By Sami Groneberg
Cougar News Blog

     The yearbook class at Cactus Canyon Junior High is encouraging and rewarding all students and staff who buy their yearbooks early. Students who buy a book before winter break students will be invited to an extra long signing party. There will be food and a drawing for gift cards. Students would also get your book before everyone else.
     There are quite a lot of things the yearbook staff is doing to advertise and get people to buy the books. The editors of the yearbook staff made videos to persuade students to buy the yearbooks. There are also different posters hung up around school campus.
     “People should buy the yearbook so when they are older they won’t forget all those memories and fun they had in Jr. High,” said eighth grader Cameron Krueger.
     The goal for the yearbook is for it to become more creative each year. Every year different things are added to make the book have a new design so it doesn’t look like the year before’s book.
     The theme for the yearbook this year is Committed. The Committed theme shows how students are committed to being role models, learning, and making things happen. Students in yearbook are asking different groups what they are committed to and are putting them on almost every page.
     Cactus Canyon Junior High is raising the prices for yearbooks this year. The prices are increasing for a couple of reasons. The first reason being, the yearbook staff was in a three year contract with Lifetouch so that makes the prices increase to 29 dollars per book. The second reason, is they upgraded the program to have better designs in the book. The last reason is they have to pay the bill and try to make a profit. Mr. Davis also likes to give the hard working yearbook staff members a free book. Before winter break they will be 30 dollars and when the students come back, books will be 35 dollars.
     Mr. Davis said this year’s that the yearbook is going to be the best one yet.
     “There aren’t many junior high yearbooks in the country that are better than ours. We have an award to prove that, but I would say it either way,” said Mr. Davis.
     For more information, visit Mr. Davis’ website.

By Zoey Lopez
Cougar News Blog

     Mrs. Anderson, a Cactus Canyon Junior High social studies teacher, wanted to try something different and unordinary with all of her eighth grade classes. She decided to put her students into groups and have them make textbooks. The textbooks must be about World War II.
     There is going to be 35 important objectives based on their curriculum. Each group is able to organize the book as they want. All textbooks must have a table of contents, index, and a cover page. The goal is to make the textbook as accurate possible.
     “I hope students will be able to learn about the important events and people of WWII,” said social studies teacher Sheryl Anderson.
     The activity is going to teach students how destructive the war was, and how Americans in particular worked together in the military and on the home front.
“WWII was a turning point in the social structure of the U.S. and international boundaries,” says Anderson, “It is a fascinating time to look back on and see how it changed the world.”
     Mrs. Anderson was able to research all of the Arizona State Standards for WWII and made the standards required topics in the textbooks. She then asked her classes to decide what a good text book would have in it. Her class told her pictures with captions, questions, fun facts, glossary, index, page numbers, color, table of contents, chapters, and a cover page. Anderson says her classes have been working extra hard just to get these little things done on time.
     “At CCJH we use a lot of new technology and new methods, but I am not always sure of what students know to be the best method for them,” said Sheryl Anderson
     After the students are done with the textbooks Mrs. Anderson will make a copy for each person in the group. Students will be able to use their textbooks to study for the test.
     All books will be judged by a team of administrators. The best book from each class will get cinnamon rolls.
     “Students have been working non-stop to earn the cinnamon rolls,” said Anderson.
The judges are going to vote for the best book out of Mrs. Anderson’s eighth-grade classes. The group with the most votes will win something bigger than cinnamon rolls.

By Hannah Wolfe
Cougar News

      Bus drivers all around the country stay up late driving student athletes to games, get up early in the morning so students can ride the bus to school, and drive students to field trips and more.
     They dedicate a big majority of their time so students and athletes are able to get where they need to go, and they do many things to make sure passengers on the bus are safe.
     An AJUSD bus driver, Michael Cohen says there are many favorable things about his job although it is sometimes challenging.
     “There are many positive things being a school bus driver. Transporting children to and from school safely, watching as the children I drive grow up, and mature and helping a child learn about bus safety and proper behaviors,” said Cohen. “When driving a special needs route, simply being able to help someone who has a disability is a blessing.”
     Drivers have to do many things before they are allowed to drive and board passengers on the bus. They must inspect the steering system, brake system, suspension, engine compartment, tires, wheels, check for lights or emergency alarms that may not be working, make sure there are no broken windows, lights or reflectors, that all of the emergency exits operate properly and so on.
     The driver also must perform a seven-point test of the air brakes system. The driver is ultimately responsible for the safe operation of the bus. This usually takes the bus driver around 25 minutes.
     Lori Alltop is also an AJUSD bus driver, and enjoys her job even though its alot of work.
     “Driving the school bus is like driving your office,” said Alltop. ”You aren’t stuck inside a building. You can enjoy the weather and you see a lot about the city you live in.”
     Drivers can drive up to about eight hours in a single day. For field trips, the drive time would vary from as few as two hours to as many as 10 hours. When drivers take athletes to away games they usually leave at around 3 p.m. and don’t get back until close to 7 o’clock at night and occasionally even later than that.
With all of the things bus drivers have to do, making sure students are safe is the top priority.
     “Over the years of bus driving, with lots of hours and miles on the road, I have become a better defensive driver. I want my students to have safe rides to and from school,” said Alltop.
     Cohen claims that being a bus driver is rewarding and he always treats the students that ride his bus as his own.
     “Driving a school bus is a rewarding experience,” said Cohen. “As my wife says, I have been the happiest being a school bus driver than at any other job I have had. I treat the students as if they were my children or grandchildren because everyone deserves respect, including children.”



Theresa VanPelt
Cougar News Blog

     All of Cactus Canyon has been buzzing about the winners of this year’s school spelling bee.
     Champion Alaya Walton and the four other winners had to go through a class spelling bee and a school-wide spelling bee. The students that went to the school spelling bee had to place first and second in their class bee in order to participate.The students are now moving on to the district bee that is taking place in January. Although some students plan to take this way past the district bee.
     “My goal for the spelling bee is to get to the county spelling bee again and maybe get past that, to state,” said second place winner, Phillip Baker. “It was the competitiveness that go me this far, and also I am very good at spelling.”
Some, like Walton, even plan to go all the way to state and even possibly the nationals.
     “I wanted to participate in the spelling bee because I want to have more accomplishments before I get to high school,” she said. “I have always wanted to be in a spelling bee and build my spelling skills, along with my vocabulary.”
     This is the fifth year that Cactus Canyon has done a spelling bee. Last year Michelle Galang, a sixth grader from SMES, won first place in the district spelling bee, and Nila Dhinaker, a seventh-grade student at Cooley Middle School in Gilbert, won the Arizona state bee. “My goal in the spelli
ng bee was to be in the top three or make it to the district spelling bee,” said third -place winner, Kendra Litt.
     Students plan to improve their spelling abilities and have a new educational experience to take away from this. They also plan to go as far in the spelling bee as can, going to state or even the Scripps National Spelling bee in National Harbor, Maryland.
     “I’m studying with my dad and writing them down on index cards,” said fourth place winner, Genevieve Harshman. “My goal is to make it to the state spelling bee.”
     Cactus Canyon teacher encourage their students to participate and give it their all.
     “I hope that students will have fun competing academically and that they will be proud to represent CCJH at the district bee,” said head of the CCJH spelling bee, Sheryl Anderson.

By Maddie Chilson
Cougar News Blog

     The holidays are a busy time for most people and it’s no different for the CCJH music department. In addition to preparing for holiday concerts, director Aimee Vining has had her groups performing around the Valley.
     Last Saturday, Dec. 6, Cactus Canyon’s Ms. Vining took her students to the Apache Junction Public Library to perform for the holidays.
     “The coordinator is a parent of one of my students,” said Vining, “and she asked me if we could come play.”
     The students have had two months to prepare for the holiday performances. Each group had to learn three to four songs, performing at least three songs and a Christmas song. The students say the rehearsals have been stressful.
     “Rehearsal has been crazy because we’ve been trying to get everything down to perfection,” said eighth grader Sidney Harte.
     The jazz band had to learn even more because they performed in Scottsdale as well, and they had to have 30 minutes worth of music. Students say that the experience is serious, yet fun.
     “The concert environment is very serious,” said Harte. “But we all have fun because we enjoy what we do.”
     The students have shown a lot of improvement since the beginning of the school year, which happens to be Vining’s favorite part of being the band teacher; watching the kids improve for every concert. Vining expects students will continue to improve.
     “I like to see them become more independent, and play their parts with more accuracy,” tells Vining.
     There will be another band concert Thursday, Dec. 11, in the Performing Arts Center at the Apache Junction High School. The students favorite part is when they get to go on stage and perform.
     “My favorite part is when it is our time to go on stage and perform,” said Harte. “We have improved so much and it’s an amazing experience.”

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By Abriann Rios Pineda
Cougar News Blog

      Teachers work really hard at Cactus Canyon Junior High. Even after the school day is over they sometimes have to stay after school to grade homework, projects, and school work.
      Cactus Canyon staff member Jodi Rodgers came up with the idea of having a little Friday party to show teacher appreciation. They have a party about twice a month for all the teachers and staff. All of their parties are privately funded from the kindness of a couple of staff members who attend the parties.
      “The teachers and staff of this school are some of the most amazing people to work with,” said Rodgers. “They work incredibly hard to make sure the future is as bright as it can be for our students. The least we could do is let them know how much they are appreciated.”
      Everyone is invited to the office and receives a nice treat like chips, cookies, or rice crispy treats and a glass of Coca-Cola. After, the attendees of the party are instructed to do a fun/random activity.
      There’s a different theme for every party. They have had movies, pirates, a masquerade, Thanksgiving, and Twist-and-Shout themed parties so far.
      At the Twist-and-Shout themed party, the teachers were instructed to compete against another staff member by taking an Oreo cookie and twisting it off. If their side had the most amount of cream on it, they won. The loser had to draw a phrase out of the cup and shout it out.
      At the masquerade party, the staff came up to the office and drew a name of a co-worker and received a cut-out of that person’s face to use as a mask.
      “The adults on campus rarely get to spend time together without students, and of course we have to maintain our professionalism during the school day,” said eighth grade teacher Marla Aehlert. “After a long week, it’s fun to get together and relax for a bit, and sometimes be a little silly. I really think it has helped the morale among the staff.”

AJUSD Staff Appreciation Slide Show

By Raylan Nelson
Cougar News Blog

      Tammy Howard’s study skills class started creating videos with pictures from all the schools and departments in the Apache Junction Unified School District.
      The video productions enrichment class made the videos, including one for Cactus Canyon, for the annual AJUSD staff appreciation event on Dec. 10.
      “The videos included pictures from the different schools and departments in our district,” said eighth-grade teacher Ms. Howard.
      The video productions class broke up into groups of fives, and were given a certain school to base the video off of.
      “My group did Cactus Canyon,” said Justin Ramirez. “We put pictures with effects in the video, and then we added music.”
      The videos were made off laptops, with Windows Movie Maker. The students took turns adding effects, and sampling music to put on the videos.
      “We started our project last month,” said Dominique Capps. “Alicia (Frank) arranged the pictures, Justin and I found music, and Korey (Martin) helped add pictures, and viewed it.”
      The videos will be shown to staff, members, and teachers during the event at the AJHS PAC to show staff members that they are appreciated. The students were happy to provide the gift..
      “I was glad that we could make the idea for teacher appreciation, I hope the AJUSD staff enjoyed the videos,” said Korey Martin. “We worked hard on them.”
      Ms. Howard will be viewing the videos for a last time, and then hauling them to the staff meeting, to surprise the teachers.

By Sami Groneberg
Cougar News Blog

     Click, click, click is what yearbook students heard as they were working on their 15 Day Photo Challenge.
     They had to take a different photo everyday for over two weeks, but the catch was the photo had to contain at least one of the elements they study. Some elements include action, angle, and depth of field. The students started the photo challenge on November 10 and it ended November 25.
     Yearbook adviser Jason Davis wants students to not only take pictures daily, but have creative quality photos that isn’t like a photo taken by just a regular iPhone. The yearbook is involved in needing photos taken at school, but students also need to have freedom to take photos that they are comfortable with and also have a challenge on there hands. Yearbooks students had a challenge of remembering to take the photo every day and liking the photo they took. If they don’t like the photo they took they were able to retake the photo and get a better one.
     “The reason it is a daily photo challenge is to give students a glimpse into the life of a real photographer,” said Davis.
     “I learned a lot about responsibility because if you missed a day or if you were being lazy and didn’t take a picture it really affected your grade,” said Michael Jada.
     The photos also would need to have creativity. There were different ideas that students were given like from a high angle, favorite color, and eyes. Students had to pick which idea they wanted to use and had to come up with a creative idea on how to incorporate them and the elements.
     “The way I come up with the ideas is by looking at what my challenge is for that day and then I kinda just picture what I want to do as an idea for the photo,” said Meagan Clark.
     This won’t be the only photo challenge yearbooks students will be doing. There will be three other major projects. The biggest one will be the ABC Photography Challenge, where, over a 26-day period students have to take picture that goes with each letter of the alphabet.

By Shea W.
Cougar News Blog

     Students dove into a learning experience when they went to the Mesa Arts Center Nov. 13 to see two photographers speak about the marine wildlife they take pictures of. Seventh and eighth grade reading lab students went on the Mesa Arts Center trip to see David Doubliet and Jennifer Hayes speak about the beautiful creatures in the sea.
     “They showed us different species in different areas and some of the behaviors you might encounter if you are scuba diving around those creatures,” said teacher Mrs. Lisa Smith.
     She wanted her students to see a world other than their own and to see a different possibilities and environments in each unique way and the dangers that could be lurking there.
     “I wanted my students to see a world outside of their own,” said Mrs. Smith. “I wanted them to see different possibilities and environments in a unique way.”
      Before the students went on the trip, they read numerous pieces of literature andare currently studying problems on Earth and coming up with solutions that could help. The students also read articles about undersea creatures.
     “In our classrooms we read numerous materials about the planet and undersea informational text,” said Mrs. Smith. “We are studying different problems within the Earth’s atmosphere and many solutions that could help reduce or solve global warming due to over farming and cutting down forests.”
     Later on down the road, the classes may have another field trip relating to what they were working on in class. Mrs. Smith hopes that next time there would be a little more time to process the information. She think that an activity after this event would’ve been a good idea for the students to show what they learned.
     “I wanted to know what they did in real life,” said eighth grader Connor Zimmerman.


By Riley Duncan
Cougar News Blog

      The Lions Club has drawn up another poster contest and Cactus Canyon student Savanna Castillo has won the local competition. She will be now moving on to the statewide tournament.
      The Lions International Peace Poster Contest has been held annually for 25 years and is sponsored by the Gold Canyon club. All funds received by the group are donated to nonprofit organizations to support people with disabilities. It also gives scholarships to Apache Junction High School students as well.
      “The Lions Club is a volunteer organization whose motto is ‘we serve.’ All funds go to organizations for sight and hearing,” said Bonnie Weaver of the Gold Canyon Lions club.
      The contest is held to promote art in sixth to eighth grade students at CCJH, Desert Vista, and Peralta Trail. The club invited students ages 11-13 to participate. The theme for this year was “peace, understanding, and love.” Castillo drew the Earth being held up by a pair of hands and being surrounded by doves.
      “A group of four judges from the club committee judged on creativity, artistic quality, and if the theme was followed,” said Weaver.
      In all, there were 131 posters that were submitted, many of which displayed an abundance of artistic ability.
      “It was a hard decision because there were so many artistic posters to choose from,” said Weaver.
      The next step for Savanna’s poster is to go to the state level. If she manages to win state then she will be promoted to the international level, where she will compete with posters from countries around the world.
      “My parents have inspired me to be a peaceful person and I think that drawing is a good way to express peace,” said Savanna.

Art students stay busy

Posted: December 5, 2014 in Academics, Art, Electives

By Tianna Rose
Cougar News Blog

     Cactus Canyon’s art program has spent the semesters doing some new art projects, such as clay, ceramics, U.S. Constitution, and an Amendments poster.
     CCJH students have also done some projects that they did last year such as graffiti, homonyms and human faces.
     Teacher Paige Reesor wants to teach her students technique, art skill, and wants to get rid of the notion that “you can’t teach art.”
     “If you can teach someone a math problem, then I can teach someone to correctly draw a proportional human face,” said Reesor.
Reesor is hoping to get donations from students so that they can do art projects that they did last year. A few things she is asking for are, pantyhoes, wired hangers, and spoons that are easy to bend.
     “If I get donated goods I will do wire sculptures and spoon jewelry again,” said Reesor.
     Katherine Bender, a student in Miss Reesor’s class is hoping to have some really fun art projects in the future. Students say they love the class and that it’s lots of fun.
     “Me and my friends have lots of fun, I love the class,” said Bender.
     Bender is looking forward to the projects in the future.
     “The art projects I have had have been really fun,” said Bender.