Camelback DECA Takes the Biggest Win Ever

This post is submitted by Maria Abrams and Julia Bourdo.

Biggest DECA Win EverOn Monday, March 2 & Tuesday, March 3 our 46  Camelback Marketing and Entrepreneurship students competed with over 2000 students throughout the state at DECA State Career Development Conference. Nineteen of our amazing  students came home with a big win and are heading to Orlando, Florida on April  24-29 to the International Career Development Conference with 27,000 students from around the world.

All students won in areas of written events, research, and presentation to businessmen and women.  Our students spent hours outside of the school day to complete these projects in the evenings, weekends, and holidays.  Please join us in congratulating the following students:

  • Angelina Luangphone– Entrepreneurship 11 page written event
  • Jessica Ulloa & Alejandra Lugo–  5 page Innovation Project
  • Katherine Hill- 5 page innovation Project
  • Taciara Vega & Evelyn Vazquez– 30 page Entrepreneurship Project
  • Gilbert Lopez, Alejandro & Fernando Mata– 30 page Entrepreneurship Project
  • Miriam Ornelas, Julia Ortiz, and Miguel Palamares– 30 page Growing your Business
  • Juan Aguilar, Roberto Garcia, & Leslie Cisneros-30 page Sports and Entertainment Research Project
  • Ana Craft & Vanessa Castandea-30 page Hospitality and Tourism Research Project
  • Veronica Meza & Cecilia Mendez– 30 page Business Operation Research Project
Please congratulate these students!
Best, Maria Abrams & Julia Bourdo


Update from Marketing and Entrepreneurship Teachers

Julie Bourdo and Maria Abrams, Marketing and Entrepreneurship teachers, recap some recent events at Camelback:

  1. Toastmasters Luncheon, December 3, 2014

    The Toastmaster’s Luncheon was held at the historic Wrigley Manson with 200 guests in attendance.  Over 150 Marketing and Entrepreneurship students toured the Manson prior to the luncheon.Jeff Stephens, Lore Simonson, Johanna Miller and Molly Sosa teach a weekly Toastmaster’s Program in Ms. Abram’s and Ms. Bourdo’s classes where these students learn public speaking, listening and writing skills that will be useful throughout their lives. This program is an excellent opportunity to hear what our students believe in strongly and for them to build personal relationship with one another.Leading up to the Toastmaster’s Luncheon, the speakers have a classroom contest and the eight winners compete at the luncheon.  We are told by our guests, who include counselors, administration, and friends of Camelback DECA, that the event gets better each year.

    Thanks to a local foundation for its kind donation that was given to help with the costs of the luncheon.

  2. DECA District Competition, January 13, 2015

    Camelback’s Marketing and Entrepreneur students competed in this DECA District Competition against 700 students from the Bradshaw Mountain, Cactus Shadows, Paradise Valley, Dear Valley, Payson, Window Rock and Scottsdale districts, along with other Phoenix Union High Schools.Having already taken a 100-question on-line exam, these students presented to industry judges their solutions to real-world scenarios in the areas of marketing, finance, hospitality, sports & entertainment, retail and management.They all did an amazing job and in the end our Spartans took home 28 medals. They represented their school, district and most importantly themselves with self assurance and pride.

    Teachers and administration, thank you for all your support and encouragement as our students prepared for and participated in this competition.

    In addition, all of this could not have been accomplished without the support of several Camelback High School Community Network participants who volunteered as judges at this event. Thank you so much for making this possible and making a difference in the lives of these students here at Camelback High School. Now it’s on to State!

  3. Coding Club January 22, 2015

    Arnie Edwards the Advisor for the coding club is committed to increasing membership.  Arnie met with the Marketing and Entrepreneur teachers Maria Abrams and Julie Bourdo and they agreed to assist with the promoting and recruitment activities along side Arnie and the club members.Students began to create a plan to recruit more students and raise funds. They are looking at a few articles about some local organizations: “Hackers 4 Humanity” and Angel Hackers.

    They discussed a competition coming up: 24 hours of coding and they are all going! Maria introduced them to Trello (a project management site) and they organized tasks and assigned responsibilities for recruiting members. They are even planning a big “kick-off event.”  They’re off and running!

Changing Lives

This post is an update from Julie Bourdo.

My son went to Vincent’s with his YPO group and Central High School Students on Tuesday. He was so moved and inspired by the students and their personal stories. Thank you for doing what you do. Scott said he just wanted to take out his checkbook. I told him that Central HS was not his school of choice if that checkbook is coming out. He shared last night with me that he now understands why I do what I do and work so hard for these kiddos. I am not sure if you realized how many lives that you have changed, but thank you for changing my son’s life. Your idea of sharing with our urban high school students really has made such a difference.

Franklin was here today working with Brian and gave him a laptop computer to work on his research report. This one on one with Franklin is changing his life. He told me today he has never felt so cared for in his entire life. Wow…this is so unbelievable and I get to see my students and my own child’s life change.

Words cannot tell you what you have done for me and ALL of my children.


Julie Bourdo

Annual Alumni Day

Jeff Stevens, the Toastmasters’ coach, held his annual alumni day August 12, 2014 at CBHS at which he brought back about 40 alums dating from 1988 to 2013 to advise the current students. Here are the questions he asked the alumni to answer and a summary of the advice provided to the current students.

  1. Tell us your name, what year you are at in college or work and the year you graduated from Camelback.
  2. How did you pay for college?
  3. Did your study habits change from High School to College? What did you have to do to overcome any obstacles or shortcomings?
  4. What is the one thing you wish you could have done to prepare for college and the workplace, when you were a Junior or Senior in High School?
  5. Do you have any personal stories or experiences you want to share?
  6. Imagine that you are sitting in the audience, same history, and same obstacles in your future. What would have been the most helpful advice for you to hear when you were age 16-18 year’s old, getting ready to leave Camelback?
  • Get involved with clubs
  • Keep your grades up
  • Take good notes
  • Utilize tutors
  • Write a good Personal Statement
  • Apply for scholarships as early as possible – even as a sophomore or junior in High School
  • Remember the future and stay focused on why you are in school
  • Make good choices
  • Make and keep good friends
  • Get college credit while in High School
  • Think about your profession and plan accordingly
  • Get to know your counselor – if you do not get along, get a new one!
  • Tell your story to as many people as you can
  • People will invest in you and believe in you
  • Believe in yourself
  • Understand and use time management
  • Learn to use a calendar
  • Get used to deadlines
  • Pay attention
  • Use resources that are available to you
  • Read the Book – “Do What You Are.”
  • Ask questions (no question is a stupid question)
  • Get a realistic degree
  • Take AP courses
  • Use the 20-40-60 rule (see below)*
  • Use “Rate My”
  • Take classes seriously
  • Be your own cheerleader
  • Get a Mentor
  • Live at home as long as you can
  • Stay away from “For Profit” schools
  • Get grants not loans – if you have to get a loan get a Federally Insured Student Loan (FISL)
  • Adjust your schedule around when YOU are the most productive and creative
  • Understand that the biggest cause of roommate conflicts is a failure to communicate


*The ’20-40-60 Rule’ is:

  • At 20 years of age, you care about what everybody thinks.
  • At 40 years of age, you don’t care about what anybody thinks.
  • At 60 years of age, you realize that people were not thinking about you to begin with!!

United Way provides mentors at CBHS

Michelle Gayles, Vice President for Community Impact at the Valley of the Sun United Way, provided a write up of its new mentoring program at Camelback High School.

Valley of the Sun United Way’s Destination Graduation program is active in seven schools in the Phoenix area, including Camelback High School and serves students in 6-9th grades. The Destination Graduation program provides personal and customized interventions through Job for Arizona’s Graduates (JAG) coaches at the first signs students are falling behind. Additionally, United Way recruits volunteers to serve as mentors for students to help build knowledge and confidence to overcome any obstacles that could prevent them from succeeding in school.

There are several ways you can support our efforts to increase high school graduation rates.

  • GIVE:  Your donations empower us ensure programs like Destination Graduation are available to help students succeed.
  • VOLUNTEER: Become a Destination Graduation mentor and work directly with young people to prepare them for their future.
  • ADVOCATE:  Be a voice for youth in our community and find ways to get involved at your local school.

Camelback High School: Truly Transformed

This is a guest post by Joseph H. Silver, Sr, Managing Partner, Silver & Associates

Silver & Associates was engaged by Social Venture Partners to better understand the changes at Camelback High School and to determine the sustainability of  the positive changes that have occurred. Our team conducted on-site interviews with the community leaders, the faculty, staff, the principal, the superintendent, and Social Venture Partners to gauge their knowledge and perception of the changes at Camelback High School. A survey was administered as a means of corroborating the information shared during the interviews.

Silver & Associates concluded that Camelback High School has “transformed from a failed school to a school of promise.” This transformation has been lead by the principal, an empowered teaching corp and external community support led by Social Venture Partners. Two of the hallmark activities at Camelback High School are the peer mentoring programs and the community mentoring dinners. Peer tutors have acquired a status at the institution that rivals that usually reserved for star athletes. The community mentoring dinners link a significant community leader with a group of students and they share their experiences over dinner at a fine dining restaurant.  These are but two programs that have had a positive impact on the positive changes at Camelback High School.

The question that should be asked is what sets this turn around apart from attempts at transformation at other schools. The answer may rest in the fact that the principal chose to focus on the environment for learning, the culture of the school and elevating the worth of each student. While improving test scores was important, students had to feel safe in order to come to school to learn. The hope was that if the environment for learning could be made positve and if a culture of excellence could replace a culture of failure, then learning could take place and test scores would improve. In the final analysis, this approach has proven to be the “magic wand” at Camelback High. Test scores have gone up and the environment is safe. We at Silver & Associates do believe that the change is sustainable.

U R Beautiful

urbeautifulThis is a guest post from Dr. Chad Gestson, principal of Camelback High School from Valentine’s Day 2014.

As you can imagine, Valentine’s Day is a very difficult day for many high school girls.  Though to the public this is a day of love and romance, this really is a day of heartache, heartbreak, and loneliness.

A group of Camelback girls, in anticipation of this being such a terrible day for their peers, collected 100’s of blank Post-It notes and rolls of tape this week from as many adults on campus as possible.  They then went around campus handing out the blank Post-It notes and asked their fellow Spartans to write notes of love and inspiration.

Then, after school yesterday, when everyone was gone, they snuck into the main girls bathroom and created this “U R Beautiful” wall so that every sad and lonely girl who escaped to the bathroom today, and even those with smiles and Valentine’s teddy bears who just wanted to check their makeup, were met with messages of love and hope.

If it were easy …

This guest post was written by John DeWulf, Chair of the Executive Committee of Social Venture Partners

Of course, if it were easy everyone would be doing it. Dr. Geston’s program of improving a school by changing its culture – changing the way students and teachers think of themselves and their school – seems like common sense. But I have discovered that fundamental change in a school, or any organization, isn’t easy and there will be set backs along the way. The key is strong and visionary leadership at the top and dedication and patience from those implementing the change. Camelback had both.

I’m proud of the role Social Venture Partners has played in Camelback’s extraordinary transformation. I look forward to helping Camelback continue to prosper and applying Chad’s ideas in other schools.

John DeWulf
Chair, Education Committee
Social Venture Partners

Fashion Club and Beyond

Hi Bruce and Happy New Year!

The website is looking great and thanks for including me in the launch. It’s exciting to see Chad’s vision along with SVP’s partnership continue to evolve.

I am proud of the Fashion Club and now the Career and Technical Education class Fashion Design and Merchandising 1-2 that has come into existence because of connections made with SVP and a principal willing to listen and take a chance on a teacher getting certified in a new area because of talent witnessed in an afternoon club setting that could lead students to numerous career opportunities in the future.

We began three years ago with donations of material and magazines from sources that Maurine Karabatsos knew about. From there she connected me with numerous members of the community who had talents in interior design, clothing construction and also wanted to mentor our amazing students! Most of them are connected to SVP in some way.

This is the short version of the story. Carol Clemency of SVP has also been at my side every step of the way and continues to support the students and me with her generosity and more importantly her time as the club and class progress.

I hope to meet you in person very soon.



School Climate Survey

This post was written by Carol Cox, retired human resource Senior VP at PetsMart.

Dr. Gestson and I met several times and reviewed human resource issues which included the need to find out if the changes at CBHS were having an effect on the students and what was important to them. Many businesses use attitude surveys to measure employee attitudes and concerns and we decided to use this approach.

We asked Dr. Antony Peloso, a professor of economics in the ASU School of Business to join us in developing a school climate survey. The survey was administered to the students during their advisory class. Survey Monkey was used to gather the information.

The survey covered the following areas:

  • teacher academic support
  • teacher personal support
  • peer academic support
  • peer personal support
  • academic competence
  • school and classroom satisfaction
  • teacher support
  • consistency and clarity of rules and expectations
  • student commitment/achievement orientation
  • students’ input in decision making (school)
  • instructional innovation/relevance
  • support for cultural pluralism
  • student perceptions of teacher efficacy and the safety climate

Examples of the results include:

  • my teacher cares about how much I learn
  • my teacher wants me to do my best school work
  • in this class, other students care about my feelings
  • I feel safe at school and I want to learn

The results obtained were excellent. They validated that the climate (“culture”) changes were real at Camelback High School.

The survey is now in its third year and continues to point out opportunities and concerns that are workable.