Colts Take Spotlight at Achievement Above All Event
Annual Recognition Event Identifies Cortez Recipients
Posted on 12/22/2017
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Please enjoy this highlight video from the Achievement Above All event.

December 2017 – A packed house celebrated the Cortez Achievement Above All event on December 20 at the Glendale Union High School District Administrative Center. The celebration, held prior to the regular Governing Board Meeting, recognizes the school’s excelling teacher, student, support staff member, volunteer and student group. Principal Walt Simpson introduced each recipient to the Governing Board after saying, “it is with pleasure that I present to you four amazing people and an outstanding group that represent the strength, uniqueness, and togetherness of Cortez High School.”

Achievement Above All Teacher Recipient:

Jose Corona is described as “persistent, quiet, professional and a leader.” He joined Cortez 17 years ago and is a member of the world language department, primarily teaching Spanish. He has also taught physical education and ELL, while being a coach of various sports, including boys soccer, volleyball, track & field and varsity boys cross country.

“Jose has been instrumental in developing the Spanish team, forging new relationships with colleagues and students, instilling understanding and fluency in a second language, as well as for native speakers the mastery of comprehension and fluency of reading and writing,” Sampson said. “Through his passion for teaching, he develops a supportive culture in his classroom that challenge all students to succeed.”

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Achievement Above All Student Recipient:

Ana Rito Vasquez exemplifies what a student at Cortez is, Sampson said.

“In the classroom, she strives to challenge herself to perform and exceed expectations. Her enthusiasm for learning and focus on the mastering of material, serves as an example for other students,” he said.

She is very involved on her school campus and with helping others. She is a member of the National Honor Society, National Hispanic Honor Society, Art Club, Library Services and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Jennifer Beyer, media center director, had this to say of Ana: “What sets Ana from the rest is her innate kindness,” she said. “She volunteered over 600 hours her junior year by working for Saint Mary’s Food Bank, tutoring students at school, and helping me and anyone else who would ask outside of class hours. I’m truly in awe of Ana’s ability to balance schoolwork, school activities, and community service and prevail in all areas.”

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Achievement Above All Student Group Recipient:

Jim Piazza sponsors the Art Club, which is about 33 members strong. The club is an “open group for students to enrich their lives with arts and crafts,” Piazza said. “Students who may or may not have an art class can try their hand at creating something artistic for themselves or to benefit the campus.”

“Art Club demonstrates excellence in creativity, leadership, teamwork, service and character,” Sampson said. All the members are very talented, they are not specialists in one area; they are organized, ambitious, thoughtful, caring as well as bright.”

Some of the club’s projects have included chalk murals, decoratively painting the lamppost bases, and helping the National Hispanic Honor Society celebrate Dia De Los Muertos with the chalking of sugar skulls around campus.

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Achievement Above All Support Staff Recipient:

The Achievement Above All Support Staff recipient is a Cortez graduate. Enrique Martinez has spent 11 years of his life either as a student or employee at the school. His first job was as a parking attendant and he has also worked as an ELL Instructional Assistant and is now the ELL Compliance Aide.

“Enrique is very involved with the ELL Department, assessing the students’ proficiency through the AZELLA, assists all of the teachers of the ELL Department, working with the students, helping translate conversations and transcripts, along with whatever else comes up,” Sampson said.

Vasquez is also the assistant coach for the girls junior varsity soccer team and attending Arizona State University to receive a teaching degree.

Cortez is truly fortunate to have such a dynamic and caring person who affects the lives of the faculty and students on a daily basis with a smile, encouraging words and meticulousness, Sampson said.

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Achievement Above All Volunteer Recipient:

No matter the sport – Volunteer of the Year Kim Gambrel is there to root athletes on!

“It doesn’t matter if you’re at a football, volleyball, wrestling, basketball, baseball, softball or soccer game, you will more than likely see her or hear her shouts of support,” Sampson said. “It doesn’t matter if she has a child in the activity or sporting event or not, she is there.”

The “super supporter” likes to help out any where she’s needed, Sampson said.

“Over the past years, she has been known to stop by and bring snacks and drinks to groups who are doing carwashes or drop off orange slices and refreshments to the wrestlers, Spurs, baseball, and volleyball team. Whatever is asked or needed Kim Gambrel is always there to help, lend a hand or just cheer really loud,” he said.

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Thank you and congratulations to each of the Achievement Above All recipients. We are grateful for your contributions to Cortez High School and the Glendale Union High School District community.