Celebrate the Comeback of Wolves in AZ!
by Reporter Logan Miller
I recently went to the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum and visited one of my favorite exhibits—Mexican gray wolves.
While watching the wolves, I noticed they also were watching me, and smiling! I don’t think I would enjoy living in captivity, but this month the wolves do have something to be happy about. This March is the 10th anniversary of Mexican wolf reintroduction in Arizona and New Mexico; and today over 50 wolves, relatives of the wolves at the Desert Museum, are making a comeback in the wild.
The Mexican wolf, or “el lobo” in Spanish, is the most endangered wolf in the world. It used to roam through the Southwestern United States all the way to central Mexico. But because of conflicts with livestock, the wolves were hunted and trapped until they were almost extinct. By 1980, all wolves in Arizona and New Mexico had been killed off and only a few survived in Mexico. The last five lobos known to exist were captured in the wild and put in captivity at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum to help them survive.
Wolves were saved from extinction because of the Endangered Species Act, a law that helps keep animals from going extinct. One of the main reasons to keep animals in the wild is because of the important role they play in balancing nature.
Scientists say that wolves are a “highly interactive species.” My dad, Craig Miller, Southwest Representative of Defenders Wildlife, tells me “wolves are especially important because they keep the deer and elk strong and muscular. Without wolves, deer would become slower, weaker, less-aware and may overpopulate and overgraze their habitat, which can cause mass starvation.”
Although many people still think wolves eat grandmas and little girls with red hoods, they actually eat deer, elk and occasionally little pigs and cattle—which gets them in trouble with ranchers. The group Defenders of Wildlife pays the ranchers for cattle that have been killed by wolves. It also helps ranchers by putting up fencing and doing other projects to help protect livestock from wolves.
This month there will be a celebration (please see page 6 for details) for the 10th anniversary of wolf reintroduction. There will be fire-breathers, Apache Crown Dancers, live folk music, face painting and more.
Now I know why the wolves were smiling—they were happy they were making a comeback. That makes me smile, too!
Project Graduation Helps to Save Teens!
by Reporter Lauren Dobbin
Cross Middle School
Graduation night can be the most dangerous night of a teenager’s life. Statistics show that there are more car accidents and fatalities on graduation night due to drinking and driving than any other night of the year.
Project Graduation is a national program that helps protect teenagers by keeping them off the street on graduation night. It’s an all-night, alcohol- and drug-free party that’s held at the high school.
Mary Snider, the founder of Project Graduation in Tucson, started planning in 2002. Ironwood High School’s first graduating class of 2004 was the first group to enjoy the event. Ninety percent of the student body purchased tickets, and over 800 students attended!
The seniors get to choose the theme for the party and the parent volunteers spend all year preparing for it. The business community helps to fund the event. “It is really neat to see the teenagers, parents and members of the community come together to make Project Graduation possible,” Snider says. “I brought the idea to Tucson, but it is made possible by the efforts of many.”
The volunteers really transform the school. The sets are visually stunning. The students pay for one admission ticket, which is good for all the activities and food for the night. The entertainment is endless—magic shows, comedy hypnotists, sumo wrestling, a mechanical bull, hot tubs, a movie theater, a portrait studio, Dance Dance Revolution, karaoke, a salon and a casino. Another highlight is the raffle, where students have a chance to win a car that’s donated by Precision Toyota or over $2,000 in cash.
What does Snider like most about Project Graduation? “The appreciation expressed by the students and knowing that (I) may have saved someone’s life,” she says. The students think it’s great to be together for one last night.
In Tucson, Project Graduation has spread to Canyon Del Oro and Amphi high schools as well as to other schools in the Tucson area.
Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!
by Reporter Cassidy Cowell
Coyote Trail Elementary
Everyone knows Dr. Seuss, who was an American writer and cartoonist for about 50 years. And this month is his birthday! He was born in Springfield, Mass., on March 2, 1904, and died in La Jolla, Calif., on Sep. 24, 1991.
Everyone loved Dr. Seuss, but his real name was Theodore Seuss Geisel. Seuss was actually his mother’s maiden name. Almost everybody pronounces Seuss like it rhymes with goose. But Seuss really rhymes with voice.
Suess never had any children of his own, but during his life he wrote and illustrated over 44 children’s books. Many of them, including “Green Eggs and Ham” and “The Cat in the Hat” are some of the best-selling children’s books of all time.
Yee-Haw! It’s the Tucson Rodeo
by Reporter Amanda Kephart
Children Reaching for the Sky
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go behind the scenes at the Tucson Rodeo? The Fiesta de los Vaqueros happens each February in Tucson, but up close, you get to see what really happens!
What a privilege—reporters get to stand behind the chutes where they load the animals that the cowboys and junior rodeo participants try to ride. You meet the contestants and see the animals. I saw bareback broncs waiting in the chutes.
I met a 12-year-old junior barrel racer who has been competing at rodeos since she was 5. She says she’ll compete in the main rodeo once she’s old enough. Her mom barrel races and her dad does steer wrestling. Her advice to anyone who wants to be in the junior rodeo is this. “Work hard and stay focused because it takes a lot of commitment,” she says. A 10-year-old boy won the junior rodeo steer-riding event and was all smiles.
I also visited the announcer’s booth and the photo pit area. I saw just how much preparation the announcers need to do. One announcer stays in the booth and the other announcer rides his horse around the arena while talking to the crowd!
Joan Liess, who was in charge of all of the media people, helped me check in and get my reporter badge each day. They had yummy food for us and also gave us sheets with each day’s line-up of events and contestants.
Just as there is a bull rider of the year in rodeo, there’s also the bull of the year! Voodoo Child is that bull and one unlucky cowboy drew him for the finals Feb. 24. This bull had never been ridden for the full eight seconds in more than 60 attempts—and this day was no exception. The bull twisted, bucked, and sent the cowboy flying into the dirt.
The rodeo clown has a very important and dangerous job. Once the bull bucks off the cowboy, the clown has to protect the cowboy from the bull. Several times, when it looked like the bull was about to attack the clown, the clown jumped up on the fence or into the barrel just in time.
If you have never gone to the rodeo, be sure to go next year. It will help you understand why Tucson kids get two days off for “Rodeo Days.”
You’ll see little kids trying to ride sheep in “mutton busting” and all the thrilling events that we call rodeo!
Dogs Help Those Who Need It
by Reporters Lizzie Bell & Erin Brearcliff
Academy of Tucson Middle School
Have you ever heard of an assistance dog? It’s a dog that helps people do what they can’t do. For example, an assistance dog might help someone who’s blind or deaf, or someone who uses a wheelchair. These dogs help people with disabilities to lead more independent lives.
The other day, my friend Lizzie and I got to meet one of these dogs in training. Durban is a cute and frisky 5-month-old yellow lab. He’s part of the 4-H assistance dog training program called “Paws for a Cause.” Durban’s specialty is to help the blind. Debbie Gordon and Madison Kirkland train him.
“Durban has been at my house now for a week, and it’s harder than I thought,” Kirkland says.
Gordon has been a volunteer for Paws for a Cause for 12 years and has trained 11 puppies. She teaches at San Miguel High School, and Durban joins her math classes every day. When they put on his green training vest, he knows he’s at work. Remember, if a dog is wearing a training vest or harness, it’s at work and shouldn’t be petted.
Adviser: Carrie Coco
New Rover to Explore Mars
by Reporter Matthew Ifflander Casas Christian School
Have you ever looked at other planets? Pretty soon, when you Google Mars you might get some good pictures, but they won’t be from the good old Mars rovers, “Spirit” and “Opportunity.” Instead, they’ll be pictures from the new “Suns” rover.
President George Bush ordered a bigger and better rover last July. Why waste all that money? Eventually, the older rovers will run out of power because their solar panels will collect too much dust.
“Spirit” and “Opportunity” have been hard at work since January of 2004. The more advanced rover should last even longer! Sure, the price to build a new rover will be sky-high, but it will be worth it. The new rover will enable us to continue discovering new things about Mars. The rovers might be able to tell us if we’ll be able to make a home on Mars someday!
The technology will be fresh, and it will have to be tested, but the chances of it not working are one out of 10. This isn’t bad odds for the chance to continue studying Mars for years to come!
Adviser: Heidi Cowell
Hammond Balances Being a Firefighter with Being a Mom
by Reporter Marissa Mitchell
Sahuarita Middle School
Marcela Hammond, 32, is a female firefighter in the city of Nogales. Hammond balances her tough job as a firefighter with her other tough job—being a mom.
Hammond has five kids. “I love the schedule (as a firefighter) because I work one day and I get the following two days off. The name for this work schedule is 24 on duty and 48 off,” she explains. Hammond is excellent at her job, yet as a young kid and as a teenager, she never thought in a million years that she’d be a firefighter!
She became a firefighter after graduating in December 2000. Even though she’s been a firefighter for seven years, Hammond says one of the things that she enjoys about her work is that there’s always a different type of job to do or a different type of fire to fight.
She says that she loves the Nogales Fire service and plans to put in a total of 25 years before she retires.
Hammond loves firefighting so much that she’s training to be a fire marshall. She should finish her training in a year or two. Hammond definitely has got the power!
My Super NFL Experience!
by Reporter Edward Brown
Academy of Tucson Elementary
The weekend before the Super Bowl, I got the chance to go to the 17th Annual NFL Experience held at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. For a football fan like me, it was a totally fun-filled day.
The event is put on by the NFL. It’s like a sports theme park with activities for kids, displays, a huge football card show and autograph sessions with football stars! The first thing I tried was throwing a football at targets. It was hard work because the balls were wet from the rain. I also tried the running clinics, which included an obstacle course and tackling dummies. Then I tried on a full-size NFL helmet and shoulder pads—they’re really heavy!
There were some amazing things to see, like the real Super Bowl trophy was on display in a glass case (with four guards watching it). Seeing all the old-fashioned football equipment was great, too.
The event isn’t just for kids. It helps charities that are supported by the NFL. The gate proceeds from the NFL Experience also helps fund Youth Education Town, which runs educational and recreational centers for kids at risk who live in cities that host the Super Bowl. There are sites in 10 U.S. cities, including Phoenix.
So if you ever get the chance, go for it. Not only will you have fun, but you’ll help other kids, too!
Adviser: Carrie Coco
Reporter Goes Back in Time
by Reporter Courtney Shelton
Sonoran Science Academy
There are many places to see in and around Washington, D.C. Two of my favorite places to visit that are nearby are Jamestown and Colonial Williamsburg.
Jamestown was the first English colony in America, and now it is a tourist attraction where people dress up in costumes mimicking almost exactly what original Jamestown residents wore. There are three replicas of ships in Jamestown, and you can actually climb aboard the Susan Constant, the Godspeed or the Discovery. There is also a traditional Powhatan Indian village where you can see tools made of deer bone, someone making arrowheads, or if you want you can just hang out in a house.
Those were not my favorite parts, however. I really enjoyed the magnificent display at James Fort. There was a church, governor’s house and a guardhouse that were all replicas of the originals. We also visited the storehouse and saw 50- year-old or worse tobacco hanging from the ceiling.
Tobacco, and Jamestown’s government, was what made the settlement successful.
Williamsburg was another great site to see in Virginia. You can go anywhere in Williamsburg, from a blacksmith’s shop to the House of Burgesses. At the blacksmith’s, we watched a man make a nail while we asked him question upon question about how long a blacksmith used to work in a day, what economic class they were in and what amount of education was needed. At the House of Burgesses, we went through the complete tour room by room and saw maps from the time, quill pens and all sorts of other things.
Remember when you visit Washington, D.C., to get up to Virginia, too, so you can look at these remarkable places.
Tiger Wins in Tucson Match Play
by Reporter Trevor Bradley
Match play was back in Tucson for the second year in a row.
Tiger Woods, the best golfer in the world; Phil Mickelson, the best lefty; Ernie Els, ranked fourth in the world; and 61 other top PGA players arrived in Tucson last month to compete in the Accenture Match Play Championship.
After being down by six holes, it didn’t get any better from there for Els—he ended up losing by six.
Woods faced some tough competition early on. In one of his Wednesday matches, he was down three with only five holes to go. Somehow, he pulled off a miracle, winning in 18. Tiger’s momentum grew as match play continued.
Mickelson, who played for Arizona State University in college, managed to stay alive Wednesday but was sent packing Thursday.
Woods faced Stewart Cink for the Sunday championship. Cink played brilliantly the day before, and golf fans looked forward to a tough finals. But Woods dominated Cink and was so far ahead that they didn’t bother playing the final holes. With the big win, Woods stayed undefeated for the golf season.
“I think maybe we ought to slice him open to see what’s inside—maybe nuts and bolts,” Cink joked after losing to Woods, the perfect golfing machine.
Some say Tiger might become the second player (after legendary golfer Bobby Jones) ever to win a Grand Slam. He could be the first to ever win a modern Grand Slam—the Masters, the US Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship.
Next year, match play moves to the new golf course at the Ritz-Carlton Resort at Dove Mountain.
Dive Into Fantasy With ‘The Castle Corona’
by Reporter Alice Zhao
New Vistas Academy
“Did you say thief? Never! Never! Terrible things those thieves! Our kingdom cannot, absolutely not, have a thief!”
This is one of the notable lines from the lovable King Guido, who is really not much of a king, in Sharon Creech’s new novel, “The Castle Corona.”
This fantasy for youngsters absolutely tickles, entices and grabs the readeras it launches them into the world of Corona Kingdom.
The story starts off when two peasants, Enzio and Pia, discover a pouch full of treasures, which they pocket and hide. Word reaches the king that a thief is on the loose! Things get worse when the Count and Countess arrive informing King Guido there might be servants who want to poison him! Frantic, he hires Enzio and Pia to taste his food before he eats it. Enzio and Pia then step into the world of Castle Corona, where royalty dominates and secrets are hidden.
Fast-paced, the plot moves forward quickly and lets the reader hang on each event, absorbing this astonishing tale.
Even though the plot is quite enough, Creech dazzles with her detailed descriptions of every setting. Whether it’s the pebbled banks of the Winono River or the beautiful gardens in the Castle, every object is described in full. It is almost impossible to not imagine roses and the marble fountain launching crystal clear water in the Palace Garden!
The descriptions are not the only noteworthy details. The characters Creech creates are great as well. Each character has realistic feelings and emotions that bring the character to life. You wouldn’t be surprised to see Pia looking over your shoulder as you take in this tale.
Even though she set her story in a time of fantasy, Creech impressively hides real life lessons and problems in the plot. King Guido, for example, is a king who has a head as empty as a dry river when it comes to wisdom, but he has many expectations to fulfill. During the course of the novel, King Guido struggles to meet an expectation, which is often a real hardship in life.
Creech also focuses on family matters like not being accepted for who you are and understanding each other. Readers will not only enjoy this fable but also learn some lessons in “The Castle Corona.”
Creech’s magnificent masterpiece tells a tale of fantasy, poverty and wealth, and separation among classes. Appearing quite ordinary and simple to the eye, it is only when readers dive deeper into the story that its potential unravels. Wonderfully written, “The Castle Corona” is for all who enjoy fantasy fables and tales.
Adviser: Stacey Trepanier
Students Get to Pet Snake, See Vulture
by Reporter Ryan Stevenson
Phoenix Christian Academy
Hillary Hoffman of the Arizona Game & Fish Department came to the Phoenix Christian Academy in February.
Hoffman talked about animals that live here in the Valley with the pre-kindergarten through fourth-grade classes. She also brought several animals with her.
The first animal she introduced us to was Howdy, a burrowing owl. Howdy eats mice, grasshoppers and other insects. Sometimes he eats a mouse whole and then later throws it up—the skeleton, hair and all. Howdy has great vision, even though his eyes can’t move, because he can move his neck almost all the way around.
Next was Sibley the Harris hawk. The hawk is just like the owl because they both had a mouse for dinner. Sibley is very strong and could probably lift me up and take me on the roof. Sibley is 7 years old, but hawks live to be 20 or so.
The next animal was a turkey vulture, which only eats dead things. Hoffman brought Ed to our class. He has a hole in his head to breathe through, and he also clamps with his beak. Ed has a huge wingspan, about 7 feet. Ed was brought to the Arizona Game & Fish Department because he had a broken wing and was hit by a car.
The last animal was a snake. It eats by unlocking its jaw. We got to pet him very calmly and slowly. It was a lot of fun having the Arizona Game & Fish Department at our school. To schedule a visit, go to www.azgfd.gov or call (623) 582-9806.
Adviser: Stacey Lane
Making a Splash on the Colorado
by Reporter Samantha Souers
Estrella Mountain Elementary
Last fall, a group of 44 fifth-graders took an exciting, educational trip to the fabulous Hoover Dam, which is part of the Colorado River system.
First, the students took a five-hour bus ride to get there. Then they hiked three miles on a historical trail and took a tour bus down a mountain to get to the river, which was 1,000 feet below.
On their way down, they passed two volcanoes. The students learned that the road they took on the tour bus was the road people used to build the Hoover Dam.
On the river, the students got to take turns sitting on the outside of a raft to feel the 54-degree water with their feet. A little while after boarding the raft, the students stopped on a small beach for lunch. The students saw wildlife. Jordan James called this “the trip of the year!” They all had a wonderful time.
Adviser: Kristy Coy
Inspired Birthdays Inspires Kids
by Reporter Kayla Block
Horizon Community Learning Center
Who would have thought that a birthday party could make an artichoke look good?
That’s exactly what happened at a party I attended in February at DC Ranch in Scottsdale. At this unusual event, the debut celebration for a new company called Inspired Birthdays, the founder, Rhonda Bannard, wrapped things up with a brief presentation to parents about her new concept.
“I recently asked my children what type of vegetable they would want to be,” she says. “My daughter answered, ‘I’d want to be an artichoke, because they’re the only vegetable that has a heart!’”
This is exactly the kind of thinking that summarizes what Inspired Birthdays is all about. The company takes important ideals—like having a heart and helping people, giving back to the community, eating healthfully and living well—and teaches them to kids through fun, creative games and activities.
At the Inspired Birthdays party, almost 60 kids ages 8 to 12 participated in fun, active games like an Eco-Race, a Heart Relay Race and a Cultural & Endangered Animals Scavenger Hunt. They got down and dirty with unique crafts like building a life-sized Eco-Man outfitted with toilet paper rolls that had the kid’s dreams for the world written on them. They also decorated flowerpots and goodie bags, which were then donated to non-profit organizations such as The Wellness Community and Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center.
These donations to the non-profit organizations are part of what makes Inspired Birthdays so unique and special. All its birthday parties will be held in partnership with non-profit groups, so kids will have the chance to give back in unique ways, discover how they can help others in the community and even learn about world events. Plus, they’ll have the option of having their birthday party at awesome locations like a theater or farm. For example, they could have a drama party and perform on Valley Youth Theatre’s stage.
Valley Youth Theatre was one of the nonprofit partners that participated in the launch party. Jessica Graeber, from the organization, played fun theater games like “Bibbityboppityboo” with the children. There were also presentations by Gabriel’s Angels, which brought a healing dog to play with the children. Liberty Wildlife added an owl named Magellan and a falcon named Elliot to the wildlife mix.
The kids didn’t go hungry, either. FreshGen Kids brought reusable boxes filled with goodies like make-your-own-pizzas and cracker-stackers. Organic cupcakes were the dessert. I couldn’t believe anything that healthy could taste so good!
Even though the kids were all different ages, everyone seemed to be having a blast. Plus, I could tell the kids learned something from one of the most unusual parts of the party, the Inspired Connections Moment. The Inspired Birthdays team leader passed string to one kid at a time, asking them what they had learned and how they were going to use this knowledge.
For more info about an Inspired Birthdays party, you can go to www.inspiredbirthdays.com or call (602) 264-3434.
Teams Give Fans Free Souvenirs
by Reporter Mark Duncan
New Vistas Academy
If you go to see your favorite team play, you may not have to spend any money on souvenirs.
Many teams give souvenirs to their fans. According to Ashley Holstrom of the Phoenix Coyotes, giving things to fans is a good way to get people to come to games.
“Everybody loves free stuff,” Holstrom says. Every year, the Coyotes pick several items that they think their fans would like in order to attract more fans to their games.
Many of the Coyotes’ giveaway items are clothes. Earlier this season, they gave away home replica jerseys. These jerseys look just like a real jersey, even though they have iron-on transfers instead of the patches. At another game, fans received a long-sleeved shirt. Another clothing giveaway is the Coyotes’ T-shirt. This shirt has a large Coyotes logo on the back.
Several other giveaways are meant to keep fans warm. The first two cozy giveaways are the beanie hat and winter gloves. The last giveaway item that keeps you warm is a fleece blanket. This cozy comforter wraps you up in a big coyote and keeps you warm in a cold hockey arena.
Many other giveaway items are simply fun to collect, like a Wayne Gretzky mini jersey. Another popular item is the McFarlane Bobby Hull figure. Hull was a star on the Winnipeg Jets, the team that became the Phoenix Coyotes.
As you can see, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on souvenirs. All you have to do is see your favorite team on a giveaway night!
Adviser: Stacey Trepanier
Shaq In Phoenix
by Reporter RiAnn Holmes
Shaquille O’Neal is known as one of the most dominant basketball players in NBA history. And now he’s the center for the Phoenix Suns!
Shaq has played on three previous teams: the Miami Heat, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Orlando Magic. At 7 feet, 1 inch tall and 325 pounds—and a shoe size of 23— he is famous for his stature.
O’Neal has enjoyed tremendous success on the court, as he led the Lakers to three consecutive NBA titles. He was named Most Valuable Player of the NBA Finals all three times and has the highest scoring average for a center in NBA Finals history.
In the 2006 season, O’Neal reached 25,000 career points, becoming the 14th player in history to accomplish that milestone. Last summer, he hosted ”Shaq’s Big Challenge,” a reality show on ABC where he challenged overweight kids to lose weight and stay in shape.
On Feb. 6, the Suns traded Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks to the Heat in exchange for O’Neal. On Feb. 20, Shaq played his first game with the Suns.