A student presents his case during a debate in Mr. Leal's class. (Photo by Robin Marshall)

A student presents his case during a debate in Mr. Leal’s class. (Photo by Robin Marshall)

By Chelsey McCarthy
Cougar News Blog

     Everyone likes to be right about something. Cactus Canyon teacher John Leal is starting a debating campaign for the students in his classes for the eighth grade.
     The students were in groups of four or five and debating with the team cross from them about the same topic. One team would be in favor and the other was the opposition.
     “Since we did the debates I learned how to discuss an argument and I learned how to back up what I’m trying to support,” Emily Lewis said.
     Students debated topics such as lowering the voting age and whether young people who commit crimes should be charged as adults or minors.
     “The topics on the debates were chose by thinking what would be fun for the students to debate about,” said Mr. Leal. “I wanted students to have an opinion on them.”
     Mr. Leal asked his students to dress appropriately because presentation is the key to creating and confidence. Confidence is crucial for convincing others to agree because it shows the presenter cares about himself or herself, as well as the topic.
     Students who were not debating were asked to decide which group was the winner in the debate.
     “Students would be deciding how relevant the examples are convincing; essentially voting for who has the stronger case,” Leal said.

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By Damian Lopez
Cougar News Blog

     CCJH’s chess club is starting fresh this semester, with the addition of some new seventh graders and some new eighth graders.
     The club is open to all students who are interested the game of chess and want to learn how to play on a higher level. Many students have also gone on to play at Apache Junction High School.
     “I find that everything you do can impact your game greatly, but if you don’t do a specific move it could easily break your game,” said eighth grade player Kaleb Schroeder.
     The club originally started in December of 2012 at four AJUSD elementary schools, and in December of 2014 adviser Joe Gerber asked if he could start a club at CCJH. Since then the club has gained a total mass of around 15 players, who are preparing themselves for possible future tournaments.
     “Last year CCJH played a match against the AJHS and it ended in a tie,” Gerber said. “This year we hope to again play against AJHS so the students that keep coming will have a chance to play in that match.”
     This upcoming season the club plans to have many special guests such as city policeman, city firefighters, in fact policeman have actually gone and played with the club. The club is also very fortunate to have volunteers that come to help and play.
     “I have felt the support that I have received from many of the staff members that work at the three schools currently in the Chess program,” said Gerber. “Their help has been definitely noticed by me and again I am grateful for their support.”
     The chess club meets in the CCJH Library every Tuesday during each grade’s lunch period. The club’s last meeting will be on April 19. Gerber plans to start the club up again next January and hopes to gain funds to put toward more equipment.
     Students in the club said they are not concerned about winning and losing as much as having a chance to play and get better.
      “Every game to me is a chance to improve my thought processes,” Schroeder said. “For example, if you’re thinking two moves ahead and your opponent is three moves ahead, you need to be watching what they are doing or play defensive until you have a chance to get ahead and take turn the game around.”

Yearbook adviser Mr. Davis is presented with an award from Lifetouch representative Julie Bales. (Photo by Jaden Miner)

Yearbook adviser Mr. Davis is presented with an award from Lifetouch representative Julie Bales. (Photo by Jaden Miner)

By Caitlyn McNear
Cougar News Blog

     Jason Davis and his Cactus Canyon yearbook class earned an honorable mention in the 2015 Lifetouch National School Studios Yearbook Showcase Contest.
     The 2014-15 edition of the Cougar Chronicles was honored in the contest where at least 200 yearbooks were judged. In addition to the top three books, about 10 others earned the honorable mention.
     “I think it was great that we got an honorable mention last year,” said Emily Lewis. “All of the students in yearbook worked really hard to try to make the yearbook the best it could be.”
     “We are thrilled to be recognized in any way for our hard work,” said Mr. Davis. “Sure, it would’ve been nice to get first place, but we’re also not the only school in the country that makes a good yearbook.”
     This is the second time the Chronicles has earned an award in the contest. The 2012-13 edition also received an honorable mention. Although the staff was very excited about their award, they never expected to win anything.
     “I don’t think I could ever say I expect to win anything, but I’m also not surprised,” said Mr. Davis. “I knew last year’s book was very good and I am very happy that other people felt that way to.”
     The yearbook squad showed something unique that each group was committed to during the year. For example, the yearbook students were dedicated to getting “crisp and clear” photos and the girls basketball team was committed to working as a team.
     “The theme of last year’s book was ‘committed’ and we tried to show something unique that each group was really dedicated to during the year,” said Mr. Davis.
     Achieving awards is good for the yearbook squad and helps students that are new to the class know right away what the goals are.
     “Winning any award is good for the yearbook program as a whole because it helps us build a culture of success,” said Mr. Davis.
     The yearbook staff’s goal is to improve the book each year and improving on a book that won an award means a lot of time and effort.
     “I ask them to work very hard and get a lot done, and sometimes they don’t like me very much for that,” said Mr. Davis. “But having a couple of awards to show off helps the students see that the high expectations I have for them lead to great results.”
     As the yearbook continues to get better, Mr. Davis wants to see how it stacks up with more of the best yearbooks in the country and plans to enter more competitions next year, including the Columbia Scholastic Press Association Crown Awards.
     “I think the quality of the photography in our books every year is as good as any book in the country and the way we feature writing in the book improves each year,” said Mr. Davis. “Even if we don’t win, entering more contests can only help us improve.”
     Not only was Mr. Davis happy himself, but his yearbook squad as well.
     “I think it was great that we got an honorable mention last year all of the students in yearbook worked really hard to try to make the yearbook the best it could be,” said Emily Lewis, a yearbook student. “I was very happy the with the award because one of my pages that I worked on with another student from last year Rose Hansing got to be shown in the honorable mention.”

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Gallery  —  Posted: February 12, 2016 in Academics, Electives, Photos of the week, Yearbook

Art teacher Paige Reesor shows her work at shows all over the Phoenix area. (Photo from Ms. Reesor)

Art teacher Paige Reesor shows her work at shows all over the Phoenix area. (Photo from Ms. Reesor)

By Bailey Tower
Cougar News Blog

     At Cactus Canyon, several teachers have unique abilities and art teacher Paige Reesor is one of them. Reesor participates in art shows frequently and she still is working on new techniques to become an even better artist.
     She usually has one to two art shows per-month. Sometimes the shows last for a whole month or sometimes it is a one day event like live painting for concerts or festivals.
     Reesor has art shows and festivals lined up for the next few months.
     Reesor, who said she has wanted to be an artist since she was 5, likes challenging herself and using intense colors.
     “I like portraits the most. I like the challenge of trying to capture someone’s face. I also love experimenting with bright colors,” said Reesor. “I am still trying be a great artist. Always trying and practicing.”
     Reesor is even able to sell her paintings and drawings her shows and earns a good amount of money when she sells her paintings.
     “Each piece is about a few hundred dollars and it’s a nice extra income. I can’t live off of it yet, but it is nice to pay some bills with it,” said Reesor.
     Reesor wants to influence her students to find inspiration in art and hopes being a working artist helps with that.
     “I believe my students see how art can be used in many different career paths. I hope my students find some form of inspiration for themselves,” Reesor said. “All I do is just try to get my art out in the public eye, and I usually get a positive response back.”

By Meckensy Toro
Cougar News Blog

     Football season has finally arrived at CCJH. The players are training hard to improve from last year.
     Football is a very important part in these kids lives. So much that they take time out of their own schedule to practice and push themselves.
     “What football means to me is, it’s not really really a sport, more of a lifestyle, because we put our bodies through hard work year in and year out,” Talon Izbicki explains.
     The players have been training hard all year long. They practice on different teams outside of school like SEV Pride and Maricopa Heat. They put themselves through tough practice and conditioning.
     “I am preparing this season by pushing myself in conditioning so I can be ready for the games,” Sean Manell says.
     Many of the students have set personal goals that they hope to achieve this season. The coach has even set some goals of his own.
     “My goals are for every player to leave with a sense of accomplishment and wanting to come back next year,” says Coach Vance Miller.
     The boys hope win the league title after finishing third last season. The Cougars were champions two years ago.
     “My goals and expectations for this season are to win games and make it to the championships,” Michael Vannoy says.
     The Cougars have started the season 1-1 and will play again Thursday, Feb. 11, at Desert Wind.

By James Armstrong
Cougar News Blog

     In a learning experience that really had its ups and downs, Cactus Canyon eighth grade language arts teacher Tammy Howard has given her students a stockbroker project.
     Students researched potential profitable companies. They will use decision-making skills, internet, newspapers, bulletin board service, and money magazines to complete their stock reports.
     Ms. Howard said the project taught students how to use new computer programs and practice research skills.
     “(I want students) to use the imaginary buying and tracking of stock to familiarize them with the functions of a spreadsheet,” Howard said. “I wanted them to also research and learn about the company the selected as their primary so they would gain more from their buying decision.“
     Students will learn about their companies’ ticker symbol, founder, history, current president/CEO and background, and when the company went public on the New York Stock Exchange. They will be able to track and explain their best and worst buying decisions between their two companies.
     This project also allowed students to incorporate mathematical operations in language arts by using imaginary buying and tracking of stock to familiarize students with the functions of a spreadsheet.
     “The part I had the most trouble on was getting all the correct current information on my main company. The most interesting part was learning about Microsoft,” said Nicholas Moorhead.
     Mrs. Howard has been having students do this project for 10 years, the main changes are the stocks that students decide to purchase and the companies that are available on the New York Stock Exchange.
     Ms. Howard plans to do this project again next year she has hopes that the students will continue to enjoy the project and learn the core standards it provides.

By Gracie Lentz
Cougar News Blog

     The CCJH PTO donated money to yearbook, art, physical education and the life skills program at its meeting in December..
     The group decided to donate $1,500 to Gail McFarland’s art class, Brad Rumple’s P.E. class, Jason Davis’ yearbook and Desirae Bickle’s Life Skills. This money is going to be used to pay for things the class needs or is using for a project of some sort.
     The art class was donated $500, P.E. and yearbook each received $400, and the Life Skills program was donated $200.
     Mr. Davis said he appreciated the donation and will use some to buy better camera equipment.
     “Some of the money went toward the purchase of five yearbooks,” Davis said. “We will be using rest of the the money to buy a new lens or two. They are very expensive, so we may have to save up a little bit.”
     Some of the money will be used to improve older equipment that is no longer useful. It will be used to buy new equipment for the class and new materials that needed to be replaced. Coach Rumple says he appreciates what the PTO has done and will use the money to buy new dodge balls. McFarland is using some of the money to buy ceramic clay for her clay unit.
     “The PTO has helped my classroom in need they have bought weight training equipment and have helped to improve our PE equipment,” he said. “They always come through.”
     The classes having better equipment and materials will benefit students who take the classes.
     “It helps students in class by giving them access to better equipment, which helps everyone produce better images,” Davis said. “Ultimately, that makes our book better, and that benefits everyone who buys one. The nice thing about buying nice equipment is that we can use it for many years so it is a gift that keeps on giving.”

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Gallery  —  Posted: February 5, 2016 in Academics, Electives, Photos of the week, Yearbook

Photo by Talon Izbicki

Photo by Talon Izbicki

By Natalie Delintt
Cougar News Blog

     Eighth graders reeled in a new way to learn by going on a fishing trip.
     Students in Regan Roach’s advanced science class went to a pond at the Arizona Game and Fish Department in Phoenix on Jan. 5 to help further their knowledge of ecology.
     “I wanted my students to learn about native and non-native fish,” said Mrs. Roach.
     Mrs. Roach hasn’t done this trip before and planned it with Arizona Game and Fish to create an authentic activity for the students. Students learned about how fish are related, why they look the way they do, what bait to use for each fish, and how to unhook certain types of fish.
     “I thought it was a true, hands-on experience to the standard,” said Mrs. Roach.
     “I learned that different fish have the same features and how some were related,” said Stephanie Cervantes.
     Most students had been fishing before the trip, but the ones who hadn’t been were taught how to hold the pole correctly, how to keep the hook from hurting themselves or anyone else, how to bait the hook, and how to cast them. It took practice, but eventually everyone was sitting and waiting for a bite.
     The students started fishing around 10 a.m. and fished a few hours before they piled back onto the bus for the long drive back to school.
     Mrs. Roach caught the most fish out of everyone, reeling in six. Some students also caught a few fish, while others weren’t as lucky. A few only caught sticks or leaves and others had fish bite their bait off before they could reel in them in.
     “All I caught was a rock,” said Cervantes.