By Cort Monroe, Ed.D., CCUSD Superintendent

I would like to congratulate the class of 2021 on their high school graduation. This current senior class is like no other and I commend each one of them for their grit, resiliency and perseverance. What is typically a normal four year high school experience for these students was first interrupted as a blip in March 2020, which then eventually turned into a global pandemic, derailing a normal high school upperclassmen experience for all our seniors.

Not only did this experience challenge them, and all of us for that matter, physically, mentally, spiritually and social-emotionally, but this experience now offers our seniors the opportunity to be better individuals going out into the world due to the challenges they have been presented with and faced head on with the support of their parents, family members, friends, teachers, coaches, and those around them.

My challenge for the Class of 2021, and all of us for that matter, is to strive to not simply return to normal, but to become a better normal and allow the good things to fall out of our lives so we can make space for the great things in life.
I would like to make note and congratulate the Class of 2021 on the following accomplishments. It is important to note that this list may be a bit shorter due to the pandemic and limitations that have existed, as well as the timing of the writing of the article:
• The class of 2021 consists of approximately 470 graduating seniors.
• Congratulations to Jessica Brashear for being named the valedictorian with a 4.9 GPA, Alicia Rifkin being named Salutatorian, and Katianna Blackwell Scott who was named a National Merit Finalist.
• The graduating class of 2021 has been awarded approximately $25,000,000 in secured scholarships at the time of this writing.
• There were 15 graduates who were in the International Baccalaureate Program and 24 that were in the Early College Program.
• There were 1,396 Advanced Placement courses taken and 637 Dual Enrollment classes taken over the past four years by the Class of 2021.
• Senior Cheyenne Yerkes won the Theater for Life Scholarship from the Arizona State Thespian Society.
• We have 24 student athletes who have signed to continue on playing at the collegiate level. Among the many team and individual athletic accolades that occurred this school year with the Class of 2021 are the following:
• Girl’s Swim Team took 3rd at State Championships
• Girl’s Varsity Volleyball Team was the Division 2 State Runner-Up
• Girl’s Golf Team was the Division 2 State Runner-Up
• Boy’s Golf Team was the Division 2 State Champions
• Boy’s Basketball Team was the 5A North East Region Conference Champions
• Girl’s Basketball Team was the 5A North East Region Conference Champions
• Finally, as part of the Superintendent’s Challenge, Senior Ryland Davidson accumulated 938.5 volunteer service hours over his four years at Cactus Shadows High School. Forty-eight seniors participated in this Superintendent’s Challenge and the Class of 2021 contributed a total of 12,365 volunteer hours in bettering the community over the past four years.

There will be many more recognitions and accolades to come. Again, congratulations to the Class of 2021 for all your successes. We love you, are proud of you, and are excited for your next journey and happiness moving into the future.