GALLERY: Gilbert organizations celebrate their best at Community Excellence Awards

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More than 20 people were recognized Sept. 24 for their efforts with town organizations in the past year at the Gilbert Community Excellence Awards. The awards came from the town, the Gilbert and Higley school districts, participating charter schools, Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Gilbert Chamber of Commerce and Community Impact Newspaper. Arizona Public Service sponsored the event.

The Higley High Air Force Junior ROTC Color Guard gets ready to present the colors before the Gilbert Community Excellence Awards. (via Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

The master of ceremonies for the evening was JW Rayhons, owner of Rayhons Financial Solutions/Voya Financial Advisors. (via Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

A quartet from the Higley High School Chamber Singers performs the national anthem at the start of the Gilbert Community Excellence Awards. (via Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Higley High Chamber Singers performed two songs as part of the entertainment for the Gilbert Community Excellence Awards. (via Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Girls sing for the Higley High Chamber Singers. (via Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Boys harmonize in a performance of Higley High School’s Chamber Singers. (via Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Cellists Lleyton Miller (left) and Eliza Lee play for Highland High School’s Starlight Serenade. (via Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Playing the bass for Starlight Serenade are Highland High School students (from left) Kenzie Garner, Jacob Payne and Clark Larsen. (via Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Navie Whitfield concentrates on her performance for Highland High School’s Starlight Serenade. (via Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Ruth Whitney plays the cello for Highland High School’s Starlight Serenade.

Highland High School’s Ali Davidson smiles while playing as part of the performance of the Starlight Serenade. (via Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Sarah Cutolo strolls through the crowd during a performance of Highland High School’s Starlight Serenade. (via Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Former Gilbert Public Schools Superintendent Wally Delecki received a standing ovation as he came up to receive the Geneva Clay Community Volunteer Award. Delecki was recognized for his lifetime devotion to education and Gilbert. (via Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Former Gilbert Public Schools Superintendent Wally Delecki (left) receives the Geneva Clay Community Volunteer Award from Community Impact Newspaper Phoenix Publisher Amy Ellsworth. Delecki was recognized for his lifetime devotion to education and Gilbert. (via Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

David Dietlein (left) accepts the Community Impact Newspaper Beautification Award on behalf of the Hale Centre Theatre for the theater’s expansion project. Amy Ellsworth, publisher of Community Impact Newspaper Phoenix, presented the award. (via Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Campbell Faulkner received the Community Impact Newspaper Young Hero Award. Faulkner has been given a variety of diagnoses, including autism, cerebral palsy and mitochondrial disorders without an overall diagnosis. Nonetheless, he started Campbell’s Crew Cares, which prepares food bags for the homeless distributed monthly. (via Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Carrie Ware is the Higley USD Volunteer of the Year Award recipient. Ware was cited as an “Energizer bunny” on two different campuses. Centennial Elementary School Principal Rachel Broadley accepted the award on Ware’s behalf. From left are board President Kristina Reese, Broadley and Superintendent Mike Thomason. (via Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Lisa Simmons was named the Higley USD Support Staff of the Year. Simmons works behind the scenes at Cooley Middle School organizing staff activities and working with underprivileged students. From left are board President Kristina Reese, Simmons and Superintendent Mike Thomason. (via Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Higley USD’s Educator of the Year Award went to John Burke, applied teacher and robotics coach at Sossaman Middle School. His students have gone to regional, state, national and international competitions in robotics. From left are board President Kristina Reese, Burke and Superintendent Mike Thomason. (via Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Kathy Crossley (left) is presented with the Chandler Gilbert Community College Staff Member of the Year Award from Vice President of Administration and Finance Bradley Kendrex. Crossley, who works in payroll, was cited for a reputation for dependability and accuracy. (via Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Patrick Michael Finn (left) receives the Educator of the Year Award for Chandler-Gilbert Community College. Finn was cited as a popular teacher for writing classes. CGCC Vice President of Administration and Finance Bradley Kendrex poses with Finn. (via Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Steven Weigley won Gilbert Public Schools’ Sheila Rogers Uggetti Volunteer of the Year award. Weigley, as PTA president, positioned Canyon Rim Elementary School to be come a PTA School of Excellence. From left are former Superintendent Wally Delecki, Uggetti, Weigley, Superintendent Shane McCord and board President Reed Carr. (via Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Gilbert Public Schools’ Support Staff of the Year award went to Veronica Duran, the front-office receptionist at Augusta Ranch Elementary School. She was cited for her work ethic, positive demeanor, truthfulness and
ever-ready energy—and her ability to calm angry parents. From left are former Superintendent Wally Delecki, Superintendent Shane McCord, Duran and board President Reed Carr. (via Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Tanecia Cornwall-Elysee won the Dr. Wally Delecki Educator of the Year award from Gilbert Public Schools. Cornwall-Elysee, a special education teacher at Gilbert Elementary School, was called a “hidden leader” at the school. From left are Delecki, Cornwall-Elysee, Superintendent Shane McCord and board President Reed Carr. (via Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Ben Whitworth (left) was the charter schools’ Volunteer of the Award for his work at American Leadership Academy. Gilbert South campus. Debbie Poseniak from American Leadership Academy presents the award. (via Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Carey Paulo (left) from American Leadership Academy was named the charter schools’ Support Staff of the Year, who has worked as a reading specialist for 15 years. Presenting the award is Debbie Poseniak from American Leadership Academy. (via Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Katie Bradley (left) of Leading Edge Academy was named the charter school’s Educator of the Year. Bradley was credited with starting several programs at the school and her ability to reach and inspire students. Presenting the award is Lori Anderson, executive director of Leading Edge Academy Executive Director. (via Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Eric Jensen, the town’s IT applications manager, was one of two Employees of the Year for the town. Jensen was credited with leading a team and successfully implementing several mission-critical systems. From left are Vice Mayor Eddie Cook, Jensen and Town Manager Patrick Banger. (via Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Eugene Mejia was one of two people recognized as the town’s Employee of the Year. Mejia, the town’s deputy chief technology officer and infrastructure manager, has worked for the town for more than 12 years. From left are Vice Mayor Eddie Cook, Mejia and Town Manager Patrick Banger. (via Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Officer Ed Morales receives the Tim Dorn Public Safety Award. Morales was instrumental in developing the Gilbert Police Youth Leadership Academy and also conducted the research to get authorization for the department’s first therapy dog, Cora. From left are Vice Mayor Eddie Cook, Morales, Cora and Town Manager Patrick Banger. (via Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Gilbert Fire Department Battalion Chief Mark Justus accepted the Town of Gilbert Volunteer of the Year Award on behalf of Larry McDonald, who works in educating the community in CPR, First Aid and child and babysitting classes. From left are Vice Mayor Eddie Cook, Justus and Town Manager Patrick Banger. (via Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Leon Uhlhorn Chairman’s Award went to APS’s Kate Predergast for her political diplomacy and civility in moderating the Chamber of Commerce’s speaker series. From left are chamber board President Matt Streeper, Prendergast, Marty Uhlhorn and Chamber CEO Kathy Tilque. (via Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Visionary Award, given to show recognition for a project that had significant impact on Gilbert, went to the Heritage Center, which serves the community’s underprivileged. Receiving the award were (from second from left) Melanie Dykstra of the Town of Gilbert; Trinity Donovan of AZCend; and Kathleen Dowler of Dignity Health, who were instrumental in establishing the center. Flanking them are Gilbert Chamber of Commerce Board President Matt Streeper (left) and Chamber CEO Kathy Tilque (right). (via Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

The master of ceremonies, JW Rayhons, also won the Spirit of Gilbert award for his work in the Chamber of Commerce, particularly the Chamber’s education initiatives. Gilbert Chamber of Commerce Board President Matt Streeper (left) congratulates Rayhons. (via Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

The room at Colby Falls by Wedgewood Weddings was full for the Gilbert Community Excellence Awards. (via Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

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Tom Blodgett
Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent 30 years in journalism in Arizona and is the editor of the Gilbert edition of Community Impact Newspaper. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he now serves as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.
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