The depth and joy of learning in elementary specials classes at Summit School of Ahwatukee

There is nothing ELEMENTARY about Learning in Art, Music, Science, Spanish and Technology in kindergarten – fourth Grades

 April 2015

ART ~ Kathleen Kupper & Selene Kupper


Transportation designs evolved from sketches to final models as students explored the career of industrial design. Printmaking studies invite students to create linear etchings and images that overlay a colored painting. Vocabulary and printmaking processes provide the working techniques to make multiple images. The framed prints are ready for student portfolios. The classroom theme of Growing Things unfolds in the studio with a series of projects. Our first project begins with the story of a student’s science experiment that rains oversized vegetables across the world! We discuss Cezanne’s still life paintings. Students develop drawing skills by realistically depicting a still life of fruits and vegetables. Observational skills are sharpened.

First Grade

First Grade art students researched, sketched, and illustrated depictions of animals and habitats. Realistic drawing, wettodry glazes, and wetonwet watercolor techniques were learned as students produced works for the culminating event. Props for stages sets were constructed to add texture and depth. In addition to producing a glass bowl for the Summit Auction, students learned the working techniques and vocabulary for fused glass art. Using skill and imagination, each first grade student has created their own glass art to take home.

Second Grade

Second Grade constructed handmade pamphlet bound books with waxed linen and beaded spines. The books become part of a classroom writing project. Using fusible millefiori, glass flowers, students created an enchanting vase for the Summit Auction. In addition, the students used millefiori to make their own fused glass surprises! We are studying the artworks of Georgia O’Keeffe and exploring watercolor glaze techniques and compositional devices. As students become immersed in the new classroom theme, we will begin looking at industrial and graphic design through a series of new design projects.

Third Grade

Third Grade was introduced to batik designs from African, Indian, and Indonesian cultures as we celebrate Summit’s Global Awareness Day. Research and sketches evolved into final resist drawings on fabric. Textile paint glazes activate the symbolic drawings with vibrant color stories. Removing the resist added another dimension to our excitement and discovery. Crisp white line drawings emerged and activated the fabric surface. Hand stitches of colored floss complete the works. We completed a collaborative glass platter for the upcoming Summit Auction. In addition, we are exploring new directions in fused glass art. Each student is creating multiple glass components that will form their own complex glass art.

Fourth Grade

Fourth grade studied batik designs from African, Indian, and Indonesian cultures as we celebrate Summit’s Global Awareness Day. Research and sketches evolved into final resist drawings on fabric. Textile paint glazes activate the symbolic drawings with vibrant color stories. Removing the resist added another dimension to our excitement and discovery. Crisp white line drawings emerged and activated the fabric surface. In preparation for the Taliesin West fieldtrip, we are learning about Wright’s architecture and contributions to twentieth century culture. Imagining we are apprentices in the Fellowship, students design and model their own desert shelters. We are looking forward to the tour of Taliesin West.

MUSIC ~ Jennifer Horne


We created music that was inspired by various photos of nature. We enjoyed listening to our creations and having our classmates try and figure out which photo the music was based on. We are also being introduced to how the steady beat in music can be shown with green magnets placed on the board. These magnets can also be arranged to show a song’s melody, how it goes up and down in pitch.

First Grade

We have been creating music to represent the animal and/or habitat we are studying in the home classroom. We are also developing our singing skills through the Habitat Song.

Second Grade

Our focus has been tempo—or the perceived speed of the music. Using a song from American musical heroine Ella Fitzgerald (“ATisket ATasket”), we first passed a ball around the circle on the steady beat at various speeds—slow, fast, medium, getting faster, getting slower, etc. We showed the tempos we used with pictures that look like sine waves – big waves spaced out for slower music and waves closer together for faster music. We have also created our own music and identified the tempo of our music or how it changes tempo.

Third Grade

Coinciding with their study of sound in Science class, we are exploring how to make a variety of sounds with just one object. We recorded these sounds and then listened to them not knowing which object we were hearing. We were challenged to identify the object and more importantly describe the sound’s tone color with apt adjectives, such as “crackling,” “squeaky,” etc. We also started to explore various ways of categorizing these objects and their sounds – based on material, the quality of the tone color, etc. Finally, we are in the stage of inventing and making our own instruments using recycled materials. We will also learn about the HornbostelSachs system of classifying musical instruments.

Fourth Grade

Our focus has been texture in music. We are learning how songs can be put together with various parts—such as a bass line, an ostinato (a repeated pattern), a melody, chords, a rhythmic part, and perhaps another melody. Using the song “I Love the Mountains,” we learn the various parts and decide which part should begin the song, which should come in next, third, etc. We make a texture chart to show when each part plays—kind of like a musical score. Eventually, we will examine a score that uses traditional musical notation. We are also or will be creating our own music in small music and making a texture chart that shows each part and when it plays.

SCIENCE ~ Lori Phillips


The kindergartners are strengthening their observation skills while learning about trees. So far the students have learned the functions of the main parts of a tree (roots, trunk, branches, and leaves), participated in several activities (discussions, puzzles, games, and observations of real trees) to identify properties of conifer and broadleaf trees, and compared and contrasted a variety of leaves. Their favorite activity by far, however, has been the tree scavenger hunt! In teams of two, the kindergartners ventured outside using their observation skills to locate a tree based on the properties they were given in a picture of just a small part of a tree.

First graders

The first graders have begun to study the moon. The unit began with a discussion of what objects are in the “sky”. The brainstorming list contained everything from an insect to a satellite.  As the students shared their thoughts, the list was separated into two categories. After some more discussion and thinking, the students were able to figure out that the list had been sorted into a category of objects that are always in the “sky” (celestial) and others that come and go (transient). We then discussed the night sky vs. the day sky and received confirmation that the moon can sometimes be seen during the day. The first graders were also introduced to model making as they made scale models to represent the size of Earth and our moon. First grade students will also be discovering what causes the moon to appear to change shape (phases).

Second grade

The second graders have finished up their Science / Technology unit. After gaining an understanding that technology is not just electronics and computers, students researched one technology that used science to solve a problem, including clothing, eyeglasses, and baskets. We have also focused on a few scientists that have made contributions to society through their discoveries and inventions. Students have been exposed to Isaac Newton and his Three Laws of Motion, Alexander G. Bell and his telephone, Thomas Edison and his kinetoscope, and Dorothy Hodgkins and her study of crystals. While learning about these scientists, the second graders have also seen inertia in action as they tried to get a hex nut into a bottle, learned how sound travels as they made cup phones, reviewed how the eye sees as they made thaumatropes, and observed properties of salt crystals.

Third graders

The third graders learned a variety of properties of light and sound. They discovered that there are different types of sources (luminescent, and non luminescent), the path light takes, what causes different reflections (regular, diffused), why a pencil appears to bend in water (refraction), and that visible light is actually a spectrum of colors. While exploring sound, it was confirmed that sound is caused by vibrations and that sound can be used to send messages such as a fire alarm. Third graders worked with a variety of instruments (tongue depressor, sound generator, kalimba, xylophone, waterphone, and string beam) in which they discovered that the strength of a vibration changes the volume of sound and that pitch is affected by both the speed (frequency) of a vibration as well as the length of the object that is vibrating.

Fourth grade

Fourth graders have been exploring electricity and circuits this quarter. Working together they were able to figure out how to get a light bulb to light up with a Dcell and two wires, and then with one wire. They were then given additional components to make a circuit that they did not have to hold together. While exploring their completed circuits, the fourth graders came to understand concepts such a series and parallel circuits, short circuits, open and closed circuits, and conductors and insulators.

SPANISH ~ Elsa Conti

Kindergarten amigos

Kindergarten amigos began to practice terminology from “los sentimientos” (feelings) unit. The kindergarteners practiced the expressions: “me siento feliz” (I feel happy) “me siento triste” (I feel sad), “me siento sorprendido” (I feel surprised), “me siento enojado” (I feel angry.) Also, students began to study “ Transportes” (Transportation) unit. Students practiced the words: “el carro” (car), “el taxi” (taxi), “el carro de policía” (police car), “el avión” (plane), “el tren” (train), “el bote” (boat), “el autobús” (bus), and “la bicicleta” (bicycle).

First grade

First grade amigos reviewed vocabulary and songs from last quarter’s curriculum and began to practice terminology from “criaturas del mar” (ocean creatures) unit. The first graders practiced the words: “el delfín” (dolphin) “el pez” (fish), “el pulpo” (octopus), “la tortuga del mar” (seaturtle), “el tiburón” (shark), “la estrella del mar” (starfish), “la medusa” (jellyfish), and “la ballena” (whale.) Also, students reviewed animal’s vocabulary from The Polar region, The African savannah and The rainforest as they played an interactive game on the smartboard.

Second grade

Second grade amigos reviewed vocabulary and songs from last quarter’s curriculum and began to practice terminology from: “El alfabeto en español” (Spanish alphabet.) The second graders compared and contrasted the English and Spanish alphabets and reviewed the letters “ch” “ll” “ñ” and “rr”. Also, students researched words that start with letters “a” (agua, azul, amigo, arriba) and “e” (elefante, estrella, excelente, escuela) and played “lotería del alfabeto en español” (Spanish alphabet bingo.) Also, students took turns presenting their “Ocupaciones” (Occupations) power point presentations.

Third grade

Third grade amigos reviewed vocabulary and songs from last quarter’s curriculum and began to study “Los Países de Latinomérica” (Latin American Countries.) Students brainstormed different countries where Spanish is the official language. They began a powerpoint; which included countries, capitals and flags of Latin American countries. They learned different facts about Argentina. Also, the third graders wrapped up last quarter’s unit by finishing “Mis favoritos” (My favorites) and “Los Animales” (Animals) powerpoint presentations.

Fourth grade amigos

Fourth grade amigos learned how to describe their favorites by using the expression: “Me gusta” (I like). “Me gusta jugar el fútbol Americano” (I like to play football,) “Me gusta leer el libro Sobrevivi” (I like to read the book Survival) “Me gusta comer la pizza” (I like to eat pizza,) “Me gusta cantar Blank Space” (I like to sing Blank Space,) etc. Students reviewed basic Spanish dialogues and began to practice terminology from “El Sistema Solar” (The Solar System) unit. Also, the Fourth graders continued to present their weather projects. I am very impressed with the students’ ability to read their scripts in Spanish and their unique and creative ways to display their movie. Parents, thank you so much for your support!

TECHNOLOGY ~ Gail Soderquist


Students continue to practice their keyboarding skills in Dance Mat. We have a poster in the lab where they can record their name when they finish a level during class. Students also practiced typing a document recently about the Statue of Liberty and a spring poem. We also reviewed some computer vocabulary and talked about how we get the Internet in the lab. Satellites and how they help us with communication on earth was also a topic of discussion during class.

 First grade

Students have been creating some items for the upcoming culminating event about animals and habitats. One class session they edited headings for their posters by changing fonts and colors. These were then saved to their folder on the network. They also imported a photo of their animal and typed captions underneath, which was a several step process. They did a wonderful job doing these tasks in class!

Second grade

Students have been practicing their keyboarding skills and also doing some activities that tie in with their theme of business and economy. One of those activities was a virtual lemonade stand where they had to choose different options in order to end up with a profit for their business. Another activity was called Coffee Shop where they had similar choices and one where they had to keep track of their spending and debt. Last week students created flyers for their class snack business.

 Third grade

The environment and endangered animals has been the theme that we have been tying lab activities into lately during class. There are a number of interesting web resources where students have learned about these issues. Currently they are working on a PowerPoint presentation about a particular endangered animal, which includes descriptions and reasons why they are threatened. Next week we will be working on a word processing activity about recycling.

 Fourth grade

Students have been doing keyboarding practice in during class, and also learning about Mythology on various web resources. Recently they began working on a presentation on this topic, and will learn how to add music to it. The next presentation program we will learn about is Prezi, which is a web based tool with so many exciting options.

Mighty Hearts – A Mighty Impact

Homeward Bound announced that Summit School of Ahwatukee wins this year’s “Mighty Heart Award” for collecting the most diapers per student of all participating schools in Arizona!

Homeward Bound, Arizona’s largest provider of transitional housing, is expressing its gratitude by scheduling a day for the Phoenix Suns Gorilla to visit Summit’s preschool through eighth grade students, and by giving a $1,000 to the school!

And what do Summit’s student council and its adviser Melissa France, who spearhead the annual drive, plan to do with the money? Pay it forward of course, by increasing Summit’s donations to Homeward Bound’s Diaper Drive and Thanksgiving Basket drive for 2014!

“I am so proud of our students and our community!” exclaims France. “Thank you Summit, from the bottom of my heart, for all of your help and support. Together we are helping our students learn the importance of giving back!”

This is the second time that Summit School of Ahwatukee has led Homeward Bound’s annual drive. In 2011they collected 20,493 diapers – more than any Arizona school.

“Melissa and Summit School have provided over 200,000 diapers, which helped our clients and been shared with other non-profit organizations across the valley,” shares Vicki Piña, Homeward Bound’s Special Projects Manager. “Melissa is a wonderful and caring woman that we love and appreciate.”

Beyond the obvious benefit of the donations, is the impact on the future leaders of our community, our children. Each year France takes her student council to Homeward Bound to tour and see firsthand how their projects impact kids and families. Eileen Rogers, Founder of the Annual Baby Diaper Drive, believes that this type of involvement “allows students to develop their creative and leadership skills, ultimately creating empathetic and amazing future adults who will be good citizens in our communities.”

Earlier this year, the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce named Melissa France the Educational Mentor of the Year, in part due to her leadership with the Summit student council and their ten year support of Homeward Bound.

Homeward Bound is a nationally recognized model of success. The 12 to 24 month program provides transitional housing and comprehensive services to assist families achieve economic independence, secure long-term, safe, decent, affordable housing and break multi-generational cycles of homelessness, welfare dependence and domestic violence. To learn how you can help:

Four Summit School of Ahwatukee Alumni Qualify as 2013 National Merit Semifinalist

Summit School of Ahwatukee congratulates 2010 graduates Marissa Patel, Kelsey Harrison, Nora Mencinger, and Bomi Johnson who are now part of the prestigious and elite group of 2013 National Merit Semifinalists.

“Often high schools of 2,000 to 3,000 students have at most only a handful students earn this distinction. For Summit to have four students in a graduating class of 29 is exemplary,” exclaims Head of School, Patrick O’Brien. “We are clearly proud of these graduates, and of the caliber of our teachers and curriculum.”

Marissa Patel - resized for Facebook

Marissa Patel, a Summit valedictorian, attends Xavier Preparatory High School. She aspires to attend an Ivy League school and becoming a doctor. Her weighted GPA of 4.5 indicates that her dream will likely become reality.

 “At Summit I discovered my love for learning,” exclaims Patel. “The middle-school years really helped to prepare me for my high school experience. Through the broad curriculum and engaging teachers, I was able to create a strong foundation for the wide-range of subjects taught in high school. The close-knit bonds made during my eight years at Summit allowed me to have the confidence to face the larger environment of high school. I am incredibly thankful for the liberal arts education as it has shaped who I am today!”

 Who Patel is today is a very busy and accomplished leader. She is a member of Xavier’s Key Club, Mu Alpha Theta Math Honors Society, National Spanish Honors Society, National Honors Society, Quill and Scroll Honors Society, Unity in Diversity Club, a Student Ambassador, a sprinter on Xavier’s track team, and the current Editor-in-Chief of the school yearbook. Additionally, this year Patel and sister Monika created the first Xavier / Brophy Hope-a-Thon event: a cancer fundraiser walk for the City of Hope, to benefit cancer research and patient treatment.

Kelsey HarrisonKelsey Harrison, also a senior at Xavier, received Summit’s 2010 Sabre Cat Award which recognizes enthusiasm, service, attitude and academic excellence. The award proved to be given to the right person as Harrison still volunteers in Summit’s preschool summer camps. Also an accomplished guitarist, she began taking lessons with Summit’s middle school music teacher Dr. Chris Dorsey, when she was 5, and remains a student of his today.

At Xavier, Harrison continues her legacy of service as the Spanish Club president, and an active member of The National Honor Society, Key club, Spanish National Honor Society, the Diversity Committee, Leadership Council, and the Academic Decathlon team.  Additionally, she is a teacher’s assistant for AP biology and AP chemistry. She is an AP scholar with distinction and has won awards related to the National Spanish Exam.  She began Spanish as a student in Summit’s preschool. Amidst all this Harrison has earned a 4.5 weighted grade point.  Harrison exclaims, “Summit is a great community and the teachers are amazing.  Because of Summit I was well prepared for advanced classes at Xavier.” 

Nora MencingerNora Mencinger, who will graduate from Mountain Pointe High School, hopes to attend MIT, combining her passion and abilities in science and math.  “I’m interested in going out of state as it will be a rich and hopefully rewarding new experience,” explains Mencinger. Her weighted grade point of 4.83 will likely have MIT anxious to have her enroll. When asked what influence Summit had on her education she shared, “Summit teachers provided a culture of encouragement and of always trying your best that prepared me very well for my successes in high school and beyond.”

Bomi Johnson Bomi Johnson, who will graduate from Desert Vista High School, is an accomplished musician on the piano and flute. She has won many awards for both instruments and has performed with numerous groups, including the Phoenix Youth Symphony, the American String Teachers Association National High School Honors Orchestra, the Arizona All State Band, and North Central Region Orchestra, and the National Honor Band of America. Johnson also runs with the Desert Vista Cross Country team and has leadership positions with the Desert Vista National Honors Society, Desert Vista STAND Club and is a member of the Model United Nations, Desert Vista Symphony Orchestra.

Giving her time and talent to the community is also important to Johnson, who volunteers at the Desert Botanical Garden, as a docent, camp counselor, and special events. She is also the president of the Melodic Minors, a charitable organization which consists of high school musicians in the Phoenix area, who play for various events, including musical fundraising for the Phoenix Youth Symphony.

 This is the fifth Summit graduate to earn this distinction.  2008 Summit graduate Brett Reardon was a National Merit Finalist. He was co-salutatorian of his 8th grade class at Summit. Brett Reardon

Summit School of Ahwatukee Student Council leads school’s 10th annual Thanksgiving drive to help Homeward Bound

Summit School of Ahwatukee Student Council leads school’s 10th annual Thanksgiving drive to help Homeward Bound

After each feather was plucked from the paper turkey, grocery items were purchased, baskets were arranged, letters were written and games and books were added, the Thanksgiving Baskets were complete! Large, functional thanksgiving turkey pixlaundry or wicker baskets brimmed over with all of the tasty ingredients for a traditional Thanksgiving meal, including gift certificates for perishable items, festive napkins, and a fall table cloth. Summit’s Student Council used funds they earned throughout the year to add children’s books and a board game to each basket! Special thanks to Andrea Evans-Elwell and Laura Bachrach for a large donation of books. Special thanks also go to all of the students who donated their Halloween candy for cash. The $40 collected from the candy was used to help fill in missing items from classroom baskets. All throughout the school, from Pre-School to 8th grade, students took pride in knowing that they helped a family in need enjoy a Thanksgiving meal with their families this holiday season.

Student Council Officers and Representatives delivered 30 overflowing Thanksgiving baskets to community outreach organization Homeward Bound, a Phoenix-based non-profit helping struggling families on Monday. Students were taken on a tour of the Homeward Bound facility in order to get a first hand look at the daycare, a housing unit, and the campus in which some of the recipients of our baskets are currently living.thanksgiving basket pix 1

Homeward Bound’s housing and social services has assisted thousands of families rebuild their lives by helping parents develop social skills and professional capabilities they need to live independent, successful and hopeful lives. Services include: transitional housing, case management, employment services, hands-on training by local professionals, education and life skills training, counseling, and nurturing, affordable child care. Visit to learn how to help.

Our kids are helping other kids this holiday season. Just one more reason I love working at the Summit School of Ahwatukee!photo 1 baskets

Summit School of Ahwatukee math teachers Christy Menard and Molly Danforth honored as finalists for the Private School Teacher of the Year Award

Arizona Council for American Private Education (AZCAPE) has announced the finalists for this year’s Arizona Private Education Excellence Awards, dubbed the “Private School Teacher of the Year” awards.

Two Summit School of Ahwatukee teachers, Christy Menard and Molly Danforth, have the honor of being selected as finalist from over two hundred nominations, made by administrators, teachers, parents, students and alums from both faith-based and independent private schools.









“AZCAPE looked for private school teachers and staff members who model integrity, fairness, compassion, and resiliency; have a passion for education and the community served; value innovation and creativity; instill leadership by example; and promote giving back to the community,” explains Sydney Hay, AZCAPE Executive Director. “We believe that our finalists are educators who, in the eyes of the community, model outstanding service to the students, and are passionate and committed to developing the potential in each student. They help their students see their dreams come true.”

Christy Menard teaches high school Algebra and Geometry to Summit School of Ahwatukee middle school students. In 2011, 2012 and 2013 her algebra students scored in the top 10% on the Arizona Association of Teachers of Mathematics state-wide Algebra math competition, with four students in the top 10 state scores.  Menard’s passion for math and teaching exudes from her classroom, where students can be found daily over lunch or before school, voluntarily spending extra time delving into math concepts.

Molly Danforth loves teaching second grade, and as a National Board teacher with a master’s degree, and close to twenty years of teaching experience her students are the beneficiaries. She also serves as Summit’s elementary math peer leader. “We differentiate math instruction based on the student’s level for each new math concept taught in kindergarten through sixth grade,” explains Danforth. “Couple that with hands-on methods of teaching, and having children explain their thinking, we truly get to develop our students’ deeper, critical thinking and problem solving skills.”

AZCAPE will recognize three teachers this year: one from preschool through 3rd grade, another from grades four to eight, and a high school teacher. The final winners will be announced at a reception held in the finalists’ honor on the evening of October 22, 2013 at the Goldwater Institute at 500 E. Coronado in Phoenix. 

 AZCAPE is an affiliate of The Council for American Private Education, a coalition of national organizations and state affiliates serving private elementary and secondary schools.  There are over 33,000 private schools in the United States; in fact, one in every four schools in the nation is private. 

More than five million students attend them nationally. CAPE member organizations including AZCAPE represent more than 80 percent of private school enrollment nationwide.

Summit School of Ahwatukee Student Council fosters leadership, responsibility, school spirit and promotes community service!

Summit School of Ahwatukee has had an active Student Council since 2001 led by Advisor, Melissa France.  Each August, students are encouraged to run for elected office. Students in fifth through eighth grades are elected through a process outlined by the Student Council bylaws, which requires students to obtain recommendations from three teachers, the Head of School, and five peers.

Next the candidates create a poster that demonstrates their strengths for the office they strive to achieve. Finally, students prepare a two to three minute speech to present to the student body on Election Day.

Students may run for the following positions based on grade levels.

President: 8th Grade
Vice President: 7th Grade
Treasurer: 8th Grade
Secretary: 6th Grade
Sergeant at Arms: 6th or 7th Grade
Grade level representatives: Two per grade in grades 5th – 8th

Community service is a key component of the Summit Student Council and is a student-wide focus.

Student Council at Summit School of Ahwatukee fosters leadership, responsibility, school spirit and promotes community service.”
Melissa France, Student Council Advisor

Student Council Store

Visit our front office to place an order for new Summit School of Ahwatukee spiritwear. Each year Student Council members decide on the apparel, purchase the items to stock in the store. Students also organize and manage the store, fill orders, and ensure delivery of orders to the community.

Who: Students in grades 5- 8 are elected to office in August in compliance with the by-laws. Student Council committee membership is a voluntary sign-up, open to all students in grades 6-8.

What: Student Council organizes the following events/activities for the school community. 
• Spirit Days and Pizza Lunch – Student Council selects the themes and sponsors contests or provides items to enhance the day, such as the Neon Bracelets for Neon Day. Student Council also organizes, orders, and serves pizza during Spirit Day.

• Community Service – Student Council organizes, advertises, collects and delivers annual Thanksgiving Baskets and diapers for the Diaper Drive. Both events help support  Homeward Bound, an organization that assists families transition from homelessness to independent living.

• Ice Cream Fridays – Student Council purchases, sells, and advertises for the monthly Ice Cream Friday sales.

• School Support – Student Council members also provide support to school in the form of events such as Jump Rope for Heart. Student Council supports Summit’s Character and Respect Education program (CARE) by providing students with an opportunity to be the Sabre Cat, save $5 on school store items, or receive certificates for free ice cream or pizza lunch through the CARE ticket drawing.

When: Student Council is active from August through May of every school year. Summit has had an active Student Council since 2001. Student Council meets weekly with Mrs. France, the faculty advisor, during lunch and recess time on Wednesdays.

Where: Student Council is mainly active on campus. 

Why: Student Council provides an opportunity for student leadership, school wide community service projects and spreading school spirit.

How Student Council supports the community:
The officers and representatives do speak and work with the larger community through their work in organizing and promoting school-wide community service projects. For the past several years the Student Council has spearheaded support of Homeward Bound through the school’s drives for Thanksgiving Baskets and the holiday Diaper Drive. Student Council officers and representatives tour Homeward Bound in November to learn more about this community location and the people we are helping.

How Student Council supports our school:
Student Council is able to fund activities and gifts to the school through the Spirit Day pizza lunch sales, ice cream sales, and school store profits. All monies made by Student Council are used to give back to the school and or the community.

Student Council spends an average of $250 a year to supply board games, $250 to purchase books and any missing grocery items to complete the Thanksgiving Baskets.

Additionally, Student Council purchases a gift to the school each year. Gifts have included:

  • Sabre Cat mascot costume
  • Podium used for Morning Meetings
  • Sabre Cat rugs outside the offices
  • Picnic benches for middle school lunches
  • Lifelong Guideline banners hanging in the Multi-Purpose Room
  • Stage curtains
  • A new set of encyclopedias for the Knowledge Center
  • A cart for recess athletic supplies
  • During the 2013-2014 school year Student Council was proud to sponsor a 7 speaker series for the school in partnership with notMYkid.

Student Council keeps records of all monetary transactions and reports it to the administration and business office quarterly.

Kindergarten – 5th Science: Look what they are learning now!

by Elementary Science Teacher: Lori Phillips


Kindergarten Scientists have continued their exploration of trees.  They reviewed the term property by going on a tree hunt.  They were given a variety of photos that were taken from our school yard trees.  Each pair of kindergartners had to identify which tree their picture was of by observing the properties in the photograph as well as the real trees.  This week we also began discussing the life cycle of a tree.

Some of the adventures the students will have before the year is through are: observing the inside of seed to see how a plant begins, gain an understanding of trees being a renewable resource, as well as making their own piece of plywood and particle board.

After the First Grade Scientists discovered that salt water has more matter and is therefore denser, they saw that this density enables objects to float easier in the ocean than in fresh water.  The students are now discovering general properties of water, such as it is adhesive and cohesive, it can be absorbed, and it can climb up.  After observing these properties in action with a drop of water and a paper towel, they are conducting an experiment to find out how this relates to plants.

Second Grade Scientists continued their exploration of some human body systems.  A model of the heart was constructed after learning its role in the circulatory system.  The next system they focused on was the respiratory system.  After learning the parts of the respiratory system, the students were amazed to find out that breathing occurs because of air pressure (which they learned about earlier in the year).  They made a working model of the respiratory system so that they can actually see this concept in action.  The final system the second graders will explore will be the digestive system.

Third Grade Scientists have held discussions, done some reading and some planting as they explore the functions of plants and what they need to grow.  Grass seed is currently growing, and the students will be using these plants to experiment on the needs of a plant.  There have been questions about how cacti survive with little water, so we will also be exploring that.

Fourth Grade Scientists have returned to circuitry as they learn the difference between a series and a parallel circuit.  They will be problem solving a fictional scenario of a string of lights next week, where they will employ their understanding of what they have learned about circuits.  The students will end the year by working with electromagnetism.

Fifth Grade Scientists have been exploring the human muscular systems (striped, smooth, and cardiac).  They have made leg and thumb models to better understand how skeletal muscles work (contract), tendons attach muscle to bone, and ligaments hold tendons and bones in place.  The current focus is the heart and circulatory system.  We are concluding that portion of our unit with a pig heart dissection!  We will conclude our unit with an introduction to the nervous system, where they will be conduction experiments that focus on stimuli and responses.


Summit School of Ahwatukee PE Teacher Honored – running club ranks among top 35 in nation

Why sit still when you can walk or run. It’s a theme that Kathy Dean has followed throughout her career, and one she is routinely instilling in the lives of her students at Summit School of Ahwatukee, home for a growing number of Tempe and west Chandler students.

Dean, the school’s physical education teacher, has received recognition for her achievement in helping improve school wellness by serving as a “Fuel Up and Play 60” program adviser, a program of the National Dairy Council and the National Football League in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Dean is the organizer and chief advocate for Summit’s before-school running club. In the 2010-11 school year, 90 students ran or walked more than 1,500 miles, with 10 of them running the equivalent of a full marathon. These healthy kids put Summit on the list of AAHPERD’s top 35 schools in the Let’s Move in School program, developed by First Lady Michelle Obama.

Dean, who is the school’s physical education and wellness specialist for children K through 8, attended Indiana University and Indiana State University, earning a BA degree in health, physical education, recreation and dance and music education. She has a Master’s degree from Indiana State in Exercise Physiology. Dean’s first teaching job was in a small, rural town in northern Indiana where she taught Kindergarten through 12th grade swimming and lifesaving. She later taught at Indiana University and Purdue University while her own kids were growing up, and worked as a wellness consultant for the Indiana Department of Education. She has also worked in as a wellness director for the Wayne Township School Corporation in Indiana and Medtronic Corp. in Tempe.

In 1997 Dean and her family moved to Phoenix, where she taught physical education and music in the Kyrene Schools. She started St. John Bosco School in 2001 and was instrumental in developing the athletic program and the athletic facilities. She has coached just about every sport and volunteered as well as taught fitness classes for the YMCA’s since she was 16.

Dean is current past president of the Arizona Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance and serves on several committees, including Action for Healthy Kids and the Alliance for a healthier Generation. This is her sixth year teaching at Summit School of Ahwatukee.

Summit School of Ahwatukee middle school teachers receive “Excellence in Teaching Award”

Summit School of Ahwatukee middle school teachers, Andrea Yocum, Christy Menard and Amy Lecky, are recipients of this year’s Xavier College Preparatory Golden Gator Award for Excellence in Teaching. Xavier high school recognizes junior high teachers who have been inspirational to Xavier freshmen students. This is the third Golden Gator for Lecky, who teaches middle school language arts and literature, and the second for both science teacher Andrea Yocum, and math teacher Christy Menard.  In previous years, Summit teacher Melissa France has also received this award.

Yocum instills a passion for science in her students. Because her lab class focuses on hands-on, experimental based learning, students are successful in mastering advanced concepts like 8th grade chemistry and physics and 7th grade human body systems. The proof: since 2008, 100% of her students have passed the state’s AIMS science testing with 86 – 96% of Yocum’s 8th graders scoring in the “excelling” range each year.

Yocum’s teaching excellence was also recognized in 2009 when she was one of only 288 teachers nationwide to be selected for the prestigious Honeywell Educators Space Academy Program at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama along with teachers from 16 countries and 47 states.

Lecky teaches both the language arts class and the literature class for 7th and 8th grade where students eagerly volunteer to act the parts from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar! Lecky is also the creator of a program unique to Summit called ROPES (Right of Passage Experiences). Under Lecky’s guidance each student ventures into the community to be mentored for 15 hours in a new life experience. Student’s projects have spanned learning symphony conducting, surgery, journalism, to training for a half marathon.  Research papers and 20 minute presentations to an audience of 100, including demonstrations, mark the culminating event for each student. The experience prepares students for the future, bolsters their confidence and provides a potentially life changing opportunity.

Lecky also created a community service focus in middle school through a Summit program called SERVE, which teaches students the importance and value of sharing their time and talent with their community. To graduate, all eighth grade Summit students are required to donate 20 hours of their time volunteering at organizations of their choice. Often students do far more than required. Students gain insights into the needs of others, fostering a pride in their efforts and a realization of how they can benefit the world around them.

Menard’s 7th and 8th grade math classes are high school level courses: Algebra and Geometry. Her teaching methodology incorporates practical applications and projects to inspire and challenge students, and she has the success to prove it.   Each year, the Arizona Association of Teachers of Mathematics (AATM) sponsors a state-wide Algebra math competition. In 2012, twelve of the Summit School of Ahwatukee seventh grade Algebra students scored in the top 10% in the state. In 2011, four Summit seventh graders scored in the top ten percent statewide, with two students earning an additional distinction by being among the top 10 highest scores in state.

“This algebra course is equivalent to a high school class and they give it their all,” explains teacher Christy Menard. “My students have such a great attitude about learning, making my job as their teacher extremely fun and rewarding.”

Students thankful to help families enjoy the holiday

Summit School of Ahwatukee student council leads school’s 9th annual Thanksgiving drive to help Homeward Bound

This week Summit School of Ahwatukee’s student council, led by advisor Melissa France, delivered 30 overflowing Thanksgiving baskets to community outreach organization Homeward Bound, a Phoenix-based non-profit helping struggling families.

Large, functional laundry or wicker baskets brimmed over with all of the tasty ingredients for a traditional Thanksgiving meal, including gift certificates for perishable items, festive napkins, and a fall table cloth. Summit ’s student council also used $700 of the funds they earned throughout the year to add children’s books and a board game to each basket!
Homeward Bound’s housing and social services has assisted thousands of families rebuild their lives by helping parents develop social skills and professional capabilities they need to live independent, successful and hopeful lives. Services include: transitional housing, case management, employment services, hands-on training by local professionals, education and life skills training, counseling, and nurturing, affordable child care. Visit to learn how to help. Summit is proud to partner with this wonderful community outreach organization.