallen firefighters. There are five exhibit bays and the National Firefighting Hall of Heroes gallery.
     There are so many other exciting places to visit in Phoenix, Arizona. But these are only three of many that I would recommend.


Three cool places to visit in Phoenix

By Abriann Rios Pineda

     If anyone were to go to the capital of my state, which is Phoenix, Arizona, 3 places I would recommend going to is Castles-n-Coasters, the Phoenix zoo, and the Arizona Science Center. I have been to all these places and I think they are really fun to go to.
     Castles-n-Coasters is an amusement park. I recommend going here because they have really fun arcade games. There are over 250 arcade games. You can also ride go-carts, my favorite part of going there. The roller coasters are so much fun too! I’m not really a person who likes golf, but I had fun playing mini-golf there.
     I would also recommend going to the Phoenix zoo too because it’s a nice relaxing place to just go and walk around. They have fun stands where you can get a facepainting or a funny drawing of you and a friend or family member. Or you can go on the Sky Ride. It’s kind of like a ski lift. It takes you across the zoo and then you can go back the other way. I really liked it.
     I went to the Arizona Science Center for a field trip for school in the third grade and I thought it was the coolest place ever. My favorite part was the Forces of Nature immersive Theater. You stand on a platform like thing and you can feel the ground shake from earthquakes, thunder, and lightning. There are large screens where you can watch the weather change. They even have it rain on you or feel the heat of a volcano or heat wave.


If I could live anywhere

By Alyssa Flores

     If I had a chance to live anywhere in the world. I would like to live in a small town in the forest. The forest is a very calming and relaxing place. A small town is perfect because you can know anyone and everyone. Everyone would be friends and go over to each others house during the holidays. The forest has a nice touch with a small town because the weather is always perfect, with the trees hovering over the houses with the animal noises in the morning. Drinking a cup of coffee on your front porch. I think a small town in the forest gives you time to finish everything because you don’t have any distractions with busy cars, loud people, fast moving people. You would be able to read a book by the fire and camp out every weekend in your backyard. You can listen to the calming animal noises echoing in the forest. Having the chance to have gatherings with everyone from the town. You would get look up at the stars with the breeze blowing in you face. A warm blanket cozing near the fire during the winter nights. being surrounded by the sweet smell and sound of nature. Growing up around nature is would be a wonderful childhood. In a cabin is a perfect way to get away from the busy world and let loose for a period of time. That is why I would live in a small town in the forest.


If I could live anywhere

By Eric Lundquest

     If I were able to live anywhere in the world i’d choose to live in Montana. Montana has beautiful scenery as well as plentiful wildlife. Being a hunter the deep woods and chilly conditions are excellent hunting and living conditions from my perspective. While there is a low population and limited stores the landscape makes up for all of that and then some. The true beauty lies in the mountainous region of Montana where you can look over the forest as far as the eye can see. The ideal living place for me would be deep within the forests of Montana in a medium sized cabin just living off the the land and off the grid in a simple yet hardworking lifestyle. For me living outdoors in Montana is a dream that I would like to someday fulfill. It’s not the just the natural beauty and plentiful wildlife that draws me to Montana its the sense of knowing that you are responsible for your own survival and well being, as well as the simplistic living style of leaving behind the modern technology and stress for fresh pine scented air and majestic scenery of the Montana’s forests.


If I could live anywhere

By Ian Hager

If I could live anywhere I wanted,I would want to live in San Diego,California. I would want to live there because the weather is never too hot,there are beaches,and there are a lot of nice houses. The only downside of living in San Diego is that the houses are super expensive, for a 6 bedroom 11 bathroom house you will end up spending $27,000,000 or $104,000 a month. The only reason why the homes are a lot of money is because most of them are on the beach. Another reason why I want to live there is because it’s my favorite place to visit during summer vacation. When I go to San Diego, I go to the beach,restaurants,and Sea World. At the beach I ride my surfboard and run around like a crazy hooligan on the beach while I chase crabs around. So if I lived there I wouldn’t have to take an eight-hour drive from Scottsdale,Arizona to San Diego,California and then another eight-hour drive back. If I lived in San Diego I would have a house right on the beach so if I wanted to go surfing I could just walk outside my backdoor and go to the ocean and surf. Another thing I like about San Diego is the food. My favorite kind of food is seafood like shrimp,crab and lobster which they have a lot of. The best restaurant in San Diego is called Brigantine Seafood Restaurant, it is a 4 star restaurant with a big selection of seafood. The weather in San Diego is super nice. The highest temperature in San Diego ever recorded is 111 degrees fahrenheit. The average temperature in San Diego is 72 degrees fahrenheit. But then the water is about 40 degrees which is too cold for me to swim in but I still swim in it anyways. When i’m older I am planning on becoming a professional boxer and I want to own a pet tiger. But….. they are illegal in California which means I can’t own one. When I go to San Diego with my dad we always go to the gym at 5:00 in the morning and usually stay there until 9:00 in the morning. The gym we go to is called LA fitness and it is open 24 hours. I also want to go scuba diving and see sharks,stingrays,jellyfish, and many more fish and weird creatures. If I lived in San Diego I would have a yacht and go deep sea fishing and try to catch the craziest fish ever.


If I could live anywhere

Jessica Conrad

     If I could live anywhere in the world, I would like to live in Hawaii. I lived there for a few years when my dad was stationed there.
     I think Hawaii is very beautiful. There’s so much things to do and a lot of neat sights to see. I really want to go back.
     The reason why I want go back so much is because I’m older now. I can appreciate the beauty of the nature much better now.
     I also have a lot of family and family friends who still there. Where I live now, I don’t have any family members that live here.
     There’s also a lot of activities to do. For example, going to the beach and swimming, or even surfing! I enjoy swimming and being in the water. You can be really active when you live there!
     Since there is a lot of tourism, there’s probably a lot of different shows and tours to see and do. I think it would be really fun do all that sort of stuff, too.
     I would like to live in Hawaii because there’s so many things to do, and it’s such a beautiful place. I can’t wait to go back to visit or even maybe live there!


If I could live anywhere

Logan Duncan

     If I could live anywhere it would have to be the Mass Effect universe. It is my favorite gaming universe, it has a great storyline that does a great job of immersing the player. They also have a large set of books to go with the game. The future setting really draws me in, i am also a fan of the halo universe. I would also want to live in it because I would want to be a hero, like the main character Commander Shepard. He is a N7 marine who was made into a spectre, which is a soldier who works in Special Tactics and Recon division. My goal would be the same, join the spectres and save people. Living with all of the aliens would be pretty cool as well, it would be fun to visit all of their worlds and try all of their different traditions. There is so much to do in the Mass Effect universe as well, there is always someone who needs help or a mission that needs done. Not to mention there are so many interesting characters, they each have different stories and it would be fun to learn them all.
     The main enemy of the Mass Effect universe is the reapers, an ancient race of machines that come around every 50,000 years to wipe out all advanced organic life. I would enjoy fighting the reapers and saving Earth as well as other worlds from the reapers. There is also a terrorist organization called Cerberus, they want to secure human interests in the galaxy. They are led by a man who is only known as The Illusive Man since no one knows his real name or rarely sees him in person. I would like to fight off Cerberus from killing other races just to secure human interests. If I could live in another universe it would definitely be the Mass Effect universe.


If I went to the capital

By Raylan Nelson

     If you were to come to Arizona, right now is the perfect time because it is cool, in the early morning, and gets warmer in the middle of the day, and has been getting humid in the evening, because we have had some rain lately. When we have rain, it floods, so streets get washed over, dirt goes everywhere, and there is a lot of car accidents. Three things that would highly suggest you go see in Arizona, in the Grand Canyon, a big tourist hit, Goldfield Ghost Town, and Canyon Lake.
     Many people like to see the Grand Canyon, because it’s a beautiful, natural creation, and the way it was made, honestly is just so fascinating.. It’s a beautiful sight, and everyone seems to want to see the Grand Canyon, obviously that is also why Arizona’s nickname, is the “Gold Canyon State..”
     Ghostfield Ghost town, is just outside of Apache Junction, its like a recreation of history, of what it used to look like in the ‘50’s, there is candy stores, with original candy, but freshly made, antiques you can buy, a reptile shop, that you can go see what kind of animals, are around, a fudge shop, an ice cream shop, a restaurant, and a train, where you can take a tour, around what the small town was built around. It is a great sight, and very educational, but you will want to bring water, becasue when it is cool it is also very expensive!
     You go to Canyon Lake, by passing Ghost Town, the drive up is intense, becasue it rounds the mountains, and there is cliffs, that people have drove off and died, but while intense, it is gorgeous, to see the mountains so close, and the nature around it, rounding a mountain, you see the lake, and it is a beautiful moment, many photographers would kill to get a landscape portrait that beautiful.
     Many people love to come to Arizona, and I would highly suggest you, come to visit Arizona, and visit the few things that I have lister, and some more.