10 Apache Junction students of the year recognized


The Apache Junction Unified School District Governing Board room, 1575 W. Southern in Apache Junction may have been empty due to the school closure from COVID-19, but the 10 AJUSD students of the year were not forgotten.

The board meeting was broadcast virtually and all of the students who were selected to be students of the year were praised for their achievements.

The students are:

  • Stephanie Ceron and Mario Torres-Hernandez from Desert Vista Elementary School.
  • Peyton Sims and Nadine Owen from Four Peaks Elementary School.
  • Carl Edward Kennedy IV and Jahyla Torres from Peralta Trail Elementary School.
  • Ben Martinez and Ciarra Anderson from Cactus Canyon Junior High School.
  • Madison Arthur and Nicolas Moorhead from Apache Junction High School.

Below are excerpts from the presentation:

Stephanie Ceron

"Stephanie is one in a million. She is a very hard worker and has one of the sweetest personalities. She demonstrates scholarly behaviors and puts in the time needed to produce exceptional work.

"Stephanie perseveres through whatever she puts her mind to and will achieve greatness in life. She is an amazing role model inside and outside of the classroom and this is seen through her daily interactions with others.

"Stephanie strives to model how others should be treated through her demonstration of respect, compassion, and support of those around her. She is a leader at Desert Vista and congratulations for the recognition of one of our students of the year...well deserved."

Mario Torres Hernandez

"Mario is one of the most kind and respectful young men around. He is an amazing student and role model to everyone. His character, intelligence, and humor are some of the reasons why he is respected by his peers and others at Desert Vista.

"Mario has a very bright future and he can achieve anything he puts his mind to as proven through his dedication to learning and being a serving leader to those around him on our campus. He strives to do his best and goes above and beyond to give 100% with his learning, character, and his leadership at school and in the community.

"Congratulations Mario for being honored tonight as one of two Students of the Year for Desert Vista Elementary...we are proud of you."

Peyton Sims

"Peyton Sims personifies the type of student who prides himself on academic excellence and class leadership. In the classroom, he diligently completes his work with little assistance from his teachers.

"His participation in both small and large group discussions provided keen insight and perspective about each topic. Because he had a full grasp of the material being taught, he would eagerly assist his fellow students in their comprehension.

"uring the online learning session over the past several weeks, Peyton has challenged himself to correctly complete all activities provided to best further his own education. His positive attitude and willingness to learn new things are valuable assets that will benefit him in his future endeavors.

"Peyton reflects great credit upon himself and those of the Apache Junction Unified School District."

Nadine Owen

"Nadine Owens is well-deserving of the final Kiwanis Kids award for Four Peaks Elementary School. She is an energetic young lady who exemplifies what every student at Four Peaks strives to be.

"Her expectations for herself is immeasurable. She holds herself to the highest of standards in all that she does. Nadine has an inquisitive mind that challenges the thinking of her peers during class discussions.

"She leads her school as the Student Council President and is a remarkably mature, responsible student. Her enthusiasm will help her fulfill her highest dreams in the future. Well done, Nadine."

Carl Edward Kennedy

"I have had the pleasure to have had Eddie for two straight years in his education. Over those two years he has shown his character as a bright and influential young man. Eddie has done more work on his own to make him a better student than anybody I have ever had in class.

"He has worked for hours on KHAN, Pearson, and Google Classroom just to make sure he is learning his standards. Eddie takes pride in retaking tests to improve his scores and does weekly grade checks to make sure that his grades are not slipping.

"After just missing the cutoff to the advanced math class for sixth grade he was upset. He worked so hard and felt like he deserved to be there. Eddie did work hard in fifth and put in a lot of study time, but this year he did better. He continued to put in the hours in math and he should take pride in that.

"I am very proud of him and he should be proud of himself."

Jahyla Torres

"Jahyla is an amazing student. She is a hard worker and always strives to be her best at whatever she is doing. She is extremely responsible in many ways. Jahyla looks out from her younger sister, and her younger brother, who is in our Future Readiness program.

"Jahyla is a member of our Student Council and was a major contributor to the Fall Carnival. Teachers can always count on her when something needs to be done.

"She is a caring individual who tries to see the best in everyone she meets. She never complains about with whom she may be partnered in a group. She is willing to help anyone who needs it. Jahyla is deserving of this honor as she is definitely a model student and citizen."

Ben Martinez

"Ben is an amazing student. He is responsible and gets everything done in a timely manner. He has an amazing work ethic and challenges himself by completing Algebra I and Honors Geometry (high school courses) even though he is a junior high student.

"During class discussions, he is always engaged in the topic. He is enthusiastic and eager to learn and is can be counted on to ask challenging questions.

"His enthusiasm is contagious. He works hard and is not afraid to voice his thoughts in and outside the classroom. But Ben has a fun side too. He is witty, kind, and funny. He is friendly to everyone and is a great leader."

Ciaira Anderson

"Ciara is an exceptional example of a CCJH Cougar. She is a talented athlete, excellent musician, advanced student and a kind person.

"She is always prepared to help students around her or to offer a kind word to anyone who needs it. Her teachers say she is pleasure to have in class and we are very proud of Ciara."

Nicolas Moorhead

"Nick is a great kid all around. He takes care of academic business, competes in sports like a true gentleman, and is very kind to other students and to teachers. He has every reason to be very proud, yet he a humble young man.

"Nicolas is kind to his fellow classmates and is so good at welcoming our new students. He never hesitates to do and complete the tasks we ask him to do. He always shows his Prospector Spirit and participates in Spirit Week.

"Nicholas is a fantastic student, a great person, and a talented athlete. He is our student with the highest GPA in the senior class and is very deserving of this recognition."

Madison Arthur

"Madison is an outstanding Prospector and leader. As student body president she has made her presence known not only around the school and at pep assemblies, but at games and activities in the community as well.

"She organizes, attends, helps, and involves others. She always has a positive smile and a willing heart. As Best Buddies president, she made sure everyone was always included, she always showed them kindness and love.

"She is going to go very far in her future as a teacher. Madison is an amazing young woman."

Registration for all AJUSD is currently being accepted online. Visit www.ajusd.org for more information.

Editor's note: Sally Marks is AJUSD's public information officer.