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J.O. Combs Superintendent's Update Jan 2013

2. Brendan McLaughlin, a 4th grade student at Combs Traditional Academy won the school-level competition of the National Geographic Bee on December 14 and a chance to win a $25,000 college scholarship. This was the first round in the 25th annual National Geographic Bee. The school winners, including Brendan, will now take a written test where up to 100 of the top scorers in each state will be eligible to compete in a state Bee on April 5, 2013.

3. Harmon 3rd grader Jonathan Aguilar Ochoa received the ELL Success Story Award.   He was nominated by his ELL teacher Ms. Natalie Kinman and was the youngest of the seven recipients from across the state to be recognized.  The award ceremony was part of the OELAS Conference held at the Star Pass Marriot in Tucson on December 13.  Jonathan received his award directly from Arizona’s Superintendent of Schools, Mr. John Huppenthal.

4. The following Simonton Elementary sixth grade band students auditioned and have been accepted into the J.O. Combs Festival Band; Maggie Blamires, Oscar Guerrero, Shea Pearson, Samantha Torres, Kendon Short, Javier Bueno, Shayla Gibbons, Daniel Findlay, Tyler Crabtree, Katy Johnson, and Brigham Shurtleff.  The Festival Band is made up of the top sixth grade band students in the entire district, and will compete at the AMEA Elementary Band Festival in April.

5. A Title I parent meeting was held at Ranch Elementary on December 13 where parents learned about the Federal Funding allocation for Ranch and how these dollars are spent to benefit students. The selection criteria for the Title I program was presented and parents visited their child’s afterschool tutoring session. Each parent received the current Instructional Planning report from STAR Math as well as at home strategies to assist students in being successful.

6. Combs High School will host their first Poetry Out Loud competition. The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation have partnered with State Arts Agencies to support Poetry Out Loud, a contest that encourages the nation's youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage. Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure that starts at the classroom level. Winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to a regional and/or state competition, and ultimately to the National Finals.

7. Project ALERT is being offered to eighth  graders at Combs Middle School, in partnership with the Pinal County Public Health Services District School Health Liaison Program. Project ALERT is a nationally recognized, district-approved, evidence-based program that gives students insight, understanding, and practical skills for resisting substance use. For more information please check out the Project ALERT website at  If you have any questions please contact Mrs. Beatrice Watson, Pinal County School Health Liaison. Mrs. Watson coordinates and teaches these lessons on our campus. She can be reached by phone at (520) 709-9370 or e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

8. Dr. Ramirez, counselor at Ellsworth Elementary has started a Character Club for sixth grade students at Ellsworth. This program will partner with lunchroom staff to help reinforce lunchroom behaviors.  Character Club members received training from Dr. Ramirez and have a “work schedule.”  Character slips are given to individual students during lunch each day to create a more positive environment in the lunchroom.

9. Harmon Elementary School held its annual Jingle Jog on the last day of school for 2012.  Students were given a bell that they could wear around their wrist.  The entire school “jogged” around a pre-planned trail, leaving the sounds of Christmas behind them.  This is always a fun event and the students look forward to it every year.

10. A Ranch holiday sing-a-long took place in the multipurpose room on December 20. Music teacher, Mrs. Emily Jones led the student body in a variety of holiday songs where students acted out various parts of the songs.

11. Simonton Elementary School had their annual Winter Song assembly on December 21.  Each grade level performed a holiday song in front of the entire school.  The students did an amazing job.

12. Combs Middle School is hosting a book drive during the month of January. The donation of books to the middle school helps to increase the inventory and fill in some series that may be missing one or two issues.  Students are asked to bring the books to their Cougar Skills Class.  As an incentive to the drive, a competition is taking place amongst the classes with prizes being awarded to the top class contributors.

13. The middle school music and dance programs celebrated their talented students during their winter concerts. The Music Winter Concerts included students in orchestra, band, and choir performing a number of pieces to showcase their many months of hard work.  The Dance Winter Concert included students performing a variety of dances for the audience.  Both concerts were well attended by the school community. Congratulations to Mr. Thornton (orchestra), Mr. Lloyd (band/choir), and Ms. Brown, (dance) for the hard work they put forth with their students.

14. Jessica Furman, Combs High School math teacher, submitted a request through DonorsChoose Project which allows teachers to post projects for community members (and anonymous donors) to fund.  Chromebook computers, which normally retail for $400.00 were offered for $99 each. The DonorsChoose Organization matched the donations dollar for dollar and the Apollo Group donated approximately $750.  The project was able to raise about $1750.00 and 30 computers were purchased.  They will be used for a variety of classroom instructional projects in all subject areas.

Looking Ahead

Each School has numerous activities.  Please check their website or contact the school office for details.

Jan. 7-18 Ranch Star Reading & Math Tests

Thurs. Jan. 10 Harmon/Ranch/Combs Middle School Spelling Bee

Fri. Jan. 11 Ranch/Simonton Elementary Awards Assembly

Fri. Jan. 11 Combs Traditional Academy/Ellsworth/Simonton Spelling Bee

Jan. 11-15 Distribution of Course Selection Materials in seventh grade Language Arts Class

Jan. 14-15 Distribution of Course Selection Materials in eighth grade Language Arts Class

Tues. Jan. 15 “Wakeup with Whitlark” – Simonton Elementary – 8:30 am

Mon. Jan. 21 Civil Rights Day – No School

Tues. Jan. 22 Combs Traditional Academy Civil Rights Day Flag Ceremony – 8:30 am

Tues. Jan. 22 Combs Traditional Site Council Meeting – 3:30 pm

Jan. 22-28 Presentations to sixth graders by Middle School Counselor

Wed. Jan. 23 Ranch Elementary Math Curriculum Night

Wed. Jan. 23 Preschool Screening – Ranch Elementary

Fri. Jan. 25 Combs Traditional Academy PTO Movie Night – 6:00 pm

Fri. Jan. 25 Eighth graders visit Combs High School

Mon. Jan. 28 Combs Traditional Academy School Wide Writing Day

Mon. Jan. 28 Combs High School hosts Registration/Curriculum Night – 5:30 pm

Tues. Jan. 29 District Spelling Bee – J.O. Combs Middle School – 6:00 pm

Wed. Jan. 30 Parent/Superintendent Council Meeting – 11:30 – 1:00 pm – Ranch Elementary

Wed. Jan. 30 Community Budget Meeting – 6:00 – 7:30 pm – Combs High School

Thurs. Jan. 31 Combs Traditional Academy Battle of the Books, Battle 2 – 9:00 am

Feb. 4-8 Distribution of Course Selection Materials to sixth graders by Middle School Counselor

Tues. Feb. 5 Combs Traditional Academy PTO Meeting – 6:00 pm

Wed. Feb. 13 Combs Traditional Academy PTO Little Caesar’s Pizza Fundraiser Day

Wed. Feb. 13 Regular Governing Board Meeting – 6:00 pm – J.O. Combs Middle School

Fri. Feb. 15 Pinal County Spelling Bee, Vista Grande High School, Casa Grande – 9:30 am



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