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Latest News in Catalina Foothills, AZ

Local Opinion: Voters face critical decision with Catalina Foothills school board

The following is the opinion and analysis of the writers:The Catalina Foothills School District (CFSD) community faces a critical decision this November as it elects three members to the five-member Catalina Foothills Governing Board.Make no mistake, electing a majority of the governing board will set the tone and trajectory of District 16 for years to come. District 16’s accomplishments and successes have been nothing short of remarkable over many decades. This is not due to coincidence. The winning formula has ...

The following is the opinion and analysis of the writers:

The Catalina Foothills School District (CFSD) community faces a critical decision this November as it elects three members to the five-member Catalina Foothills Governing Board.

Make no mistake, electing a majority of the governing board will set the tone and trajectory of District 16 for years to come. District 16’s accomplishments and successes have been nothing short of remarkable over many decades. This is not due to coincidence. The winning formula has been a highly informed and supportive community that values excellent education for all our children, combined with phenomenal students, and dedicated parents, educators, staff, and administrators guided by an experienced, knowledgeable, and dedicated governing board.

We ask that our community once again become highly informed, choose wisely, and support continued excellence in our next governing board. We have done our due diligence and ask that you thoughtfully consider our endorsements. As former CFSD Governing Board members, with a combined five terms totaling 20 years of experience, we welcome an opportunity to share our perspectives with our community on this important election.

Although coming from different professions, we brought shared similarities to our board terms: long-term district residents and parents; years of classroom volunteer service; district council and committee memberships; leadership in district organizations. This foundation of institutional knowledge, traditional in District 16 Governing Board members, is indispensable in enabling a new board member to be effective and excellent from day one.

There are six candidates for three open governing board positions. Three candidates Amy Bhola, Amy Krauss, and Gina Mehmert (their platform is at www.thrive4cfsd.org) have the necessary extensive history of involvement and institutional knowledge in District 16. Their three opponents do not.

Incumbents Amy Bhola and Amy Krauss each have been district residents for over 20 years and both are parents of CFSD graduates. They both have served as governing board president twice in their tenure. Amy Bhola’s experience as a teacher and Amy Krauss’ experience as an attorney, coupled with their extensive district volunteer service in the classroom and on Family Faculty Organization (FFO) and CFSD Foundation Boards have provided them the background and knowledge for their governing board work in setting direction, policy, and goals for CFSD. Their exemplary work has resulted in many district accomplishments including:

No. 1 School District in Arizona four years in a row

No. 1 Overall Passing Rate on AzM2 (formerly AzMERIT) for last four years for all K-12 unified school districts

Arizona’s #1 Comprehensive, Non-selective High School

90% College attendance rate

Gina Mehmert, 13-year district resident, parent of both a CFSD graduate and a current student, has been volunteering for each of the 13 years at all school levels. Gina assumed the leadership role of FFO president for multiple years at the middle-school level. In 2019, Gina was awarded the CFSD Super Volunteer Award by the governing board for her remarkable volunteer work in CFSD. Gina’s district leadership, volunteer experiences, and dedication to excellence provide a strong foundation to assume the role of governing board member. This foundation, combined with her professional expertise in collaboration, marketing, and strategic planning, will make Gina an excellent governing board member in CFSD.

The tradition of District 16 educational excellence will be well served in the hands of these three candidates. It is without hesitation, and with gratitude for their willingness to serve our community, that we strongly endorse and ask you to join us in voting for Amy Bhola, Amy Krauss, and Gina Mehmert for the Catalina Foothills Governing Board.

Catalina Foothills High School theatre department prepares for 'Night of the Living Dead' production

Copy This Embed Code: Ad CATALINA, Ariz. (KGUN) — The Catalina Foothills High School theatre department is kicking off its production of “Night of the Living Dead.” Theatre director Amy Byroad says it’s a tribute to the movie. “There’s gun violence on stage. There’s a lot of gore and we use a lot of blood on stage and there’s screaming and flashing lights,” says Byroad.Co-President of the Theatre Club Kylie Fay says, “this is honestly the largest cast that I thi...

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CATALINA, Ariz. (KGUN) — The Catalina Foothills High School theatre department is kicking off its production of “Night of the Living Dead.” Theatre director Amy Byroad says it’s a tribute to the movie. “There’s gun violence on stage. There’s a lot of gore and we use a lot of blood on stage and there’s screaming and flashing lights,” says Byroad.

Co-President of the Theatre Club Kylie Fay says, “this is honestly the largest cast that I think we’ve ever done here.” With over 55 students taking part in the production, the students are ready for the curtains to open.

Danielle Hanks is the co-president of the theatre club at Catalina Foothills High. She says, “it’s scary. It’s going to be pretty scary.”

But it’s not just about this production that makes the theatre department so important at Catalina Foothills High. “A lot of them come in and their goals are to time manage and to learn how to be more confident in public speaking,” says Byroad.

She says that theatre helps students learn not only life skills but day-to-day ones as well. Byroad says, “from changing a light bulb to using a drill,” that’s just some of the stuff the students learn in the hands-on program.

Being an actress in this production, Hanks says she’s learned how to work with people. She says, “you can’t choose who gets cast alongside you, so it’s a really good lesson in learning to accept the good and bad parts of people.”

Night of the Living Dead opens Thursday, October 20th.

They will have shows Thursday through Saturday for the next two weeks.

Student tickets are $5.

Adult tickets are $8.

——-Heidi Alagha is an anchor and reporter for KGUN 9. Heidi spent 5 years as the morning anchor in Waco where she was named the best anchor team by the Texas Associated Press. Share your story ideas and important issues with Heidi by emailing heidi.alagha@kgun9.com or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Tucson Opinion: Save public education in Catalina Foothills

The following is the opinion and analysis of the writer:My wife, Diana, and I have been residents of the Catalina Foothills School District (“CFSD”) for 32 years. We raised our children here. We are thankful for the public education CFSD provided them, and want to be sure other families are afforded the same opportunity. In turn, after recently coming to learn three of five seats on the CFSD governing board are up for election this year, and three of the candidates running for them are anti-public education, I fel...

The following is the opinion and analysis of the writer:

My wife, Diana, and I have been residents of the Catalina Foothills School District (“CFSD”) for 32 years. We raised our children here. We are thankful for the public education CFSD provided them, and want to be sure other families are afforded the same opportunity. In turn, after recently coming to learn three of five seats on the CFSD governing board are up for election this year, and three of the candidates running for them are anti-public education, I felt compelled to speak out. This piece is my call to action.

We enrolled our first child as a first grader in CFSD in 1989. His younger sisters joined him two and five years later. They each went on to graduate from Catalina Foothills High School in 2003, 2004 and 2008. After graduation they attended college, found meaningful occupations, are happily married and raising children of their own. We find great pride in the people they have become and attribute their good fortune, in significant part, to the quality of the experience they had while students in CFSD.

This summer we were invited to a 40th wedding anniversary party. There, we encountered friends we had not seen in many years, but first met in the 1990s when our youngest daughter attended Manzanita Elementary. Back then we were brought together as families by virtue of a girls first-grade soccer team proudly named “The Rockets,” Brownie troop “811,” and meaningful volunteer activities afforded students’ parents. And it was not our mere encounter with these people we found most pleasing, but rather the sincere gratitude we shared with one another for the experience our children had while a part of the CFSD school system and we were finding our way as parents.

Our enthusiasm and support are not peculiar to our generation. Our oldest daughter and her husband elected to relocate to Tucson in 2018 to start their family, and purchased a home in CFSD for the specific purpose of educating their kids here when the time comes. Several of their friends and peers have done the same.

CFSD caters to all comers, stresses inclusion, and produces well-educated, diverse, ambitious graduates. CFSD’s stability and success is a function of its long-standing leadership provided by Dr. Mary Kamerzell; a board, administrative staff and faculty who are guided by common sense and best practices, and truly responsive to the needs of students and their parents; a rigorous curriculum by any standard; competitive athletics programs; meaningful volunteer activities; and engaged parents.

Three of this year’s board candidates, Grace Jasin, William Morgan and Bart Pemberton, are each endorsed by “Purple for Parents,” which opposes any legislative increase in per-pupil funding in Arizona public schools, and urges the expansion of the ESA voucher program, which allows parents to opt their children out of public schools and, in turn, receive a portion of their public funding for use as private school tuition, online education or the like. Both positions are designed to ultimately cripple public education in Arizona.

Candidates Amy Bhola and Amy Krauss are two-term CFSD board incumbents.

They and Gina Mehmert have been actively involved as parents and volunteers in CFSD for over 10 years. They know the schools, the staffs, the students and their parents, and what actually needs to be done to address real issues which include pandemic learning loss.

Please take the time to vote in the upcoming election, be sure to vote for Bhola, Krauss and Mehmert, and encourage your neighbors to do so as well. Their plan is to do what is necessary to preserve the integrity and successful mission of CFSD, not insidiously dismantle it. A vote for these candidates will ensure that hundreds of other families will have the opportunity to enjoy and gain from the same experience our family did.

David Hill is a practicing lawyer in Tucson. His wife Diana has a Phd in early education from UA and is employed in that field.

Catalina Foothills girls, boys claim tennis state championships

Following No. 1 Catalina Foothills High School’s championship match, junior Grant Cohen recalled that people thought the Falcons were beatable, despite them earning the singles and doubles tennis titles on Monday and winning every team championship since 2014.So this afternoon, Cohen and his teammates made sure to prove the doubters wrong with an 5-0 victory over No. 3 Estrella Foothills that gave Catalina Foothills its eighth consecutive Division II title.“The win definitely cements us as the top team,” Cohen...

Following No. 1 Catalina Foothills High School’s championship match, junior Grant Cohen recalled that people thought the Falcons were beatable, despite them earning the singles and doubles tennis titles on Monday and winning every team championship since 2014.

So this afternoon, Cohen and his teammates made sure to prove the doubters wrong with an 5-0 victory over No. 3 Estrella Foothills that gave Catalina Foothills its eighth consecutive Division II title.

“The win definitely cements us as the top team,” Cohen said, “and continuing the legacy.”

The Falcons’ top three singles players — junior and Division II singles winner Jared Perry, Cohen and his brother Austin, the division doubles winners — set the tone with 6-0, 6-0 victories, while Jason Jia, Nico Barrutia-Pierson and Santiago Lietzau helped clinch the title.

Head coach Jeffrey Bloomberg credited his team’s fast start to a strong overall performance, which is promising for the future since the entire starting roster returns next year.

Bloomberg inserted three new players into the lineup this season, which paid off well as the Falcons allowed just 12 total games across Saturday’s matches and one point during its playoff run.

Catalina Foothills’ title clinched the team’s first undefeated season (17-0) since 2019.

“I definitely think we’re going to try to be right back,” Cohen said. “Get it again. Go for two.”

In each of Catalina Foothills’ last three team state titles, the No. 1 Falcons won 5-0 to clinch the championship before doubles competition.

That changed Saturday, as the Falcons led 4-2 after singles play. But concern couldn’t be found in coach Daniel Root and his players. Instead, they radiated confidence.

“Our doubles team is the defending state champion,” Root said. “They were going to win this match. I had 100%, a million confidence in them. We’ve just got super strong doubles teams.”

He was right, as Catalina Foothills clinched their fourth straight state championship following the retirement of one of No. 3 Arcadia’s top doubles team. According to Arcadia head coach Brian Corte, one of the players was suffering “significant, repeated cramping” and as a result, the tandem made the decision to retire and “not risk physical injury.”

Reigning Division II doubles champions Abbigail Mulick and Sophia Silverman, along with Serena Hsu and Morgan Filer, won their singles matches in dominant fashion, giving up just six games collectively. Hsu defeated her opponent, Ashley Cowley, 6-0, 6-0.

However, both Emily Flowers and Adele Fereres lost their singles contests. Flowers, committed to play college tennis at Xavier, fell to reigning state singles champion Vessa Turley, who beat her on Monday in the state singles title match.

“Me and the whole team had the same energy when I lost that match as who cares that I lost, it doesn’t matter,” said Flowers, who lost in three sets. “We are still up four matches to two and we are going to go into doubles and we are going to win.”

They did just that, something that Hsu believes will impact the future of the program.

“It’s a great moment that will go down in history,” she said. “I feel like it’s going to inspire other people because today was a really hard match. The fact that we’re resilient and we kept pushing and we were being really strong I think is going to inspire future Catalina Foothills players to strive for that legacy that we always have.”

11-year-old girl bit 7 times by javelinas in Catalina Foothills

An 11-year-old girl was bit seven times by javelinas when she was walking her dog with her mother on Sunday in the Catalina Foothills, north of Tucson.The attack happened around 8 p.m. in the area of Campbell Avenue and Skyline Drive, Mark Hart, a spokesperson for the Arizona Game and Fish Department, said. In their route, they ran into two javelinas so they turned around.Walking back, they encountered six more javelinas and at some point, the girl fell down and was bit seven times by one or more javelinas while ...

An 11-year-old girl was bit seven times by javelinas when she was walking her dog with her mother on Sunday in the Catalina Foothills, north of Tucson.

The attack happened around 8 p.m. in the area of Campbell Avenue and Skyline Drive, Mark Hart, a spokesperson for the Arizona Game and Fish Department, said. In their route, they ran into two javelinas so they turned around.

Walking back, they encountered six more javelinas and at some point, the girl fell down and was bit seven times by one or more javelinas while she was in a fetal position, Hart said.

Neighbors in the area started making noise to scare the javelinas away, which eventually worked.

The girl was taken by her family to a children's hospital in Tucson and was treated for injuries to her legs, Hart said. She also began treatments to prevent infections.

According to Hart, the girl has been released and her mother wasn't injured.

He said they suspect someone in that neighborhood is feeding wildlife which is illegal and can attract animals to the area. "This was an unintended consequence, but a consequence nonetheless, of feeding wildlife. Javelinas should not be staying in a residential area, there's no reason for it unless there's some resource available," Hart said.

In a separate incident, a woman who was on her way back from walking her dog was attacked by a javelina on Friday around 9:30 p.m. near La Cholla Boulevard and Magee Road.

The 22-year-old woman was about to go up the stairs to her apartment when she was struck from behind by a javelina, Hart said. She had a 2-inch injury in her thigh and her dog was bitten on the leg.

The woman was treated by a family member who is a nurse.

Hart said they believe the dog set the javelina off. He said javelinas react instinctively to the presence of dogs because they see them as coyotes, which he said are their "natural enemies."

It's not safe to walk a dog near a Javelina, Hart said, and he advised people who see one to turn around and go in the other direction immediately.

"They're normally not dangerous to people, but we don't think that anyone should want them in their community," Hart said. "Even if you're not walking your dogs, you should try to scare them away."

Javelinas have tusks and large canine teeth that can cause puncture wounds, Hart said. To drive them away people can clap loudly, yell or get anything that makes a lot of noise.

He also said that people who have javelinas in their neighborhoods should work together to avoid leaving pet food or anything that would attract them out.

"If they can source food in your community, they're going to stay in your community," Hart said.

People can report feeders at 800-352-0700.

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