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City High School Student Wins New York Times Student Podcast Contest

Samantha Zazueta, a 2019 graduate of City High School, had one of twelve winning entries in the New York Times’ annual student podcast contest! High school students from around the world submitted over 900 podcasts to the Times for the contest. Sam’s story got top billing and a photo feature.

To hear Sam’s compelling story, “My Incarcerated Family,” visit the New York Times story or listen directly on SoundCloud.

Samantha Zazueta, Class of 2019, worked with Radio Teacher Sarah Bromer (left), for countless hours on her podcast. Photo by Jessica Melrose.

“My Incarcerated Family” tells the story of Sam’s quest to understand why so many people in her family have been imprisoned. Her mom tells her it’s just “poor choices” that land people in the system, but Sam isn’t satisfied with that answer. She wants to know why people make bad decisions, and whether the system teaches them to make better choices. She interviews her mom, her formerly incarcerated uncle, Pima County Public Defender Joel Feinman, and several members of the Pima County Criminal Justice Reform Unit. It is an informative and moving story. 

Samantha produced her winning story in Sarah Bromer’s Radio Production class, where students learn to write, record, edit, and produce their own radio pieces for City High’s podcast. Sam’s story was also an integral part of her Senior YPAR (youth-led participatory action research) project in Krista Gypton’s Senior Seminar class.

Sam’s radio teacher, Sarah, had this to say about Samantha’s win:

“I can’t think of a student more deserving of this honor. Sam was committed to telling this story as perfectly as she could, and she succeeded. She met with me after school for at least 40 hours during the production of this piece, in addition to the time she spent in class and at home on it. And she was an interviewing machine! She gathered more than ten hours of tape for this five-minute story.

Sam has produced a beautiful piece of journalism. It’s sweet and innocent, but it packs a hard punch. We’ve all heard stories about America’s problems with mass incarceration, but to see it from the inside, from the perspective of a young person struggling to understand her family’s place in the system—it just makes it feel fresh and new, and that allows the listener to engage on a much more emotional level to the content. Her story is so illuminating and it has forever changed the way I will look at criminal justice in America.”

For more of Sam’s story and City High Radio:

Graduation 2019: May 29 @ 7:00

City High School graduation

Graduation will take place Wednesday, May 29, at 7:00pm. The location for this year’s ceremony is The Leo Rich Theaterlocated at 260 S. Church Avenue. The entrance to the theater is located in the Tucson Convention Center complex. Directions to the theater can be found here. Parking is available in the TCC parking lot as well as on the streets in the neighborhood to the east of the TCC.

Please note: there is a major construction project happening in that area, so please give yourselves extra time to get there and park.

Graduating seniors will need to be at Leo Rich no later than 6:00pm that evening to prepare for the event. For other details about the event, contact Eve Rifkin.

New Student Registration: 4/23 4:30-7:00

We are excited to welcome all new students and their families to the 2019-2020 school year! We are hosting a new student registration night on Tuesday, April 23, from 4:30 to 7:30. There will be an orientation by Principal Brett Goble at 5:30. Please come to the school to turn in paperwork, buy a t-shirt, and take care of other student fees.

A parent or guardian must accompany each student.

Please bring the following documents to registration night:

  • birth certificate
  • immunization records
  • proof of AZ residency
  • completed registration packet (mailed to all homes)

Please do not hesitate to contact Office manager Becca Dillon with any questions at 623-7223 X 200.

Substance Abuse Prevention Night for Parents and Students, February 27 at 5:00pm

PFFSD and City High School have teamed up with the Pima County Community Prevention Coalition to schedule an evening of free food and parenting education around the challenging topic of how to talk to your child about drugs and alcohol.  This event will be on Wednesday, February 27, from 5:00 – 7:30 p.m. at 37 Pennington.

The evening will cover how marijuana and other controlled substances affects the developing body and brain, effective communication strategies and tips for talking with your child, and how to respond to and handle those tough questions that may come up. We have found that having these conversations with kids at an early age creates more opportunities to build trust, even if they are difficult. While these workshops will cover the risks associated with illegal substances and underage drinking, they will mostly focus on how to have successful conversations with your child that build openness and trust and lead to safer, more well-informed choices as they get older.  

Dinner will be provided for all families. Please RSVP to or so we know how much food to order.  Space is limited.

Tucson College Night: Tuesday, 10/23 @ 6:30-8:30

The annual Tucson College Night is happening on Tuesday evening, 10/23, from 6:30-8:30 at the Tucson Convention Center. Representatives from over 200 colleges from around the country will be there to answer questions and provide important information about programming and scholarship opportunities. Parking is free!

All students and families are encouraged to attend this very exciting event. It is never too early to start thinking about college planning and this event serves as a great inspiration. The Tucson College Night is also conveniently scheduled just a few weeks after the City HS Annual College Road trip for Juniors. Parents of juniors–this is a great opportunity to build on the momentum that was established during that exciting trip.

Please mark your calendars and plan on attending the Tucson College Night this year. If you have any other questions about college planning at City HS, please visit the College Prep section on our website, or contact Krista Gypton, Community Partnerships Coordinator at

Student-Led Conferences for Freshmen and Juniors: October 17, 18 and 19

Semester Roundtables City High School student-led conferences

Freshman and Juniors have been preparing for their Student-Led Conferences, happening October 17, 18 and 19, the week after Fall Break. The Student-Led Conference , a City Hight School tradition, is facilitated by the student’s Advisor and attended by parents, peers, and other teachers. Students discuss their development and mastery of City High School’s Habits of Heart and Mind by presenting evidence in the form of work they have done over the course of the fall semester. They also set and discuss goals as well as discuss their understanding of the social emotional skills we’ve started to focus on this year.

Parents of Freshmen and JuniorsOnline sign up for Student-Led Conferences is now live! Thirty-minute conference time slots are available Wednesday, October 17th from 1:30-4:30 p.m.;  Thursday, October 18th from 8:30-11:00 a.m. and 4:00-7:30 p.m.,  or Friday, October 19th from 8:30-11:00 a.m.

To schedule a conference for your City High student, please click on the following link:

Click on your student’s Advisor to select a conference at a time that is convenient for your family. You will only schedule ONE conference with your student’s Advisor. Please do not schedule more than one conference, or schedule a conference with another teacher. If you run into problems scheduling a conference online, please call us at (520) 623-7223 or email We look forward to seeing you at your student’s Student-Led Conference!

The school will operate on special schedules on October 18 and 19 to accommodate the conference schedule:


11:00 a.m. Building opens to students

11:40 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Lunch served

12:05 p.m.-12:45 p.m. PER 1

12:50 p.m.-1:30 p.m. PER 3

1:35 p.m.- 2:15 p.m. PER 5

2:20 p.m.-3:00 p.m. ADVISORY

Students dismissed at 3:00 p.m.



11:00 a.m. Building opens to students

11:40 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Lunch served

12:05 p.m.-12:45 p.m. PER 2

12:50 p.m.-1:30 p.m. PER 4

1:35 p.m.- 2:15 p.m. PER 6

2:20 p.m.-3:00 p.m. PER 7

Students dismissed at 3:00 p.m.

Please note: Sophomores and Seniors will have their Student-Led Conferences on January 9, 10, and 11.

Welcome Class of 2022!

Incoming freshmen building community, getting ready for HS, and blowing off some steam during Summer Bridge 2018.

As we gear up for what is sure to be another amazing year full of transformational learning and powerful relationships, we extend an extra warm welcome to our newest members of the City High School community: the Class of 2022!

This year’s entering freshman class participated in a special Summer Bridge program this year that was, for the most part, led by members of the Class of 2019. A select group of senior leaders took the reins at Summer Bridge 2018 and facilitated community-building activities for the incoming class. Students interviewed each other, learned about the various City HS programs, and, thanks to the Downtown Tucson Partnership, played games and had water fights at Jacome Plaza.

On the second day of Summer Bridge, volunteers from the Center for Community Dialogue and Training facilitated “connection circles” for all freshmen and their advisors.

In all, it was a huge success. We are thrilled to welcome this year’s freshmen and wish them lots of luck and joy as they embark on this exciting next step on their educational journeys.

College Info Night for Freshmen and Families

Join Eve Rifkin, Director of College Access, this Thursday night, 3/29, from 5:30-6:30 for a discussion about initiating the college-thinking process.

While it may feel early to think about college with freshmen, most research suggests that college planning cannot start too early. This event will provide a brief overview for parents and freshmen of basic things to consider when beginning the process, such as financial aid, the importance of maintaining solid grades, getting involved in extracurricular activities, and developing solid study habits. It will also give parents and students an opportunity to ask questions and share thoughts with the broader group.

Parents and students are invited to attend this event. If you have any questions about this event or anything else related to college, please contact Eve Rifkin, Director of College Access:, or visit the College Prep section of our website.

PSAT for 9th and 10th Grade: FRIDAY 3/2

On Friday, March 2, all freshmen and sophomores will take the PSAT, a test that showcases the classroom skills and knowledge that are essential for college and career readiness and success. The test will take place all morning, during periods 1-5. All students should come to school well-rested and on time so that testing can begin at 9:00.
Students will be taking a version of the PSAT that is specifically geared to the grade level. Freshmen will take the PSAT 8-9; sophomores will take the PSAT 10.
We encourage your child to take advantage of the many benefits the PSAT offers:
• Connects students to colleges and universities across the country, and to scholarship organizations.
• Prepares students for the new SAT® and college and fuels practice recommendations on Khan Academy®.
If you have any questions about how to support your student on their college journey, please do not hesitate to call or email Eve Rifkin, Director of College Access, or visit our College Prep section of the website.

Senior Spotlight: College Acceptance Letters are Coming In!

Kat Altaffer ’18, enjoying the Pacific Northwest, which will soon be her new home.

For seniors who have applied to college, this time of year requires a lot of patience. Most applications were due at the beginning of January and decision letters won’t generally arrive until April.

But some seniors would prefer to avoid the long wait and apply to college with either an “early decision” or “early action plan”. That’s exactly what Katherine “Kat” Altaffer ’18 did, and her determination paid off. Congratulations to Kat on her acceptance to Lewis and Clark College. She got word of her early action acceptance in December and could not be more thrilled.

Kat knew that Lewis and Clarke was the place for her the moment she set foot on the campus during a visit. “Lewis and Clark is an amazing community of learners and I feel that I will really thrive there. The campus is an oasis in the middle of Portland, a great city that will provide me with opportunities in the future. It also has the 2nd best environmental law program in the country. It is absolutely beautiful there.”  The “love-at-first-site” experience is exactly what should determine the choice to apply either early action or early decision.

Early action or early decision application plans are not for everyone. It’s critical that the applicant feels very confident that the school is the absolute right fit, and that they have an excellent shot at getting in. For more information on the early application plans that exist at a majority of universities around the country, click here.

It’s not easy to stay focused when you’ve got dreams of pine trees, rain, and the City of Portland on the brain, but Kat’s currently working hard to have a successful completion to her senior year. She is, however, very excited for the journey that lies ahead. “I think the most exciting thing is being on my own and experiencing the world which is also the most challenging. The cold will be difficult for me to manage but I love the rain. On one hand I am terrified to leave my family and go out into the real world but I also think being so far away will help me develop some independence. I will miss my family a lot but I’m ready to have my own experiences and make my own decisions.”

Kudos to Kat Altaffer for this incredible accomplishment!