District 5495 Youth Services News

Submitted by: Dr. Honora Norton, RCSL Public Image Director
The Rotary Club of Sun Lakes held its ninth annual Rotary International Four-Way Test Speech Contest. Five students from five different Chandler Unified School District High Schools competed.
The purpose of the speech is to apply the principles of Rotary International's (RI) Four Way Test to a current ethical issue. Students are challenged to identify a topic they felt passionate about and to adopt a point of view from which they will seek to persuade others. It should be something from the speaker's personal experience or general knowledge. 
Each part of the Four-Way Test was addressed during the speech.  The Four Way Test addresses:

Is it the TRUTH?
Is it FAIR to all concerned?
Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
Judges at the event included RI District Governor Larry Horton; Superintendent of Schools Frank Narducci; Executive Director Elementary Schools/RCSL member West Region Leo Schlueter; Executive Director Secondary Education High Schools Dan Serrano; RI Past District Governor/RCSL Member Gary Whiting, Assoc Superintendent Pre-K Educational Service/RCSL Member Dr. Craig Gilbert.
RCSL member Bill Schink served as contest scorekeeper.
Bill McCoach, RCSL event chairperson, announced the following placement awards:
* 1st Place-$500: Sophia Berg (Arizona College Preparatory Senior with topic 4-Way Test and Environment/Climate Change);
* 2nd Place-$250: Joseph Chen (Hamilton HS Senior with topic 4-Way Test/Society's Evolution);
* Runners-Up-$100: Disha Sankhla (Basha HS sophomore with topic 4-Way Test/Communication ); Diya Tamakuwala  (Casteel HS Junior with topic College/Life Career Choices); Rayan Elhadri (Chandler HS Senior with topic 4-Way Test and Global Awareness). Each Student applied Rotary's Four-Way Test principles to his/her 5-7-minute talk.
Sophia has been invited to speak at 2023 RI District 5495 Conference in Downtown Phoenix.
District 5495 Interact District Governor Georgia Bukata has been chosen to receive two of Arizona's most prestigious awards that will be given this year.
Junior Achievement each year selects 18 of the most outstanding youth in Arizona, to be recognized as "The Best and the Brightest" with their "18 under 18" Award.  Georgia has been selected as one of the 18 to be honored by that organization as a 2023 recipient of that coveted award.  It will be presented to her during a special virtual and in-person ceremony on the evening of April 26.
Each year the Governor of Arizona also selects just one youth under the age of 18 to receive the "Inspired Youth Leadership Award" for their outstanding community service work.  Our Interact DG Georgia Bukata has also been selected as the 2023 recipient of that award, and she will be honored at a Governor's luncheon event on April 26.
Past District Governor Art Harrington, our district's Interact chair, said "I expect that every Rotarian, Rotaractor and Interactor in our district will be very proud of this exceptional young leader within the Family of Rotary, as she is recognized with these two very prestigious statewide awards."
The Rotary Club of Sun Lakes (RCSL) congratulated and presented awards to the club's Chandler Unified School District Teachers of the Month. 
The award selection is based on teacher's total years of service in the field of education; examples of how the teacher goes above the normal requirements and enhances student education; the respect shown for the teacher by her/his peers, students, and parents; and the teacher's involvement in extracurricular activities and service in the community. 
A $500 check is awarded to the honored teacher - $200 from the RCSL, $200 from Earnhardt Automotive Center and $100 from Trust Bank. 
Angela Birch was named RCSL January 2023 Teacher of the Month.  Prior to coming to CUSD Chandler's Haley Elementary in 2011, Angela taught first and second grades in the Kyrene School district for nine years. She attended the University of Arizona. Her colleagues state she is a ray of sunshine for her students, parents, and fellow staff members; goes out of her way to try and be at her students' sporting events or even just be aware of what is happening in their home lives that may impact their learning in the classroom. Relationships are EVERYTHING in education and Mrs. Birch is a master at building strong, meaningful relationships. Her students come back year after year to see her and/or volunteer for her. 
This year, she has 24 students - she manages big behaviors with positive reinforcement and behavior plans, when necessary, she is differentiating for students at all levels. She is making "morning work" more engaging by introducing learning tubs vs. worksheets so students are actively engaged in play AND learning at the same time.
Emmanuel "Manny" Reyes was named RCSL February 2023 Teacher of the Month. Manny is a sixth-grade grade teacher CUSD Chandler's Hartford Sylvia Encinas Elementary School.
He teaches math and science and has been a part of Hartford for seven years. Note the following comments within his nomination submission:  Manny relates so well with students that they are extremely comfortable asking questions and coming in after or before school hours to ask for additional help because they know how much he cares for their well-being and education. He has high expectations for his students and because of the students' respect for him, they work hard to meet those expectations.
He volunteers often to help with extra duties at Hartford and coaches 9th grade wrestling at Chandler High School after school hours and on weekends. He always says that Chandler High Wrestling helped him become the person he is today, and he wants to give back to students today. He is doing a tremendous job guiding the new teachers and helping them learn the ins and outs of Hartford and the curriculum. Manny is not only a role model to these students he is also the mirror of their future.
Peoria North Rotary Club is sponsoring a unique project this year meant to interest students in the world of space exploration.
As opportunities for innovation in the space economy continue to grow, it's important our students learn about these opportunities and begin training for future possibilities.
The Postcards in Space program requires each sixth-grade class in the Peoria Unified School District to design a new technology that could be used to help meet the needs of people working or living in space.
Students are asked to brainstorm and create ideas, then sketch those ideas on postcards distributed to the schools by the Peoria North club.
Club members will pick up the postcards later this month and send to the Club for the Future, where they will be sent to space and back on a Blue Origin New Shepard rocket.
The club's Postcards in Space project is funded by a District Designated Grant. 
Photo: Peoria North Rotary Club President-Elect Steve Matthews distributes Postcards in Space packets to a local school.
Youth Exchange is getting crazy competitive in Arizona and we need help to stay in the race! The reason?
 The J-1 Visa slots at high schools are filling up far earlier and faster than ever before - which is quite concerning. Recently, Representatives at the AZ State Legislature advised us that there were over 300 J-1 visa inbound students last year in Arizona! It's hard to believe there are that many programs and students, but it's becoming more apparent every day. (That's also the main reason why we lost our bill with the AZ legislature last year - they wanted a better understanding of how many students there were and wanted us to adjust our proposal.)
What this has caused is extra work to get the J-1 Visa placements since we are being turned down more and more because their slots are already filled. The majority of those 300 students aren't a true 1-for-1 exchange program like Rotary Youth Exchange is as most of the for-profit companies have very few outbounds (from the US anyway). 

The good news? We were able to resume exchanging this school year after the pandemic shut everyone down across the world. There are currently 4 Inbounds in D5495 and there will be 13 for the 2023-24 school year. That triples our number from 2022-23. To do this, we need people on our committee to take some of the jobs required on a regular basis instead of when Donna and I get time to complete them. (We have been what my daddy always used to say "a day late and a dollar short" a lot this year.) 
So this is what the D5495 Rotary Youth Exchange Committee needs to be more efficient and not draining:
  • Chair Understudy - Right now we need this because THIS YEAR RI highly suggested putting a three-year term limit for district chairs. A person cannot simply jump in and run with it. Donna and I are interpreting that as a guideline not a requirement however, it isn't a bad idea to have new energy on our committee.
  • Inbound Chair Understudy - I will fully support, teach and guide. My husband just retired and wants to travel more to see our 4 grandkids in NE and FL so I will need assistance at the very least.
  • Outbound Chair - Donna is doing this AND District Chair. Need I say more?
  • Paperwork/Database Oversight - See that all documents for home visits/interviews and trainings are completed and filed/received/sent in the correct timeline as well as references, background checks and new applications for Host Families, Counselors and YEOS are completed.
  • Marketing - Present our program to schools and Rotary clubs a full 3-4 months before Outbound applications are due. Write articles for local newspapers and Rotary District newsletters about going on exchange and host family opportunities.  Currently, we simply do not have time to do any of this.  
  • Social Media - We MUST be current and in people's minds: TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, FB and YouTube. It should be one person to keep track of it easier.
  • Events Planner - Schedule and organize the IB trips/excursions/hikes/required District events, then publicize the calendar to the students and Host Families.
  • ROTEX Guide - Keep them in the loop, notify them to be ready to assist in orientations for both students, Host Families, Counselors and YEOS. As you probably know, a lot of Rotex are fluid so it helps to keep them on track. They will also need to be background checked to be involved and you can help guide this process.
Donna and I simply cannot do this by ourselves. Teresa Haire, D5495 Youth Services Chair has recently joined us. WE NEED YOU! Please think about it seriously and let us know. If you have an idea of someone who would like this as well, please send me their contact info and I will contact them.
Thanks for your consideration of this very important opportunity and wonderfully exciting and fun committee!
Yours in building world peace and understanding one student at a time,
Machel Considine
Inbound Chair for Rotary District 5495
Peoria North Rotary Club recognized its most recent Students of the Month at its Feb. 22 meeting. Both students are from Mountain Ridge High School. Tegan Bernard, a senior, was the club's Student of the Month for January, while Apramey Akkiraju, a junior, is the February recipient. From left, Darlene Eger, the club's Youth chair, Tegan, Apramey and Club President Vernon Bridges.