A promotional poster for the film Teaching In Arizona.

Nine students from across the Tucson area have been named winners of National Merit Scholarships.

Miriam Arden of Catalina Foothills High School was awarded the Nelson F. Peterson scholarship. Taking home Raytheon scholarships were University High’s Madeleine King and Sarah McDuffie; Basis Tucson North’s Thomas Murickan, Corazon Nunez, Ryan Walk and Saba Zerefa; Pusch Ridge Christian Academy’s Aidan Kehl; and BASIS Oro Valley’s Julia Wieland.

The students competed against more than 1.6 million juniors across 22,000 high schools for the scholarships. They entered the competition automatically because they scored well on the Preliminary SAT they took their junior year.

To be considered for scholarships, the students had to submit applications that required them to write an essay and outline extracurricular activities they were involved in at school.

They also had to have an “outstanding” academic record, a qualifying SAT score and an endorsement from a teacher, administrator or support staff at their school, according to a press release.

Most of the scholarships are renewable for up to four years. They range between $500 and $10,000. More National Merit Scholarship winners will be announced as the school year wraps up.

3 students earn prestigious, full-ride Flinn Scholarships

Three Tucson-area seniors have received full-ride scholarships to Arizona’s public research universities through the prestigious Flinn Scholars program.

Zoe Benson of Catalina Foothills High School, Finlay Parsons of Sonoran Science Academy-Tucson and Kailee Savage of Canyon Del Oro High were awarded the scholarships for their academic and extracurricular achievements.

The scholarships, awarded by the Phoenix-based Flinn Foundation, cover the cost of tuition, fees, housing and meals for recipients. They also pay for at least two study-abroad experiences and additional benefits, according to a press release.

Benson and Parsons will attend the University of Arizona next year, and Savage will attend Northern Arizona University, according to a Flinn spokesman.

“Each Flinn Scholar we meet is unique, but these students have something in common besides the capacity to excel in the classroom,” said Tammy McLeod, Flinn Foundation president and CEO. “They have deep dedication to their schools, communities, the future of Arizona, and the world.”

7 Tucson schools are honored as A+ Schools of Excellence

A handful of schools in the Vail, Tucson Unified and Flowing Wells districts have been named A+ Schools of Excellence by the Arizona Educational Foundation.

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Vail school district’s Cienega High, Desert Willow Elementary, Empire High, Mesquite Elementary and Pantano High earned the AEF honor, along with TUSD’s Carrillo K-5 Magnet and Flowing Wells’ Centennial Elementary.

Schools must submit lengthy written applications and undergo site visits from a team of AEF judges to be considered. Each honored school receives $500 and a banner designating them an A+ School of Excellence winner.

“We applaud these schools for exceeding expectations to meet their students’ needs and for achieving overall success despite the many challenges that face the education community statewide,” said AEF Executive Director Kim Graham.

Mini-doc produced by nonprofit for teachers wins at film fest

Tucson Values Teachers’ mini-documentary, “Teaching In Arizona,” won Best Arizona Short Film at the 2019 Phoenix Film Festival.

The film follows three Southern Arizona teachers for eight months, painting an intimate picture of what teaching is actually like. The subjects included Tia Lei Tsosie-Begay, a fourth-grade teacher at Los Niños Elementary, Nathaniel Rios, a history and government teacher at Flowing Wells High School, and Janet Acree, a math specialist at AmeriSchools Academy of Tucson.

Find more information about the film at TeachingInArizonaFilm.org

Contact reporter Brenna Bailey at bbailey@tucson.com or 520-573-4279. On Twitter: @brennanonymous


Brenna explains how national, state and local K-12 education issues impact Tucson schools. She's a proud product of Arizona public schools. Send her news tips, story ideas and existential life questions at bbailey@tucson.com.