Thunderbird Achievement Above All Awards


Megan Mannelly, Editor

The Achievement Above All Award is one of the most prestigious awards a person can get in the Glendale Union High School District. It values academic merit, school spirit, and being an overall great role model to others.

The staff of Thunderbird Highschool all got together to select individuals who continually rose above and beyond all expectations and, just a few weeks ago, those people were revealed. 

Only one student can receive the Student Achievement Above All Award, and that one student was revealed to be none other than Neely Burns. “I felt honored to be given such a prestigious award and to be recognized in front of my peers,” says award-winning senior, Neely Burns. Neely Burns has continued to be a shining star for all four years of her high school career. An amazing student-athlete and stunning intellectual, there really is nothing Ms. Burns cannot do. They announced the award late February in Neely’s third hour class, gifting her balloons and chocolate as well as the spectacular news that her hard work and dedication had been recognized. “I felt shocked and very flattered that I was granted such a prestigious award,” said Neely Burns, reminiscing upon the very moment it happened. “Neely honestly deserves every ounce of recognition. She does so much work and always is positive with a smile on her face. I have nothing negative to say about her,” says one student. “I’m so proud of her. I’ve never seen anyone work as hard as her,” says Hannah Collier, a member of Neely’s third hour class and witness to the gifting of the award. On top of being an all round good person and an amazing student, Neely is one of the captains of the swim team, with two school records. For the 100 yard breaststroke, she has a school record of 1:07.11 and the 200 IM she has a school record of 2:07.53. Neely Burns is currently looking for a college that has a great swim team and academics, but she still has plenty of time to decide.

In addition to Neely Burns winning the student award, Mr. Unsworth earned the Teacher Achievement Above All Award. Mr. Unsworth has been a teacher at Thunderbird Highschool for 6 years, teaching U.S. History and Advanced Placement U.S to young minds around campus. When asked what makes Unsworth passionate about teaching, he said, “I teach because there is no higher responsibility or greater honor than to pass civilization from one generation to the next.” Mr. Unsworth also serves Thunderbird Highschool outside of teaching kids about U.S history, hosting of Game club as well as serving as a Glendale Union Education Association representative. Needless to say, Mr. Unsworth is a kind man and an amazing person all around, who, without a doubt, deserves this award. 

Another one of these amazing awards goes to the Girls Varsity Thunderbird Volleyball team. This all star team of 12 student athletes really pushes the boundaries when it comes to extracurricular activities and astounding academic accomplishments. The team is sponsored by none other than Coach Carly Price, who was named Region Coach of the Year to all seniors signing to play college volleyball. Coach Price says her future goals for the team include continuing to get college scholarships for seniors who want to play in college, and to continue to build a positive and purposeful community year after year.

Every student at Thunderbird High School has been to the attendance office at least one time in their experience. Well, Thunderbird’s Support Staff of the Year award was granted to Kim Hort, one of the members of the Thunderbird Attendance Team. With nine years of working with this group, Kim Hort didn’t break a sweat when COVID-19 shut down the school, making her and the rest of the attendance worker’s jobs much more difficult. Ms. Hort is now the Lead Attendance Secretary at Thunderbird high school, and works hard every day. John Pierzchala, says, “As the Attendance Lead, Mrs. Hort has worked with her team to provide students, staff, and parents a high level of customer service to meet their needs.” 

Finally, the last award, this year’s Volunteer of the Year award, was granted to Karen Huttenmeyer. Mrs. Huttenmeyer continuously supports Thunderbird high school with her hard work. She is in the Thunderbird Parent Association, where she is the Treasurer of the Thunderbird Golf Event and Auction. She also serves as the Treasurer of the Thunderbird Band Booster Organization. Principal Latham says, “Mrs. Huttenmeyer is an outstanding example of the support that goes on behind the scenes to help us operate successfully.” Without people like Karen Huttenmeyer, getting things done and organized would be far more difficult.

All of these lovely people deserve a well-earned round of applause, being Thunderbirds hardest workers.