I am so proud of Heritage Academy Laveen’s hard-working inaugural class of journalism scholars!

In August, 28 scholars joined me to learn beginning journalism. It was a complicated time to start this new class. All of us were working online because of the high rate of COVID-19. Few of the scholars were used to reading news publications let alone writing news articles. And many scholars in the class were starting their very first semester at HAL — knowing whom to call for interviews was not at all intuitive.

As we begin the second semester of the class, I am excited to share a few examples of my scholars’ work. The assignment was simply to interview another HAL scholar and then write about it. The interview subject did not have to be with a football star or a class president. I told them I just wanted to read about interesting scholars doing interesting things.

I think they did a great job. I hope you enjoy this sample of their work.

Cathy Creno, Journalism and Yearbook teacher  

Hunter Stevens: Balancing Grades, Cross Country — and Prize-Winning Pigs  

By Secora Hereford

Hunter Stevens might seem like your average 15-year-old Heritage Academy Laveen student. He earns A’s and B’s, runs cross country and has plenty of friends.

But the reason Hunter gets up at 4 a.m. daily is something that separates him from less goal-oriented teens. Hunter’s award-winning livestock motivate him to get out of bed before sunrise.

Hunter raises seven goats, three hogs and plans to care for even more livestock in the future. How does he have time for animals on top of his heavy athletic and academic schedule? 

“I try to get in all my schoolwork at school if possible,” he said. “As for athletics, I have a flexible schedule with it. Working with animals is flexible too.” 

Each morning Hunter wakes up at 4 a.m. and proceeds to feed the animals, clean their pens, and make sure they are healthy. After this, he gets ready for school and carries on a normal school day. When he gets home from school, he repeats the same routine as in the morning. After all the work is done, Hunter falls asleep by 9 p.m. This is his routine Monday through Thursday. 

Hunter said the secret to his success is sticking to a schedule, a skill he hopes will also help him in the future at Dixie State University in St. George, Utah.   

“It’s not hard,” Hunter said. “It just takes a lot of time and work every day. When you have to do something, just push your way through it and make it to the end.” 

On weekends, Hunter and his animals spend time training for competitions. This year, one of his pigs won the top prize at the Arizona State Fair.

To get the pigs to hold their heads up in a show, he taps them gently with a bullwhip. He never hits hard enough to inflict pain or leave a mark on the pig’s skin. After doing this for 15 to 30 minutes, he moves on to the goats. He proceeds to teach the goats how to walk and brace using the same method as the pigs. 

This year, because of social distancing requirements, Hunter and other competitors had to enter the state fair with videos of their animals rather than in person. But the time, effort and energy he spent with his animals paid off. One of his pigs even won first place. 

“I’m very grateful,” he said. “I never expected to win first place.”

Congratulations to Hunter for his success with his animals.  If you know of any scholars who should be spotlighted, please contact Ms. Creno at cathryn@cren@heritageacademyaz.com.