Tutors at Tontozona Camp

campCamelback High School’s lead tutors and mentors took a magnificent 3-day trip to Tontozona camp to find out how to become better tutors. Our objective was to organize and plan for the 2014-2015 tutoring school year. We also planned on forming bonds between the lead tutors and mentors so our communications can improve to be at use within ourselves throughout this year’s tutoring sessions. A couple of dedicated counselors and teachers at Camelback High School joined us in this amazing trip. They helped organize and execute both the tutors and their newly achieved mentality along with the trip itself. Because of them, we are now much stronger tutors for the future tutees.

20140823_161409At Retreat at Tontozona, we were immediately greeted with all the nice people and staff of the camp. It felt pleasing to know we were welcome to a new environment where we will be spending our weekend. We all were very comfortable and were enjoying the nature surrounding us. Our cabins were really nice; they had a full living room, a television set, and a kitchen, and nobody had any problems with the rooms and food.

We were handed out schedules of our days at camp and we started to get into new groups of tutors for a new year of tutoring. It was a great opportunity to meet new tutors from our school in our groups. With these groups we started to do fun activities to get to know each other. Then with these groups we attended seminars to reflect on what we can do to improve our school’s tutoring system. We wrote down ideas and shared them with our group and other groups.

We were also introduced to some new technology and skills to better serve our future tutees. We attended an iPad seminar to learn how to use iPad and helpful applications on the iPad, to enhance our teaching abilities. All the lead tutors have their iPad, and it is a great way of communication and teaching.

It was relaxing to be out in Tontozona, so all of our tutors and mentors took the time to both relax and focus on next year’s objectives. Our activities were from making delicious smores and enjoying other meals at Tontozona, to intense matches of gaga ball. It’s safe to say that everyone had a great time in Retreat at Tontozona. We spent hours doing fun and amazing activities in Tontozona on how to become better leaders and tutors, and on organizing a successful year of Camelback High School tutoring sessions.

Where do students go if they have been long term suspended at CB?

  1. Bostrom High School, part of the Phoenix Union High School District 

    From their website:

    Bostrom’s mission is to offer a non-traditional student-centered experience. This experience, built upon high expectations, will provide a supportive and collaborative atmosphere in which students learn the skills to succeed in college, career and life. 

    Since 1976, Bostrom has provided opportunities for students to find success in a small school environment that focuses on academic achievement in reading, writing, and math as well as helping students develop appropriate social and interpersonal skills. Bostrom is structured and disciplined, with a concentrated focus on academic success. We have outstanding staff members who care, and who hold each student (and parent) accountable for his/her education. Bostrom is available to 10th, 11th and 12th graders who reside in the Phoenix Union High School District. Instruction is delivered in six-week sessions in which students concentrate on two block classes at a time. Regular and Special Education students may take classes in Math, English, Social Studies, Science and some elective classes. Students that are eligible may attend Evening School. Students are selected for admission based on an application and interview process and parents must attend a mandatory orientation.


  1. Desiderata Program- part of the Phoenix Union High School District

    From their website:

    Max Ehrmann’s Poem “Desiderata” (latin for “desired things”) is a prose poem that has an positive message, and was used as the moniker for a unique alternative program that has served Phoenix Union High School District since 1977.Desiderata Alternative Program serves special education students who have needs that are more effectively addressed in a small school environment. Students are referred to Desiderata by their home school campuses. The Desiderata program emphasizes academic achievements and helps to support the social, emotional and behavioral development and growth of students. All students are taught district approved curriculum that meets Arizona Common Core Standards and content specific Arizona Academic Standards. Classroom activities stress student acquisition of literacy skills.Desiderata Alternative Program is housed in a 30,000-square foot facility near 35th Avenue and Thomas and was opened in 2006. The campus is designed to be functional and supportive: there are 11 classrooms, library, fitness center, sports court, cafetorium, group therapy room, instructional kitchen, and assistive technology support.


  1. Suns-Diamondbacks Education Academy


    From their website:Suns-Diamondbacks Education Academy (SDEA), in cooperation with our families and educational partners will provide quality personalized learning programs to prepare every student for success in college, career, and life.


    The Suns-Diamondbacks Education Academy (SDEA) is the only school in the nation named after two professional sports teams and is currently located at 2920 North Seventh Street in Phoenix.

    This alternative program is designed to help students complete their high school education in a small learning environment with specialized classes and schedules. Since 2001, SDEA has increased student enrollment from 30 to 250 and has graduated over 1,100 students.  Graduation ceremonies are held twice a year in December and May. Graduates are recognized at the end of every term during an awards ceremony.

    SDEA is intended for juniors and seniors who have fallen behind in their credits and will benefit from the small school environment. Students are selected for admission based on transcript, discipline, and an interview process. Students are admitted at the start of each 6-week term throughout the school year.

    The daily class schedule consists of two 145 minute classes. Regular classes are offered in Math, English, Social Studies, Business and Technology, Science, Health, as well as a limited selection of electives. Minimum assistance and resources are offered to our special education students. Students will also have the opportunity to earn extra credits by enrolling in a third period online credit-recovery class as part of their schedule. 

    SDEA will relocate to a new state-of-the-art facility on Central Avenue starting the 2015-2016 school year and will accommodate up to 400 students.

Extra Scholarship Funds Awarded to 15 Camelback Students

The Gap Scholarship Advisory Committee this spring raised over $52,000 from 20 donors. These funds were deposited at the Arizona Community Foundation (“ACF”) into the Camelback High School Scholarship Fund.

After reviewing the gap scholarship applications, the committee awarded 15 scholarships (maximum $4,000 per student) to deserving graduating seniors. Without these extra scholarship funds, these 15 students may not have been able to make it to college since, even though they may have already received scholarships, the total cost of attendance at the schools of their choice exceeded their other scholarship awards.

ACF is managing the program for each student, calculating the exact amount of funding required, communicating with the college, and disbursing the funds over two semesters. This ACF fund was also used as the conduit for $6,500 of scholarship funding for 13 lead peer tutors for the spring semester.

Sustainability Progress

We are currently wrapping up a very successful transition of leadership at Camelback High School. For the past two months, we have worked hard as a team and community to welcome and onboard Dr. Quintin Boyce. Since that time, Dr. Boyce has had an opportunity to meet with students, staff, parents, and business partners. We have held multiple meetings and “retreats” with the admin team as a whole as well as with individual members of the admin team. Dr. Boyce is well versed in the mission, vision, and aligned initiatives at Camelback.

Dr. Boyce comes to Camelback from Bioscience High School where he has spent the last three years as principal. He shares very similar beliefs, philosophies, and approaches to educating our youth. He puts student growth and development ahead of standardized test scores. He believes school’s are responsible for developing critical thinkers and productive citizens.

Throughout the fall, Dr. Boyce will continue to meet with various stakeholders in an attempt to fully understand the culture and the initiatives at Camelback. In time, Dr. Boyce will begin to put his footprint on the community and take Camelback to the next level!

– Chad Gestson

Senior Honors and Awards Banquet

Here is a reprint of a May 8, 2014 email from Principal Chad Gestson to Camelback Faculty, Staff and Community.

A huge thank you to everyone who attended and organized last night’s banquet .. what an amazing event!

We were able to recognize approximately 75 of our top graduating seniors, many of whom had family and friends in attendance to share in their recognition. As of yesterday, Camelback exceeded $3.6 million in scholarships .. our largest total ever. To give you an idea as to our growth, here are some stats

2011 – $1.1 million
2012 – $2.6 million
2013 – $3.3 million
2014 – $3.6 million and growing daily

As you may know, last spring, we decided to transform our Senior Honors and Awards night into a formal dinner/banquet. Last year, this event took place in the 2000 Commons. We ran out of room and food. This year, we held the banquet outside on the north side of the cafeteria with seating and food for approximately 400 people. It was a huge success.

Taking a risk that we will forget someone, we’d like to recognize the following people …

Thanks to Melissa Jackson for being the lead administrator over this event.

Organization – Barbara Rhodes, Coach Carbajal, Denise Hawkins, and all counselors for their help organizing the event

Funding – Julie Bourdo, her DECA students, and our Alumni Association for helping to fund this event

Customer Service – Myra Ronan, Cindee Badalamente, and the Camelback Ambassadors for taking care of greeting and escorting visitors

Food – We’d like to thank Coach Carbajal, his students, the CBHS Football team, and PUHSD’s food services for their help in preparing, serving, and bussing

Performance – We’d like to thank Kevin Hayward for running the sound, Denise for setting up (and taking down), and Jamie Johnston and her students (mainly her Jazz Band) for taking care of the performances

Set up and take down – We’d also like to thank Ian White, his crew, and (once again) the CBHS Football team for taking ownership of set up and take down

Childcare – We’d also like to thank Loretha Redpath and her childcare students for taking the lead on providing childcare

I’d also like to thank the 20-30 faculty members who stayed to present and recognize our seniors.

Happy Teacher and Staff Appreciation Week!

Scholarships Wall

scholarship wall

This is a photo of a wall in the admin offices where each graduating senior’s scholarships earned are announced and honored with the total amount of this year’s scholarships shown at top.

Camelback High School Career Fairs

Camelback High School, with the assistance of Social Venture Partners and local Rotary members, hosted two successful career fairs.

A variety of guest speakers were recruited from varying occupations. Plumbers, doctors, social workers, paralegals, entrepreneurs, and engineers were just a few of the career representatives who came to speak.  The speakers were grouped into panels with similar professions being grouped together.

Students had the opportunity to select three panels to interact with during the event. The students rotated through presentations and had the chance to ask questions during each panel.

This events allowed students to explore and become aware of various career paths.

Advisory Committee Scholarship Update – February 2014

SVPAZ and its friends involved with the Camelback High School turnaround effort have established an Advisory Committee to raise funds for gap scholarships for CBHS 2014 graduates.

These funds will be placed at the Arizona Community Foundation in the Camelback High School Scholarship Fund.

Graduating seniors at CBHS may apply for these funds via the general ACF online scholarship application.

This Advisory Group will also select which of the qualified applicants will receive gap scholarship funds via a two-step process including an online scoring of the applicants and interviews with the highest scoring applicants. The selection process is set forth in more detail below:

Definition of Target Audience/Mission Statement

  • The goal of the Camelback High School Scholarship Fund is to identify students that have the ability to enroll and succeed in a postsecondary environment but are lacking the financial aid to permit them to attend.
  • Qualities that are highly desired are: motivation to succeed (demonstrated by grades, application for schools/scholarships), persistence in times of failure or hardship.

Camelback High School Scholarship Fund

The Camelback High School Scholarship is a “last dollar” or “gap” scholarship that will help graduates attend any type of post-secondary school anywhere in the world.

General information regarding 2014 ACF Scholarships

  • Each student will complete only one online general application to apply for a gap scholarships specific to Camelback High School students and 75+ other scholarships for Arizona students.
  • Awards available for all types of schools, in state and out of state, 2 year, 4 year, vocational & technical schools, in all majors and fields of study.
  • No minimum GPA required.
  • No U.S. citizenship required.
  • First deadline is March 28th – complete your application by March 28th to apply for all the awards.
  • Spend quality time on your essay and have someone read and help you edit.
  • Confirm two references that will submit on your behalf and follow up with them to make sure they have completed the online reference request. We recommend teachers, counselors, coaches, employers or community service related references. Do not use a family member or friend.
  • If you have questions about the application or need help submitting information please email scholarship@azfoundation.org or call 602-381-1400.

Camelback High School Scholarship Proposed Criteria and Rubric:

Minimum Application Criteria:

  • Student must be graduating from at Camelback High School.
  • Student must demonstrate financial need, as determined by the FAFSA and the financial aid letter from the school/college.
  • Student must be accepted and enroll full time in the summer or fall following graduation.

Criteria for Scoring: Each rubric is customized by point value and weight as follows:

  1. Academic Ability/Success at the College level (Point range 1-5, weight = 1)
    • Does the student demonstrate the ability to succeed at the postsecondary level?
  2. Essay(Point range 1-5, weight = 2, double points for this category)
    • Does the student sufficiently answer the question and provide adequate information to the reader to justify receiving a scholarship?
  3. Motivation (Point range 1-5, weight = 1)
    • Does the student demonstrate adequate motivation to succeed?
  4. References (Point range 1-5, weight = 1)
    • Do the references submitted support the student’s desire to advance to college?

Additional Criteria to consider at the time of Interview:

Financial Need

a. Does the student demonstrate need? (ACF will guide on this and provide hard numbers to consider);

b. Does the need fit the award level appropriate for this award? (Only pertinent if there is a cap set.);

c. Will this student be able to attend college without this support?

Interview qualities

a. Does the student exhibit strong motivation to receive this award?

b. Did the student apply for other scholarships?

c. Does the student represent the target audience for this award?

Camelback High School Gap Scholarship timeline:

  • April 25th, 2014 – Student Application Deadline
  • May 2st – May 12th, 2014 – Application Review Online – Committee members notified by email by ACF
  • May 12th at 10:00am – Reviews complete, scores submitted by committee members, ACF staff will compile results and share with committee chair (Chad Gestson)
  • May 12th-May 14th, 2014 – Students will be scheduled/confirmed for interviews
  • May 15th, 2014 1pm-4pm – Interviews @ Camelback HS
  • May 16th, 2014 – Award notifications made by phone/email to students