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Somerton High School News

YUHSD invites Class of 2024 to FAFSA Finish Line event
Eric Patten

As a way of ensuring that members of the Class of 2024 have access to financial aid for postsecondary education, Yuma Union High School District is hosting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Finish Line event at Somerton High School on Saturday, June 29 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The event will focus on helping individuals who were a part of the Class of 2024 and did not complete their FAFSA, get the document completed and submitted. It will also feature additional information for families about postsecondary education including opportunities to meet with colleges and universities.

“FAFSA is an important source to different types of aid,” Somerton High School Director of Counseling Maria Dillard said. “Completing and submitting your FAFSA form is easy and free. It gives you access to different scholarships, work-study, grants, and loans. It’s a great day to do your FAFSA.”

While the event is geared towards students who graduated in May, families with younger students, especially those are welcome to attend and learn more about FAFSA and the transition from high school to college.

“Getting our students and parents involved together to look at financial literacy as a senior is crucial, especially when it comes to post-secondary education,” San Luis High School Director of Counseling Cesar Castillo said. “I feel like this is a huge stepping stone for our families to know that they may get assistance to at the very least start at a trade school or junior college.  The hardest thing to do is to start something.”

Families with questions about completing the FAFSA are highly encouraged to reach out to YUHSD’s new FAFSA Hotline at (928) 502-4628. The hotline will be in place Monday through Friday through July 16 from the hours of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with the exception of June 19 (Juneteenth) and July 4 (Independence Day).

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YUHSD announces no-cost breakfast and lunch for all students in 2024-25
Eric Patten

Yuma Union High School District announced Wednesday, May 8, that beginning in the 2024-25 school year they will be taking part in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) to provide no-cost school breakfast and lunch to all students enrolled in the district.

“We are in a position now, more so than before, reimbursement rates for meals served have gone up, the direct certified percentage of students has gone up, and the state is really encouraging and supporting districts who take the step to provide CEP to their students,” YUHSD Executive Director of Student Nutrition Elena Hildreth said. “I think we are in a time, especially in high schools, ‘lunch shaming’ is an indirect cause of students not eating. If they don’t have money on their account at the school’s that have to pay, students just don’t come into line. By providing CEP, we are kind of breaking the barrier. All students are on the same playing field, there’s no financial stigma, everyone is provided meals, and equally, it also increases learning. Students with full bellies, do better in school.”

CEP is a Special Provision of the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) that was first authorized in the United States as part of the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010.

Some of the benefits of a CEP program include: increased access to nutritious school meals at no cost to students, increased student participation, improved learning environment, eliminates social stigma, eliminates paperwork (no applications), eliminates student meal debt, and eases administrative burden and improves program efficiency.

For the past two school years, Cibola High School and Gila Ridge High School have been under the traditional school meal program, which necessitates meal applications to be completed by families and for students to be categorized as “free, reduced, or paid” lunch. Students at all YUHSD schools have been receiving no-cost breakfast for the past decade or longer.

Over the past several years, YUHSD’s student nutrition department has continued efforts to improve, including analyzing data to reduce wait times for meals, increasing the number of staff members at certain school sites, and surveying students on meal preferences to improve overall participation.

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YUHSD continues to sponsor No Cost Summer Food Service Program
Lesley Avila

Yuma Union High School District is proud to sponsor the Summer Food Service Program at no cost for all children, ages 18 and younger through U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Arizona Department of Arizona (ADE) funds.

The program offers breakfast and lunch throughout the summer at no cost for ALL children at all seven YUHSD high schools.

“YUHSD recognizes that children's nutritional needs extend beyond the traditional school year,” YUHSD Student Nutrition Executive Director Elena Hildreth said. “Taking advantage of USDA & ADE funding, YUHSD is extending breakfast and lunch to children during summer programing.”  

All children are welcome at all sites. Meals are required to be consumed on-site. No registration or ID is required.  

The full summer food schedule is listed below:

San Luis
Breakfast: inside campus next to the attendance office. 
Lunch: go to the main entrance and inside the cafeteria.

Yuma High 
Enter through the main entrance head over to the cafeteria. Breakfast will be outside of the cafeteria and lunch will be served inside the cafeteria.

Cibola
Enter through the main entrance head over to the cafeteria where a breakfast cart is right outside serving breakfast. Lunch will be served inside the cafeteria so enter through the main entrance and head to the cafeteria.

Vista
Enter main entrance. Breakfast is served in lobby, lunch is in cafeteria.

Kofa
Once on campus follow signs to Kofa King archway. Meals served by the bookstore. 

Somerton
Enter through office, breakfast served on cart in courtyard and lunch in the cafeteria.

Gila Ridge
See banners, enter through gate, breakfast and lunch served from cart in courtyard.

Yuma Union High School District No. 70 reserves the right to change and/or cancel a site or serving period. Menu is subject to change depending on the availability of products. 

Meals will be provided to all children, ages 18 and under, without charge and are the same for all children regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age and there will be no discrimination in the course of the meal service. 
In accordance with federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, this institution is
prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, age,
or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.

Program information may be made available in languages other than English. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of
communication to obtain program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language), should contact the responsible
state or local agency that administers the program or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through
the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.

To file a program discrimination complaint, a Complainant should complete a Form AD-3027, USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form
which can be obtained online at: https://www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/documents/USDA-OASCR%20P-Complaint-Form-0508-0002-508-11-
28-17Fax2Mail.pdf, from any USDA office, by calling (866) 632-9992, or by writing a letter addressed to USDA. The letter must contain the
complainant’s name, address, telephone number, and a written description of the alleged discriminatory action in sufficient detail to inform the
Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (ASCR) about the nature and date of an alleged civil rights violation. The completed AD-3027 form or letter
must be submitted to USDA by: 1. mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights 1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; 2. fax: (202) 690-7442; or 3. email: program.intake@usda.gov.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.
 

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YUHSD Summer Learning program to begin in June
Eric Patten

Yuma Union High School District will offer a robust Summer Learning program at all seven of its campuses beginning in June.

Classes at Cibola, Gila Ridge, Kofa, San Luis, Somerton and Yuma High will take place from June 4-21, Monday through Friday, 7:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.

Summer Learning for Vista High School takes place in two sessions, June 3-14 and July 8-19. Morning sessions will be held Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. with afternoon sessions lasting from 12:30-3:30 p.m. Vista will also be a full-day session lasting from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Please note: Classes will not be held on June 19 in observation of the Juneteenth holiday.

All classes allow students an opportunity to retrieve learning and earn credits lost, and are available at no cost.

To register, students should talk to their school counselor before May 21.

“The summer learning programs will provide students with the opportunity to determine what their needs are along with their counselor, the space to work, and the opportunity to receive assistance from in-person instructors and online tutoring through Paper.co,” YUHSD Director of Education Technology and Learning Management Systems Bibi Frazine said.

Breakfast and lunch will be available to students at no cost, while transportation will be provided to and from school. 

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Avenir Financial Donates New Digital Marquee to Somerton High School
Miriam Limon

Avenir Financial proudly announces the unveiling of a new digital marquee at Somerton High School. The new sign will serve as a vibrant welcome for visitors and locals alike to the brand-new high school, which opened in August 2023. 

The collaboration represents a significant milestone in Avenir Financial’s ongoing commitment to uplifting the communities we serve. “We have been proud members of the Somerton community for over thirty years. The addition of the new high school is monumental for the community, and we wanted to contribute something that would have a lasting impact,” stated Adele Sandberg, Avenir Financial’s President and CEO.

With its eye-catching design and strategic placement, the sign is informative, displaying current events for the school, and contributes to the aesthetic appeal of the surrounding area.

"Avenir Financial illuminates the path to success at Somerton High School with the generous donation of the state-of-the-art digital marquee sign,” stated Lucky Arvizo, Somerton High School Principal. “Supporting students is an example of their commitment to the community, and we are truly grateful for their invaluable contributions."

A ribbon cutting ceremony unveiling the sign was held on Thursday, April 25, 2024. School officials, Somerton High School student council, local dignitaries, and Avenir Financial representatives were in attendance.
 

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YUHSD Sports Athletics Graphic
Eric Patten

Yuma Union High School District, in partnership with Yuma Regional Medical Center (YRMC) will be hosting a no-cost sports physical event on April 26, 2024 at Cibola High School.

The event is open to all YUHSD student-athletes. 

Doors open at 3 p.m. and exams will conclude at 7 p.m. by Dr. Ryan Zerr and other medical residents from YRMC. Parents/guardians must be in attendance. 

“The partnership between YUHSD and YRMC provides student-athletes with no-cost sports physicals so that they can participate safely,” YUHSD Athletic Trainer Shannon Carmody said. “It is a great resource for families to take advantage of if their child is interested in participating in sports throughout the coming school year. We are so thankful to have supportive doctors willing to help out at this event.”

A physical is required to participate in Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) competition. All physical examinations completed at the event will cover the student-athlete for the 2024-25 school year.

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Spring break graphic with flowers and school colors.
Lesley Avila

Yuma Union High School District will be closed for spring break.


District and school offices will be closed from Friday, March 29 through Friday, April 5, 2024 in observance of good friday and spring break.


Offices will re-open and students will return to class on Monday, April 8, 2024.
 

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Students from around Yuma County receive special presentation from Air Force F-22 Demo Team
Christian Magana

More than 1,000 students from around Yuma County saw a special presentation from the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team on Mar. 6-7, 2024 at various schools around Yuma Union High School District. 

Kofa High School, Somerton High School, Gila Ridge High School, and Yuma High School all hosted at least one presentation.

Ten members of the F-22 team, including maintenance technicians, crew chiefs, and others, shared details of their jobs with students, presented a video of the F-22 in action, provided a virtual reality experience simulating the cockpit, and answered questions as part of each presentation.

“I am really excited to be here,” KHS junior Karla Borel said. “I am interested in joining the Air Force and learning how to fly. I really like that they explained their roles within the team and how many people it takes to be in the crew to make the plane work properly.”

Borel was among more than 100 Kofa Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (MCJROTC) cadets in attendance in Kofa’s Auditorium on Thursday. Additionally, approximately 150 students from St. Francis of Assisi School, Southwestern Christian School, and Freedom Christian Academy attended a presentation geared towards middle school-aged students earlier in the day.

Part of the F-22 Demo Team, Captain Samuel Larson is the only Raptor pilot in the world certified to fly the plane for the demonstration.

“We are here to engage with the local community to share our story, not as recruiters, but as goodwill ambassadors of the US Air Force,” said F-22 Capt. Samuel Larson, who is the only Raptor pilot in the world certified to fly the aircraft for demonstration. “Our goal is for young folks in the community that we visit to impart on them to work hard, set goals for themselves, and take a risk and bet on themselves so they can create a story that they’re proud of.”

The F-22 is one of numerous aircraft that will take to the sky during this weekend’s Yuma Airshow hosted by the Marine Corps Air Station. 

Over the years, several Air Force demo teams, including the A-10C, F-35A, and F-22 Raptor have made presentations to Kofa MCJROTC cadets the week prior to the annual air show. 
 

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SHS Girls Soccer team at SHS soccer field
Christian Magana

The Somerton High School freshman girls soccer team concluded their inaugural season by winning six out of their nine matches, marking a triumphant debut for the Toros soccer program. 

They finished with an overall record of 6-1-2, including participating against both freshman and junior varsity teams.

Leading the charge were standout players like Haley Escobar, who netted an impressive 7 goals and contributed 3 assists, and Annette Mena, who scored 9 goals with 3 assists. Goalkeeper Kaylin Garcia played a crucial role in anchoring the defense, recording 2 clean sheets, while defenders like Diane Mena, Darlenne Ruiz, and Valeria Salomon played integral parts in the team's 4 shutouts.

SHS head coach Rex Glenn praised the team's unity and collective spirit, emphasizing the importance of teamwork in their success. 

"Soccer is played by individuals with different abilities and characteristics,” Glenn said. “When we all have the same goal and utilize our unique abilities in collective play, we are successful as a team. You play as a team, you lose as a team, and you win as a team... With this team, even when we lost, we were successful."
 

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SHS Spiritline Team 2024 at TSC competition
Christian Magana

Somerton High School’s spiritline team competed in The Spirit Consultants (TSC) Sonoran Desert Classic on Feb. 2-3, 2024 at Millennium High School in Goodyear, Arizona. 

The SHS cheer team secured a fifth place, competing in the "Game Day" category, where teams perform routines designed to energize the crowd as they would during an athletic event. 

“I felt really confident with myself and my team,” SHS spirtline member Alejandro Perez Parra said. “We had some of our mess ups, but we knew how to fix it and came back stronger for the second competition. I felt very proud of my team and I think we deserve the place we got for the amount of effort we put into it.”

The Sonoran Desert Classic is a highly competitive event that attracts teams from across the southwestern United States, showcasing their skills in cheer, dance, and game-day divisions.

"As a coach, it feels great to see them place,” SHS cheer team Alyssa Plaza. “It's one thing to see them cheer on the sidelines at games, but that doesn't truly capture the culture and hard work they put in behind the scenes it took to get there. Sportsmanship is something very hard to teach but it's something that we live and breath by. It's the Toro way.”
 

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Barr Foundation visits CHS
Lesley Avila

Three Yuma Union High School District schools hosted a group of educators from the Inspirational Study Tour on Thursday, January 25 as part of the group’s ongoing look at education across the Southwestern United States. 

Cibola High School, San Luis High School, and Somerton High School gave the group a chance to learn about their campuses and how each has uniquely transformed education for their students.

“It was amazing to see the students and how proud they are and how much they get out of the district,” Cheryl Wright, math teacher at Gateway Regional School District in Massachusetts, said. “It was amazing to hear the teachers and how excited they are about the transformations they’re making. It really made us hopeful for the future.” 

More than 50 educators were split up into two groups. One group spent the morning at Cibola, and the other spent the morning at San Luis. Both groups then met up at Somerton to finish off the tour.

The visit was set up by the Barr Foundation and Springpoint, after they heard about how San Luis and Cibola have been transforming education through an article from KnowledgeWorks focused on Standards-Based Grading and the opportunities that are provided for every student.

“Knowing that other people value and notice the greatness I see every day in my students and staff, there’s no better feeling.” CHS Principal Corey Semler said. 

The Barr Foundation is a private foundation based in Boston whose mission is to invest in arts and creativity, climate, and education. Springpoint partners with communities to transform the student learning experience, reimagine high school, and empower young people to succeed.

 

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SHS Principal Lucky Arvizo speaking to crowd
Christian Magana

Somerton High School held a dedication ceremony on Thursday, January 18 to recognize the Cocopah Indian Tribe for a flagpole they donated to the school.

The ceremony was conducted next to the flagpole, which is located behind the scoreboard on the school’s football and soccer field. SHS Principal Lucky Arvizo, SHS student and Cocopah Tribal member Penelope Miller, and Cocopah Chairwoman Sherry Cordova were the keynote speakers.

“This flagpole is not merely a symbol of our shared values, it is a powerful representation of the unity and friendship between our communities,” Arvizo said. “It stands tall, not only as a physical structure, but as a testament to the strength that comes from unity and collaboration.”

The installation of the flagpole included collaboration between several organizations, including the Cocopah Tribe donating the pole, Yuma Union High School District providing the flag and lights, Somerton City Council permitting the oversized pole, Arizona Public Service installing and painting the pole and providing the lanyard and pulley, Westmore Electric installing the electrical connections, and McCarthy Construction installing the electrical circuits. 

“On behalf of the Cocopah Tribe, we thank you, and we are honored that we are able to play a small piece of the puzzle in which I’m sure is going to grow into an enormous puzzle down the road,” Cordova said in her remarks to the audience of more than 70 people. 

The ceremony, which was live streamed by Cocopah’s public relations department, can be viewed in its entirety on YUHSD’s YouTube channel.

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Diamondbacks Give Back Logo
Lesley Avila

Gila Ridge High School, Cibola High School, and Somerton High School were all selected as three of the fifteen schools in Arizona that will receive a $10,000 grant from the Arizona Diamondbacks “Chase your Dreams” initiative to support baseball and softball programs.

Each school will receive $5,000 worth of baseball equipment and $5,000 worth of softball equipment.

"We are very appreciative of the Diamondbacks and their continued charitable efforts to not only our school but to the many many more they help throughout the state,” Gila Ridge High School varsity baseball coach James Kuzniak said. “Usually raising funds is one of the hard parts of coaching, so getting this surprise grant is amazing for our student athletes.”

All three schools will also get 150 tickets to give away to the players, families, and school faculty to attend a Diamondbacks game and receive recognition on the field prior to the game. 

This is the second time that Gila Ridge has received the grant. They last received it in 2018. Yuma High School also received it in 2017. 

The “Chase Your Dreams” program is a partnership between the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation and Chase Bank made to support high school baseball and softball programs in Arizona in three different areas: equipment, field maintenance assistance, and facility improvements. It is part of the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation, which was established in 1997 with focuses on community areas of need, including homelessness, indigent healthcare and education.

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Two students see a person at a red table with colorful things on top.
Eric Patten

Yuma Union High School District’s mission is for students to graduate from one of the district’s seven schools college, career, and community prepared. For the third consecutive year, all students got a head start on their futures by taking part in a weeklong event geared towards learning about college, career, military and community opportunities. 

All seven schools hosted 30-minute mini-events this week from Tuesday, November 14 through Thursday, November 16 on the Canvas Learning Management System. 

"The College, Career, Community, and Military fair is a great opportunity for our students to have hands-on experience of different pathways and preparation while in high school,” Somerton High School counselor Maria Dillard said. “Some students were building their resumes and downloading it, ready to use it for a part time job. This gives me joy to know that they are already effectively planning to use it."

Each day’s content had a unique focus, with lessons planned during their third-period class to give students insight into available opportunities. Content was curated by a team of community partners and YUHSD counselors and the district’s teaching and learning team.  
“The CCCM fair gave students the opportunity to explore career options,” San Luis High School counselor Elva Lozano said. “We provided students in-person interactions during lunches to gain a different perspective of what is available in our community.  This tied both into the major clarity aspect and helped make it relevant for our students.”

For nearly a decade, YUHSD schools have hosted some form of the College, Career, Community and Military Fair. Beginning with in-person events during the 2010s, the event became digital-only in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as students returned to in-person learning the following year, the district transitioned the event to be a hybrid of in-person and online with some schools hosting in-person events with outside agencies as a supplement.

In the more traditional events, which were held on campuses on a rotational basis from year-to-year, approximately 500 individuals would on average be in attendance. By hosting the event during the school day on Canvas, more than 11,000 students have the opportunity to participate with the content remaining online throughout the school year, so students can return to it.

“I'm interested in the military so this was helpful because it was the first time I interacted with information about the military,” SLHS junior Gael Cota Flores said. “They also give us a little bit of information about what they do and what we can do to get into the military.”

Somerton freshman Alberto Gonzalez added: “When I was a kid, I wanted to join the Navy, because it was based on water, and I like swimming, and so when I was reviewing the Career Exploration my fit scores were a little low in that area. But I was able to explore the different branches on Military day. Seeing the first-hand experience from other people in the field, it helped me visualize, if I ever join the Navy, I will know what I will go into. I feel it will benefit me in two ways: 1. How it looks and 2. I have a different view of what a Navy career looks like."

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Sixteen people standing on stairs outside of Kofa High School
Eric Patten

Yuma Union High School District educators took part in a district-wide professional development day on Monday, Sept. 25, 2023 led by inspirational keynote speaker and educator, Rick Ramirez. 

“My hope is for teachers to reflect and operate as they are and understand the impact that they have on students can never be measured,” said Ramirez, who was an educator for nine years before helping motivate educators, beginning in 2017. “If I was able to just lift someone up and help inspire someone even just a little bit then my job is done.”

Ramirez’s presentation was centered around his background as a student who faced and overcame many struggles and then became an educator himself. He focused on how reaching students on a personal level helps students succeed. 

After the presentation, a teacher from each school was surprised by their principal with a school championship belt, signifying the champion that they are for their students. This belt will be passed to teachers and staff who make an impact in their students’ lives. 

The goal of the professional development day was to help teachers improve their teaching skills and better serve their students. Staff members participated in various group activities throughout the day, including a focus on personalized learning, lesson planning, IEP strategies, the Canvas learning management system, health and wellness, and more. 

“It was great to be able to see what the other campuses are doing and some of the amazing resources they have so we can come together and make the district even better,” said Vista High School teacher Katherine Lloyd, who was one of seven teachers who earned a championship belt. “I’m really excited to bring a lot of things back to my campus.”

YUHSD typically hosts professional development days for teachers and staff once a semester to give them an opportunity to collaborate and learn from each other. Support staff members also took part in a variety of activities at various sites throughout the district. 

While the district was closed to the public, students were engaged through Canvas, while working from home. School resumed as regularly scheduled on Tuesday, Sept. 26. 

Here are the school champions for fall 2023: 

Larsen Jones, Cibola High School; Erin Pierce, Gila Ridge High School; Jeff Frazine, Kofa High School; Lucio Sanchez, San Luis High School; Andrea Lomeli, Somerton High School; Katherine Lloyd, Vista High School; and Teresa Garcia Diaz, Yuma High School  

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