Ahwatukee Foothills News

  • BASIS founders named ‘Influential Educators Who Are Changing the Way We Learn’

    BASIS founders Olga and Dr. Michael Block have been named “Influential Educators Who Are Changing the Way We Learn in 2015” by Noodle, the education website connecting students with schools, programs, resources, experts and more.There are 67 educators on the list — all of whom, according to Noodle, are changing the way people view education and see the world. Noodle honored the Blocks for “(seeking) to create educational institutions that combined the rigors of Asian and European schooling with the American system’s emphasis on creativity and originality. Noodle also says the Blocks and BASIS.ed are dedicated to producing excellent outcomes and replicable results.Each of the educators that made the list are currently active in the education world, affiliated with a highly-regarded institution and/or personally well-known, and making an impact on the larger field beyond their classrooms and/or offices.

  • Mel Brooks' hilarious take on the Frankenstein story hits the stage

    It’s (a)live, on stage! Young Frankenstein is moving from the big screen to the big stage during Fountain Hills Theater’s summer 2015 season. Mel Brooks' classic tale of Victor Frankenstein’s grandson, Frederick, who finds himself in a world of trouble after creating a monster of his own, will be hitting the stage June 19 through July 5. It is a monstrous musical that is scary funny, and fun for the whole family. Tickets are $28 for adults, $23 for youth and seniors, with a $3 handling fee for all ticket purchases. For show times and tickets, visit fhtaz.org, or call 480-837-9661.

  • City of Phoenix invests to protect water supplies

    The Phoenix City Council has approved a three-year partnership with the National Forest Foundation (NFF) to help protect Phoenix’s water supply. The NFF’s work will consist of watershed improvement projects on National Forest lands in northern Arizona. Through the partnership, the city of Phoenix will invest $200,000 per year in the Northern Arizona Forest Fund, a program developed by the NFF and Salt River Project (SRP) that is designed to improve forest health and water quality in the Salt and Verde River watersheds.Implementation of the Northern Arizona Forest Fund’s first two projects is already underway. One project is designed to reduce wildfire risk and protect endangered species habitat near the Happy Jack area on the Coconino National Forest. The other project will reduce erosion and sedimentation into Oak Creek by improving drainage from forest roads on the Coconino National Forest near Sedona.In 2016, the Northern Arizona Forest Fund will implement six high priority projects on all five National Forests in northern Arizona — the Apache-Sitgreaves, Coconino, Kaibab, Prescott, and Tonto National Forests.For more information on the Northern Arizona Forest Fund, contact Marcus Selig, NFF’s Southern Rockies regional director, at mselig@nationalforests.org, or visit https://www.nationalforests.org/who-we-are/regional-offices/southernrockies/azforestfund or http://www.srpnet.com/water/forest.

  • Valley X robotics team named world champs

    In seven years of competition in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Tech Challenge, a robotics competition for pre-college students, Valley Christian High School’s Valley X Robotics Team has participated in several regional matches a year in Arizona, Nevada and California. Once again this year, the team earned its way to the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) World Championship April 22-25 in St. Louis. During this four-day event, Valley X Robotics competed against teams from all around the world. This trip makes the team’s fifth invite in its seven-year history, and the first trip to return as world champions.This year, there were approximately 3,800 FTC teams competing from North America and around the world, only 128 teams were invited to the World Championship. Valley X Robotics was thrilled to participate, as the team worked hard for this honor. Prospective teams have approximately three to four months to work on the design and the build of the robot, using specified materials to fit specific parameters. Teams work with mentors who have experience and expertise in the engineering arena. Valley X thanks its team mentors, Paul Bierly, Bob Gasson, and Matthew Rainey for their support throughout the process.The robot competes in a two-and-a-half-minute challenge, 30 seconds or which are controlled only by the robot, with three other robots gaining points for completing tasks successfully. Teams are ranked by their ability to score the highest points, while working with an Alliance Team Member. Teams also undergo judging sessions where they share with officials about how they have worked through the engineering process and spread awareness of what they do with the community.In addition to receiving the Think Award (2010), the Rockwell Collins Innovate Award (2011 at both the Arizona and Nevada regionals), the Winning Alliance Award (2011) and the top judges’ award, the Inspire Award (2009 and 2012, 2013), Valley X has also been nominated for the Connect Award (2011), they won the PTC Design Award (2012, 2013, 2014).

  • Mom offers ‘EZ’ way to save on summer energy bill

    Salt River Project (SRP) customer Darcy Small saved $600 on her family’s energy bill last year. How did she do it? She used less electricity during three weekday hours on the SRP EZ-3 Price Plan.The Queen Creek mother of twin daughters is one of more than 100,000 customers who are already on EZ-3. Since 2012, the Small family has saved more than $2,200 on the plan.EZ-3 helps customers save on their energy bills when they plan ahead and use less energy during three, higher-cost on-peak hours — either 3 to 6 p.m. or 4 to 7 p.m. on weekdays when energy costs more to produce. The rest of the hours, including weekends and six holidays are off-peak and priced lower.“EZ-3 is very simple to use once you plan what’s going to work best for your family,” said Darcy. “During the summer months, we save money by precooling the house with a programmable thermostat. I set it to lower the temperature before the three hours. Then I raise it, so the air conditioner barely runs during those three hours.”Darcy works from home and says she and her family always stay comfortable. Shifting to use minimal electricity when energy costs are higher has become second nature to the Small family.“For every degree you raise your thermostat above 80, you can save 2 to 3 percent on cooling costs,” said Cindy Marzofka, SRP’s director of marketing and brand management. “Customers that save on EZ-3 see an average savings of 5.5 percent annually on their electric bill.”

  • Here & Near: Superhero Summer Reading; Women's self-defense class

    HEREEvery Hero Has a Story Summer Reading Family Kick-Off EventCreate your own superhero and heroine button, mask, and other super crafts while enjoying snacks. Dress as a superhero or heroine, join our costume contest, and take your picture in our photo booth on Tuesday, June 1, from 1-4 p.m. at Ironwood Library, 4333 E. Chandler Blvd., Ahwatukee.For more information, call 602-262-4636 or visit phxlib.org.NEARNabers women’s self-defense class June 1

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  • Strike up the band

    The Arizona Academy of the Performing Arts Drum and Bugle Corps will feature a unique stage show of marching arts on June 5 and 6 at Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway.The Academy CenterStage 2015 show will begin both nights at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee performance on June 6 at 2 p.m. Attendees will witness a Broadway-style, choreographed programs with musicians and dancers ranging in age from 16 to 21.The Academy Drum and Bugle Corps usually performs in football stadiums, but their new show has been especially adapted for the stage.The performance, which features solo dancers and new percussion and drumline productions, is enhanced with the help of vibrant lighting, video and staging. The performance will also have a tuba section, special performances by The Academy staff and marching drills on stage.The non-profit arts organization from Tempe, Academy Drum and Bugle Corps is comprised of 150 youth performers. The young adults audition each year for a spot in Arizona’s only drum and bugle corps.The academy will travel over 11,000 miles to compete more than 24 times with its drum and bugle corps this summer. The group’s tour will travel to cities like Denver, San Antonio, Atlanta and Allentown, Pa. The academy’s tour will conclude on Aug. 8 at the 2015 Drum Corps International World Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

  • Here & Near: Superhero Summer Reading; Women's self-defense class

    HEREEvery Hero Has a Story Summer Reading Family Kick-Off EventCreate your own superhero and heroine button, mask, and other super crafts while enjoying snacks. Dress as a superhero or heroine, join our costume contest, and take your picture in our photo booth on Tuesday, June 1, from 1-4 p.m. at Ironwood Library, 4333 E. Chandler Blvd., Ahwatukee.For more information, call 602-262-4636 or visit phxlib.org.NEARNabers women’s self-defense class June 1

  • California country hits the Valley

    CALICO the band will be performing with its signature California country sound at the Musical Instruments Museum in Phoenix on June 6.Tickets for the performance, which will be at 7 p.m., cost between $27.50 and $37.50 and can be purchased here. The concert is open to all ages.Kirsten Proffit, Manda Mosher and Aubrey Richmond formed CALICO in 2013 after they each had accomplished and celebrated solo careers. They began touring right away, performing over 200 shows a year.CALICO the band shares the Los Angeles roots and song writing traditions of bands like Crosby, Stills & Nash, Fleetwood Mac and Eagles.Their debut album, Rancho California, exemplifies the spirit the group has that is rooted in the valleys and canyons of Los Angeles. The album, which was released in September 2014, shows how the groups shared interest in song writing and harmonizing translates into award-winning music.The Los Angeles Music Awards presented the singers with the Americana Album of the Year for Rancho California in 2014 and National Touring Artist of the Year in 2013.

  • The Rock faces the Big One in ‘San Andreas’ thriller

    Los Angeles • Dwayne Johnson has played his share of outsized heroes over the years. His characters have taken down crazed criminals and evil empires. He’s crushed an army of fire ants with his chin. He’s even flexed his way out of a plaster cast.But not even “The Rock” can beat an earthquake.In “San Andreas,” Hollywood’s latest venture into the well-trod territory of disaster films, the famed fault line takes the spotlight as the unforgiving cause of a series of devastating earthquakes from Los Angeles to San Francisco.The 810-mile long rift might not have the maniacal drive of Ultron or the eat-or-be-eaten focus of genetically engineered dinosaurs, but as blockbuster villains go, it does have the distinction of being a real threat to many people.That’s part of the reason why it has proved to be such a compelling cinematic foe. Whether triggered by natural causes as in 1974’s “Earthquake,” or used as a threat to destroy Silicon Valley in “A View to a Kill,” or even as a means to Lex Luthor’s real estate dreams in “Superman,” the inherent drama and ever-present danger resonates even with those outside of California.Director Brad Peyton’s “San Andreas,” which opened Friday, imagines the possible outcome of the largest magnitude earthquake ever. Buildings crumble and burn, and bridges collapse as Johnson’s first responder Ray and his estranged wife Emma (Carla Gugino) travel up the coast to save their daughter (Alexandra Daddario).

  • Experience "Terminator Genisys" at AZ Mills & PHX Comicon

    Stop by Harkins Arizona Mills 25 on your way to Phoenix Comicon for the Terminator Genisys The "Threat Has Evolved” Experience. Open to the public for one day only on Saturday, May 29, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., this is the perfect way to get ready for the Terminator’s return. Fans can enter the T-1000 simulator to find out if they have what it takes to join the Human Resistance and battle against Skynet.Just in!Are you going to be at Comicon? Hit up the Terminator Genisys  The "Threat Has Evolved" Experience there too! But just for one day.Find it at the Phoenix Convention Center on the 3rd Floor, Saturday, May 30, 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.DETAILS>> Terminator Genisys The “Threat Has Evolved” Experience, Friday, May 29, 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m., Harkins Arizona Mills 25, 5000 Arizona Mills Circle, Tempe; Saturday, May 30, Phoenix Convention Center, 10 a.m. - 7 p.m., 100 N. 3rd St., Phoenix. 

  • Fun to be had from ‘San Andreas’

    I should have kept count of the number of cackles emitted from the audience at the ridiculous stupidity that is San Andreas. The dialogue is perfectly trite and littered with clichés (tops among them an obligatory “get the hell out of there!” screech courtesy Academy Award nominee Paul Giamatti); the characters are forgettable; the CGI is unconvincing and very much overused; the 3D conversion is a waste of resources; and the less said about the quality of the performances the better.And yet, in a weird way, all of those problems blend together to create a pretty enjoyable viewing experience with the right audience. San Andreas is undoubtedly a bad film, but it’s terribleness comes full circle to make it kind of a good-adjacent movie for one major reason; nobody is taking the on-screen destruction too seriously.In San Andreas, action hero template Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson plays a Los Angeles-based rescue helicopter pilot in the midst of a divorce from his wife (Carla Gugino). Gugino and the couple’s daughter, Blake (Alexandra Daddario), have unexpectedly moved in with new beau Daniel Riddick (Ioan Gruffudd), a wealthy architect with a private plane, fancy suits and a chauffeur to boot. Gruffudd, who at least seems somewhat interested in not sucking as a possible step parent, brings Daddario to his firm in San Francisco, where she meets aspiring architect/Hugh Grant impersonator Ben (Hugo Johnstone-Burt) and his moppet-ish little brother Ollie (Art Parkinson).Amid the relationship drama is research from professional sciencetician Lawrence (Giamatti), who predicts a massive earthquake along the titular fault line that would decimate just about everything along the 810-mile fault line (kudos to sanandreasfault.org for that tidbit), including Los Angeles and San Francisco. As Giamatti and reporter Serena (Archie Punjabi) try to warn California about the impending disaster, it’s up to The Rock to save his ex-wife in Los Angeles and his daughter in San Francisco amid earthquake-related shenanigans and some acts of nozzlery involving certain and obvious characters of note.The plot is exactly as dumb as it sounds and becomes immediately ludicrous once you put any thought into its machinations and repeated criminal acts by the heroic characters. And there’s nothing overly clever about San Andreas that separates it from other disaster fodder like The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, Dante’s Peak and Volcano released in the last two decades or so either. Like the aforementioned, this film follows a pretty simple formula in which the disaster is set up with disregarded warnings, thousands of civilians are smooshed, smashed, drowned, impaled and otherwise maimed, and villains are established quickly to be dispatched in a rather satisfying fashion. If you’ve seen one film featuring a building, ship, city or civilization falling apart due to uncontrollable forces, you’ve pretty much seen them all.Everything appears the same, but San Andreas isn’t without its little charms, certainly enough to stand out in a genre bloated by mediocrity and Roland Emmerichs. This film has an underlying current of playfulness reinforcing how much fun a disaster flick can be, as director Brad Peyton and screenwriter Carlton Cruse mess around with the audience from the get-go via a somewhat intense prelude to a character-establishing calamity, teasing the audience with a couple of pump fakes to set up the open shot. It’s a neat little trick and sets the tone for a movie that just embraces the genre’s utter silliness and forces audience members to embrace the ongoing guilty pleasure. San Andreas also lacks the self-importance of other disaster films; it never tries to be as didactic as The Day After Tomorrow, it avoids the cruelty of the abhorrent 2012, and it definitely drops the self-seriousness that made Volcano unwatchable.

  • Mesa’s Landmark closes its doors

    Sometimes a name tells you everything you need to know about a place. In the case of The Landmark Restaurant in Mesa, its name couldn’t suit it any better.The Landmark, known for its classic American fare and nostalgic atmosphere, truly lives up to the name.The building opened in 1908 as a Mormon church and during its life also housed an insurance office and the original campus of Mesa Community College. It even served as a restaurant before, but it didn’t become The Landmark until New Years Day 1981 when Don and Candy Ellis took over.At the time, Mesa was nowhere near as developed as it is today and The Landmark was nearly the only place in town to grab a bite. But The Landmark wasn’t riding the gravy train, not yet anyway.“The first five years were tough,” Candy Ellis said. “Family members would come in and dress up and sit at a table so somebody would be in the dining room on slow nights, but it built up.”The Landmark’s big break came in the late ’80s when a dining critic wrote a glowing review of the restaurant, and even went as far as to tell the Ellis family that they needed to prepare for a major uptick in business.

  • Valley X robotics team named world champs

    In seven years of competition in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Tech Challenge, a robotics competition for pre-college students, Valley Christian High School’s Valley X Robotics Team has participated in several regional matches a year in Arizona, Nevada and California. Once again this year, the team earned its way to the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) World Championship April 22-25 in St. Louis. During this four-day event, Valley X Robotics competed against teams from all around the world. This trip makes the team’s fifth invite in its seven-year history, and the first trip to return as world champions.This year, there were approximately 3,800 FTC teams competing from North America and around the world, only 128 teams were invited to the World Championship. Valley X Robotics was thrilled to participate, as the team worked hard for this honor. Prospective teams have approximately three to four months to work on the design and the build of the robot, using specified materials to fit specific parameters. Teams work with mentors who have experience and expertise in the engineering arena. Valley X thanks its team mentors, Paul Bierly, Bob Gasson, and Matthew Rainey for their support throughout the process.The robot competes in a two-and-a-half-minute challenge, 30 seconds or which are controlled only by the robot, with three other robots gaining points for completing tasks successfully. Teams are ranked by their ability to score the highest points, while working with an Alliance Team Member. Teams also undergo judging sessions where they share with officials about how they have worked through the engineering process and spread awareness of what they do with the community.In addition to receiving the Think Award (2010), the Rockwell Collins Innovate Award (2011 at both the Arizona and Nevada regionals), the Winning Alliance Award (2011) and the top judges’ award, the Inspire Award (2009 and 2012, 2013), Valley X has also been nominated for the Connect Award (2011), they won the PTC Design Award (2012, 2013, 2014).

  • Osmun makes Pratt Institute dean’s list

    Anderson Osmun, Ahwatukee resident and a student at the prestigious Pratt Institute, was among more than 1,100 students who made the dean’s list in the fall 2014 semester.• Theresa DiBona, (480) 898-7924 or tdibona@ahwatukee.com.

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