Archive for the ‘Journalism’ Category

We’ve Moved!

Posted: April 24, 2017 in Journalism

In an effort to continue to improve our coverage of Cactus Canyon, we’ve changed our name to the Canyon Chronicle and moved to a new website – We appreciate your visits and support over the last five years, but it’s time for us to move on to bigger and better things. Please continue to follow us for the stories, photos, and opinions you love about the Cougar News Blog.


The Staff of the Cougar News Blog/Canyon Chronicle


Cactus Canyon’s online newspaper was awarded a CSPA Gold Crown Award on March 17.

By Skyler Wolfe
Cougar News Blog

     The Cactus Canyon online school newspaper, the Cougar News Blog, has won a Gold Crown Award that is given by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. Winners were announced March 17 and the Cougar News Blog was one of two middle schools to earn a gold.
     The award is one of the most prestigious in student journalism. About 1,100 publications were judged from junior high, high school, and college levels. Only about 250 Crowns were awarded, including just 86 gold.
     The CSPA announced in November that the blog would earn a Crown, but adviser Jason Davis did not know if it would be a gold or silver. Davis was both pleased and shocked to learn that his blog had won the Gold Crown.
     “I was shocked and I shouted, ‘We got a gold!’ when I heard,” Davis said. “I found out while watching the presentation on Facebook. I was pretty sure we were going to get silver, so I actually watched them call our name a few times before I heard them announce the award.”
     Students were also joyed to learn that their hard work had paid off.
     “I feel like my hard work has paid off because it helped make us get recognized and get the higher crown award,” eighth grader Kylee Demauro said. “It also made me more motivated to try harder so we can win again next year.”
     Davis is proud of his students, but also said there is now more pressure to win again. He expects students to work even harder and to keep improving.
     “Students worked very hard over the last year to earn a Crown and it is so wonderful to see all that work pay off,” Davis said. “But it’s kind of like a coach who wins the Super Bowl; you enjoy it for a little bit and then start thinking about the next one.”
     Davis has been trying to strengthen the writing that is put on the blog. He only wants the best for his writers and has changed his teaching in some ways, including making new groups that include veteran and new staff members.
     “It gives the students that have been around a while a chance to take a leadership role on their team and learn more about writing by teaching it,” Davis said. “Within that format, we’ve created incentives for everyone in the group to meet their deadlines and turn in their best work.”
     The blog features photography from yearbook staff members and stories written by students in the advanced journalism course. Davis said he’s glad students choose to be staff members because he knows there are elective classes that are easier and more fun.
     “They do incredible work,” he said. “Not a lot of junior-high students are interested in putting in the time and effort it takes to be a good student journalist, but these kids put in the work and it shows.”

Alissa Baker and Savannah Barr read the announcements while Mya Palomino holds the teleprompter and Stanley Cook films. (Photo by Mr. Davis)

Alissa Baker and Savannah Barr read the announcements while Mya Palomino holds the teleprompter and Stanley Cook films. (Photo by Mr. Davis)

By Mya Palomino
Cougar News Blog

     A new addition has been added to the morning announcements – video. In order to help more students be engaged with the news, the Journalism 2 students are recording the segments each day for the following morning.
     The announcements are now online for teachers to play and for students to view. The Pledge of Allegiance and school pledge are still done at before the video, as are any announcements that were added after filming was completed during fourth hour.
     Although the announcements are student recorded, they are being edited by adviser Jason Davis for now, but they are aimed to be done by just the students soon. This project will hopefully help students in their speaking and presenting standards.
     “While there are no traditional English or math standards associated with this project,” said Davis, “Arizona College and Career Readiness Standards include speaking and presenting.”
     The production has also gotten better with a more efficient set and better, more professional graphics. There was also a teleprompter added to help students look at the camera more often. Mr. Davis said he expects the videos will get better throughout the year.
     “Our reporters have come a long way already,” said Marie-Wilbur, seventh grade teacher. “They are starting to look at the camera and we as an audience get to see their faces.”
     There are many benefits to the announcements now. Not only do students get to feel what journalism is about, this is a way for the world to know that our school has many great opportunities. It’s also a better way for students to pay attention to the announcements.
     “I feel like students pay attention a lot more now,” said eighth grader Hannah Molino. “Everyone is quiet since it’s a video and they pay attention more so it’s easier to get information to our students now.”

U.S. Bank Stadium, the new home of the Minnesota Vikings opened this year at a cost of $1.1 billion, half of which was covered by taxpayers. Cougar News Blog writers think there are better uses for that money. (Photo used under Creative Commons from darb02/Wikimedia Commons.)

U.S. Bank Stadium, the new home of the Minnesota Vikings opened this year at a cost of $1.1 billion, half of which was covered by taxpayers. Cougar News Blog writers think there are better uses for that money. (Photo used under Creative Commons from darb02/Wikimedia Commons.)

     Since the mid ‘90s there has been a problem in almost every state – stadiums that have been paid for by the taxpayers. The new Vikings stadium in Minnesota cost the state a great sum of $1.1 billion. About half of this money comes from state taxes.
     Not only is this injustice being displayed with the Viking Stadium, but with stadiums from all
around the world. The Yankee Stadium costed $1.5 billion to build while taxpayers paid 208.6 million dollars for the garages and parks. More than 40 Major League Baseball and NFL stadiums have been built with taxpayer money in the last 25 years. This money is being used for something miniscule as a stadium and the question is why?
     Why are people spending millions and billions of dollars on a stadium? So they don’t lose their teams. Owners convince the public by basically blackmailing the teams and people of that state with the threat that the team will no longer represent that state.Taxpayers pay millions of dollars to these stadiums with little to no beneficial for them. Taxpayers are forced into paying and have little to no say in how their money can be used. All this money being spent on stadiums could be put towards things more important.
     “A lot of New Yorkers wanted a new Yankee or Mets stadium. At the end of the day, that was what was driving the city’s decision to do this,” said Ronnie Lowenstein, the director of the New York City Independent Budget Office.
     There are 795 million starving people in the world, and nearly half of the world’s population lives on a paycheck of $2.50 a day. Schools are having to lower education values or fire teachers. We could help these people great deal if we just spend took a small sum from the huge amount we spend on sports stadiums.
     We can still have stadiums, but instead of spending a billion dollars on them, we can spend a fraction of that price. With this we can create a better world, we can create less poverty. We can stop people from starving, and we can help people who need it support their families.
     We are being wasteful. We are spending money on something such as football, when the world falls apart around us. We need to spend less on sports stadiums and put the money toward problems in the U.S. that really matter.

This article is the opinion of the Cougar News Blog editorial team of Bronte Pappas, Skyler Wolfe, and Megan Ash.

     College is one of the privileges that comes with living in a First World country, but unfortunately, that isn’t a possibility for many citizens. The price of college is something that needs to be changed right now. This isn’t acceptable to a country like the U.S. to charge so much that is needed for most jobs that won’t leave you working until you fall down.
     Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has a plan to make public colleges free for the average American. Sanders requires $75 billion annually to make this tuition plan successful, and he plans to impose a tax to cover that cost. He plans to add a tax at a fraction of a percent on Wall Street speculators. Stock trades would be taxed at .05 percent, bonds would be taxed at .1 percent, and financial derivatives, such as certain types of interest rates, taxed at .005 percent.
     Robert Pollin, an economist at the University of Massachusetts, believes that Sanders’ tax will be able to rake in $300 billion annually which is about 400 percent more than is needed. Although a Tax Policy Center critique says the plan will only raise $58 billion in the first year. The same critique also states that the reduction of trades would be quite severe and lead to a 62.9 percent reduction for bond trades, 85.1 percent reduction on stock trades, and a 82.2 percent reduction for derivatives. Mr. Pollin counters the statement by saying, “The TPC authors either ignore or misrepresent the main findings.”
     As it is now, public college in the US costs an average student about $9,400 for a full-year term. The cost with room and board increases an additional $2,500 per year. The current average cost for college student’s books and supplies is around $1,100 a year.
     Many working class families don’t have the money to send their child to college, which results in students taking out loans to pay for their college tuition. These student loans affect every student that decides to take out a loan. A survey was recently taken by American Student Assistance, a non-profit organization, to see how students are dealing with the constant threat of student loans. Out of all of the students that responded to ASA’s survey 75 percent said student loans had affected their ability to purchase a home and 63 percent said the debt had affected their decision to make larger purchases, such as a car.
     Our solution to the high cost of public college is to take several steps to lower the high tuition costs. If public colleges did a few things differently, it would be possible to decrease their tuition prices. By lowering the cost of supplies needed students could save at least part of the $1,100 average cost of books. Colleges could make digital copies of required textbooks, that cost much less than the average textbooks. although it may not eliminate the cost completely it would lower the price to a reasonable amount for the students.
     Another solution to high college prices would be to reduce the cost of student loans and their interest. Currently the interest rate on student loans range from 4.29 percent to 6.48 percent. Since most college students don’t have a high paying job directly out of high school they usually take more than 10 years to pay off. The interest rates make it even more difficult to pay off since they increase in price annually. As well as having the interest rates stack upon each other. Average college students leave college with about $30,000 worth of debt, which with interest would be $32,000 in the first year.
     While reducing prices in colleges would bring difficulties in both the school and in the outside world, it would allow more production as well as new technologies being invented. Which in the long run would be better for our civilization as a whole, in the short it would reduce jobs available but that is something not too difficult to remedy. It would lastly supply more jobs to teachers due to the fact that there will be more students.

This article is the opinion of the Cougar News Blog editorial team of James Armstrong, Damian Lopez, Jessica Martinez, and Michael Penge.

Mr. Davis’ Note: CCJH J2 students are again participating in the Edublogs Challenge. The Week 7 activity was about nature. This post contains a sampling from students in the class.

By Jake A.

     The thing I love about nature the most would have to be the scenery. While mother nature can often be destructive it also provides us with beautiful and calming arrays of scenery. From Siberia to Brazil these magnificent creations can be found all across the world and are stunning in their own ways. These scenes can be utterly breathtaking and unbelievable in person which makes them all the more beautiful. There are many sights to see around the world and all are unique from where they are located and say something about the place there in.
     Stretching across North America there are things like great plains, Niagara Falls, the Rocky Mountains, the Grand Canyon and more. All of these places are unique in their own beauty. To the south you have things like the stunning beaches of Mexico and the extensive Amazon. Over about one continrny you come to Africa with beautiful oasis. In Europe you have things like the Danube River, the Mediterranean in Italy, the Alps in Austria and much more.
     There is much more scenery around the world but I love the scenery of nature because it is so beautiful and calming. You can hike and go rock climbing or a number of other things to see some scenery It can range from so many different things and can be a good way to relax. Seeing something as astonishing as nature is fun to me and clears my mind. I’ll always have fun climbing a mountain or going on a beach and watching nature.

By Kaira L.

     I love nature. My most favorite things about nature is the plants, the trees, the different types of rocks, the fossils, the mountains and the planets/stars. I enjoy looking and exploring nature. I think it’s fun to get up and get out to know the world a little better. I think exploring is very fun. It’s a way to keep you entertained if you have nothing to do.
     My mom and my aunt and me use to go hiking on Sunday morning. The view from the top of the mountain is amazing. There is a whole bunch of different types of rocks. The rocks are much bigger than the ones that are on the side of the streets, and I didn’t know that mountains have flower bushes and really tall thick trees. I thought that mountains were just plain with dirt and rocks.
     The ocean is just very beautiful. I like how the ocean looks like at all times, and how many different types of animals live in it. I like just sitting there sometimes looking at the sky. The water is very nice and warm sometimes cold, I think it’s very relaxing. Looking up at the stars and just watching the sky is a nice feeling, you don’t think about anything and just relax and enjoy. I likes stars a lot, but I also really like planets.
     Planets and rocks are one of my top favorite things about nature. Planets are fun to experiment on and learn new things about them that we didn’t know, and the different types of rocks the planets have.

By Jaden E.

     Nature is a very beautiful part of the world that we live on and it should be cherished for it could not always be there. I love that in nature there is always something happening in just about every corner of the outside world, no matter how small.
     To me the greatest part of nature will be the ocean. The ocean is just so massive and unexplored. There’s new species of fish and flora constantly being unraveled to us. The ocean is just so mysterious and when you actually jump onto a boat and see the blue that goes on forever. For me the ocean is not really scary I would say, but more broad and deep. All of the types of fish down there is just simply astounding. When you look at some of strangest fish that are located at the very bottom of the ocean it’s fascinating to see some of the ways fish have evolved to live in such conditions that is present at the bottom of the ocean.
     Other than the ocean though nature has many sights to see. Some of the best places to take pictures of nature, so you have something to look at to remind you of the places you’ve been. Places like the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone National Park. In Yellowstone they have got many tourist attracting locations, such as Old Faithful and the Grizzly bears the forests house. This is what’s so great about nature. You can lose yourself in the vastness of forests, oceans, and deserts.

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.


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.

Activity 2 – If You Could Delete 2-3 Memories, Which Would You Delete and Why?

The author of the following piece prefers to remain anonymous

Memories are something that we will never forget till the day we die, both good and bad. The memories that will remain with us the most is, in my opinion, the bad memories. They affect us the most as humans. I have three main bad memories. Memory one is the night I was woken up by my siblings telling me my Nana has passed away, memory two is when we found my brother doing drugs in 2010 and memory three is when I found out that my dad might have Multiple Sclerosis or brain cancer.
January 29, 2014 is the day my Nana passed. My Uncle’s plane had landed right as she passed at 10:49 and the house became full of grief. I was sleeping in the back room when it happened and found out when, for the first time since I was little, my brother and sister came and laid down next to me and told me and started crying. Both uncles, my brother and sister, my sisters boyfriend, my mom and my grandfather all came and sat with me in that back room one at a time. In all honesty, I didn’t cry. I didn’t feel anything. I felt bad because I wasn’t sad and thought something was wrong with me. To this day I still don’t feel sorrow about it.
In 2010, when my brother was out somewhere, my parents went through my brothers room because of suspicion that he was on drugs. That suspicion was right. He was on cocaine and heroin and he had stolen from my mom, dad and I. Me and him were really close back then and when my parents told me what happened it was a shock to me. I ran and hid underneath our computer desk and cried. My mom had to have a family friend come get me and take me over to her house. It was hard for me there because I was told I couldn’t tell her kids, my friends, about what happened and at night I would cry for hours and they would wonder and I couldn’t tell them anything. School was hard too. I had to deal with the fact that I might lose my brother and I was being bullied too. I still cry sometimes when I remember it and I flinch whenever someone jokes around or says the word drugs.

My dad, for seven years, have had a spot in the back of his brain. The doctors didn’t start testing till about 2 years ago and are still doing tests to figure it out. They think that it might be Multiple Sclerosis, MS, or brain cancer but have to do more testing to find to find out. My dad had told me that he was getting testing done but didn’t say for what, so I had to find out through my mom. It was hard for me to find out because I’m really close with my dad and I can’t bare the thought that he could end up in a wheelchair or may die early.

Activity 4 – In Your Own Words, Describe What Memories Mean to You

By Logan D.

To me everyone needs memories. They help people remember all of the best times in their lives. Unfortunately there are also bad ones that we would all love to forget. Memories helps you keep your closest friends as close as possible. When you do the most amazing thing that you have ever done your memories keep that with you, you can never forget it.
When people are in a dark or scary place they have all of their warm memories to think about, they hope that it makes them feel better. When someone will be gone for a long time such as in the renowned movie E.T. where he says, “I’ll be right here” and points to the child’s head. What memories means to me is keeping all your skills, people, feelings, and tastes.
Memories will keep all of your things you learn with you. When your parents teach you to take the training wheels off of your bike you never forget how to ride it. Or when you learn new things in math it will likely stick with you. Or when your mother teaches you too not do something obedient children will not do it again. Memories will make you laugh and have a good time with your friends joking around about something that happened years ago. You also remember what the best burger in your life tasted like, or you will remember what lobster tastes like after you have tasted it for the first time ever. Memories are great and I hope that they stick with all of you forever.

By Cori Gibson

No matter how old you are, you have memories. They may not all be good, but they’re still there, in your brain, forever, and they’ll never go away. We don’t just have them for no particular reason, though. Memories are given to every person and animal everywhere so that we may learn from our mistakes, create a better future for ourselves, and be the great people that we were always meant to be.

Bad memories may not seem too good in most people’s eyes, but they are the ones that we learn the most from. Once you’ve had a bad experience, you don’t forget what caused it, so then you don’t do it again. They help people make better choices. They can also however, upset people when thinking about the bad experiences that they’ve had over the years.

Even though bad memories help us to learn, good ones make us happy. Remembering all off the good times you’ve had can change your whole attitude and make you feel at peace. People often don’t even realize that their whole day is full of good memories. I think that every time someone smiles, it is considered a good memory. Which is really great because I see people smiling everywhere I turn. It’s a refreshing feeling to know that the people around you are happy. Kinda like watching everyone open their Christmas presents.
If everyone would take the time every once and a while to remember all of the great times that they’ve had with their favorite people, the world would be a lot better.

Activity 5 – Create a Comic Strip to Represent One of the Strongest Memories of Your Life.

Activity 3 – Must-see Places in Arizona