Archive for the ‘Cougars for Change’ Category

By Kelsey Martinez
Staff writer

On Friday, May 4, Cougars for Change will be holding the school’s first-ever bake competition. Students are bringing in baked goods they’ve made and having them judged with a blind taste test.
Jessica Kucenski’s science students have been working on chemistry projects for the most of the fourth quarter. The project is to create an edible product using the knowledge they have of chemistry. The last checkpoint of the project is to bring their creations to school so they can be judged. The only students participating in the competition are her students.
“Baking is a practical skill that involves chemistry. Anyone can learn basic chemistry concepts, but it takes a greater level of thinking to transfer these concepts into a product,” said Ms. Kucenski. “I want all my students to be able to think at a greater level because that is what’s going to help them succeed.”
All students participating in event will have their recipes placed in a recipe book. The recipe book will be sold as a hardcover book or an e-book. The books will be available for preorder on May 7. The hardcover version will cost $10 and e-books will cost $5. All the proceedings will go to Cougars for Change. First, second, and third place winners in the five categories (cakes, cookies, brownies, breads, and other desserts) will have their recipe acknowledged as a winning entry in the recipe book.
“I have always liked cooking and I’m pretty good, but I have never really baked,” said Thayne Jackson. “So this was interesting. It’s cool that other people will be able to use this recipe.”

By Christal Canejo
Staff writer

This month Cougars for Change is focusing on spreading their purpose farther than CCJH and even Arizona.
Last month C4C was getting the word across the school and to bring awareness of bullying by setting up spirit days and the Kickoff with Kelsey.
Now, members are writing letters to senators, participating in a national video contest, and creating Twitter and Facebook pages online.
“The students at CCJH are doing their part to create a better climate at school, so we would like support from other people who have the power to spread this movement on to other schools throughout the country,” said Jessica Kucenski, the director of Cougars for Change.
Members are trying to get about 150-200 students to write letters to U.S. senators Jon Kyle and John McCain and U.S. Representative Jeff Flake to help raise awareness of what the group is doing.
“Our U.S. representatives fight for our needs if they know our needs,” said Ms. Kucenski. “I want to encourage young people to contact their representatives so they understand what teenagers need, everyone deserves to go to school in a safe environment, and students can speak up and let their representatives know this.”
Cougars for Change also participated in a national video contest called “For Good” that is sponsored by BullyBust and the producers of the musical “Wicked.” The video includes footage taken from the Kickoff with Kelsey and the Shuffling for Change event that took place during the Cougars for Change spirit week. The winners of this contest will be able to meet the cast of “Wicked” and will also receive $500 to support their program. The video has also been posted on the Cougars for Change website.
Ms. Kucenski and her students have also created Facebook and Twitter pages to spread the word and to get more people aware of what they are doing.
“We are trying to get different culture and policy makers to spread anti-bullying awareness,” said Ms. Kucenski. “The students at CCJH are doing their part to create a better climate at school, so we would like support from other people who have the power to spread this movement on to other schools throughout the country.”
Ms. Kucenski also explained that members of Cougars for Change are also coming up with their own ideas to spread the world locally and some even nationally.
“I have one student who even wrote an email to the Ellen Show because he wants to spread our movement to other schools across the country,” she said.
Cougars for Change has also recently started an anti-cyberbullying campaign called, “Delete Hate, Share Love.” More details are posted on their Web site at

By Krystal Celis
Staff writer

Cougars for Change was started because Cactus Canyon students realized they could do more to help prevent bullying. Students realized they are capable of changing their own environment.
Students who were a part of Cougars for Change promoted the new program with a spirit week March 5-9.
On Monday, students wore yellow or smiley faces to share a smile. On Tuesday, participants wore red for love and to thank someone who showed them an act of kindness. On Wednesday, students wore glasses to look out for bullying. On Thursday, students word red, white, and blue and signed a pledge to be bully-free. The week ended with a Friday white-out.
The group plans to continue its activities through the rest of the school year and even into other schools.
“I hope to spread our program to all the schools in this district,” said Jessica Kucenski, who started the program in her science classes. “For Cactus Canyon Junior High, we have many different activities planned that will promote empathy, kindness, and acceptance around school and the community.”
Kucenski said there has been a huge improvement in CCJH school environment. Students are kinder to each other. New students feel welcome because students show them kindness. Students who have been bullied feel confident to be assertive and stand up for themselves.
“Former bullies have told me that they no longer bully others,” said Kucenski.
Eighth grader Kelsey Martinez chose to participate in C4C because she wanted to help bring awareness about bullying and the effects of being bullied.
“I felt like it would be different if a student, instead of teacher came to talk about bullying,” said Martinez. “From my experience, students listen better about serious topics when its coming from another student. People very close to me have been affected by it and I want to break the cycle of hurt.”

By Paige Mace
Staff writer

Cougars for Change is an anti-bullying program that Jessica Kucenski’s students created to bring awareness to bullying issues. It is meant to bring students together to change their school environment so that every student feels safe to be at Cactus Canyon.
The group will sponsor a spirit week March 5-9 and prepared students for it with Kickoff with Kelsey on Feb. 29 when eighth grader Kelsey Martinez spoke throughout the day about the effects of bullying.
“I helped out by doing the Kickoff with Kelsey,” said Martinez. “I talked to all the seventh and eighth graders Wednesday. I talked about bullying for about 10 minutes and then they went back to class.”
Everyone involved in Cougars for Change communicates through e-mail and meets as a committee at least once a week during ELO. Kucenski encourages committees to communicate with each other frequently so they can accomplish their goals.
“I want students to feel safe at school, to be accepted for who they are, and realize how much potential they have to change their environment when they work together and support each other,” said Kucenski, an eighth grade science teacher.
Kucenski came up with the idea after Martinez wrote a series of anti-bullying stories for the Cougar News Blog. When Martinez interviewed Kucenski for a story, she asked how Kucenski felt she couild stop bullying, which inspired Kuenski to create Cougars for Change.
“No one deserves to be called names, to be made fun of, or to be physically assaulted for being different,” Kucenski said. “We are all different and unique, and that is what makes everyone special.”
Anyone can get involved by letting Ms. Kucenski know they would like to help out with Cougars for Change.
One of her students created a Google Apps document that is shared with all members. This document is a way for all of the people involved to communicate ideas and organize activities. Other students who may not want to join the official committee can still get involved by spreading kindness around campus and supporting any efforts to combat bullying.
Kucenski has challenged all her students to do something nice for another student they may not know well. Sometimes a smile can change a person’s entire day, she said.