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New charter high school breaks ground in Florence
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FLORENCE — Fifteen years after its K-6 school opened next door, American Leadership Academy broke ground on its new 7-12 campus, ALA Anthem South, Friday afternoon.

The tuition-free public charter school at 4380 N. Hunt Highway, across from Florence Hospital, is scheduled to open in August next year. It will be built to serve 1,100 students, and there’s a good chance it will open full, according to Bill Guttery, CEO of Charter One, ALA’s management organization.

“We’ll collect a lot of our own students,” he said in an interview, noting the company’s primary schools in the San Tan Valley area. The new campus will be only 13 miles from ALA-Ironwood 7-12 in Queen Creek. “We have a lot of families that live out here.”

Guttery said Anthem South K-6 is currently the only A-rated school in Florence. Families want to continue the experience in junior high and high school, “and we’ve been listening,” Guttery said.

The new campus will offer the full complement of high school sports and fine arts. In addition to marching band and drama, Anthem South will have a show choir that performs around the country. “A lot of charter schools don’t have all those extracurriculars. We think it’s important,” Guttery said.

All ALA high school students are also expected to study entrepreneurship, or how to start their own business. Many graduates have continued to operate the businesses they started in school, Guttery said.

They’re also required to take “financial literacy,” in which they learn about loans, interest, debt and savings — “all these life skills that so many are lacking when they graduate high school and go to college.”

ALA schools emphasize five core values — respect, accountability, integrity, service and excellence, or RAISE. They focus on one value each month, “and it’s intertwined in everything we do,” Guttery said.

“It’s also a part of what we teach the adults. We hire and fire to those values. We also expect parents to live by those values.”

The company has grown to more than 12,000 students on 12 campuses in 12 years, and recently added an online school. “With an in-house online institution, we can extend those morals and values, that same ALA feel, to virtual,” Guttery said. ALA has about 1,300 virtual students.

The new Florence campus is just one of three schools ALA plans to open in August 2022. The company is also branching out of the Southeast Valley with a new school in the West Valley, and it broke ground last month on a new applied technology high school in Mesa.

The Mesa campus will be the first time a charter school opens a vocational-technical school, Guttery said. He said it will be similar to East Valley Institute of Technology, except it will provide “a full high school experience.” Graduates will have a high school diploma plus certification in one of 10 trades.

“We’re not here because the schools are bad,” Guttery said. “We’re here because we want to offer more choice. We’re here because this model of education has been successful. We want to partner with our neighbors, we want to partner with the schools around us, we want to partner with the businesses and just become as we are now, part of the community.”


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Gosar under fire for anime attacking Ocasio-Cortez
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PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar was facing criticism after he tweeted a video that included altered animation showing him striking Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with a sword.

In a tweet Monday night, Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., referred to Gosar as “a creepy member I work with” and said he “shared a fantasy video of him killing me.” She added that Gosar would face no consequences because Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy “cheers him on with excuses.” She also said that institutions “don’t protect” women of color.

Elaborating on her tweet, Ocasio-Cortez told reporters at the climate conference in Scotland that it’s common for women of color to be ignored when “sounding alarms about very disturbing behaviors, patterns, etcetera.”

“And that dynamic is also reflected in the United States Congress,” she said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted Tuesday from the climate conference, where she’s leading a congressional delegation that includes Ocasio-Cortez, that: “Threats of violence against Members of Congress and the President of the United States must not be tolerated.” She called on McCarthy to condemn “this horrific video and call on the Ethics Committee and law enforcement to investigate.”

Spokespersons for McCarthy did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Pelosi’s tweet.

A fellow House Democrat, Ted Lieu of California, referred to Gosar’s tweet as “sick behavior” and said in a tweet of his own: “In any workplace in America, if a coworker made an anime video killing another coworker, that person would be fired.”

Gosar, a Republican, posted the video Sunday afternoon with a note saying: “Any anime fans out there?” Late Tuesday, he issued a statement saying the video wasn’t meant to depict harm or violence, calling it instead “a symbolic portrayal of a fight over immigration policy.”

The roughly 90-second video is an altered version of a Japanese anime series, interspersed with shots of Border Patrol officers and migrants at the southern U.S. border. During one roughly 10-second section of the video, animated characters whose faces have been replaced with Gosar and fellow Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado are seen fighting other animated characters.

In one scene, Gosar’s character is seen striking the one made to look like Ocasio-Cortez in the neck with a sword.

Twitter later attached a warning to the tweet saying “it violated the Twitter Rules about hateful conduct. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”

Gosar is known as an ardent ally of former President Donald Trump. He was among the lawmakers whose phone or computer records a House panel investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection asked social media and telecommunications companies to preserve as they were potentially involved with efforts to “challenge, delay or interfere” with the certification or otherwise try to overturn the results of the 2020 election.


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Coolidge-Florence cemetery's 'Children's Meadow' completed
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FLORENCE — After many weeks of planning and work, Butte View Cemetery now includes a “Children’s Meadow,” commemorating the area where some of the youngest local residents were laid to rest more than 100 years ago.

Actual grave locations have mostly been lost to time, but this open area is reported to have once had at least 12 children’s graves, according to Douglas M. Stewart. Stewart, of Coolidge, has been restoring the historic cemetery at Adamsville and Plant roads for almost three years.

Visitors are welcome and free tours are available. Leave a message for Stewart at 520-509-6458 or email Coolidgecountry@gmx.com.


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