Hall of Fame Inductees
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Michael Chihak is producer and host of “Arizona Week” on KUAT-6 TV, former editor and publisher of the Tucson Citizen newspaper, and a strong supporter of education and community development. Mr. Chihak initiated a partnership with the school district and stayed involved in leading very well attended town halls in the Sunnyside community.
Refugio “Cuco” Del Cid has been the mariachi teacher at Sunnyside High since 1995. He teaches music skills and instills pride and appreciation for Mexican culture and traditions. A musical prodigy as a child, he was a member of Los Camperos for more than two decades. He is the director of Mariachi Los Diablitos de Sunnyside, Mariachi Herencia and Los Corazones de Oro.
Eric Giffin served as a Sunnyside District Governing Board member for 12 years and is a long-time community activist. He achieved Master of Boardsmanship from the Arizona School Boards Association. Mr. Giffin is active in the Elvira and Sunnyside neighborhood associations, was a founder of Project Export/Sunnyside and Elvira Advocates for Health Coalition, and was a member of the Sunnyside District team that established its Learning Community Initiative as one of four communities in the national Learning Communities Coalition.
Clarence “Nick” Nichols (deceased), served as a Sunnyside District Governing Board member for 18 years from 1956 to 1977. He was a leader in the Arizona School Boards Association, of which he was named an honorary life member, and in the National School Boards Association. Mr. Nichols was instrumental in the building of several new schools in the 1960s.
Monique Soria is the director of public relations for the Sunnyside Unified School District. She championed the district’s participation in the national Learning Communities Coalition and was active in the establishment of the Alumni Association and its Dollars for Scholars scholarship program. She initiated the district’s logo, brand development, website and cable TV broadcasting.
Elaine Valenzuela retired this year as manager of the Valencia Branch of the Pima County Public Library. She attended Sunnyside schools since elementary and graduated from Sunnyside High. Ms. Valenzuela has brought many services to the library that have made it a constantly busy hub of the community. She is active in the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association, is a Board Member of the Sunnyside Foundation, a member of the Liberty Partnership Council since its inception 13 years ago, and a member of the Literacy for Life Coalition and REFORMA, a national library organization that promotes library services to Latinos.
Gretchen Beardslee joined the Sunnyside District in 1974, teaching Sunnyside High’s Family and Consumer Science courses, including Up With Children, Clothing and Fashion Design, Culinary Arts and Single Survival. Although Mrs. B has been retired for 15 years, she volunteers 40 to 50 days a year mentoring students in the Sunnyside High School Family and Consumer Sciences programs.
Don Fuentes became part of the Sunnyside family in the third grade as a student at Sunnyside Elementary School. In 1979, Don began his teaching career at Los Ranchitos, and from 1988 to 2000 he taught and coached at Chaparral Middle School, where he established the first middle school mariachi group in Tucson. For the past 10 years, Don has served as a teacher, coach and musical director at Desert View High School, where 90 percent of his mariachi students have gone on to college.
Dr. Elizabeth Krebs began her career in Sunnyside as a counselor and then principal at Sunnyside Junior High. In 1970, she was named the first principal of Apollo Junior High. She served as assistant superintendent of curriculum, interim superintendent and principal of the Sunnyside Freshman Campus. Dr. Krebs celebrated her 90th birthday in June of this year.
Nancy Murray has served the Sunnyside District for 30 years as the art teacher at Drexel Elementary School. Her students have produced local, state and national award-winning works of art. Nancy led the installation of tile projects in the community, and she created the traveling exhibit, Gallery of Children.
Dr. Jeannie Favela, “La Reina,” has served the Sunnyside District as a bilingual special education teacher, director of Language Acquisition and Development, and currently as the assistant superintendent for student services. She is a passionate advocate for English Language Learners. She also sings with Mariachi Los Diablitos and Mariachi del Desierto on the CD, “Una Familia."
Isla Hamstra has been serving the Los Ranchitos community for more than 40 years. She began as a volunteer in 1967, and was later hired as a playground monitor, classroom assistant and then office manager. She was one of the founding members and president of the Sunnyside Educational Office Professionals Association. Even though she formally retired in 1988, Isla has been volunteering four days a week at Los Ranchitos for the past 12 years.
Charles “Bud” Morehead was pharmacist and manager of the Ryan-Evans Drug Store on the corner of South 12th Avenue and Valencia Road. This drugstore and soda shop became a cornerstone of the community. Mr. Morehead served for 12 years as a member of the Sunnyside Governing Board during the 1960s and 70s, a period of dramatic growth in the district.
Raúl Ochoa has served as assistant principal and athletic director at Desert View High School, principal of Santa Clara Elementary and Desert View, and since 2008 as assistant superintendent of Operations and Facilities Planning. He served in the Air National Guard for 21 years and is a member of the Kino Rotary Club of South Tucson.
Dr. Kathleen Bethel
Mario A. Castro, Sr.
Dr. Mary Belle McCorkle
Ned Norris, Jr.
Robert H. Rencken