Campus News

Leah Marché Visits PCDS

April 17, 2017

Today in the Upper School, the Parents’ Association Enrichment Committee hosted Arizona-based poet, storyteller, and journalist Leah Marché for the latest Writers’ Workshop event. 11th grader Mehek Khandelwal introduced Ms. Marché who recited several of her poems and talked about her career in writing, how to live poetically (Participate, Observe, Evolve, Teach, Inspire, Collaborate), and the importance of developing a manifesto to discover your passion. What a perfect way for students to celebrate National Poetry Month!

PCDS Celebrates Persian New Year

April 13, 2017

Today in the Lower and Middle Schools, the PA Enrichment Committee brought Nowruz, or Persian New Year, to the students. This holiday commemorates the beginning of spring and lasts for 12 days. An Iranian musician played before school and then at LS Morning 2nd grader Tara Ghafouri talked to students about the symbolism of the items on the Haft Seen (for example, garlic for health and vinegar for patience in the new year). This was followed by a student-led presentation at MS Morning Meeting and Persian treats in the MS courtyard. To top it all off, students enjoyed a Persian-inspired meal at lunch. Happy Norouz!

Stanley Casselman ’81 Announced as Outstanding Alumnus of the Year

April 13, 2017

PCDS is proud to announce the 2017 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year: Stanley Casselman ‘81. Mr. Casselman is an accomplished artist whose passions were first sparked in a PCDS Upper School ceramics elective. Mr. Casselman will be on campus in late-April to teach a “Master Class” to select Upper School art students, and one of his incredible pieces of art will be raffled off at the Fifth Annual Bridge-the-Gap Celebration on April 29. Learn more about Mr. Casselman here.

PCDS Welcomes Chess Champion & Political Activist Garry Kasparov

April 10, 2017

Today, PCDS welcomed Garry Kasparov, former chess champion and political activist. He spoke thoughtfully and passionately about US-Russian relations, chess, and the future of technology. Here are a few of the highlights of his time with students and moderated conversation led by Upper School history teacher, Matt Guthrie. It was an incredible event!

THRIVE Campaign Announces Final Project

April 10, 2017

On Friday, Ryan Joyce and Roz Abero unveiled the fourth and final project to the historic THRIVE Campaign—the Shepard Welcome Center—which will replace our current administrative building and provide a new front door to the school. Click the video below to learn more about the incredible impact THRIVE has had on our community, and how you can get involved.

PCDS Ranks #1 in Arizona Once Again

April 03, 2017

We’re always proud to be an educational leader in Arizona. Since 1961, PCDS is the only Pre-K through 12 independent school in the Valley, supporting the academic and social growth of our student from early childhood to college and beyond! Nice job, PCDS! For more information, please click here.

Upper School Students Visit Cambodia and Vietnam

April 01, 2017

A group of PCDS Upper School students, along with Mr. Martin and Ms. Bzdak, visited Cambodia and Vietnam during spring break. They experienced the history and culture, while also working on service projects impacting the community. It was a life changing experience for all!

Speech & Debate Students Qualify for Nationals

March 29, 2017

This past weekend, the Upper School Speech & Debate team finished the regular season with the National Qualifier tournament held at PCDS. Each of the last 3 years, we qualified more students than the previous year. 2014, 2 Qualifiers. 2015, 4 Qualifiers. 2016, 6 Qualifiers. And now in 2017, we have qualified 8 students to the National Tournament in Birmingham, AL in June!


  • Sophia Casten (Junior) – Informative Speaking
  • Sophia Corridan (Sophomore) – Duo Interpretation w/ Bella de Roos
  • Samantha Dady (Junior) – Humorous Interpretation
  • Bella de Roos (Sophomore) – Duo Interpretation w/ Sophia Corridan
  • Olivia Najafi (Junior)* – Dramatic Interpretation
  • William Porter (Senior)* – United States Extemporaneous Speaking
  • Rhea Tuli (Junior) – Programmed Oral Interpretation
  • Parker Whitfill (Senior)** – International Extemporaneous Speaking

*2nd time at Nationals
**3rd time at Nationals

Full Results:

  • Sofia Ahmed – 6th in Duo Interpretation w/Samantha Dady (2nd Alternate to Nationals), Semifinals in Programmed Oral Interpretation (2nd Alternate to Nationals)
  • Sophia Casten – 2nd in Informative Speaking, 6th in Original Oratory
  • Sophia Corridan – 2nd in Duo Interpretation w/Bella de Roos, Semifinals in Original Oratory
  • Matthew Corsillo – Semifinals in Dramatic Interpretation
  • Samantha Dady – 2nd in Humorous Interpretation, 6th in Duo Interpretation w/Sofia Ahmed
  • Caroline de Marneffe – Semifinals in United States Extemporaneous Speaking
  • Bella de Roos – 2nd in Duo Interpretation w/Sophia Corridan, Semifinals in Dramatic Interpretation
  • Arhti Macherla – Semifinals in Dramatic Interpretation
  • Max Montrose – Semifinals in Dramatic Interpretation
  • William Porter – 1st in United States Extemporaneous Speaking
  • Anika Sanghvi – 5th in Original Oratory (2nd Alternate to Nationals), Semifinals in Informative Speaking
  • Ben Steiner – Semifinals in United States Extemporaneous Speaking
  • Reed Steiner – Semifinals in International Extemporaneous Speaking
  • Rhea Tuli – 2nd in Programmed Oral Interpretation
  • Parker Whitfill – 1st in International Extemporaneous Speaking, 2nd in Lincoln-Douglas Debate

The team also took 2nd place in Overall Sweepstakes! Also contributing to team success: Kaleab Afework, Ethan Cohen, Julius Dodson, Grace Elsie, Janae Lewis, and Kassra Tehranchi.

Congressional Debate Results (from an earlier tournament weekend):

  • William Porter – 1st in Senate Congressional Debate
  • AJ Rosenthal – Finals in House Congressional Debate
  • Ben Steiner – Finals in House Congressional Debate
  • Reed Steiner – 7th in Senate Congressional Debate (2nd Alternate to Nationals)

Also contributing in Congressional Debate to our 2nd place Overall Award: Ethan Cohen, Erik Dahl, and Mira Kaibara.

Middle School Track & Field Day a Huge Success

March 20, 2017

On Friday, March 17, the Middle School hosted its annual Track & Field Day. Congratulations to the competitors, and many thanks to Coach Newland and Coach Pruett for organizing another fantastic event!

PCDS Speech & Debate: State Champions!

March 19, 2017

This weekend, the Upper School Speech & Debate team participated in the AIA Division II State Tournament. For the third straight year, the team was crowned STATE CHAMPIONS, and more than doubled the points of the second place team! The individual results are below including 8 individual State Championships and 6 State Runner-Ups. Congratulations, everyone!


  • Sophia Casten – Expository Speaking
  • Matthew Corsillo – Duo Interpretation w/ Olivia Najafi
  • Ryan Horlick – Prose Interpretation
  • Alain Kouchica – Poetry Interpretation
  • Olivia Najafi (2) – Dramatic Interpretation AND Duo Interpretation w/Matt Corsillo
  • William Porter (2) – Extemporaneous Speaking AND Original Oratory
  • Reed Steiner – Congressional Debate


  • Ryan Horlick – Duo Interpretation w/Max Montrose
  • Arthi Macherla – Dramatic Interpretation
  • Max Montrose – Duo Interpretation w/Ryan Horlick
  • William Porter (2) – Congressional Debate AND Policy Debate w/Parker Whitifill
  • Anika Sanghvi – Expository Speaking
  • Rhea Tuli – Programmed Oral Interpretation
  • Parker Whitfill (2) – Extemporaneous Speaking AND Policy Debate w/William Porter


  • Sofia Ahmed (2) – 3rd Place Programmed Oral Interpretation AND 6th Place Duo Interpretation w/Samantha Dady
  • Sophia Corridan – 4th Place Poetry Interpretation
  • Matthew Corsillo – 6th Place Humorous Interpretation
  • Samantha Dady (2) – 5th Place Humorous Interpretation AND 6th Place Duo Interpretation w/Sofia Ahmed
  • Erik Dahl – 6th Place Congressional Debate
  • Bella de Roos – 4th Place Dramatic Interpretation
  • Decker Freret – 6th Place Original Oratory
  • Gabe Korer – 4th Place Duet Acting w/Alain Kouchica
  • Alain Kouchica – 4th Place Duet Acting w/Gabe Korer
  • Kira Liljegren – 5th Place Duet Acting w/Arthi Macherla
  • Arthi Macherla – 5th Place Duet Acting w/Kire Liljegren
  • Max Montrose – 3rd Place Prose Interpretation
  • Saira Puri – 5th Place Prose Interpretation
  • AJ Rosenthal – 3rd Place Congressional Debate
  • Ava Rossides (2) – 3rd Place Expository Speaking AND 5th Place Programmed Oral Interpretation
  • Anika Sanghvi – 4th Place Original Oratory
  • Ben Steiner – 4th Place Congressional Debate
  • Reed Steiner – 5th Place Impromptu Speaking


  • Sophia Casten – Original Oratory
  • Caroline de Marneffe – Original Oratory
  • Grace Elsie – Humorous Interpretation
  • Ben Steiner (2) – Impromptu Speaking AND Extemporaneous Speaking
  • Reed Steiner – Extemporaneous Speaking
  • Rhea Tuli – Humorous Interpretation
  • Willo Wass – Humorous Interpretation


  • Pietro Ori – Lincoln-Douglas Debate


  • Caroline de Marneffe – Public Forum Debate w/Julius Dodson
  • Julius Dodson – Public Forum Debate w/Caroline de Marneffe

Also contributing to our overall State Championship: Kaleab Afework, Sophie Ax, Ethan Cohen, Bianca Partovi, and Kassra Tehranchi.

PCDS Welcomes Suspense Author Linda Castillo

March 17, 2017

Yesterday, the PA Enrichment Committee welcomed international NYT best-selling author Linda Castillo, the author of twenty-three suspense novels. PCDS 9th grader Pietro Ori introduced Ms. Castillo who talked about pacing, the art of plotting, and the importance of conflict. Special thanks to Ms. Castillo for sharing her insight into the fundamentals of writing suspense!

PCDS Remembers Founder Mae Sue Talley

March 15, 2017

With much appreciation and heavy hearts, PCDS remembers its founder, Mae Sue Talley, who passed away last week. Click here to read Headmaster Andy Rodin’s letter to the community and learn more of her incredible impact on PCDS and the world around her. More information is available here.

Seventh Grader Selected for Arizona Student Film Festival

March 14, 2017

Congratulations to 7th grader Alexander Ashman for having his documentary, City on the Hill, selected to the Arizona Student Film Festival! He created the film in November for Ms. McKean’s 7th grade history class and it will shown on April 8 at the Harkins Scottsdale 101theatre. Congratulations, Alexander!

Latin Students Host Exciting Event at PCDS

March 09, 2017

This past weekend, PCDS hosted a huge event for Latin students throughout Phoenix. It included activities, certamen events, debate, engineering (building replicas of the Pantheon), gladiator fights in the Upper School “arena,” a costume contest, and a special guest— a expert papyrologist discussing ancient texts! Many thanks to Ms. Robin Anderson and our Latin students for hosting this successful event!

Juniors Recognized by Rotary Youth Salute

March 08, 2017

Congratulations to the 5 outstanding juniors selected to be a part of the Rotary Club of Scottsdale Youth Salute Program. The program highlights student leaders and supports their continued growth.

The recognized PCDS juniors are:
Samantha Dady
Nikasha Patel
Anika Sanghvi
Madison Stringer
Addison Wessel

Congratulations to all!

Middle School Wins Service Award

March 07, 2017

Yesterday at Middle School morning meeting, Mr. Waller and Ms. Scarpone were given a special award by St. Mary’s Food Bank for the incredible work by the PCDS Middle School and student council donating a record number of turkeys this past Thanksgiving. Many thanks to the families that donated, and congratulations to the Middle School for this philanthropic recognition!

Elizabeth Dias ’04 Returns to PCDS

March 04, 2017

Elizabeth Dias ’04, award-winning Time Magazine Correspondent, returned to campus for speaking engagements with alumni and parents on March 2nd and with Upper School students on March 3rd. Ms. Dias has interviewed the Dalai Lama, traveled aboard the papal plane with Pope Francis, covered the 2012 and 2016 presidential campaigns, and has reported on foreign policy stories from Sudan to Cuba. The video of her engagement with PCDS students can be found here:

PCDS Presents Disney’s The Little Mermaid

March 01, 2017

The PCDS production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid runs this Thursday through Sunday! Be sure to check out the amazing work the actors, musicians and stage crew have done! Tickets are selling out fast!

Speech and Debate Wins at Harvard

February 23, 2017

This past weekend, PCDS Upper School Speech & Debate competed at one of the nation’s largest and most difficult tournaments at Harvard University. With over 3,000 students from nearly 350 schools, our 28 participants competed valiantly on the national stage—including two CHAMPIONS and one RUNNER-UP! Full results are below; congratulations to all of the competitors and coaches—PCDS continues to have one of the top Speech & Debate programs in the country!

Champion & Runner-Ups:

  • Senior Matthew Corsillo & Junior Olivia Najafi are Duo Interpretation HARVARD NATIONAL CHAMPIONS!
  • Freshman Pietro Ori is the HARVARD NATIONAL RUNNER-UP in Junior Varsity Lincoln-Douglas Debate!

Semifinalists (Top-12):

  • Senior William Porter – Original Oratory
  • Junior Sammy Dady – Humorous Interpretation

Quarterfinalists (Top-25):

  • Junior Sophia Casten – Informative Speaking
  • Junior Anika Sangvhi – Informative Speaking
  • Junior AJ Rosenthal – Congressional Debate (Earning his 1st ever Tournament of Champions Bid!)
  • Junior Ben Steiner – Congressional Debate (Earning his 1st ever Tournament of Champions Bid!)
  • Junior Reed Steiner – Congressional Debate (Earning his 2nd bid and qualifying to the Tournament of Champions at the University of Kentucky!)
  • Sophomore Bella de Roos – Dramatic Interpretation AND Duo Interpretation w/Sophia Corridan
  • Sophomore Sophia Corridan – Duo Interpretation w/Bella de Roos

Octafinalists (Top-50):

  • Junior Olivia Najafi – Dramatic Interpretation
  • Junior Sophia Casten – Original Oratory
  • Junior Rhea Tuli – Programmed Oral Interpretation
  • Sophomore Sophia Corridan – Original Oratory

Triple-Octafinalist (Top-64):

  • Senior Parker Whitfill – Varsity Lincoln-Douglas Debate (20th Speaker Overall)

Also contributing to team success:

Senior Sofia Ahmed; Juniors Caroline de Marneffe and Grace Elsie; Sophomores Kaleab Afework, Gabe Korer, Max Montrose, Ava Rossides, Bikram Takhar, and Kassra Tehranchi; and Freshmen Ethan Cohen, Ryan Horlick, Kira Liljegren, Arthi Macherla, and Willo Wass. These students competed valiantly in their preliminary rounds and some were very close to joining their teammates in elimination round competition. Though they did not advance, they were integral supporters to their teammate both before and during the tournament.

Author Visits PCDS

February 08, 2017

On February 6, the PCDS Parents’ Association welcomed journalist Brad Edmondson, author of Ice Cream Social: the Struggle for the Soul of Ben & Jerry’s. He spoke to the students about the company’s 3 missions (product, economic and social) and then returned at lunchtime to gather ideas for new flavors while everyone enjoyed samples. He capped off the evening with a talk to parents and alumni, as well! Special thanks to Mr. Edmondson for spending your day with the PCDS community!

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