Rotary Club 2022

$2,000 RCSL check presentation (left to right): Frank Narducci (CUSD superintendent), Sawyer Merrill, and Jon Lyons (RCSL club president)

RCSL Names Sawyer Merrill 2022 CUSD Educator of the Year

Dr. Honora Norton, RCSL Public Image Director

The Rotary Club of Sun Lakes recently announced that Sawyer Merrill, special education teacher at Chandler Unified School District’s Auxier Elementary School located in Queen Creek, received the club’s 2022 Sandy Lundberg Educator of the Year Award. The club award was established in 2017 as a prestigious annual award. Its purpose is to demonstrate the club’s continuing commitment to the Chandler Unified School District—its educational objectives and the educators who work so diligently and professionally to achieve those objectives.

In May, 2018, the first award was proudly presented to Sandy Lundberg, the principal of the newly opened Casteel High School. Sandy was an active member of the Rotary Club of Sun Lakes, in which she provided the same energy to the club endeavors as she did to her profession. Her passion for children and community shone through whatever she did. Due to Sandy’s untimely passing, the Rotary Club of Sun Lakes proudly sponsors and has named the award the Sandy Lundberg Educator of the Year Award.

Mr. Merrill graduated from California Lutheran University with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and sports medicine, with an emphasis in education, in 2010. He received his cross-categorical K-12 teaching certificate from Rio Salado University in 2011. With over 10 years of teaching special education, Mr. Merrill’s philosophy of education is that all children are unique, and each student must have a motivating educational environment where he/she can meet his/her full potential through growing physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially.

The RCSL Education Committee’s selection process included review of several parent testimonials in support of Mr. Merrill, which included: “Our family has been affected by Mr. Merrill’s amazing abilities and his passion to challenge each student to be the best one can be.” “We have seen a complete transformation in our child and trust Mr. Merrill to shape our child’s education.” Mr. Merrill is a voice for his students and advocates for their inclusion in school activities.” “Mr. Merrill is the embodiment of this award. His spirit lights up the lives of every child he works with.”

To learn more about Rotary Club of Sun Lakes’ educational programs and membership, see

Sydney Braaten

Imaging Brockman

Brooklyn Acton-Myers

Rotary Club of Sun Lakes Names CUSD 2022 Scholarship Winners

Dr. Honora Norton, RCSL Public Image Director

The Rotary Club of Sun Lakes (RCSL) extends congratulations to the winners of the Rotary Club’s 2022 High School Service Above Self Scholarships to the following:

Sydney Braaten: Sydney will graduate from CUSD Gilbert’s Perry High School after attending the high school all four years. She has attended Chandler Unified Schools since kindergarten. Sydney has held a variety of officer positions during her high school career, including president of the Sparrow Club, vice president of Women in Stem, and public relations officer for Skills USA. She is widely involved in community service organizations throughout Chandler, including AZCEND, YMCA, Relay for Life, Sharing Down Syndrome, and Feed My Starving Children, to name just a few. Sydney plans to attend the University of Arizona in the fall, majoring in microbiology and business to pursue dentistry. She is well on her way, having already achieved her associate’s degree through the dual enrollment classes taken at Perry.

Imaging Brockman: Imaging will graduate from CUSD Gilbert’s Perry High School after attending the high school all four years. She served as president of the Gilbert Lions-Leo Club and the Puma Pals this final year of her high school career and served her community in a variety of ways with multiple community organizations. Most recently, she was instrumental in planning and coordinating the prom event for Perry’s special needs students. She is graduating in the top five percent of her class (Summa Cum Laude) and plans to attend Northern Arizona State University, studying psychology, with the goal of becoming an applied behavioral analyst.

Brooklyn Acton-Myers: Brooklyn will graduate from CUSD Queen Creek’s Camille Casteel High School where she has been attending since 7th grade. She has attended Chandler Unified Schools since kindergarten. She has served as the team captain for both the 2020 and 2021 seasons for Top Gun Cheer. Brooklyn has spent the bulk of her service and volunteering serving as a cheer coach to three- to seven-year-olds three times a week, as well as coaching cheer to students with special needs. Brooklyn will be attending University of California San Diego (UCSD), studying human biology to become an orthodontist.

According to RCSL Scholarship Committee Chair Leo Schlueter, the $2,000 scholarship payments will be sent directly to the school/university the student will be attending this fall. A panel of judges, which included RCSL members Dr. Craig Gilbert and RCSL members/Sun Lakes residents Don Robins and Gary Kay, reviewed and scored applications from area high school seniors. Each application included a 300-word essay, which provided the student’s beliefs and understanding of what “service above self” means; teacher recommendations; and student academic standing data. Also, RCSL’s selections were based on each student’s exhibiting exemplary acts of service and character.

RCSL, chartered in 1986 with Rotary International, is a community leadership organization made up of men and women from local businesses, professional, education, civic, and emerging leaders. Rotary International has over 35,000 member clubs worldwide, with a membership of over 1.2 million individuals, known as Rotarians. To learn more about RCSL projects, programs, and membership, see

Robotics program students and Lori Ruff at the World Competition held in Dallas, Texas

Rotary Club of Sun Lakes Supports CUSD Student World Robotics Competition

Dr. Honora Norton, RCSL Public Image Director

Rotary Club of Sun Lakes Rotarians and guests were able to meet students and experience a demonstration of the Competitive Robotics program the club supports through a $2,000 donation. Several teams of students attended a three-day tournament at the VEX IQ Middle School World Robotics Championship held in Dallas, Texas. Two teams did reach the division finals by placing fifth and seventh in their divisions out of 800 teams from 40-plus countries around the world. An all-girl team won the Inspire Award for the second time. The world competition is the experience of a lifetime. The opening ceremonies included a Parade of Nations, much like the Olympics. The closing ceremony is known for the game reveal for the next year.

RCSL members and guests met three competitive teams with students from several CUSD schools and one student from a Phoenix High School. All the students attended Chandler’s Fulton Elementary School at one time or another. Current competitive students are from Gilbert’s Weinberg Elementary and Chandler’s Knox Elementary, San Tan Junior High, and Bogle Junior High.

The Robotic Competition teacher is Lori Ruff, a retired engineer. Lori started teaching robotics at Fulton Elementary in 2017 and currently teaches Robotics Intro to 10 students at Fulton Elementary School. These students learn the fundamentals for a year before progressing to the competitive program. After teaching a group of middle school students on a volunteer basis for a couple years, Lori decided to form Robotics Edge, LLC, to teach competitive teams. Her former students often come back to help coach the current students. Lori’s dream was always a self-sustaining program, and this year she achieved it. Next year, Lori plans to have three elementary competitive teams, one middle school competitive team, and a brand-new high school competitive team.

As part of the Robotics demonstration at the RCSL dinner meeting held at Sun Lakes Palo Verde restaurant, each student shared his/her best robotics learning experience. The students, as well as Lori, expressed gratitude for RCSL’s several years of support of this exciting program.

To learn more about Rotary Club of Sun Lakes’ educational programs and membership, see

Pictured are RCSL Rotarian AWIM volunteers attending the May 16 Gravity Cruiser Vehicle Competition at Fulton Elementary, including Gary Kay, Stan Klein, Bill Klein, Ana Logan (holding school’s award plaque), Bill Giessing, and Jon Lyons.

Pictured are a few of the Fulton Elementary JetToy Class first-place team winners readying for the final race.

Pictured are Fulton Elementary JetToy Car Class first-place team winners with RCSL/AWIM volunteers Ana Logan, Bill Crump, Val Crump, Lauren Castillo, and Mikayla Castillo.

Pictured are Fulton Elementary Gravity Cruiser Vehicle Competition’s first-place team winners competing during the final race to earn top Gravity Cruiser Award.

Rotary Club Leads a World in Motion Competitions

Dr. Honora Norton, RCSL Public Image Director

The Rotary Club of Sun Lakes (RCSL) supported the A World in Motion (AWIM) program, which was created by the Society of Automotive Engineers Foundation to get elementary students excited about math and science in support of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM.) Two different competitions were held at Chandler Unified School District Fulton Elementary School. Ten different classes at Fulton Elementary School worked in design teams to build, test, and race model balloon-powered JetToy cars and gravity cruiser vehicles. The JetToy cars were required to meet specific criteria to travel far and go fast. Jet propulsion, friction, air resistance, and design were the core scientific concepts students explored in this challenge. The cruiser gravity vehicles design concepts included forces, Newton’s Laws of Motion, gravity, and engineering design.

On May 16 and 19, each competing class raced in the preliminaries where the top three teams in each class were awarded gold, silver, and bronze medals. Following the class races, the first-place winners raced for the final Top Race Award. The medals were presented by RCSL/AWIM volunteers. The RCSL AWIM Committee included RCSL President Jon Lyons; Club Event Chair Don Robins; Rotarians/AWIM volunteers Bill Giessing, Stan Klein, Bill Klein, Gary Kay, Ana Logan, Bill Crump, and Val Crump; and ASU polytechnic students Lauren Castillo and Mikayla Castillo. The committee members, who are residents of San Tan Valley, Sun Lakes, and Chandler, were onsite for weeks at the school to assist the students with the design, building, and testing of their vehicles.

RCSL wishes to extend a special thank you to the school’s faculty for letting RCSL bring the AWIM program to Fulton Elementary School again. All those involved noted that it is always a wonderful experience for the students. An updated school award plaque will be presented to Fulton Elementary Principal, Shannon Hannon, for placement in the school trophy bookcase for everyone to enjoy throughout the school year.

For more information about RCSL education programs and/or membership, see