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Academic Competitions


Here is a sampling of CFSD academic contest winners.


Congratulations to the winners of our annual poetry contest, one from each K-12 grade level. They are: Kindergarten - "Spring" by Xavier Bingham (MZ), 1st Grade - "Micah" by Mara Chan (SD), 2nd Grade - "Pink" by Abby Vanwinkle (MZ), 3rd Grade - "Constellation" by Lilah Winter (MZ), 4th Grade - "The Wild Life" by Reese Lewis (VV), 5th grade - "Rain Dance" by Robyn Burguillo Meyen (VV), 6th grade - "Peace" by Emma McNulty (ECMS), 7th Grade - "Fading Memories" by Zen Shah (OGMS), 8th Grade - "Death" by Riley McGuire (OGMS), 9th Grade - "If I Could" by Quin Mekkelsen, 10th Grade - "Wanderlust" by Avery Maland, 11th Grade - "Dear Imaginary Friends" by Adlanta Cromer, and 12th Grade - "My Girl" by Amy Cao.
Read the poems here.


CFHS student Ellen Kim placed first at the Congressional Art Show held at the offices of Juan Ciscomani in Tucson. Her work is titled 'Unspoken Crisis: The homeless in advanced societies." The piece will be displayed in the US Capitol for one year, Ellen will receive complimentary airfare and be invited to a Congressional Reception for all of the winners around the nation.


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.


Ten CFHS DECA students competed at State. Five are going on to the International Center Development Conference. Aiden Amado and Andrew King placed second in Arizona for Sports and Entertainment Marketing Team Decision Making. Zachary Wagenheim placed fifth in Arizona for Automotive Services Marketing. Jacob Bergthold, Anissa Madrid, and Sophia Mallino received medals for their finishes among the top ten finalists in their events, and Jaoquin Islas and Lexcea King both competed at the finalist level as well. Their sponsor is 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.


Our three CFHS orchestras performed well at the Arizona Band and Orchestra Directors Association's (ABODA) Area Concert Festival at Gilbert High School on March 5. The Symphonic Strings earned a Superior with Distinction rating. The Sinfonia earned a Superior rating. The Concert Orchestra earned an Excellent rating. Their director is Ryan Watson.

The ECMS band also performed well at an ABODA Festival on March 2. The Intermediate Band received a rating of Excellent. Seventh Grade Band received a rating of Superior with Distinction. Eighth Grade Band also received a Superior with Distinction rating. Their director is Cory Walavich.

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 Robotics won the MOTIVATE Award at state competition on February 17, which recognized their inspiring passion for FIRST robotics and their ability to ignite that same enthusiasm in others. In addition, the team received the Finalis Alliance Award for reaching the division finals in the Robot Game and having one of the highest scores of the day. The Pioneers who participated in the state championship are Estaban Aguirre, Elyse Ardolina, Henry Bonomolo, Owen Cantor-Goldner, Braeden Gracy, Zakary Gruber, Ethan Lin, Kyle Lo, Isaak Martin, Dale Nelson, Christian Pierson, Seth Rojas, Cole Warnock, Nathan Wu, and Aiden Zhou. Their coaches are Charlotte Ackerman and San Kunzeman (Caterpillar). Mentors are Jackson Tint, Josh Tint, Lukas Gruber (Leonardo, Inc.), James Wang (Texas Instruments), and Jack Lo (RTX).


Arizona Regional Science & Engineering Fair (SARSEF).
Sunrise Drive: Abrielle Stevens - “What’s that Smell?!” (Fixing Problems That Stink - 3rd place); Armelie Puell - “Fish Behavior in response to the environment” (2nd place); Cora Sakievich - “Cookie Monster” (2nd place); David Bui - “Affects of Temperature on Gold Balls” (3rd place); Diego Fatas-Belous and Jakob Chan - “Does Spicy food Affect Body Temperature?” (3rd place); Emery Chukly - “Why is it a bother to have H202 in our water?” (2nd place); Jotham David - “Conductors and Insulators” (3rd place, Second Place Elementary School award); Sylvie Schenten - “How do the bubbles get into bread?” (1st place); Timothy Wong - “Canyon Melting Project” (2nd place); and Zenji Ashton - “Is Your Fingerprint Identification Actually Safe?” (3rd place). Manzanita Elementary: Aubrey Wettengel - “How Does Tube Size Affect the Weight a Dump Truck Can Lift?” (2nd place); Elise McDonald - “Does Positive or Negative Encouragement Vault a Gymnast to Success?” (2nd place); Elizabeth Sipe and Christopher Sipe - “Investigating Well-Known Baking Techniques” (SARSEF Board Award); Ella Winter - “After How Many Days of Use Does a Water Bottle Become Germy?” (1st place); Kathleen Bowman’s Class - “One Small Step for Manzanita, One Giant Leap for the Environment: Less Idling, More Smiling” (3rd place); Lilah Winter - “How do Different Macronutrient Ratios Affect My Blood Glucose and Blood Ketones?” (3rd place, Alex and Laura Catalina Foothills Unified School District #16 2101 E. River Road, Tucson, AZ 85718 (520) 209-7500 (520) 209-7570 FAX Schauss Elementary School Award “WCC Best Female Project, Third Grade, WCG Shirley Bemis Memorial Award); Maura Baker’s class - “How Strong Are You, Mayan Blue?” (1st place); Megan Winter’s class - “Which Classroom is Germier, a First Grade Classroom or a Fifth Grade Classroom?” (1st place); Mike Allie’s class - “Recycling Sorting for Success” (1st Place); Remy Scott - “Why is Milk White?” (1st place); and Ria Tuli - “Colors and Feelings” (2nd place). Canyon View Elementary: Autumn Andrews-Hanna - “Twisted Science: Tornados and Hurricanes” (3rd place); Elijah Wilkinson - “Amazing Abilities of Sound #302” (3rd place); and Olivia Babst - “Smart soils keep more water for dryer times” (3rd place). Ventana Vista Elementary: Eliot Mandel - “A Rabbit’s Toy” (3rd place); London Emerson - “Are Your Hands Clean?” (3rd place); Michael Montoya - “Changing Ingredients” (1st place); Mikael Cusanovich - “Poppin’ popcorn with oil!” (2nd place, ASQ SARSEF Sponsored Award); Natasha Jain - “Tennis Fiasco” (1st place); Pascal Guifarro - “Comparing Apples and Oranges” (3rd place); and Rebecca Black - “Is a warm swimmer a faster swimmer?” (3rd place). Esperero Canyon Middle: Brooklyn Natkowski, Elena Suarez, and Cecilia Suarez - “Snail Power” (2nd place, Lee and Kack Mayer Memorial award for excellence in science); Isabelle Babst - “Producing Food and Energy in a Dryer Climate: Agrivoltaics and Water Management of Arizona’s Crops” (1st place, Alex and Laura Schauss Middle School Award, Hogan Energy Hero); and Khalil Shehab and Leo Blueskyes - “Cool Roofs” (1st place). Catalina Foothills High: Iliana Wisniewski - “Runoff Erosion Prevention with Forest Thinnings” (1st place, Arizona Hydrological Society).

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

At the Southern Arizona Festival of Theatre (regionals), Advanced Theatre students took home 14 Superiors and 1 Excellent in Acting and Musical Theatre Performance categories, 1 Superior in Short Film, 1 Excellent in Playwriting, and 1 Excellent in Scenic Design. In the Tech Challenges, they received 1st place in cable coiling, 2nd place in knot tying, and 1st Place Overall. 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. Technicians: Dorian Andrews, Vince Clark, Sixx Elliott, Saki Grobe, Elise McFarlane, Robin Oxnam, Jasper Rolfe, and Jameson Westenskow. CFHS teacher Amy Byroad is Theatre Arts Director.

CFHS senior Lance Jacobson won Best Actor at the Monte Awards. The Monte Awards are the Southern Arizona Division of the National High School Musical Theatre Awards. The Monte's recognize the work that has been done in Southern Arizona by our schools and students during the 2023-2024 school year. As Southern Arizona's Best Actor, Lance will participate in a week-long intensive with Broadway professionals and compete in NYC for the winning titles on the National Level of the Jimmy Awards. Junior Kiera Kuehnle advanced to the top 5 nominees for Best Actress and senior Jaden Petersen was a top 10 Monte Awards finalist in the Best Actor Category. Freshman Nate Wiley was our Tucson Monte's Reporter. Their CFHS teacher is Amy Byroad.