Disrespected Falcons host Higley in ’08 season opener

By Pete Mohr | September 3, 2008

footballscheduleFALCON STADIUM – Texas and Hollywood call the fall traditional event “Friday Night Lights.” To the local sports media, it’s “Friday Night Fever.” At Cactus Shadows, I say it’s “Friday Night FanFair.” Here’s why.

I’m remembering in November 2006 during my interview with CSHS Drama Club Director Linda Garvin, a huge Falcon fan, she opined, “There are a lot of talented kids at Cactus Shadows.” She’s right; and at 2008’s inaugural “FanFair,” Friday evening, Sept. 5, you’ll see approximately 190 of those talented kids giving their all-out best. By the numbers: Gary Wykoff’s “Fightin’ Falcons Marching Band” (85); Rika Cuff’s & Theresa Chung’s Varsity Cheer State Champs (30) and Cindy Knuteson’s JV Cheer (20); Chad DeGrenier’s Football Falcons (35), the evening’s rightful centerpiece; and Melissa Valez’s State Champs Dance (10). Now that’s what I call a “FanFair.” Congratulations to every participant.

Coming off an encouraging scrimmage (Aug. 27) at Coronado, the Falcons are down in a three-point stance to dismount the visiting Higley Knights for the fifth consecutive meeting. Coach Jim Beall’s squad, after losing 30 players to graduation, still have a big incentive to ground the ‘Birds in their home opener. “Dino” predicts: Falcons, 28 - Knights, 17.

“The Arizona Republic” dissed the Falcons with its pre-season prediction of a last place finish in seven-team Desert Sky. Seventeen Falcon seniors, still smarting from last season’s 3-7 disappointment, will have something to say about that forecast. A lot can go wrong (injuries, ineligibilities) over the course of a ten-game season. I don’t know where the Falcs will finish; but employing a favorite expression from my native Alabama, I’ll “bet my hat, a--, and gas mask” that it won’t be last! Good luck, Falcons!

Acting Principal, Falcon Mom! Meet Donna Lewis

By Pete Mohr | September 3, 2008

donnalewisCCUSD – “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Thankfully, recently-appointed CSHS Acting Principal Donna W. Lewis, Ed.D. (her doctorate from George Washington University in Education Leadership & Policy) recognizes that Cactus Shadows (now rated an “Excelling School”) ain’t broke – far from it. In our August 13 first meeting, Dr. Lewis, a forthcoming 47, almost immediately enthused, “Our kids are performing academically; our clubs and activities are performing energetically; and our athletic teams are set to perform even better in their second year of 4A Conference – Division I competition.” She has her acting principalship in clear focus: “I’m here to support continued success on all fronts.” And she was quick to praise the leadership of Sid Bailey, her immediate predecessor: “Sid institutionalized some great stuff here!” So she invited Bailey to her first full faculty meeting, at which he received appreciative – and deserved – affirmation from his former colleagues.

For the three years prior to accepting (then) CCUSD Superintendent Tacy Ashby’s invitation (“For me, it was a lucky phone call”), Dr. Lewis was Assistant Superintendent, Phoenix Elementary School District, a tough “inner city” assignment. Her previous post (for two years) was (Arizona) Assistant Superintendent for Accountability, her principal responsibilities being interaction with “failing schools,” AIMS testing and addressing drop-out rates. So Dr. Lewis, from hands-on experience, knows how to address what’s “broke” in education.

She continued, “Cactus Shadows feels like a home. These students make every day exciting, invigorating – and chaotic!”

Donna Lewis (Mom) goes home each day to parent with husband David (President and CEO of Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce) two Falcons (twin sons, Chris and Sean, 15) and one “Stinger” (11-year old Ryan). Chris (clarinet) and Sean (flute) are members of the “Fightin’ Falcons Marching Band”. Ryan, playing Youth Football at defensive end/ offensive tackle, is also a trumpeteer.

Dr. Lewis knew this interviewer couldn’t avoid the “gut” question: will she, in 2009, offer herself as a candidate to become permanent principal? Her answer was straightforward: “I, like most parents and citizens in CCUSD, will be watching for a commitment by the District to ‘stability.’”

A belated welcome, Donna Lewis. I’m betting that however long your “watch” may be, Cactus Shadows students will be the beneficiaries of your spirit and vitality.

Photo by Pete Mohr