By Cort Monroe, Ed.D., CCUSD Superintendent

November is a time when we all pause, gather, and give thanks. At CCUSD, we are thankful for our employees, students, parents and caregivers, and community. We thought we’d highlight some of the amazing and unique things happening in our schools for the first quarter of the 2021-2022 school year.
Black Mountain Elementary School: One of the most popular events of the year at Black Mountain takes place every September when the students come together to celebrate all first responders during Patriot Day (9/11). This year, the students lined the sidewalks surrounding BMES with flags and signs as first responders traveled through the parking lots in a wonderful parade filled with flashing lights. Black Mountain is excited for the wonderful opportunity to thank even more heroes during the annual Veterans Day Walk of Honor on November 10.
Desert Sun Academy: This year Desert Sun Academy is doing “Standards Showcases” where teachers invite families into the classroom after school each quarter and the students describe a project or recent learning they completed. These opportunities for students to showcase their work leads to students who are diligent and take pride in their work. Families have really enjoyed these extra opportunities to see their child’s learning and get to see their child take on leadership skills as well.
Desert Willow Elementary School: Desert Willow was able to start more before and after school clubs this year. Students were thrilled to join Choir, Mileage Club, and Cross Country clubs, to name a few. Spirit weeks for Hispanic Heritage Month and Cactus Shadows homecoming were enthusiastically supported by the staff and students alike at DWES. In addition, Desert Willow hosted a visit from the Embassy of Spain to renew their designation as the only International Spanish Academy in Arizona!
Lone Mountain Elementary School: The Kiwanis K – Kids Club of Lone Mountain Elementary School has been busy supporting the school and local community this quarter. The students sponsored a food drive for the Foothills Food Bank and brought in over 650 pounds of food. On campus, they have started a recycling initiative, built, and painted a lending library for the front of the school, and have posted inspirational messages around the school to encourage their peers.
Horseshoe Trails Elementary School: The first quarter at Horseshoe Trails was a smashing success! Literacy and math stations have been in full swing since September for all grade levels; students are loving their new computer science curriculum that’s being offered as an Encore class; and Mandarin is being taught to all students in preschool through 6th grade. The PTO has been amazing at organizing different team building events for the school that also supports local businesses in downtown Cave Creek.
Sonoran Trails Middle School: At Sonoran Trails, they have so much to celebrate from Quarter 1. Their four volleyball teams had a combined record of 30-2 heading into the playoffs. Their girls and boys cross country teams were also successful, and the cross country championships were recently held at Sonoran Trails. In addition, they have 11 clubs currently meeting every week.
Cactus Shadows High School: CSHS Student Council put in a tremendous amount of hard work making sure the week was one to remember for the students! The home volleyball games were filled with students dressed in their spirit wear. The feast and fireworks, enjoyed by both staff and students, started out with a dodgeball tournament that had over 16 teams participate. The homecoming football game was one of the most attended games. The week concluded with the outdoor Paint Party Dance that 1,092 students attended, which is close to being the most attended homecoming dances in the history of Cactus Shadows.
School spirit is in full swing at Cactus Shadows!