Thu, Dec

The overwhelming opinion, especially from students, is to keep the Mingus Union High School campus open, as it has always been.

Only one person spoke in favor of keeping the students on campus from the beginning of classes to the end of the day, including the lunch period, at a Jan. 16 public hearing.

The Open/Closed Campus Committee conducted the public hearing to get further opinions from the public in their attempt to come up with a recommendation for the governing board. The five-member governing board will make the final decision.

About 40 people attended the meeting — parents, teachers, students and members of the public — with about 18 people speaking, mostly students who want the campus to remain open.

An online poll and a telephone poll ended in the majority of people in favor of an open campus so students can go to local restaurants for lunch.
“We were formed to make a recommendation to the board. We decided to focus only on safety of the students,” said Mark Miskiel, host of the hearing.

The committee also looked at what it would cost, what other campuses in the state are doing and at the idea of bringing food vendors to campus, he said.

Speakers addressed four questions, which included whether they preferred the campus be closed or stay open, if the campus stays open what ideas they had to improve the safety and closed or open, how could the campus be made more attractive for students at lunch?

The committee will make their recommendation to MUHS District Superintendent Scott Dunsmore, who will in turn make a recommendation to the governing board at the board’s Thursday, Jan. 24, meeting. The board is expected to make a decision at that meeting.

Nicole Powers, a senior at Mingus, said she would not like to see the campus close.

“It’s a big amount of freedom they look forward to. Parents and kids have to be aware of their own safety,” Powers said.

To attract students to campus, Powers said more places to eat, more food and healthier food are needed.

“More choices will make it more comfortable for students to be here,” she said.

Physical education teacher Susan Holm said she thinks closing the campus would cause equally as many other problems.

“It’s like putting the cart before the horse. There’s too much gray area. Where will we put students? What schedule changes would need done,” Holm asked.

She said, as a parent, she has never been afraid for their safety.

Paula Blankenship and her son Kevin both favor limiting students to walking if they want to go off campus. It would reduce the safety risk and still give some freedom, Kevin said.

“If you make it a closed campus, it would be as much a safety hazard because of fights,” he said. He told the committee he has witnessed fights on campus.

“I’m afraid you cannot guaranteed the safety of 1,000 students. If you have more parent volunteers, you’ll have more success,” Paula Blankenship said, volunteering herself to help.

To keep students on campus voluntarily, she said the school needs more ramadas, more shade and areas for students to relax outside.

As the parent of two Mingus students, Audrey Islas said she is not more concerned about her children’s safety than if they were going to school or out on a date.

As a teacher, Islas said it would be impossible to put 1,200, 600 or 400 students in the cafeteria for lunch, and that closing the campus would cause changes in the academic schedule.

“I’m seeing grade declines. It would cause the need for more control and more supervision,” Islas said.

Laura Sperry said she thinks the students will go off campus anyway.

“As far as safety, that’s an issue either on or off campus. If I don’t want my child going off campus, I don’t give them the keys,” Sperry said.

Sperry’s daughter, Carolyn, said that safety needs to be with the student.

“Safety of the student comes from within the student. Students need to be responsible for themselves on or off campus. If we’re all stuck in here we’re not going to be happy,” Carolyn Sperry said.

Several other students who spoke agreed with her that each student should be responsible for his or her own safety and behavior.

Sophomore Lesley Kincaid said students have abided by other rules, such as no phones in the classroom, not talking to each other during class and having to ask to go to the bathroom.

“We’ve obeyed those rules. Don’t take away our small amount of freedom we do have,” Kincaid said.

Chelsey Shadrach, a senior, likened the ability to go off campus during lunch to people taking a lunch break from the job to get away and get refreshed.

Another student, Madison Crnkovich, said having separate lunch periods would cause a lot more ditching.

“I’d resort to ditching to be with my friends,” she said and quickly added that she would never ditch a class.

The lone person in favor of closing the Mingus campus related her experience of high school at a closed campus.

“We were more focused on our studies. We had activities and we didn’t have a problem,” Julie Dodge said.

She said the issue went deeper than the safety of students on the street, it was about unauthorized people being able to come on to the campus.

Because of rising costs, especially fuel, the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District found it necessary to adjust its extracurricular fees.

Students who want to play sports, play in the band, participate in a club or go on field trips must come up with the cash. The district’s administration came up with a cost chart for the five schools within the district.

“We wanted to adjust our fees to what other schools are charging,” Business Services Director David Snyder said at a Sept. 9 district board meeting.

Some activities are being charged for, for the first time, most at $1, which prompted Board Chairman Randy Garrison to question the fee.

“It seems that it would be more trouble to deal with,” Garrison said.

However, Snyder said in order for all extracurricular activities to be eligible to receive the tax credit donations, a fee had to be charged.

None of the items to which a fee is charged are part of the school’s general curriculum.

“Music is, but band is not,” Superintendent Barb U’Ren said.
Yet, Sandy Huson, principal at Tavasci Elementary, said no one who wants to play is turned away. Some scholarships are available, particularly for band.

Fee Schedule
Cottonwood Middle School:
Football — $50
Other sports — $30
Art Club — $25
Chess Club — $10
Band — $15
Other extracurricular activities — $1
Field trip fees vary.
Dr. Daniel Bright Elementary:
Cub Stacking, Computer, Reading — $1 each
Tavasci Elementary:
Band — $40
Choir — $5
Computer, Jewelry, Volleyball, Basketball, Archery, Cut Stacking and Drama clubs — $1 each
Cheerleading Camp — $1
Student Council — $1
Field Trips — $1 to $5
Oak Creek School:
Band — $15
Other activities — $1
Field trip fees vary.
Cottonwood Elementary School:
Band and Choir — $10
Jump Team, Leadership and Astronomy — $1

The difference in band fees depends on the program at the school, U’Ren said. For example, Tavasci rents instruments for $40. The fee covers that cost.

CMS Principal Denise Kennedy told the board the new fees have not had a negative effect on participation.

“We still have the same number of teens in volleyball and in football,” she said.

Conversely, Donnie Shanks at Oak Creek School said he has seen a decrease because of the fees.

The five-member board unanimously approved the extracurricular and sports fees.

Lu Stitt can be reached at
634-8551 or e-mail
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The Camp Verde Unified School District is joining a cooperative of schools that translates strength in numbers into getting more technology bang for their buck.

The school board voted last week to join the Education Technology Consortium, an assortment of school districts and nonprofit groups organized through Northern Arizona University to help provide a wide variety of services to members, from financial to technological.

It’s the latter that interests CVUSD Superintendent Jeff Van Handel.
“They can provide the tools and experience very quickly and efficiently,” Van Handel said. “It’s much more cost-effective.”

For an annual membership fee of $500, the school district will be able to use the ETC technical support staff to handle issues ranging from networking to the phone system.

Van Handel told the board that the schools would use in-house employees if it could, but there are some technological issues where the district is “lacking the level of expertise” required to be effective.

There are extra costs beyond the $500 annual fee, Van Handel said. They depend on what services are used, but using the ETC would still be more economical in many cases.

Using support staff only when needed instead of keeping them on the payroll puts much less of a strain on school pocketbooks, said Tracy Banfield, ETC director of school services.

“We’re able to provide many benefits, particularly to smaller school districts,” Banfield said.

The ETC is able to further defray costs through collective purchasing agreements.

“If we’re buying software that will be used by several school districts, we can get a discount for volume buying,” Banfield said.

The ETC was originally founded in 1974 as the Arizona Public Schools’ Computer Consortium, according to the group’s Web site, but changed its name in 2005 after expanding services into New Mexico.

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When talent and hard work are put together, the only outcome that can result is success, Mingus Union High School Strive for .5 award winners heard from the guest speaker.

During the Sept. 26 assembly, which honored more than 300 students for raising their grade point average by 0.5 in one semester, Mingus agriculture teacher and Future Farmers of America advisor, Heather Mulcaire, spoke. She shared some of her life at Mingus, and gave the students a bit of advice and something to think about.

“I you don’t know your talent, search for it. If you already know your talent, work on it. Rely on what you are good at and capitalize on it,” Mulcaire told the crowd of students, parents and community members who nearly filled the auditorium.

Strive for .5 began in 1987 at Mingus and has recognized thousands of students. This is the program’s 20th year. It is designed to recognize all students for their academic achievement, at all levels.

Strive for .5 is sponsored by the Cottonwood Journal Extra and the Yavapai-Apache Nation. Students received congratulations from school administration and board

members as well as applause and shouts from their peers, along with a commemorative T-shirt. This year’s artwork was designed by Lauren McFarlin.

Mulcaire also said that talent is not enough. A person must build and cultivate a strong work ethic.

“You will not be great if you do not work at it,” she said.

Mulcaire admitted she was an average student and spent many extra hours with Diane Uidenich getting help in math. Academics was not her strong suit, and she realized she was going to have to work a little harder to get good grades, she said.

“A strong work ethic, dedication and practice were necessary for me to achieve,” Mulcaire said.

Mulcaire is a 1996 Mingus graduate. She returned to Mingus in 2000 to teach.

“I remember sitting in these seats several years ago and was so proud to receive my Strive

for .5 and T-shirt. Congratulations to all of you for making it to these seats,” Mulcaire said.

While in her early years at Mingus, Mulcaire searched for what she was a natural at and found it to be agriculture. She was good at agriculture — the classes and the activities. It was easy for her, she said.

In fact, Mulcaire won several FFA awards, which spurred her on to become an agriculture teacher. She was Mingus’ first student to win the FFA American Degree.

“What are you naturally good at? When you find it, run with it,” Mulcaire said.

Two Mingus seniors were among the recipients. They were receiving the honor for the third time: Luis Ruiz and Miriam Tarazon.
For more information, call 634-7531.

One day after Doug Wilson turned down the offer to become Mingus Union High School’s new superintendent for what he said were personal reasons, the governing board made the decision to offer the job to Scott Dunsmore.

As of Monday, July 9, the contract has been written and mailed, according to board President Andy Groseta.

“I tendered him a contract today,” Groseta said. “We’ve been negotiating and we’ve agreed verbally but have not formally signed a contract.”
The contract with Dunsmore will be for consideration on the governing board agenda Thursday, July 12.

Dunsmore was one of three candidates interviewed for the high school district’s superintendent job to replace Sharyl Allen, who asked to be released from her contract. The other two candidates were Wilson and John Larson, from Ohio. Dunsmore is from Michigan.

Dunsmore has been a teacher, a principal and a superintendent in Michigan and in Arizona, and he briefly worked for the Arizona Department of Corrections.

Dunsmore’s first job teaching was seventh-grade science in Winslow, then high school mathematics. He took the principal’s position at Hopi Junior High School for about two years, then went to Gray Hills Academy, in Tuba City, and helped the school cut $1 million out of the budget, he said.
Three years ago, he and his wife moved back to Michigan to be close to her parents, however, Dunsmore said they are ready to come back to

Following are Dunsmore’s answers to some of the questions asked at a June 26 forum at the school in Cottonwood:

How does your previous experience and training make you the best
candidate to be the superintendent of the Mingus Union High School District?

Dunsmore said he believes his diverse background, such as with the Hopi, will be an asset at Mingus.

“Through working with cultural diversity, I’ve learned how to deal with people of other cultures. I do feel

comfortable talking with people and seeking others’ opinion. I like to take in as much information as I can before I make a decision,” Dunsmore said.
He believes a superintendent needs to keep the community informed and keep a group of people around who are knowledgeable about the community.

What is your vision for building a balance between academic, career-technical education programs and extracurricular programs?

Dunsmore said he is a firm believer that a school needs all three areas for a well-rounded education.

“We have to concentrate on academics in this day and age to make sure our kids are ready for college and for life. We need kids to play basketball, football and in the arts,” Dunsmore said.

He also said there is a need to add more academics to the CTE programs.
Give examples of how you create an annual budget, how you deal with special program requests and how you monitor the budget throughout the year.

The first step for Dunsmore is to find out how much revenue the school has then figure out the needs.

“You also need to ask ‘What is it our community wants from our school district?’ What are the needs of our district, our school and our students? — involve all the stakeholders,” Dunsmore said.

He would monitor the budget on a monthly basis to see where the district stands financially at any point in time and make adjustments where necessary.

How do you regularly communicate with parents and staff, including violation of security situations that demand immediate communication?
The easiest way to communicate with Dunsmore is in his office or by e-mail and to talk with him when one sees him in a store, at a restaurant or a ball game.

“I have an open door and I want to listen to people. I need to be available, need to be open and need to be honest,” he said.

If an emergency occurs at Mingus, he said a letter should be sent home that day explaining the situation.

“I want parents to know what the problem or concern was and how it will affect their child,” Dunsmore said.

“I believe it’s very important to have ongoing communication to develop a trust with the community,” he said and talked about community meetings.
How would you empower your staff and get their buy-in?

Dunsmore agreed that building relationships is the No. 1 element among every area of the district and between every group.

“That’s the best way we’ll get buy-in,” he said.

The Mingus Union High School District Governing Board
meeting begins at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, July 12, in the cafeteria at 1801 E. Fir St.

For more information, call 634-8901

Although Superintendent Sharyl Allen’s prepared statement singled out one board member as the major cause of her departure, the Mingus Union High School District Governing Board accepted her resignation unanimously.

“There have been a lot of good things that happened at this school under your leadership ... not good, great things” have been accomplished during the four years Allen was superintendent, Board President Andy Grosetta said after the vote Thursday, May 10.

Allen had two years left on her current three-year contract. She officially leaves office Saturday, June 30.

“I believe that I have consistently acted in a legal and ethical manner in discharging my duties as the superintendent of this district,” Allen read from a prepared statement. Allen said her evaluations reflected that.

“When personal insinuations or attacks occur, it is usually done because the facts cannot be substantiated. It’s an old, old trick,” she said.

Allen said in her resignation speech that districts suffer when one board member has the impetus to fracture a board.

Allen used the work “ethical” four times in reference to her work and herself.

“Characterizing my request for information as old, old tricks, and characterizing my allegations as vicious attacks is false,” Board Member Jim Ledbetter said during the discussion phase of the motion to accept Allen’s resignation.
The board has presented information to its “[legal] counsel and that counsel asked for more information,” Ledbetter said.

“I believe the board has the power, and indeed the obligation, to look at these questions of hiring and spending practices,” Ledbetter said.

“It is not an attempt to fracture the board. But rather, the board’s legal and fiscal responsibility to do so,” he said.

In other action:

* The board directed Allen to form a search committee for her replacement.
* Allen recommended raises for MUHS Principal Marc Cooper and Student Services Director Dianne Uidenich. The board tabled the proposed 5-percent raises for the administrators.
* The board approved a 4.7-percent raise for all support staff.

During Allen’s presentation, she asked Mingus Union Education Association President Howie Usher whether she was “misrepresenting” their proposal. Usher said she was doing fine.

Norman Rockwell illustrated American life for almost half a century on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post. Idyllic and anodyne, his portraits of small-town life in the 1930s and 1940s formed part of the iconic mythos of how may Americans wanted to see themselves.

Over the course of four days last week, students at Camp Verde’s schools got to immerse themselves in those iconic images, and to see beyond them as well — for as the roiling 1960s replaced the complacent 1950s, Rockwell drew outside of the small frame he had set around himself.

By then, he had ended his association with The Saturday Evening Post and had begun working for Look magazine.

In 1964, Rockwell painted an illustration titled, “The Problem We All Live With.”

Inspired by the story of Ruby Bridges, the first black child to desegregate an elementary school in New Orleans, the painting shows the young child escorted by four marching federal marshals, walking by a wall with “KKK” and a racial epithet scrawled on it.

“You can see everything that was 1964 America right there, staring you in the face,” said Thomas Daly, curator of education at the Norman Rockwell Museum, in Stockbridge, Mass., who came to Camp Verde last week.

“The image told that story. You were reminded that young people were going through this: that you needed protection for a 6-year-old girl to go to school,” Daly said.

Daly said that Rockwell’s own image suffered because of the stance he took with that painting.

“When Rockwell had that published in Look magazine, he received bags of letters accusing him of all sorts of horrible things,” Daly said. “And of being a race-mixer, and it was awful that Norman Rockwell could drag his own name through the mud. And he persevered, and said, ‘this is how I feel.’”

On the last day of Daly’s visit, Friday, March 30, he brought a special visitor with him to meet Camp Verde’s Middle School students: Wray Gunn.

Gunn’s cousin, Tracie, was the model for the young black girl in “The Problem We All Live With.”

In 1967, a then 12-year-old Gunn joined his cousin on the long list of Stockbridge, Mass., natives who had modeled for Rockwell illustrations.
That painting, “New Kids in the Neighborhood,” showed two black children in front of a moving van on a suburban Chicago street. Across from them stand a curious and ambivalent group of white children.

Gunn said that growing up in northern Massachusetts, he never felt like the outsider portrayed in the painting, but that knowing Rockwell and seeing the painting now had an impact on him.

“The meaning of the painting, not only this one, but all of his paintings — I mean to know this man as long as I did and not know actually who he was, but I knew what he was,” Gunn said. “But to see it now and get the meaning behind all of his paintings — now it’s like I’m learning everything I can about this

man, because I knew him, and there’s so much to know. This man is known worldwide, not just in Stockbridge and Vermont and New York State — he’s known worldwide, which is amazing.”

Gunn and Daly both said they were enthusiastic about connecting to young people.

Daly went to drama, photography and art classes, speaking to students from kindergarten to high school. He explained the enthusiasm kids of all ages have for Rockwell.

“I think it’s the opportunity to see that you are a part of that picture, that the changes that are happening in your life and the unique situations that you believe might just be happening to you are actually happening to everyone,” Daly said.

After the middle school assembly with Gunn, where a number of Rockwell paintings where shown, one student seemed to echo those sentiments.
“My favorite picture was the girl sitting in front of the mirror,” sixth-grader Cariana Majors said. “I could sort of relate to her, because I would like to grow up to be someone that I admire the most and she wanted to grow up to be that.”

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