The foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains

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Academic Competitions


Here is a sampling of CFSD academic contest winners.


The following students and their poems were winners in the 2023 CFSD District Poetry Contest: Farrah Elias, "Upon the Lovely Blue" (kindergarten, VV); Olivia Barone, "Desert Poem" (1st grade, MZ); Felix Terry, "The Outside Showers" (2nd grade, CV); Audrey Fraser, "Monsoon Season" (3rd grade, CV); London Emerson, "Come and Go" (4th grade, VV); Eleanor Fellrath, "Hope" (5th grade, MZ); Zen Shah, "My Loyal Friend" (6th grade, OG); Julia Ellis, "DejaVu" (7th grade, OG); Sam Yetka, "The Mule on a crumbling road" (8th grade, OG), Calista Morrison, "What am I?" (9th grade); Natalia Ortiz, "[Maybe it's time to let go]" (10th grade); Amy Cao, "Indulgence" (11th grade); Tuko Goes, "Sobra Sobradinho" (12th grade)
Read the poems here.


Katherine Wang, Sunrise Drive 5th grader, was among the 12 winners at the Tucson Festival of Books of the Aline Goodman Young Artist Award 2023, sponsored by the Friends of Western Art. The contest encourages young artists to develop their skills and express themselves in Western themes. Winners are awarded a $100 art supply gift card, a commemorative poster, and are included in the Young Authors and Young Anthology of Winners. Her art teacher is Skylar Symonds.


Congratulations to Esperero students, Vincent (7th) and Julian (8th) Merheb who took 2nd place at the Arizona State Championship Blitz Chess Tournament. Congratulations to three Sunrise Drive 1st grade chess team members, Owen Chu, Adam Elitzer, and Eleanor Smith, who won 1st place in the state chess tournament on January 21.


High school choir members Senior Julia Jonas, Junior Ellaina Carnahan, Sophomore Jacqueline Foley, and Freshman Abigail Carnahan performed at the Arizona Tier 1 Solo & Ensemble Festival. All 4 singers received the highest possible rating of Superior and have qualified to advance to the Tier 2 festival. Their Choir Director is CFHS Teacher Jeff Evans.


CFHS DECA students competed at the District 3 conference at Cochise College in Sierra Vista on January 12. They competed in events that tested skills in marketing, management, finance, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Twelve (12) students scored highly and will move on to state competition: Aiden Amado, Jacob Bergthold, John Donnelly, Joaquin Islas, Andrew King, Lexcea King, Anissa Madrid, Sophia Malino, Ava Mercaldo, Kaylee Ornelas, Shubh Patel, and Zachary Wagenheim. DECA is sponsored by CFHS Teacher Jason Reinhardt.


At the 2024 FIRST LEGO League State Championship, CFSD teams had a strong showing among the dozens of teams who participated from across Arizona. The competition was hosted by the Ira Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University.

The Escape Artists won the Engineering Excellence Award, which celebrates a team with an efficiently designed robot, an innovative project solution that effectively addresses the season challenge and great Core Values. The Bright Light Benders won the Breakthrough Award, which celebrates a team that made significant progress in their confidence and capability in both the Robot Game and Innovation Project and are a shining example of excellent Core Values. Picture This! won second place in Robot Design for their outstanding programming principles. The Rockin’ Robots won ninth place in the Robot Game, successfully completing most of this season’s robot missions.

Team members: Escape Artists - Sebastian Bonomolo, Lucas Byrne, Noah Chavez, Luke Danilowitz, Graham Martin, Brendan Suit, and Cillian Walsh. Their coach and mentors are Charlotte Ackerman, Nancy Hsiao, and Henry Bonomolo. Light Benders - Madison Chiem, Audrey Dessent, Reed Maskell, Warren Moore, Sarah Orr, Lucas Rodgriquez, Niko Sawatzki, and Jolie Wung. Their coach and mentor are Charlotte Ackerman and Nancy Hsiao. Picture This! - Sophia Barrios, Ella Halvorsen, Ali Lucas, Archer Matika, Lily Ruiz, Michael Stefano, and Gigi Trombetta. Their coach and mentor are Charlotte Ackerman and Nancy Hsiao. Rockin' Robots - Blake Brasfield, Jacob Colman, Landry Henderson, Beckett Latcham, Brooke Miller, Claire Varden, Colin Wilhelm, and Liam Wilhelm. Their coaches and mentors are Noah Mickey-Colman, Maura Baker, Kathryn Varden, and Buddy George.

Graphic Design

CFHS Graphic Design students participated recently in the Quickfire Design challenge hosted by the Arizona Design Education Network. Students have 2 days to design a solution to the given prompt. Giovanni Arenas took 1st place in a competition where students had to design a logo for a restaurant named Metropolis that focuses on cuisine from cultures all over the world. His graphic design teacher is Megan Badger.


The following social studies students qualified for State History Day competition: Natalie Aaronson, Atharva Deshmukh, Nizar Hadeli, Ingrid Heim, Calvin Holst, Sarah Kaddoura, Aidan Jackson, Ryan Kemmer, Jordan Knope, Gia Longo, Nadia Louri, Rebeca Moreno , Tess Nakonechy, Elyssia Salamanca-Fernandez, Alexander Reich. Their advisor is Summer McCall.

Marching Band

The Marching Falcons represented CFHS on Saturday, October 7, at the Bands of America Festival in Flagstaff, AZ. The Marching Falcons took to the field for the first time ever in this prestigious marching competition, which features bands from around the country. This year's festival had bands from Arizona, California, New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada. The Falcons found out at the 4:00 p.m. awards assembly that they had made the finals and would march again at 8:00 p.m. The Marching Falcons returned home having earned 8th place overall and 2nd place amongst the bands from Arizona. Director of Bands is Renee Shane-Boyd.


Students Jayden Yao (SD), Warren Moore (SD), Miles Hao (SD), Tyler Tong (SD), and Haoyu Wang (MZ) with Coach Ning Hao did well at the virtual Math League National Championships on July 19. The team's scores placed them in the U.S. Top 25 in Division 5. Their work made the contest look as easy as pi.


Kudos to our Sinfonia and Symphonic Strings orchestras on their performances on Friday, October 20, at the Arizona Band and Orchestra Directors Association Fall Orchestra Festival held at Tucson High School. Sinfonia earned an Excellent with Recognition and Symphonic Strings earned a Superior with Distinction. Their teacher/director is Ryan Watson.

Odyssey of the Mind

Community Schools' OM teams competed at the March 27 State Championships. Two teams placed 1st: Odyssey ReOMvention Div II team took 1st in all categories (state champs). Team members are Esperero students Ethan Bialis, Arianna DuPont, Lilianne Ferguson, Addison Fluegel, Annalise Runyon, and Soleil Sakali. Life is a Circus! Div I team placed 1st in Long term and style (state champs). Team members are Ventana Vista students Zeke Bialis, Beau DuPont, Isabel Perez, Isabella Rowe, and Ishani Timbadia. Other award-winning CFSD teams were Escape vroOM Div I taking 3rd place overall and 1st place in Spontaneous with VV team members Benjamin Barlow, Andrew Krokhmal, Eliot Mandel, Daniel Sadiq, Jasper Torrance, Ethan Wagner, and Grace Wolf; Classics...The Musical Production Div I winning 3rd place overall and 2nd in Spontaneous with VV students Lyra Boyt, Eleanor Hudgens, Naomi Hudgens, Elena Mehl-Dominguez, and Julia Moreno; Classics...The Musical Production Div II winning 5th place with EC team members Campbell Arbogast, Stella Ausland, Scarlett Bonomolo, Esai Carrillo, Lillian Dupont, Oliviann Matty, and Isabella Trader; Life is a Circus! Div II taking 4th place overall and 2nd in Spontaneous with EC team members Charlotte Cassell, Alejandra Albino Chapman, Lily Henderson, Joshua Holden, Alexandra Kapke, and Felix LeBlanc. All six teams are coached by Tiffanie Bialis. Parent volunteer Cookie DuPont helps coach the Ventana Vista teams.


Pioneer 327 won three judged awards at the FIRST Tech Challenge state championship at Northern Arizona University: Inspire Award (over all award), 2nd place; Control Award (autonomous program), 2nd place; Think Award (engineering portfolio), 3rd place; Connect Award (team that best connects with their local science, technology, engineering, and math community), 3rd place. Members of the team are Elyse Ardolino, David Beck, Henry Bonomolo, Eugenio Cambuston, Braden Cantor-Goldner, Own Cantor-Goldner, Zakary Gruber, Presley Landis, Ethan Lin, Kyle Lo, Dale Nelson, Christian Pierson, Camila Ritz, Seth Rojas, and Spencer Schiller. Alternates are Sara Nielsen, Thomas Scott, and Cole Warnock. Their coaches are Charlotte Ackerman, Mark Haye, and Lukas Gruber. Team mentor is Jackson Tint.


The following CFSD students and their projects were winners at the Southern Arizona Research, Science and Engineering Foundation (SARSEF) science fair: Canyon View - Autumn Andrews-Hanna, "What things affect plant growth?" (2nd place); Isabelle Babst, "Alfalfa growth in a warmer future" (1st place); Olivia Babst, "Do young plants suffer from car exhaust fumes? Let's ask alfalfa!" (1st place); Myla Closterman, "The Beak of the Bird" (3rd place); Krish Kedia, Alekasandr Sudakov, Caris Wiegand, "Loop Bike Path Lights" (3rd place);  Margaret Kennedy Morris, "Plant Growth Results Using Different Kinds of Liquids to [Water] the Plants" (3rd place); Levi Siemens, "How do kids learn better - Google Slides vs. Active" (1st place); Jocelyn Smerz's class, "The Great Pencil Problem" (1st place); Linus Wright, "Mobile Energy Generator" (Award of Excellence). Catalina Foothills High School - Josiah Holguin, Zakary Gruber, "Genetic Diversity in Duplicate Genes Produced by Ancient Whole Genome Duplications" (3rd place); Brandon Martz, Henry Roth Gordon, "Agrivoltaic Efficiency in Selected Lettuce Varieties During Drought Conditions" (2nd place); Nicole Richards, Sophia Tsai, "The Effect of a Labellum on the Success of Bumble Bee (Bombus impatiens) Landings" (1st place). Manzanita - Maura Baker's class, "Wonderful Water" (2nd place); Ella Winter, "How does music affect my heart rate and breathing rate?" (3rd place); Lilah Winter, "Family Germs: Do family members really share the same microbiomes with one another?" (1st Place). Sunrise Drive - David Bui, "Comparing Balloons Filled with Different Gases" (1st place); Katharina Mangelsdorf, "Trebuchet Science Experiment" (3rd place); Madi Myers, "How can marshmallows sink in water?" (Special recognition); Amelie Puell, "The battery consumption of my toy car" (1st place); Aaheli Shil, "Floods, Floaties, and Lives" (3rd place); Westyn Spear, Adilyn Navarro, "SF2022WESTYN&ADILYN" (Award of Excellence); Melissa Touma, "How Far Can It Stretch" (3rd place); Zachary Tucker, "Fiberglass Casts: Does Temperature Matter?" (2nd place); Abrielle Zoucha, "Which Location Is the Best to Slow Down the Rotting Process of a banana?" (Special recognition); Ventana Vista - Maura Baker's class, "Beating Buffelgrass" (1st place); Jaxson Burhans, "Gasses in Plant Growth" (2nd place); Tzippora Chorny, "Nailed It" (Resilience Through STEM Award); Jennings Cluck, "What makes a plant grow faster? A nerite snail or a labiste guppy?"(3rd place); Kai Concannon, "Deflategate 2014" (2nd place); Emily Dockins, "Dog Treats" (3rd place); Zoe Frankfort, "Tooth Truth" (2nd place); Naomi Hudgens, "The Five Second Rule" (2nd place); Natasha Jain, "Healthy eating at school (specifically snack)" (2nd place); Chris Job, "How much water is in your fruit?" (3rd place); Michael Montoya, "Do plants grow better in hot or cold?" (1st place); Dexter Potter, "Cardinal Cafe" (2nd place); Brecken Schlenker, "Bad chemicals. Healthy eats?" (3rd place); Arlo Tofte, "Does Beyblade Size Matter" (2nd place); Ariana Wallace, "Why Are Astronauts Weightless on the International Space Station?" (2nd place).  

Science Olympiad

CFHS placed first at the Science Olympiad invitational tournament held at Casteel High School in Queen Creek on January 20. Congratulations to the team members and to their Teachers/Coaches Kristen Vanderford and Kevin Duong.

Blue Team members are Gwen Alviar, Elliot Aubrey, Francesca Barela, Ava Becker, Logan Curley, Riya Fadia, Jude Fell, Dean Gill, Ella Hennings, Max Henry,Max Irey, Gabi Malo-Molina, Sara Nielsen, Nina Raju, Thomas Scott, and Iliana Wisniewski. Silver Team members are Junchen (Jason) Jia, Liliana Kalish, Gordon Kim, Alex Lehrman, Fritz Mcgee, Brandon Mokhtarian, Raiden Smith, Caleb Vanderford, Ravindu Vithanachchi, Alex Wagonheim, Damion Welz-Rabe, and Cyrus Zhang.

Speech and Debate

Two CFHS Speech and Debate team members are among the 77 Arizona competitors for the National Speech & Debate Association championship ("Nationals"), which will be held online this year. Junior Josh Tint is selected as the first qualifier in the even Big Questions. Senior Husuf Rahman is named a second alternate for Congressional Debate. The competition takes place June 14- 20. Their teacher coach is Angela Hill.


Congratulations to Samantha Emslie (CV 5th) who is CFSD's spelling champion for 2023. She will move onto the Pima County Spelling Bee on February 18.

Theatre Arts

Our high school theatre department did very well at the AZ Thespian Regional Festival on Saturday, January 20th. CFHS took home 14 Superiors and an Excellent in Acting and Musical Theatre Performance categories, a Superior in Short Film, an Excellent in Playwriting, and an Excellent in Scenic Design. In the Tech challenges, we received: first place in Cable Coiling, second place in knot tying, and first Place Overall. The actors: Vince Clark, Vivianna Colson, Sixx Elliott, Sofia Galina-Garcia, Wesley Geary, Charlotte Henderson, Haleigh Hinkle, Lance Jacobson, Kiera Kuehnle, Elise McFarlane, Robin Oxnam, Jaden Peterson, Miranndah Rivera, Keyanee Walls, and Jameson Westenskow. The technicians: Dorian Andrews, Vince Clark, Saki Grobe, Elise McFarlane, Robin Oxnam, Jasper Rolfe, and Jameson Westenskow. The CFHS Theatre Arts Teacher is Amy Byroad.