Cactus Shadows High School announces Valedictorian and Salutatorian

Jessica Brashear (left) and Alicia Rifkin

Cactus Shadows High School, located in the Cave Creek Unified School District, has announced their Class of 2021 Valedictorian and Salutatorian.

The 2021 Valedictorian is Jessica Brashear. Jessica has been attending CCUSD since Kindergarten. She attended Desert Willow Elementary School and Sonoran Trails Middle School.

The 2021 Salutatorian is Alicia Rifkin. Alicia has been attending CCUSD since 4th grade. She attended Desert Sun Elementary School and Sonoran Trails Middle School.

Cactus Shadows High School Principal, Tony Vining, said, “Jessica and Alicia have put in the time, energy and effort to achieve both of their positions and are well deserving of those honors. We are so proud to have these young women represent our school and look forward to seeing all the incredible achievements we know will come from both of them. Congratulations!!”
Rounding out the Top 2 percent of the Class of 2021 are Caroline Nieminen, Madison Dodd, Nicole Quenzler, Keagan Neff, Madison Malthaner, and Katianna Blackwell Scott

The Top 3 percent of the Class of 2021 are Kathryn Rigberg, Elizabeth Fragala, Blake Kerr, and Chloe Weintraub.
The Top 5 percent of the Class of 2021 are Ema Cartin Ferrand, Dylan Heideman, Bennett Allen, Alison Van Stone, Lara Espina, Samantha Ryan, McKenna Shuler, Lauren Gamber, Hannah Rudee, Lauren Anderson, and Merit Thompson.
Top 10 percent of the Class of 2021 are Madison O’Sullivan, Grace Harrington, Mia Milinovich, Samantha O’Connor, Sage Lewis, Ryland Davidson, Maya King, Samantha Rylander, Jill Modic, Jaiden Young, Ava Dominica Gilormini Laph, Alexandra Kupersmith, Sera Hanagan, Ella Schott, Mason Speciale, Rachel Hill, Braylen Chumbley, Benjamin Stoutenburgh, Shane Douglas, Kylee Loewe, Sophia Smith, Ryan Christman, Isabel Arnett, and Jonathan Cranmer.

Superintendent Monroe said, “Congratulations to all students named in the Top 10% of the 2021 graduating class. This recognition demonstrates these student’s commitment to excellence and their perseverance throughout high school to always do their best. I believe their college and career success in the future will find its foundation in this achievement with Cactus Shadows High School in 2021. Congratulations, especially, to both Jessica and Alicia for this tremendous honor of being named Valedictorian and Salutatorian.”
“Truly, this is the finest Falcon Pride that can be demonstrated!”

CCUSD names Directors

The Cave Creek Unified School District is pleased to announce the Director of Academic Services, Director of Secondary Student Services and Director of Exceptional Services for the 2021-2022 School year. The Director positions were approved by the CCUSD Governing Board at their April 12, 2021 Business Meeting.

Staci Wiese, Director of Academic Services – Mrs. Staci Wiese is the current principal of Desert Willow Elementary School. Staci has over 18 years in education as a classroom teacher at a variety of levels, at both elementary and middle school. She has also worked as a Title 1 reading teacher, an instructional coach, assessment coordinator, as well as a school administrator in Washington state. She has a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a master’s degree in Educational Leadership, with specialized endorsements in Reading and English Language Learners. She is also a certified Trauma-Informed Educator. Staci moved to Arizona with her husband, daughter, and two dogs in 2019 and loves spending time outside in our fantastic weather.

Bill Dolezal, Director of Secondary Student Services. Mr. Bill Dolezal, the current principal of Sonoran Trails Middle School (STMS), has been named the Director of Secondary Student Services for the Cave Creek Unified School District. Mr. Dolezal has served as principal of STMS for the past twelve years. He was the athletic director at Cactus Shadows High School and the assistant principal at Dysart Elementary for two years prior to assuming the principal position. Prior to administration, he taught math, science and social studies in both Arizona and Connecticut. Bill lives in Phoenix with his wife of 25 years who is a music educator. His two daughters, both graduated from Cactus Shadows High School, will finish their degrees in the next year in nursing and sports medicine.

Michael Karpinski, Director of Exceptional Services. Michael earned his Bachelor’s of Arts in Special Education, as well as his Bachelor’s of Arts in Elementary Education from Arizona State University. He also earned a Master of Arts from Michigan State University with concentrations in Special Education and Sport Leadership and Coaching. He is completing his ED Specialist program with Wayne State University in Special Education Administration. Throughout his career in Special Education, he has worked with students with disabilities across multiple eligibility categories and age ranges from Kindergarten through Young Adults in both Arizona and Michigan. For the past two school years he has served as the Principal for a Special Education program with Mesa Public Schools.
He is passionate about working with students with disabilities to meet their academic, social/emotional, and postsecondary goals. His wife, who is also a Special Educator, and he have been married for 17 years. Originally from Michigan, they have lived in Scottsdale for almost 10 years.
They have two beautiful daughters and two dogs that we rescued when they were pups.