School Notes: Forensics, pop tabs, and our future medical providers - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Education News

School Notes: Forensics, pop tabs, and our future medical providers

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Michelle Reese covers education for the Tribune and blogs about motherhood and family issues at Contact her at

Michelle Reese covered education for the Tribune, also blogging about motherhood and family issues at

Posted: Tuesday, July 10, 2012 7:30 am | Updated: 3:34 pm, Tue Aug 20, 2013.

There’s no debate about it: Gilbert teen Nicole Fisher is one of the best in the country when it comes to expressing herself.

Nicole, a May graduate of Mesquite High School, was named one of six National Students of the Year by the National Forensic League during the group’s annual conference in June.

By doing so, she became the first Arizonan to win this honor – an award given for integrity, humility, leadership, service and respect.

Other East Valley students also won awards during the league’s national championships, which were held in Indianapolis.

Hats off to Desert Vista High School’s Austin Kennedy, who won the national title in expository speaking, and Kohinoor Gill, who placed fifth in the international extemporaneous category.

Nicole’s classmate at Mesquite, Alexa Curran, was the national runner-up in dramatic interpretation.

203 pounds of pop tabs = good deed

We’re playing catch-up on all the positive things East Valley students accomplished this past school year. In May, we heard about some outstanding Mesa students who topped everyone in the state when it came to helping the Ronald McDonald House of Phoenix.

As part of an effort to help the home-away-from-home for families whose children are undergoing medical treatment, 2,005 pounds of aluminum pop tabs were collected during the 2011-2012 event.

Students at Mesa’s SHARP school – a small, alternative school in the Mesa Unified School District – collected the most per student out of the 48 schools participating in the event. The school’s Pop Top Challenge brought in 203 pounds of tabs – or 2.5 pounds per student. Second place brought in .38 pounds of tabs per student.

Our future health leaders

Several East Valley students took part in the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) National Leadership Conference late last month.

Students taking classes at Mesa’s East Valley Institute of Technology performed well. Lisa Vannaheuang, whose home school is Mesa’s Desert Ridge High School – part of the Gilbert Unified School District – received a bronze medal in the extemporaneous health poster event. Emily Harney from Mesa’s Skyline High School, finished fifth in the country in the nursing assisting competition.

And Cassie Walker from Gilbert’s Highland High School finished sixth in the medical assisting competition.

A new school year is just weeks away for students in the East Valley. It will be interesting to see what they accomplish next.

• School Notes are compiled by education reporter Michelle Reese. Read more school news at, follow us on Facebook ( and on Twitter (@EVEdnews), and check out our boards about East Valley schools, reading, teaching and all things Mom on Pinterest (

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