Recycled Fashion

Have you ever thought about taking items that you would normally throw away and turning it in to something you could wear?  That is the question and challenge the FUSD Fashion Design students have been answering as their assignment this week.  The Fashion Students have been using items like newspaper, coffee filters, candy wrappers, and even toilet paper rolls to make their wearable designs.  Pictured above is Laigh Leonardo and Tara Nelson working on a design featuring red solo cups.  All the fashions will be premiered  in the FUSD Pink & Black Fashion Show on April 30, starting at 6:00 pm in the FHS Cafeteria.

Victorian Novel Senior Project

Mr. Pike's students are participating in the annual Victorian Novel Project, which requires them to read one of the classics independently and produce both a collegiate research paper and--the fun part--an artifact of student craftsmanship symbolizing their chosen book. The senior class has a tradition of making these artifacts as elaborate and creative as possible. As a result, Mr. Pike's classroom is filled with trinkets such as oil paintings of Wonderland, Van Helsing's vampire slaying kit, the surcoats of the Three Musketeers, a time machine (sadly not working), a picture of Dorian Gray, and several macabre dioramas of Dante's Inferno, which isn't Victorian but Mr. Pike believes ought to squeezed in somewhere. This project never fails to demonstrate the incredible talent of the Florence Gophers as they bring literature to life.

AZIBS Outstanding Teacher Award

Mrs. Melissa Haugen, IB Art HL and SL teacher at Florence High School was nominated for the AZIBS Outstanding Teacher Award. Mrs. Haugen joined the FHS IB family in 2012 and shortly after attending IB Art training in Lake Tahoe, single-handedly made the IB Art program a highly sought after course of study for many students. She resurrected the art classes that kids previously avoided into classes they are now excited to take! Her passion for art is refreshing. Students genuinely love creating art under her guidance. There is an appreciation for the process as well as product in her class. She is a master teacher; students take ownership of their pieces and acknowledge her high expectations and, for the most part, rise to meet them. True to IB philosophy, Mrs. Haugen blends TOK as well as concepts from other disciplines into her lessons regularly.

We are fortunate to offer a variety of Group 6 options for our IB students. In late May, just prior to the IB Art upload deadline, Mrs. Haugen’s IB Art students hold the IB Art Show in our beautifully restored District Office auditórium. Even though she’s only been teaching IB Art for the past two years, Mrs. Haugen is the first to taut the benefits of the program; instead of focusing on the rigor, she stresses the enjoyment her students express when they engage in IB art. She is a terrific role model for other IB (and general-education) teachers and would represent the AZIBS organization well.

Holiday Angels from FHS

Florence High School Student Council members delivered gifts to the Pinal County Federal Credit Union in Florence, AZ, who was collecting donations for children from Against Abuse, Inc. Because of the generosity of all the students at Florence High School who donated $1400 in change and dollars to this fundraiser, Student Council was able to provide clothes and toys to 19 children from 3 different sites this holiday season. Student Council appreciates the school spirit and support from the students at FHS.

Cheer Team at Regionals

The Florence High School Cheer and Pom teams competed Saturday, November 8th at the AIA Agua Fria Qualifier.  The girls finished first in All-Girl Stunt, second in Show Cheer, and third in Pom!  All three teams qualified for State which will be held Saturday, January 24th at Tim’s Toyota Center in Prescott Valley.  

Holiday Angel Fundraiser

FHS Student Council sold paper chain links for a dime each to 2nd period classes. As the students made donations, paper chain links were created and given to each of the classes. As the chains grew, the competition between the classes grew and by the end of the fundraiser, FHS students had raised almost $1,000. All proceeds will benefit holiday angels for children in the FUSD School District. 

FBLA FLEX Conference

The Florence Chapter of FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) joined over 5,000 students from around Arizona for the 6th annual Fall Leadership Extravaganza (FLEX) Conference on November 14. After listening to an exciting keynote speech at the US Airways Center, the members headed over to the Phoenix Convention Center for workshops. Students could choose from over 60 workshops with a variety of topics including leadership development and career exploration. Overall, it was a great experience for the FHS FBLA members who attended.

Cross Country Ran at State

Cross Country ran well at state, boys placing tenth in state overall, and girls placing 12th!  They had one boy in the medal rounds, Axel Martinez, placing 20th  out of about 169 runners.  Their highest female runner placed 23rd out of 147, just short of medaling. Our teams both had great seasons, putting up many personal records, and running faster than any FHS runners in the last ten years. Gopher On!

Coach Jackson

Coach Spencer Jackson from Florence High School, Arizona, is being recognized as an Outstanding Alumni in the physical education degree program portion of the ASU degree program catalog. Coach Jackson attended Arizona State University from 2010-2013. He was nominated and received the 2013 ASU Teacher Candidate of the Year award. He graduated Magna Cum Laude and because of the award, was an honorary graduate seated on stage at the ASU graduation. 

Now teaching in Florence, Coach Jackson is the district Adaptive PE specialist for Florence Unified School District and teaches at 5 different schools in the district. He teaches strength and conditioning at Florence High School and is the head wrestling coach as well.

When asked what he feels is important about what he does, Coach Jackson replied, “What we are doing at Florence High School with our athletes is instilling Character, Integrity and Accountability into their lives. We have set high expectations for them as student athletes in the classroom and in competition. There is nothing more important than developing model citizens and men/women of character that can graduate from Florence with tools of ambition for greatness. We don't create character in the athletes... We recognize and build on the existing character they already possess. Our upperclassmen athletes are given the honor and opportunity to be the role model student athletes to our freshman and I hold them accountable to that leadership position. The focus and inspiration should come from recognizing character in other athletes at our campus and celebrating academic achievement. I teach at the greatest high school in the state and I benefit more from being around our students than they benefit from me.” 

Florence High School congratulates Coach Jackson on this showcase of his success.


ASU Tour 

Ten FHS senior students teamed up with forty Poston Butte seniors for a tour of the ASU Tempe Campus location.  The seniors were all eligible for admissions to ASU--and this tour of ASU was invaluable for solidifying some FHS students' college decisions.  It was a fantastic tour, and was capped off with a private tour of the ASU Sundevil Stadium and tour of the notorious ASU athletics "Hall of Fame".  Great times were had by all!  


Having fun with Grudgeball in Mr. Reed’s class!! A review game that is a fun and exciting way to learn math. 

Halloween Lab

Halloween is a great day to show off exothermic reactions.  The elephant toothpaste reaction shown here in Ms. Allen's class involves a rapid expansion of colored liquids that release heat as it turns to large quantities of foam.  Other reactions students were able to perform allowed them to mix chemicals together to show another way energy is released which involves light as students made their own glow-in-the-dark mixtures.

Class of 1962 Makes a Donation


On Wednesday, October 29, three members of the class of 1962 visited FHS to present the music department with a donation of over $1200.  Tom Pennell, Glen Ellis and Ed Billingsley presented Mr. Vosler and some of the students in his choir class with the check.  The alumni presented the check in honor of Mr. Frank DeGrazia, who served as the FHS band teacher from 1950 to 1979.  They also presented the school with a framed photo of Mr. DeGrazia.  The photo was taken when he served as a band director in the Army Air Core.  The photo will be displayed in the FHS music department to celebrate the proud history of the FHS music under Mr. DeGrazia’s leadership.


Florence Unified Sports Flag Football

The Florence Unified Sports Flag Football Team won their last home game on October 28th against the Coolidge Bears.  Eli Lee (pictured) threw for a touchdown before he came out of the game for a rest.  The football team consists of 15 partners and athletes coached by Mrs. Shana Smith and Mrs. Alicia Miller.  The team will participate in the Flag Football Tournament on November 15th at Poston Butte from 9am-1pm. 

Haunted House

Florence High School Theatre Program created a Haunted House at Florence High School on October 31, 2014. The tour guides took guests on an interactive journey illustrating the life and downfall of Dennis Griffin, a notorious local serial killer who terrorized the Pinal County community roughly 100 years ago.  It is said that his ghost has been known to return on Halloween seeking to add to his list of victims--can that be true?  

IB Program

Florence High School offers exclusive IB Diploma Program

By Andrew Luberda | Posted October 28th, 2014

Southeast Valley Ledger

Florence High School is the first and only authorized International Baccalaureate (IB) World School in Pinal County and one of only 22 such schools throughout Arizona.

A two-year comprehensive and rigorous university-level curriculum, the IB Diploma Program (IB DP) includes a range of academic subjects and demands the best from motivated students. IB Diploma students may earn both a FHS diploma as well as the International Baccalaureate diploma.

Among the many benefits for IB Diploma graduates is the opportunity to continue their studies anywhere in the world.

“The IB Program is across the World,” said Mrs. Val Coppell, Florence’s IB DP Coordinator. “It’s in Dubai, South America, and almost every continent a person can think of.”

Students who fulfill the requirements for a FHS diploma can participate in certain IB courses and earn IB certificates upon successfully completing the exam administered at the end of each course. Only students who complete the university-level curriculum during their junior and senior years are eligible to receive an IB Diploma.

“The IB Diploma is the pinnacle,” Florence Principal Thad Gates said. “Those IB Diploma students leave school so well prepared for college because they’ve already been put through some of the biggest challenges they’ll ever have educationally.”

English, history, science, math, foreign language (4 years), and arts are the subjects IB Diploma students are required to study. But there is more to the program than academics.

Students must complete a 4,000-word extended essay, take two semesters of Theory of Knowledge, and complete 50 hours each in creativity, action, and service, aka C.A.S., during their junior and senior years.

Since many IB DP students are in the National Honor Society, the majority of their “service” hours are completed there. Athletes, band members, and cheerleaders easily satisfy the “action” part of C.A.S. Other students who aren’t involved in extra-curricular school activities can take yoga classes or jog to meet the requirement.

Creativity is the most difficult of the three to complete, according to Mrs. Coppell. Participating in something creative is the goal. Helping to build a homecoming float, for example, would satisfy this requirement.

Rebecca Callahan, a 2014 FHS graduate, earned her IB Diploma and is currently attending California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California. She was asked for her feelings and thoughts about the IB Diploma Program at FHS.

“It was difficult, but not as difficult as I had (convinced) myself it would be,” she answered. “It was a lot of work, obviously. It helped me academically but, also, helped me with relationships with other people.”

Besides the benefit to study anywhere in the world, IB DP students can receive college credit.

In many cases, IB DP students will receive college credits equivalent to their freshman year. Depending on the university, students may receive up to 20 college credits. Receiving college credit is conditional on the chosen university accepting the IB Diploma for college credit. Ivy League schools, for example, will recognize it, but will not give any college credit.

While there is an expense involved for students in the IB Diploma Program, it is far less than the estimated $10,000 yearly tuition at a public in-state university like Arizona State. The cost of IB Diploma Program, including registration and exam fees, is $820.

According to, the International Baccalaureate website, students who earn an IB Diploma have experienced an increase in their college GPA compared to their high school GPA.

“They’ve learned how to balance the academic demands based on their experience in the IB Diploma program,” said Mrs. Coppell, accounting for the increased GPA.

After going through a three-year process to become authorized as a “World School,” Florence High School had its first six IB Diploma candidates in 2012. Three of the six earned the IB Diploma. In 2013, the school did not have any IB Diploma candidates, attributed mostly to fear and lack of confidence, according to Mrs. Coppell. In 2014 all three candidates earned their IB Diploma. There are five candidates in the Class of 2015.

During the first three full years of Florence’s IB Diploma Program there were nine candidates, six of whom earned their IB Diploma. All nine received some level of scholarship from colleges or universities.

IB students, including those who are not completing the full diploma program, are given preferential treatment on scholarship applications and acceptance to universities.

The IB program at Florence is absent of any gatekeeping. Students who are interested in accepting the challenge of taking certain IB courses, or perhaps, earning an IB Diploma are encouraged to make the commitment.

Typically, students elect to participate in the program as early as the eighth grade. They enter Florence High School as freshmen, enrolled in Pre-IB curriculum that puts them on schedule to take the university-level curriculum during their junior and senior years.

Interested students can decide they want to earn an IB Diploma as late as their sophomore year, depending on the courses they have already completed.

“If a student is interested in becoming an IB Diploma candidate, we usually can make it work,” said Mrs. Coppell.

What advice should be given to students who are considering the program?

“It’s hard to see all the benefits at the time,” Callahan said. “But as I look back, I don’t think would’ve received my scholarship if I didn’t (complete) the IB Program.”

Yearbook Orders

Yearbooks can be purchased online at  No additional fees/charges will apply and both debit and credit cards are accepted. Personalization (available through January 31, 2015) and other accessories are offered only with online purchases. 

Books ordered on campus may be purchased with cash, credit card, or a check made out to FHS Yearbook.     

$60 if purchased before December 12, 2014

$65 if purchased between December 13, 2014-April 30, 2015

$70 May 1, 2015 until sold out 

For more information please contact:

Yearbook Advisor, Liza Schlinger   (520)-866-3560 ext. 7141

Florence High School celebrated Homecoming 2014 during the week of October 13, 2014 with the theme of “100 years in the Making”. Students participated in spirit days all week and enjoyed all the festivities with included a pep assembly, parade, BBQ, football game, dance, and more!

Lip Dub


FHS students filmed their lip dub on Friday, September 12th. Student Council members organized the groups and Multimedia students filmed the final versions. All students in clubs and sports joined to help put together our first lip dub and the school now eagerly awaits to watch it!


Freshmen Mixer


For Florence High School’s first home game, our Link leaders hosted a “Freshmen Mixer.” This event was for freshmen and Link leaders to reconnect and get pumped for our first home game. Freshmen met with their Link leaders prior to the game and spent time talking and having snacks. Afterward, the students went to the game together and supported our team.


First Home Game 


Florence High School played their first home game against Fountain Hills on Friday, September 5, 2014. Our school and community came out and supported our gophers. 


IMPACT Event  


Student Council members Kenzie DeVries and Jared Silvas worked their game during the FUSD IMPACT event at Poston Butte on Wednesday, August 27, 2014. 



The FHS Marching Band practices every morning during Zero Hour in preparation for the upcoming football season. 

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge


Florence High School admin team Shawn Cluff, Thad Gates, and Dawn Winsor completed the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge after having been nominated by varsity volleyball coach Casey Simon. In front of the entire student body, the admin team completed their icy challenge and also made a contribution to the ALS cause.


Staff Military Recognition


Florence High School teachers Sherri McLaws, Steve Miller, and David Vosler were recognized at a school pep assembly for their military service. Combined, they total 29 years of service!  Thanks you for your dedication to our country and our students.



Blood Drive


Terry Hall, a Senior at Florence High School, donated a pint of blood at the August 15 Blood Drive sponsored by the National Honor Society.  Every pint of blood donated helps save lives throughout the State of Arizona. 



Arizona State FFA Officers Visit FHS


Arizona State FFA officers Justin Ollendick and Maddie Zombrano came to visit all of FHS Agriculture classes. Students learned about leadership and team work skills. The Florence FFA officers had a great opportunity to develop their plans for next year!  

IB Psychology 


Josh Miller, Noah Smith, and Lindsey Franco pose next to their winning structure after completing the “Marshmallow Challenge”. Students used spaghetti, tape, and string to build a structure that can hold a marshmallow off the ground. Through this activity, students learn teamwork, collaboration, and communication as part of a larger lesson on team dynamics in their IB Psychology course.

Centennial Celebration 


Florence High School’s first enrollment was in 1915 with an enrollment figure of thirty-four students. This year, Florence High School celebrates its Centennial Celebration. Various activities will be planned throughout the year to celebrate this commemorative event. Florence High School 1915-2015


in Intro to Applied Biological Systems class were helping clean the greenhouse so they could begin planting seeds as soon as possible. Every Friday they spend the day taking care of the greenhouse. 

Aliyah Tovar practices her fashion sketching techniques she learned in the Fashion Design & Merchandising class offered at FHS during 1st/2nd hour.  

 Grade Level Assemblies 


Florence High School administration team  welcomed students with grade level assemblies the first week of school. The handbook was reviewed along with changes to Celebration, Reteach, and Remediation. Student goals and campus privileges were discussed. Students had a chance to ask questions and admins had the opportunity to meet and greet this year’s student body. 


Mr. Wilkerson and Mr. Nance look on as Physical Science students test their hypothesis regarding this 1928 vacuum.  As an introduction to the scientific method, students were asked to develop methods to test whether or not the air inside the glass was in fact being pulled out through the machine.  By using a smoke bomb, students thought that we would see the smoky air coming out of the machine.  The air coming out didn’t show the same color, but the odors were evident as the air exiting the vacuum was collected in a small balloon.  This was on Wednesday, July 23, just outside the southeast corner of the 500 building.


Florence High School welcomed 44 of their finest students this past week to attend Link Crew Training.  These students, a mix of Juniors and Seniors were trained to mentor and lead the incoming Freshman Class.  These Link Leaders applied for this position last spring, and their training was quite rigorous.  Training took place over two days, for a total of 10 hours during which the  Link Leaders prepared to welcome their incoming freshman by learning transition activities to lead the Class of 2018 from middle to high school which will take place on Friday during our Freshman Orientation.  


Outstanding First Year Agricultural Teacher


Florence High School is very proud to announce that Angelica Rudow was recently selected by the Arizona Agricultural Teachers Association as “Outstanding First Year Agricultural Teacher” in the state of Arizona. Ms. Rudow graduated from the University of Arizona in 2013 and started her teaching career at FHS last fall. Over the course of the school year numerous students in her FFA program placed in the top 10 in a variety categories at the annual FFA state competition. Congratulations Ms. Rudow!!