Valley Horizon Elementary School opened in August of 1991 with approximately 650 students and 60 staff members. Cindy Didway was the principal and Dian Smith was the administrative assistant. The focus of the school was to put “Students First” in every decision made, and on parents’ involvement in their children’s education.
Although Valley Horizon Elementary School officially opened its doors in August of 1991, this school became a reality to its prospective students a year earlier. During the construction of Valley Horizon, the students lived within the designated VH boundary were bussed to the construction site, orientated by Mrs. Didway, and were privileged to be able to choose the school colors (purple and white) and the school mascot (Valley Horizon Suns). The symbol for the Suns became known as “Gleamer” and was designed by Thomas Fernandez, a sixth grade student at Rancho Viejo School. The words to the school song were written during the first year by the sixth grade class taught by Amber Marchant and were put to music by music teacher, Dot Vick. All of these decisions regarding Valley Horizon were made by student vote.
During October, 1991, a time capsule containing the earliest history of Valley Horizon Elementary School was placed by the students from Carolyn Hoffmeyer’s fifth grade class. This time capsule is bricked into the last column in the entry to Valley Horizon. It is to be opened during October of 2016.
The parents of Valley Horizon students became involved during the year prior to the school opening. They were invited to neighborhood teas, to a tour of the construction site, to the ground breaking ceremony, to a Country Potluck and Auction, and to PTA meetings, all held during that year. These same parents approached the builders and contractors of Valley Horizon to donate the majority of the playground equipment and outside tables and benches to the school. These donations added up to $20,000; Valley Horizon could not have provided this equipment without the help of our parents!
On the first opening day at Valley Horizon, many parent volunteers were on campus to assist the students, other parents, and the teachers. This tradition has continued on a daily basis the VH “Parent Room” is full of enthusiastic parents who are eager to be a part of their children’s education. They willingly and generously give of their time and talents to carry out the Valley Horizon traditions from year to year. They host the Halloween Carnival, intermediate and primary Track and Field Days, Student of the Month, Student of the Week, the annual Volunteer Recognition, and a major fund raiser. The monthly PTA meetings are well attended.
The majority of the Valley Horizon staff members were also on-board that previous year. Many hours were spent in developing and organizing the plan which continues to put our Valley Horizon “Students First.”
Along with the Crane District and State of Arizona general curriculum, the curriculum of Valley Horizon offered specials of art, music, library, and PB. The Lifelong Guidelines and Lifeskills were implemented as the primary code of conduct for all students and staff. After the first few years, the focus of the school became one which followed current educational and brain research. Attention was, and continues to be, given to the fact that each child learns differently; Valley Horizon provides opportunities for each child to learn in his/her best way.
On-going staff training included course work which models and teaches the current brain research and offers ways to make learning concrete, fun, and meaningful in the eyes of each child.
In 1997, the position of administrative assistant was replaced by Assistant Principal, Laurie Doering. Among her primary responsibilities is the focus on self development.
With the support of our strong ESL and Special Education programs, the school continues to focus on meeting the needs of the individual child. Lifeskills remain the primary model for the reinforcement of positive behavior, or and for teaching new behaviors to students who are having difficulties. The important aspects of belonging and establishing a community spirit are emphasized as the major components needed before learning can take place.
For the school year 1999-2000, Valley Horizon housed approximately 850 students and 80 staff members. The school was able to offer classes in computers, music, library, and PE (two classes weekly) for every student. We continued to study how the brain works and learns so that each Valley Horizon Sun could grow up to be a productive, contributing member of society.