Independence Achievement Above All Recipients

Independence Patriots Honored At Awards Ceremony
Posted on 2019/02/22
Recipients February 2019 – It was an evening to celebrate as Independence’s top teacher, student, student group, support staff and volunteer were honored for their exceptional contributions to the Independence and GUHSD community. The Achievement Above All ceremony was held on Feb. 20 where the Glendale Union High School District Governing Board and Independence Principal, Rob Ambrose, were present to acknowledge the recipients for these accomplishments. 


Matt Maragh was awarded Teacher of the Year for the 2018-2019 school year. After graduating from Independence High School, Mr. Maragh returned to the school to coach basketball while attending college. He has now successfully coached the sport at Independence for 18 years.
“He has had many successful seasons and last year he was awarded the Union Region Boys Basketball Coach of the Year,” Ambrose said. 
Aside from supporting his students on the court, he also academically guides them in the classroom.
“We are all proud of his dedication to the basketball team, but Mr. Maragh also has that same passion for helping students learn curriculum and achieve goals,” Ambrose said. “He works hard to present material in a way that is both relevant and pleasant so that his students can be motivated to strive for success.”

Independence’s 2018-2019 Student of the Year went to senior student Gabrielle Morgan. She is an academically high performing student who plans to attend Northern Arizona University this fall with the help of her Lumberjack Scholarship. In addition to her academic success, Morgan is also very involved on campus, specifically in athletics. 
“Gabrielle is an outstanding athlete, having earned the title of leading goal scorer in soccer for the region and being part of the team that won back-to-back region championships,” Ambrose said. 
She also works as a peer tutor in the school’s community-based classes and spends time participating in several unified sports activities. 
“Her devotion to helping students with special needs really shows how caring Gabrielle really is,” Ambrose said. “She brings a great enthusiasm to the unified sports team, fueling everyone around her to strive to be their best.”


The Independence Unified Sports team, sponsored by Jennifer Perry, accepted the award for Student Group of the Year. The goal of the team is to increase social inclusion on campus for people with and without disabilities through sports and activities. Unified Sports competes in various athletics including cheer, basketball, soccer, track and field, bowling and much more.This school year, they showed great teamwork, outstanding sportsmanship and triumphed to victory as they claimed the AIA Badminton Silver Division State Championship. 
In addition, the Independence Unified Sports team also organizes an annual inclusive spring dance and plans to participate in volunteer activities around the community in the future. 
“We are very proud of their accomplishments,” Ambrose said. “The comradery these students share is truly heartwarming.”


The 2018-2019 Support Staff of the Year award was given to College and Career Specialist Terry Starr. She has worked at Independence for over 20 years and plays a significant role in helping students seek higher education opportunities by providing college, scholarship and financial aid resources. 
“Her dedication to helping students pursue higher education has helped thousands of seniors make their way to a better life for themselves,” Ambrose said. “Many simply would not have made it to college without Terry’s help.”
Starr also organizes Independence’s P3 event every semester were students are recognized for their academic achievements and good attendance. She works to receive prize donations for students to win at the P3 assembly to reward them for their success.
“Specialist does not quite describe the value of what she does for the students at Independence High School,” Ambrose said. “Terry is truly dedicated to making student life better at Independence.”


Volunteer of the Year went to Sharon Dykstra, who is actively involved with the Independence Girls Volleyball team. Dykstra has two children who attend Independence and enjoys supporting them and the team in the activities that they participate in.
 “She is the behind the scenes team mom,” Ambrose said. “For the last two years, she has attended every volleyball match both home and away.”
At every game, Dykstra recorded the girls’ performances and took care of all the statistics. She also made sure the girls were well prepared and brought snacks for them to enjoy.
“We are grateful to Sharon for giving her time to help our students,” Ambrose said. “She is truly an example of what it means to be an Independence Patriot.”