Patrick Henry High School: What’s new this new school year

By Elizabeth Gillingham

PHHS welcomes over 2,400 students

For the first time in as long as anyone can remember, San Diego Unified School District and, more specifically, PHHS opened their doors in August (prior to Labor Day) to over 2,400 students. Students settled into their new schedules quickly and the first week started off in a positive format. The students ended the week with Patriot Period where they were placed into advisory classes mixing students from grades nine-12.


Students make Pillar Posters using “choice words” (Courtesy of PHHS)

Returning students were given a chance to meet and greet new students while helping everyone acclimate to the new school year. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors created Pillar Posters teaching the freshmen how to be welcoming, how to use “choice words,” and about the importance of doing no harm to anyone.

Girls’ volleyball

The freshmen girls’ volleyball team won their season opener against Valhalla High School on Tuesday, Aug. 24, at Valhalla, defeating the Norseman 2-1 in the match. The Lady Patriots won their first game 25-22. They lost the second game 24-14. They won the tie breaker 15-11. It’s a great kick off to our fall sport’s season which is just beginning to take shape this month.

1st row: Zoe Benink, Claire Sutliff, Josalynn Lall, Nina Vyzinkar, Dani Toleno 2nd row: Kiana Okamura and Hailey Fulton 3rd Row: Malia Rios, Larisa Dummer, Veronica Smith, Charlene Phan, Addie Gross Mia Shira, Maddie Burke, and Hailey Veeder

1st row: Zoe Benink, Claire Sutliff, Josalynn Lall, Nina Vyzinkar, Dani Toleno 2nd row: Kiana Okamura and Hailey Fulton 3rd Row: Malia Rios, Larisa Dummer, Veronica Smith, Charlene Phan, Addie Gross Mia Shira, Maddie Burke, and Hailey Veeder

Girls’ tennis wins silver medal

The 12th Annual Pete Brown “First Serve” Girls High School Team Tennis Tournament was a big success in San Diego. Approximately 130 players from 12 schools competed at Valhalla and Granite Hills High Schools to prepare for the upcoming fall season. The Patrick Henry High girls’ tennis team won the Silver Medal in the Group B Division finishing with 23 sets won for a total of 148 games. The Lady Patriots faced strong competition from La Jolla Country Day, who won the gold with 24 sets won and 162 games.


The Lady Patriots tennis team (Courtesy of Karen Ronney)

Members of the Lady Patriots squad consisted of Nikki Wakeland, Kate Kiley, Jade Loucks, Alyssa Arnold, Amanda Martin, Mimi Nguyen, Michele Nguyen, Avery Swain, Sarah Barron, Rachel Barren, Olivia Sample and Jessily Jones. Other team members who offered support were Olivia Tracey, Erica Tolley, Sarah Ahles and Julia Ronney.

The Group A Division gold medalist was the Academy of Our Lady of Peace, which captured 22 sets and 154 games edging Cathedral Catholic, which had 19 sets and 144 games. Other competitors in the tournament included Brawley, Grossmont, Granite Hills, Olympian and Valhalla High Schools.

“We had a couple of teams pull out before the event but it was still outstanding,” said First Serve Tournament Director Don Ackerly. “Everyone was gracious and adjusted to the last minute changes. These players had a chance to compete in a fun format that offered a great start to their seasons.”

The one-day competition is a tribute to coaching legend Pete Brown, who devoted his life to sharing his passion for the sport with kids of all backgrounds and ages in Southern California. The San Diego tournament was divided into two divisions as part of a round robin scoring format. It was the ideal format for high school players, who are ranked below No. 150 in USTA Southern California Section rankings.

The tournament was based on dual match ups in a round robin draw. Each dual match consisted of three singles and three doubles meetings using no-ad scoring. The overall winning team was determined by most sets won, followed by a game count as a tiebreaker. Each school played five matches and it was a full day of fun with the East San Diego County sun reaching 90 degrees in temperature. Safety and proper hydration were a priority.

“It was beautiful to watch all of these players give 100 percent effort no matter the score,” said Assistant Tournament Director Shannon Ackerly. “That’s what high school tennis is all about.”

Special thanks go to San Diego’s First Serve Tournament Organizer Ron Marquez of Cathedral Catholic High and Ai Takamori, the SCTA Manager Junior Competition, who both did a great job of supporting this high school event in San Diego.

—Karren Ronney

New staff at Henry

Patrick Henry High School is pleased to welcome several new faces around campus as we had several staff members retire last year.

Ms. Cynthia Bolton will be serving as our new vice principal working with students whose last name begins with the letters A-G. Bolton comes from Pasadena High School where she was the assistant vice principal and has a strong background in English. She also is a professor at DeVry University and will soon be defending her doctoral thesis. She will be our administrator overseeing athletics and helping us with our Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accreditation. We are thrilled to have her join our team at PHHS!


(l to r): Bill Navickas, Beth Humphreys, Cynthia Bolton, Monica Jorgenson, Amanda Glazer, Mara Den Bosch Verdicchio, Rosa Valdez, Tineka Huff, Laura Stauffer, and Curtis Hawkins (Courtesy of PHHS)

Mr. Bill Navickas is our new head counselor and will be working with our seminar and Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) students. He comes to Henry with a passion for helping students find success and many years of counseling at various high schools. His last assignment was working as a resource counselor where he assisted several schools throughout the district.

Counselor Ms. Amanda Glazer joins him in the counseling office coming from Dailard Elementary, right down the street, and she’ll be working with students whose last name begins with Lo-Ri.

We also added a new Plant Operation Specialist (POS), Ms. Cathy Murphy who heads up our custodian department and has already made a huge impact in the way our school looks. She is a community member and came from Mira Mesa High School.

Our IT department is headed up by Mr. Curtis Hawkins, joining us from the Army, and we’re excited to have his new energy around campus to help with our growing technology needs.

We’ve added many new teachers as well and they’ve started the year off in a positive way. Please help us welcome: Ms. Tineka Huff (Mild to Moderate Sp. Education); Ms. Laura Stauffer (Art); Ms. Michelle Hubbard (American Sign Language); Ms. Monica Jorgenson (Moderate to Severe Special Education); Ms. Rosa Valdez (Spanish); Ms. Mara Den Bosch Verdicchio, Ms. Blaire Johnson (returning to PHHS as a school psychologist); Steve Van Wyk (English); Beth Humphreys (Grad Coach); and Christina Gramer (athletic trainer).

It certainly was a busy summer for us and we are very anxious to see how our new additions contribute to our outstanding program at PHHS!

PHHS Bel Canto Opening Performance

On Thursday, Oct. 13 come join the PHHS Bel Canto Ensemble for their opening performance “On Broadway!” Highlights of the evening will include songs from Broadway musicals like the classic “Guys and Dolls” and the current “Hamilton.” Performance will be held at the PHHS Cafetorium at 7 p.m.

Last year, in competition, the Bel Canto Ensemble earned a superior rating as well as a first place designation. This choir was also awarded the trophy for Best Overall High School Choir.

Tickets will be sold at the door for $10. Cash accepted. Checks made payable to PHHS Choir. Additional donations to our PHHS choral program are always welcome. Checks can be made to PHHS Foundation/Choir for this purpose.

Engineering program upgrade

To complement the modernization process of PHHS, our engineering classrooms will be remodeled this year thanks to Proposition D and other CCTE grants. Along with a complete remodel of the classroom creating a true lab space atmosphere, the program will also be getting $50,000 to go toward new commercial-grade wood and metal shop tools. We will also be adding a new computer lab, 3-D printers, laser cutters, and providing the teachers new opportunities for continuing education to exceed the expectations of parents, students, and community members while providing extraordinary engineering experiences with the latest and greatest equipment we can purchase.

—Elizabeth Gillingham is principal of Patrick Henry High School.

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